Two Wild Sides of Brazil: Amazon and Pantanal

Mone Petsod

16 Nov 2018

NWS client Mone experiences two of Brazil's most biodiverse regions

Friends: “You're going where?”
I: “The Pantanal and the Amazon.”
Friends: “What part of the Amazon?” “Where in the world is the Pantanal? And what’s there?”

My friends’ puzzlement was understandable. With an area of 5.5 million square kilometres, I did not even know how one begins to explore the Amazon, so I pushed the idea aside. Only after a plan for the Pantanal had taken shape did the brilliant NWS Destination Specialist suggest the Amazon as an extension.

No words can ever describe this magical forest. An old Chinese saying, “Reading ten thousand books is not as good as travelling ten thousand miles,” aptly applies to the Amazon. It taught me how small we are and how big the world is, while infusing me with intense feelings and enchanting me with its myriad lights, colours, sounds, scents, shapes, and forms. My whirlwind trip to the Amazon as an afterthought did not do it justice. It is already calling me to return and immerse myself in its magic once again.

So, what did I learn from my research and trip to the Pantanal?

  • With a total area of almost 195,000 square kilometres/75,000 square miles, the Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world.
  • The Pantanal covers a large part of western Brazil and extends into Paraguay and Bolivia.
  • The Pantanal is home to 3,500 known plant species, with more discovered and identified by scientists on a regular basis.
  • The Pantanal is home to at least 1,000 bird species, 300 mammal species and 9,000 invertebrate species, in addition to countless fascinating insects and other species.
  • Some of the very rare and/or endangered animal species include the jaguar, maned wolf, bush dog, capybara, marsh deer, giant river otter, hyacinth macaw, crowned solitary eagle, South American tapir, giant anteater and yacare caiman.
  • The Pantanal is home to the highest density of jaguars in the world.
  • Jaguars are the third-largest cats after tigers and lions.
  • The largest jaguars are found in the Pantanal. This is thanks to the abundant food sources, including 10 million caiman.
  • Since trees are more sparse, it is much easier to view jaguars and other wildlife in the Pantanal than in the dense Amazon Rainforest.
  • It is much easier to spot jaguars in the Pantanal than anywhere else because they hang around the water’s edge, where food is plentiful. Did I mention that their favourite food is caiman?
  • When a jaguar yawns three times, she is signalling that she is about to get up and move to a different location.
  • Besides its large body size, a spot in its rosette (a rose-like marking found on the fur and skin) distinguishes a jaguar from a leopard.
  • Although jaguars are apex predators, they do not usually tangle with giant river otters, because giant river otters are fiercely territorial. They would fight back as good as they get.
  • The dusty, bumpy, jumpy, unpaved Transpantaneira Highway is the only link between the Pantanal and the nearest airport, in Cuiabá.
  • Lastly, and a fact that most people do not realise, Brazil is larger than the continent of Australia!

Would I visit Brazil again?
Absolutely, in a heartbeat.

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