The Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Pantanal
The Pantanal in Brazil takes one on an adventure in one the world’s last true untouched wildernesses. Saturated with wildlife, this is an absolute gem for photographic enthusiasts and naturalists alike.
With such an array of birds, mammals and reptiles, there is no shortage of moments to capture. From gazing at tree canopies for feathered friends to cruising the river in search of jaguars on the sandbanks, a Pantanal photo safari will surely keep the shutters busy, so be sure to bring enough memory cards!
So, what is so captivating about Brazil’s Pantanal? Here are 10 reasons a Pantanal photography tour should be your next trip:
1. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet
The Pantanal is a mosaic of flooded grasslands, savannas and tropical forests. Thousands of bird, plant, fish and reptile species thrive in the endless patchwork of lakes, lagoons, rivers and marshes. As one of the most biologically rich environments on the planet, it is comprised of more than 4,700 plant and animal species, with the local wildlife attracting over 1 million visitors each year.
2. The world’s largest tropical wetland
What exactly is a wetland? It’s an area where the land is covered by water, whether it be salt, fresh, or even a combination of the two. The Pantanal expands over 42 million acres – it is about the size of England, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Ireland put together. It’s 10 times bigger than Florida’s Everglades!
The Pantanal is regarded as the world’s best photography holiday destination to photograph jaguars, which are considered the 3rd largest of the big cat species. With its powerful frame and gorgeous coat pattern, this spotted cat is a sight to behold.
Unlike most cats, they love water and are strong swimmers. Given that the Pantanal is a wetland, these cats have resorted to hunting caiman and fish, as well as any other mammal that frequents the shores. With tropical temperatures, Jaguars are known to not wonder too far from the river banks as it not only provides a welcome cool off, but also close access to all food sources.
Definitely one of the most recognisable feathered friends with its long and colourful bill, the Toucan forms part of the Ramphastidae family, which comprises of about 40 different species. The relatively small wings of the Toucan means they are not very good at flying and cannot stay airborne for long. This is an advantage for photographers as it means they don’t often move far, and usually hop between branches using their curved toes and sharp claws!
5. Hyacinth Macaws
The Pantanal has documented nineteen species of parrots, including five species of macaws. Their size and vivid plumage, along with their rather loud behaviour, make them hard to miss among the rainforest canopy.
With loud calls, squawks and other distinctive vocalizations, they can be heard reverberating throughout the Pantanal, especially in the early morning. All this noise isn’t just for entertainment though, and is actually used to mark territory, communicate with the flock and identify partners.
The Pantanal’s most treasured macaw is the Hyacinth macaw, which is the largest parrot in the world by length (reaching up to 100cm), and has a stunning cobalt blue coloration. Like most macaws, Hyacinths form strong pair-bonds, with couples remaining together over the entirety of their lifetime.
The Pantanal is also host to the largest population of crocodilians in the planet. As members of the alligator family, they are native to Central and South America and live a fairly nocturnal existence. During the day they can be in or near various water sources or basking in the sun.
7. Giant Otters
If there is one word that sums up these creatures, it would be cheeky. Known to rip piranhas to shreds, help themselves to fish on boats and even stand up to jaguars, these carnivores live in social groups to help maintain control of their territories, as well as for protection.
The Giant Otter is an especially noisy animal, with a complex repertoire of vocalizations. They can produce around 9 different types of sounds, such as quick barks, explosive snorts, wavering screams or low growls, to inform of potential danger (alarm sound) or to send an aggressive warning. In fact, each family group have shown to have their own unique audio signature.
The Giant Anteater is native to Central and South America and primarily feeds on ants and termites. It uses its fore claws to dig them out and then proceeds to put its long snout, sticky saliva, and efficient tongue to work so that is can feast on the critters. It can slurp up to 35,000 ants in a day!
It may have poor eye sight, but its sense of smell is 40 times better than a human’s – which is how it finds anthills or termite mounts. Feasting is never a long affair as ants will fight back by stinging, but the Anteater won’t destroy the nest so that it can return again.
Armidillos are covered in a leathery armoured shell, giving them a truly unique appearance and making them a very special sighting in the wild. The armour is consists of overlapping plates made out of bone and horn. Although this appears to be the main defense mechanism from predators, most armidllos survive by being able to flee into thorny patches (protected by their armour) where their pursuers cannot follow.
The largest of all snakes, the Anaconda, is semi-aquatic and known for its swimming ability. The Anaconda’s colouring and size depends on the species with their spotted, green, yellow and brown colour palettes allowing them to blend in with tropical rivers and rainforests.
Like all boas, anacondas are nonvenomous but are powerful constrictors. They hunt for a variety of prey, typically under the cover of darkness, lurking in rivers near the banks, where the murky waters and their camouflaging colouring conceals them, waiting for prey to come drink. Once they’ve attacked, they restrain their prey with sharp, curved teeth and apply their constrictive killing technique. After feeding, anacondas can go weeks or months without eating again.
Travel with ORYX and Dale Morris to the Pantanal
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