Where Is Pantanal? (Brazilian Wetland Guide)

Pantanal is one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. A true treasure full of animals and beautiful landscapes. In addition, and that’s something I’m very proud to share as a Brazilian, it’s an area of high preservation: according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), it’s the most preserved biome in Brazil.

Pantanal is located in 3 countries: Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Most of the biome is in Brazil, distributed between the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Pantanal is the largest wetland on Earth, with more than 220 thousand km² and one of the richest faunas in Brazil.

The total size of the biome is 220 thousand km² and most of it’s located in Brazil (120 thousand km²). But this region is way more than just a well-preserved wetland in South America. It’s an area of high iteration between biomes and concentrates almost all the species of animals in Brazil. To learn all about it, read on.

The Largest Flooplain on Earth

Photo: WWF Brasil

The Pantanal is one of the smallest Brazilian biomes but has huge importance to the country. Plus: it’s the largest floodplain wetland on Earth. The region covers 3 countries: Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. In Brazil, it’s present in two states (Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul) passing through 22 cities. Traveling to this Brazilian wetland is an incredible program, it allows incredible experiences.

You can ride horses and handling the cattle like a real pawn, fishing and catching some of the most important fish in the world, and enjoy a wonderful culinary tradition. As most of its areas are well-preserved, you’ll be able to be part of the culture of one of the most important natural ecosystems on Earth. With a total area of more than 84 thousand square miles, Pantanal has an infinity of landscapes and experiences for a lifetime.

Main BiomeFloodplain Wetland
Other BiomesTropical Forest, Cerrado, Atlantic Forest
LocationBrazil: Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, Bolivia, Paraguay
Total Area84,942 square miles / 220,000 square kilometers
Total Area (In Brazil)46,332 square miles / 120,000 square kilometers
Preservation LevelMost preserved biome in Brazil (IBGE)

Pantanal: A Rich Biodiversity

One of the main reasons for such diversity is that, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Pantanal it’s the most preserved biome in Brazil. Another reason for the incredible fauna of the region is the fact that there’s a high correlation between biomes in the region. Most part of Pantanal is formed by floodplain wetlands, but there are also areas of Cerrado and Caatinga (and even some areas of Tropical Forests).

According to WWF, the Pantanal has a rich biodiversity. It is home to 4,700 species among animals and plants. The region concentrates almost all species of animals that live in Brazil. This fact occurs because this biome is directly influenced by three large Brazilian biomes: Amazon Forest, Cerrado and Atlantic Forest, in addition to having some areas with remnants of the Caatinga.

SpeciesNumberMain Specimens
Mammals159Jaguar, Capybara, Bat, Deer
Reptiles98Alligators
Birds656Toucan, Arara (Macaw), Carão, Tuiuiú
Amphibians53Green Frog
Fish325Pacu, Catfish Traíra, Dourado, Jaú (largest in the region)
Plants3500Trees and aquatic and terrestrial vegetation

Where Is The Location Of Pantanal?

Pantanal is considered by many (me included) as a Brazilian “hidden” secret. Most travelers usually go to places like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (or beaches in the Northeast region). That’s not a problem, all those are amazing destinations, but Pantanal is something else. At least in terms of experiencing wild nature encounters. Even so, a lot of people don’t know the exact location of this incredible place.

The location of Pantanal involves 3 different countries: Brazil (where most of the biome is located), Bolivia, and Paraguay. In Brazil, the region of Pantanal is concentrated between 2 states (Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul), the reason why it’s also called “Pantanal Mato-Grossense”.

There are no direct flights to visit the region, but it’s possible to fly from virtually any Brazilian capital to the airports of Cuiabá and Campo Grande, that are close to the Pantanal region. From there, there is approximately 300km to get to Pantanal. This travel can be done by bus or rental car. In fact, traveling part of the 145 km of “Transpantaneira”, a highway that crosses Pantanal, is an excellent way to explore and discover different parts of this beautiful region.

What Is Pantanal Famous For?

Pantanal is one of my favorite places in Brazil. Everything there is almost untouched nature, raw, wild. An incredible experience that I recommend for everyone looking for animal encounters and exotic food. But every time I say to one of my friends to go to Pantanal I hear the same question: but what is this region famous for?

Pantanal is famous for its amazing biodiversity and for being the world’s largest floodplain, with more than 220 thousand km². The region is the most preserved Brazilian biomes and home to more than 4,700 species among animals and plants. The animal encounters and safaris in the region are amazing.

The place is amazing for animal encounters like seeing alligators and anacondas in their habitat (from a safe distance), explore nature and trails on foot, horseback, or even by canoe. Fishing species like Pacu, Jaú (largest in the region), and even the feared Piranhas. Visiting the Arara Azul project is another great idea. The project aims to protect and preserve the Blue Macaw, an endangered species.

Is Pantanal Part Of The Amazon?

Brazil is a gigantic country (with continental dimensions) so it’s common for me to receive questions from friends and writers here in the blog about locations and places. The most recent one that I received and that generates doubts in a lot of people is if Pantanal is part of the Amazon. Well, let’s see.

The Pantanal is not part of the Amazon. In Brazil, the region corresponding to Pantanal is divided between 2 states and Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Despite the region not being part of the Amazon, a little portion of its extension corresponds to the biome of the Amazon Rainforest.

Pantanal itself is one of the smallest biomes in Brazil (yet the largest floodplain on Earth). Even so, one of the reasons why the area is so full of biodiversity is the fact that it integrates areas of different biomes. It’s true that most of its land is a floodplain, but there are small portions of Cerrado, Caatinga, Tropical Forest, and even Amazon Rainforest.

Are There Alligators In Pantanal?

As one of the most important biomes in terms of biodiversity not only for Brazil but for the entire world, it’s normal to see questions about what kind of animals can be found in Pantanal. The most common question that I’ve been receiving is if there are alligators over there. Well, here’s the answer.

There are more than 3 million adult alligators in Pantanal, that counting only the Brazilian side. The main 3 species found in the region are the Jacaré-Anão (Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman), the Jacaré-de-Papo-Amarelo (Broad-Snouted Caiman) and the Jacaré-do-Pantanal (Caiman yacare).

Are There Anacondas In Pantanal?

The Anaconda is one of the most famous (and feared) animals that are famous for being found in Brazil. Despite the success of the movie showing the gigantic snake in the Amazon (where they can be found), the best place to see Anacondas in Brazil is another one.

There are Anacondas all over Pantanal. That’s the Brazilian region where it’s more common to see the “Sucuris” (Anaconda). In the region, encounters with animals in nature are common, in the water or crossing roads. On average, the “Sucuris” (Anacondas) can easily reach more than 10 meters.

If you don’t believe me, I’ll link here 3 news (in Portuguese, but there are videos) of encounters with Anacondas in the region of Pantanal. It took me like 30 seconds to find it, they’re all from 2021. If you have more time to search, you’ll probably find thousands of videos. Just google for “Sucuri no Pantanal”.

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References

https://viagemeturismo.abril.com.br/cidades/pantanal/
https://www.wwf.org.br/natureza_brasileira/areas_prioritarias/pantanal/bioma_pantanal/
https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/brasil/o-pantanal.htm

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