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Wild Brazil – The Pantanal on Horseback in the planning!

Brazil - Pantanal - wetlands bkgrnd.jpg

I’m just in the throws of planning an amazing trip to the Pantanal in Brazil and have been researching the different lodges and comparing and contrasting the experiences on offer in the North and the South of the region.

I’m always surprised by how few people have heard of this wildlife enthusiasts’ dream, located in the heart of Brazil. It’s absolutely spectacular and well worth a visit which is of course one of the reasons I am planning to go. Even though I have visited many other parts of Brazil and know them intimately, I know that good research and plenty of reading about the Pantanal before I go will pay dividends in ensuring that every detail is planned perfectly and with forensic precision not just for my own benefit but in particular for all of my holiday clients for whom I plan perfectly unique and tailored trips.

One thing is certain and that is I know even before I go that I will be taken back by just how many animals and birds I will see during the trip and by the sheer beauty and overall wilderness experience.

The Pantanal is over half the size of France, with two very distinct seasons. You will often hear much debate about whether to go north or south, or whether the wet or dry season is best for wildlife-spotting.

Imagine my total surprise and delight recently when I discovered the Region was to be featured on the BBC2 series ‘Wild Brazil’.

Brazil’s spectacular and varied landscape is a central character in this series of three programmes. The series is focused on four different species in particular: the magnificent jaguar, giant otters, the not-as-cute-as-they-look capuchin monkeys, the coatis, a mammal which looks like a cross between a fox and a raccoon. Coatis live in the grasslands of the southern Pantanal for most of the year, but are forced to retreat to the trees when the rains come and flood their habitat.

To capture the drama of this geography in an intimate and vivid way the BBC film crew filmed aerial shots using something called a ‘small octocopter’ which carried the cameras. This was apparently a pioneering approach from within the BBC’s Natural History Unit and was rewarded with some extraordinary and unique footage of an awe-inspiring landscape.

However it’s the animals, not the gadgets that really fascinate. There were the mischievous Caracara birds, the sleek jaguars and the languorous, alligator-like Caiman, whose low-maintenance approach to hunting involved lining up across the river with their mouths open and waiting for the fish to be swept straight into their stomachs.

The Pantanal is divided into the Northern Pantanal, which is slightly higher, and the Southern Pantanal where the wetland environment is at its most intense. There are excellent wildlife lodges in both areas. To reach the Pantanal from anywhere else in Brazil you need to fly to Cuiaba, for the Northern Pantanal, and Campo Grande for the south.

For wildlife viewing, there are few better viewing places in the world than the Pantanal between April and September. The animals and birds here are similar to those found in the nearby Amazon basin, but they are much easier to spot due to the lack of dense jungle.

The Pantanal is an enormous area of seasonally flooded savannah lowlands and wetlands, which creates a fertile environment of lakes, streams and ponds.

Hyacinths and giant water lilies rest on the lake surfaces, while underneath anacondas slither around the fish that are darting away from the feet of Jabru Storks.

Lazy Capycara and Caiman sun themselves on the banks and monkeys chatter and swing from tree to tree, past the Toucans, Macaws and Parrots as they fan their feathers. Other animals to which this vast area is home include Anteaters, Armadillos, Otters, Marmosets and the magnificent Jaguar and Puma.

While visiting you can stay in one of the fazenda-style lodges, such as the Caiman Ecological Refuge in the south or Pousanda do Rio Mutum in the north. All these lodges have excellent guides to take you out on the various excursions which include jeep safaris during the day and night, canoe trips and horse riding.

Horseback Riding which is one of the things I am planning to do on this particular trip is the best way to get into the heart of the Pantanal, getting to places which normally cannot be reached by regular means of transportation and you will be able to observe wildlife from up-close. 'The Explorations Company plan ‘Extraordinary Journeys for Extraordinary People'.

Contact us to plan your own bespoke journey to Brazil.