With a total area of almost 195 000 square kilometres (or 75 000 square miles), the Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world. The vast majority of it is in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it also extends into Mato Grosso and the separate countries of Paraguay and Bolivia, which neighbour Brazil.
As such a vast tropical wetland, the Pantanal is a very precious resource of Brazil, home to an array of plant- and animal species. In fact, up to 12 sub-regional ecosystems have been identified within the Pantanal, each of which has its own unique identity and characteristics.
Pantanal wetlands during the dry season. County of Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. UNESCO World Nature Heritage site and Biosphere Reserve.
Because about 80% of the wetlands are submerged during the wet season, the species here include aquatic ones, making it an even more diverse and fascinating destination to consider. The water can rise by up to five metres during the wet season. The daily highs average an annual mean of 25 degrees Celsius.
However, summer days have been known to soar to a scorching 40 degrees, while winter nights can plummet to zero.
Tourists that are interested in the ecosystems of the Pantanal will be well rewarded by the sheer diversity to be found here. The biomes here (which include semi-arid woodland, tropical Amazonian rainforest and savannah) are home to approximately 3 500 known plant species, with more discovered and identified by scientists on a regular basis.
Because some of the wetlands suffer from drought during the dry seasons, certain vegetation experiences water-stress.
A plethora of animal species can be found in the Pantanal. There is estimated to be about 1 000 bird species, 300 mammals and 9 000 invertebrates, in addition to countless fascinating insects and other species. Some of the very rare and / or endangered animal species include:
• Marsh Deer
• Giant River Otter
• Hyacinth Macaw
• Crowned Solitary Eagle
• Jaguar • Maned Wolf • Bush Dog • Capybara
• South American Tapir • Giant Anteater • Yacare Caiman
The Pantanal’s dry season extends from April to October of each year. During this time, it is possible to access the region by road. During the wet season, however, visitors may be forced to enter only by aeroplane. Because this area is popular amongst tourists, there is ample accommodation available, as well as organised tours and activities. Some of these activities include:
• Horse riding
• Hiking and walking trails
• Game viewing and photography
• Exploring the wetlands on canoe or boat
• Catch-and-release fishing
• Bird watching (particularly rewarding over October and November)
Even during warmer seasons, the nights in the Pantanal can become crisp and cold. Therefore, tourists are urged to bring some warm clothing, regardless of when they are visiting.
Here is more information: http://www.pantanal.org
Here is a web site about the birds of the Pantanal: http://www.pantanalbirds.com/