The travel to Pantanal from Paris was not the easiest journey. First, I flew from Paris to Rio, and stayed overnight. Then I flew from Rio to Brasilia and Brasilia to Cuiaba. From there, my awesome guide Julinho picked me up to drive a few hours south to the first stop in Pantanal. The few days in Pantanal were an amazing experience in nature. Even the camping without electricity and running water was worth it.
Originally, I had planned to go to the Amazon jungle as I have heard a lot about it. However, my Brazilian friends convinced me that Pantanal could be better for seeing wildlife as the foliage in the grasslands is a lot less dense than the jungle. Very glad that I took this advice. Watching jaguars hunt along the river was unbelievable. We saw one just miss catching a caiman and another just miss catching a capybara. Seeing anteaters in the wild, touch caiman tails, and watching jabiru storks mating were some other incredible sights. Food was not my main reason to travel to Pantanal, but catching and frying piranha was a pretty amazing and tasty experience.
- Seeing the wildlife including jaguars, caiman, capybara, river otters, Jabiru storks, anteaters, deer, monitor lizards, snakes, foxes and many other small animals and birds
- Fishing in the river using chunks of meat as bait to catch piranha and pacu
- Meeting the locals and trying local food
- Enjoying the quiet sounds of nature
- Driving a boat on the river
- Watching other tourists with their giant cameras
Before you go
- Pantanal is located in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul
- Many local people do not speak English so it is helpful to have a translation app for Portuguese
- There are insects around so bring repellant
- Wear layers and bring a rain jacket just in case
- For decent photos, take a camera with a good zoom. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one but my iPhone was not great. Very glad my guide took a few photos for me
- The arrival airport for the start of my Pantanal adventure was Cuiaba in the state of Mato Grosso. Getting there was not easy from Paris as I had to fly first to Rio then Brasilia and finally to Cuiaba. On the way home I flew from Cuiaba to São Paulo.
- I had a great experience with Julinho of Pantanal Trackers who organised all of my transport, accommodation, food and sightseeing adventures
- For the rough roads in Pantanal, it was good that Julinho was driving a jeep. And the best views of animals and nature were from the boat. He drove most of the time and let me drive when the water was open. So much fun!
- My accommodation in Pantanal started out at the comfortable Pouso Alegre Lodge. It was surrounded by nature and one day I asked why people were looking in a big bucket. The hotel worker then showed me the snake that they had caught inside. Luckily it was a small one!
- Usually I don’t like camping but I will do it to experience beautiful nature. I was roughing it in a tent with no electricity and showering with water from the river in Porto Jofre. We camped on the land of a very friendly couple who were friends of Julinho, Maria and Carmindo
- Finally, back in Cuiaba I stayed at the simple, clean and comfortable Hotel Ramos. It was convenient to walk to the city centre
Food was definitely not my main reason to travel to Pantanal. I figured since we would be in the wilderness, I would likely be eating very simple meals. In fact, most meals contained rice and beans in different formats and flavours. On the side, there were usually meats and vegetables. The food was hearty and filling, which was good after the active days out.
One day while we were out on the river, we met a group of men having a BBQ. They were farmers having a team building day out fishing. Most of them did not speak English, but the few who did were very friendly. They were surprised that I travelled to such an adventurous place on my own. We joined in for their BBQ and had some delicious grilled fish.
The highlight of my dining experiences in Pantanal was at our camping site at Carmindo and Maria’s house. During the day, Julinho and I went fishing in the river. We caught a mixture of piranha and pacu fish. Later that evening, we grilled it to eat for dinner.
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: Yes, it is better to have a guide as the roads are rough and not well marked. Also, it is useful to have a boat to sightsee on the river
Q: Do people speak English?
A: No, not many spoke English but luckily my guide did!
Q: Is it a walkable city?
A: No, it is a location in nature outside of cities, so not walkable
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