The Brazilian Pantanal is the largest flooded plain in the world, extending through the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, also covering some land of Paraguay and Bolivia.
Whatever your travel style, one thing is certain: when you step into the Pantanal you will be forced to slow down. You may wake up at 6 am and watch the sun rise, see alligators hidden among the green plains or even spend a few hours on the lookout for jaguars.
The region is home to more than 4,000 species of animals and plants. A natural wealth that can be explored mainly in Mato Grosso, but precisely in the city of Poconé – the most touristic side of the Pantanal.
The best tours and adventures for you to enjoy in the Pantanal
What to do in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso? To get to know the region well, divided in two areas: the North and South Pantanal, it is filled with inns throughout the region, travel agencies and even farms offer accommodation options that already include essential activities.
Those who enjoy fishing spend their time in boat-hotels. Lovers of ecotourism, on the other hand, should set up an itinerary that includes boat trips to observe the animals , horseback riding ,night safari, canoeing and trails.
Below you can see more details about these attractions.
One of the best ways to get to know the Pantanal wildlife is through the Transpantaneira, a road that, even without asphalt, is considered the backbone of the Pantanal. It extends for about 150km, crossing open fields, forests and embankments that dam the flood waters and form refuges for alligators, capybaras, tuiuiús and deer.
Tours are organized by local agencies that take you to the best animal observation points. During the flood season, normally between January and June, 4×4 vehicles are best suited to face some areas of flooding on the road. Regular cars should be considered only in drought.
A dozen inns are spread over the Transpantaneira extension. Some of them have a restaurant open to the public.
Boat trips through the Pantanal are almost a mandatory experience for anyone visiting the region. They allow you to travel great distances in search of alligators, capybaras and waterfowl. The options range from boat rides, luxury boats and small rowing boats, mostly used for small local tours.
Many of the species that live in the Pantanal have nocturnal habits, and thus, nocturnal focusing becomes one of the most interesting attractions in the Pantanal. It can be done either by car or by river, where the watchful eye of experienced boaters can easily spot alligators and other species.
Some farms offer one of the most essential activities of Pantanal life: horseback riding. They usually take place in flooded areas of the region and also include lunch with typical foods and hammocks at the end for a well-deserved rest.
Some farms offer more complete experiences like managing cattle as a cowboy; milk cows and feed the animals. Others are night walks under a star-filled sky that is unforgettable.
The best place in the region to see jaguars is at the end of Transpantaneira, in the Porto Jofre region. From the small village with very few houses, boats depart for trips of a few hours, offering roundtrips, taking tourists to isolated inns down the river and to luxurious hotel boats.
From this point on, you can take smaller boats, which go into the river in search of this wild animal that is one of the most incredible in South America. Although the Pantanal is the land of the jaguar, it is not so common to see one. It depends on chance and luck, because normally they are hidden in the forest.
Have you ever thought about getting close to the alligators and even holding them in your arms? This experience can be lived on a visit to the Pantanal Alligator farms. There, caretakers are the only ones who have access. They enter, pick up some of the alligators and hand them over to tourists, who can take pictures of the exciting moment.
Breeding is only possible thanks to alligator eggs placed in nature with environmental authorization.
Canoeing through the Pantanal involves physical effort and, like all other tours, a direct encounter with nature. Silence is the essence of the tour, so as not to chase away alligators, capybaras, macaws, toucans and, with luck, the giant otters – known as the “sea jaguar”.
Navigation is guided by an expert guide while everyone collaborates with their oars and enjoys the landscape.