Forget Football, Watch Wildlife | Animals in Brazil

Tom Brown

04 Jun 2014

Wildlife in Brazil for the world cup

I spent eight and a half years in South America, spending a lot of time there leading tours. I've always been a wildlife enthusiast so it was fantastic to spend so much time in this incredible region. Most people know that the Amazon Rainforest is home to the greatest number of plant and animal species on the planet, with plants and insects making up the proportion of these numbers. However I’m sure that, like me, you're more interested in some of the bigger and more colourful residents. It's all about being in the right place at the right time to spot the elusive jaguar; to hear the deafening mating call of the howler monkey, which can be heard from miles; or to see the oddly coloured pink river dolphin - luckily this is exactly what we specialise in! 

I’m a sports fanatic and love my football and unless you have spent the last couple of years in a mountain hut in the Himalayas without access to a TV or newspapers, then you will be aware that over the next month the World Cup is being staged in Brazil. This means that availability over the forthcoming months is extremely limited but if the coverage of this colourful Latin America destination piques your interest then make sure that you start planning well in advance for next year. The best wildlife lodges and destinations are very exclusive and fill up fast. 

Wildlife in Brazil is everywhere. Here are my top locations for wildlife sightings:

The Pantanal

The Pantanal is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. It is the world’s largest expanse of wetlands and covers an area which is approximately 10 times the size of the Everglades in Florida. It is split into the Northern and Southern Pantanal. Many species such as the Yacare caiman and the capybara, the largest rodent in the world are found throughout, but if the jaguar is your wildlife goal than your chances are greatly increased if you spend time in the Nothern Pantanal (read our guide on the best ways to see a wild jaguar in Brazil to maximise your chances). If you are after the giant anteater then you may want to spend more time in the Southern Pantanal. If lady luck is on your side then you may even encounter the extremely shy puma, although don’t get your hopes up as I haven’t seen one yet and I have spent huge amounts of time there.

My top five wildlife sightings in the Pantanal are:

1. Jaguar 
2. Giant anaconda
3. Hyacinth macaw
4. Giant otter
5. Giant anteater

The Amazon

The Amazon needs no introduction. Covering almost half the country, it is home to a vast number of species. The entry point and hub is the state capital of Manaus which is where England will be playing during the World Cup.

The Amazon is an incredible experience but it is important to understand that it is not Africa. The animals can be a little more difficult to spot as they are in amongst the vegetation. The key to any Amazon experience is patience. As the old saying goes, ‘good things come to those who wait’.

There are different ways to experience the wildlife of the Amazon; we suggest either taking a cruise along the waterways of this mighty river or to be based from a lodge. Both are excellent ways to experience this mighty jungle. One of my favourite bases in the Amazon is Cristalino Lodge in the Southern Amazon; a great spot for basing yourself on a wildlife adventure. It combines fantastically with the Northern Pantanal so it often pops up in NWS itineraries!

My top five wildlife sightings for the Amazon are: 

1. Three-toed sloth

2. Pink river dolphins
3. Scarlet macaw
4. Toucan
5. Howler monkey

Atlantic Forest

The Atlantic Forest in Brazil is less-visited, older and completely independent from its Amazonian neighbour. It is also much less known and much less visited. While relatively little of this forest remains, it is extraordinarily rich in biodiversity and endemic species; 60% of all Brazil’s threatened animal species can be found here.

Twenty-six different species of primate, call this forest home while 21 of these can’t be found anywhere else in the world. It’s also home to a vast number of butterflies; over 2000 different species at the last count. 

Our top five wildlife sightings for The Atlantic Forest are: 

1.Woolly spider monkeys
2. Golden lion tamarin
3. Black lion tamarin
4. Red-tailed parrot
5. Maned three-toed sloth

If you want to plan a wildlife safari to Brazil then please please get in touch with me. I'd be delighted to share my experiences and help you plan your own.

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