The Pantanal is the best place in Brazil to see wildlife, and it is a well-kept secret among wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Due to its rich geographic location, the world’s largest floodplain has an incredible number of birds, reptiles, and large mammals.
All of its native species have evolved to survive in an environment where the wetland is submerged for a portion of the year. The dry season is a dream come true for photographers and those who want to get up close and personal with animals that can only be found in one of the last great unspoiled natural reserves on Earth. Between the months of May and October, some 200 different bird species converge on the temporary lagoons and oxbow lakes in search of fish. It is the birds’ presence near the water that attracts the caimans and capybaras and in turn attracts the highly coveted jaguar.
In the Northern Pantanal, where the jaguar, or onça-pintada as it is known locally, lives, there is an especially rich and varied food supply and a high concentration of elusive big cats. The giant otters, neotropical otters, greater rhea, and other animals that can be found in this area. In the more open southern Pantanal, the open plains are great for wildlife viewing in part because there are no hills to obscure your view. The ipê trees’ stunning blossoms are an extra treat during the dry season. Pantaneiros are local cowboys who spend their seasons herding cattle in the wetlands, providing an interesting window into their way of life for those interested in cultural diversity.
Incredible concentrations of animals congregate at watering holes from July to October, during the dry season. Between April and July, the flooded and drying landscape is a favorite subject for photographers.
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