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Brazil's UNESCO-listed Pantanal region is termed by National Geographic as "Brazil's Best Kept Secret." The southwestern Pantanal region is located close to the borders of Paraguay and Bolivia and spills across the borders at places. It is famous for its incredible biodiversity and is the world's largest tropical wetland. Wildlife safaris in Pantanal are very different from the stunning sights one would see on a wildlife safari in Africa.

The best way to explore Pantanal is with a guided tour. The Pantanal is home to few people and no towns. Distances are great, and ground transport is poor - most people get around with small airplanes and motorboats. Car travel is restricted during the wet and flooded seasons.

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Pantanal: The Tropical Wetland Perfect For Wildlife Safaris

As the world's largest tropical wetland and the largest flooded grassland, Pantanal is bursting with much of the most iconic South American wildlife. It is truly massive; at over 70,000 square miles, it is around the size of the state of Washington.

  • Listed: UNESCO World Heritage Listed
  • Largest: World's Largest Tropical Wetland
  • Size: Over 70,000 Sq Miles

It is home to around 3% of the world's wetlands and is often overshadowed by the natural wonder that's the Amazon Rainforest. But despite the reputation of the Amazon, Pantanal actually boasts the highest concentration of wildlife in South America. One of the best ways to explore the Amazon is with an Amazon boat cruise.

The seasons of Pantanal are significant, with torrential rains filling gup the massive Pantanal basin every year. Around 80% of the Pantanal floodplains get submerged during the rainy seasons. As the waters slowly drain, it leaves behind a landscape of fish and snail-filled pools that attract an array of wildlife (like egrets, storks, and spoonbills). Also lurking in these pools is the green anaconda - the largest snake in the world.

Pantanal is also the ideal place to take a South American wildlife safari. Spot wildlife like jaguars, crocodiles, giant anteaters, piranhas, capuchin monkeys, green anaconda, capybaras, caimans, wild pigs, and much more.

Whereas the Amazon is a thick jungle making it hard to see anything, the Pantanal's openness makes it much easier to see the local wildlife.

Related: These Top-Rated Amazon Tours Are A Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

7 Days / 6 Nights Jaguar Extreme Tour

Brazilian Nature Tours offers their week-long Jaguar Extreme Tour. The tour departs from Cuiaba and heads to Pantanal. The first night is spent at the South Wild Pantanal lodge. The next day departs by boat to Porto Jofre, where the tour spends the rest of the nights on the South Wild Flotel or the Suites.

The tour starts with being picked up at the Cuiaba airport and lunch at the Quintal Buffet Restaurant. Spend the night at the South Wild Pantanal lodge but go after dinner to see the ocelot hide, where one may be able to see an ocelot at close range.

Wake up early to take a boat into the heart of the Jaguar Zone to the Jaguar Flotel (a houseboat with ten cabins). Every day on the third, fourth, and fifth days guests have around eight hours to observe the jaguars and giant otters on the Tres Irmãos, Cuiabá, and Piquirí rivers.

Spend the sixth day getting back to the South Wild Pantanal on the open Safari Truck.

The tour includes an English-speaking guide, air-conditioned transport, open Safari Truck transfers, Jaguar searches on a motorboat, accommodation at a lodge, and a "flotel."

  • Price: $4,454 (1-4 Persons)
  • Duration: 7 Days / 6 Nights
  • Jaguar Tours: On A Radio-Equipped Motorboat - Eight Hours a Day
  • Accommodation: Lodge & Flotel

The tour does not include flights to the airport, travel insurance, or alcoholic drinks.

Related: Did You Know There's A Stonehenge In The Amazon Too?

North & South Pantanal Ultimate Wildlife Experience

There are many other tours offered by Brazil Nature Tours; one more example is their 10-day Ultimate Wildlife Experience. This is a unique 10-day program that delves into the best wildlife viewing available throughout the Pantanal area.

The tour combines observations of the elusive jaguars with bird and other mammal experiences.

The tour begins at Cuiaba and includes an English-speaking guide. Accommodation is at the Hotel Porto Jofre and lodges.

  • Includes: Accommodation, Transfers
  • Guide: English Speaking Tour Guide
  • Excursions: Plenty of Excursions
  • Cost: From $4,100

Enjoy boat trips (by motorboats and kayaks) with views of giant river otters, capybaras, caimans, and jaguars. It also includes small airplane trips to get a better view of the wetlands and to get to the remote Fazenda Barranco Alto. Other activities include hiking and night walk on horses.