The 5 Best Things to Do in The Brazilian Pantanal

The enchanting realm of the Brazilian Pantanal promises an encounter like no other. It’s a sprawling oasis of biodiversity nestled in the heart of South America and, contrary to popular belief, offers travellers a better chance of spotting various wildlife than if you were in the Amazon.  

As one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands,  the Pantanal is a testament to nature’s artistry, painting a vivid canvas with its rich variety of ecosystems. From vibrant marshes and meandering rivers to verdant forests and expansive grasslands, this remarkable region is a haven for both wildlife enthusiasts and intrepid adventurers who want to discover one of Brazil’s best-kept secrets.

Undiscovered Destinations offers those adventurous travellers a chance to explore the Pantanal in an intimate small group tour where you can venture into the depths of the Brazilian wetlands with our travel experts who will ensure you get the most out of your trip. 

From thrilling encounters with elusive jaguars and captivating birdwatching expeditions to serene canoeing through tranquil waters, there is an abundance of things to do in the Brazilian Pantanal that cater to every traveller’s taste and interests. Whether you’re planning your next trip or simply seeking inspiration, this article will reveal the remarkable adventures that await you in this unique corner of the world.

1. Witness the Wildlife in the Brazilian Pantanal 

Venturing into the Pantanal in Brazil is like stepping into an uncharted realm of nature, where the boundary between humans and animals blurs into insignificance. A playground for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers, the Pantanal straddles the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia and is the world’s largest wetland region covering 70 000 square miles. 

The Brazilian wetland’s reputation as a wildlife haven is well-deserved, boasting an impressive array of species that call this diverse habitat home. Part national park and part UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been recognised for its importance in its conservation efforts and houses roughly 700 bird species, 100 mammal species, 80 reptile species, and 250 fish species. 

As the sun rises, draping golden hues over the Pantanal’s landscapes, the ecosystem awakens with a symphony of calls and rustling leaves, setting the stage for a day of astonishing wildlife sightings. When touring the Pantanal with Undiscovered Destinations, your days will often start early to ensure you optimise your chances of seeing the wildlife go about their daily routine in their natural habitat. 

As you explore its winding waterways and lush forests, you’ll have the chance to witness the majestic jaguars. These elusive mammals offer a glimpse into the untamed heart of the Pantanal and are a testament to the region’s commitment to wildlife conservation. However, the jaguars aren’t the only showstopping sighting you will encounter.

Inside this vast ecosystem is a carnival of life including capybaras basking in the sun-dappled waters, caimans stealthily lurking in the shallows, and tapirs emerging from the depths of the forest. Every moment you explore will be spent holding your breath in anticipation as every leaf turned and rustling noise could present a new surprise. 

Responsible wildlife viewing is a cornerstone of the Brazilian Pantanal experience, which is exactly why our expert tour guides have curated an itinerary that gives you the best chances of spotting once-in-a-lifetime animals, whilst ensuring encounters are both respectful and sustainable. With their trained eyes and expansive knowledge of the terrain, these guides will lead you to the prime viewing spots, where patience and luck often collide to reveal nature’s most breathtaking spectacles.

2. Birdwatching in the Brazilian Pantanal 

In the Brazilian Pantanal, the sky becomes a living canvas washed with vibrant hues and melodious songs as countless bird species take flight. This verdant wonderland is not only a sanctuary for wildlife enthusiasts but a paradise for birdwatchers from around the globe, housing two of the most impressive winged sightings around; the Jabiru stork and the Hyacinth macaw.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or not, you can’t help but be entranced by the resplendent Hyacinth macaw. The lush greens of the Pantanal’s landscape act as a striking backdrop to this bird’s cobalt blue body, making its presence stand out. Thought to be less than 7000 left of its kind, this rare and iconic parrot species, with its raucous calls and social nature, is just one of the many special sightings to grace the skies here. 

The extraordinary Jabiru stork, with its imposing figure and impressive wingspan (averaging at 8 feet), is considered to be one of the largest in the new world and is a sight to behold as it soars above the wetlands in search of its next meal.

For avid birdwatchers, the Pantanal offers an unrivalled spectacle during its wet season, which sits between November and March. The flooded fields become a haven for waterfowl, waders, and migratory birds. As the sun casts a golden glow over the waters, flocks of herons, egrets, and ibises elegantly wade through the shallows, their reflections mirroring their graceful movements.

Timing is crucial for the ultimate birdwatching experience in the Pantanal. The early mornings and late afternoons provide the most optimal lighting conditions for observing and photographing these winged treasures. The expertise of local guides is invaluable, as they are adept at identifying even the most cryptic bird calls and locating the hidden nests tucked away in the foliage.

3. Fishing Adventures in the Brazilian Pantanal 

Fishing in the bountiful waters of the Pantanal in Brazil is a first-hand insight into the heart of the region’s aquatic life. The Brazilian wetland’s waterways teem with an astonishing variety of fish species, each playing a vital role in the ecosystem’s intricate web. 

From the fierce piranhas to the powerful dorado, also known as the ‘golden fish’, the Pantanal’s rivers and lagoons offer a plethora of possibilities for fishing enthusiasts. Catfish, known for their impressive size and formidable battles, also call these waters home, creating an enticing challenge for those seeking to test their angling skills.

It should be noted that the much-loved piranha fishing only occurs between February to September. In the months from the beginning of October to the end of January, it is prohibited to fish in rivers, lakes and bays of Mato Grosso as it is the breeding season for the fish. 

However, fishing in the Pantanal is not just about the thrill of the catch. The catch-and-release practices that have been embraced here demonstrate a commitment to preserving the delicate equilibrium of the ecosystem. This ethos ensures that generations to come can also experience the exhilaration of hooking a powerful fish and the joy of watching it return to its habitat unharmed.

During our Pantanal Explorer Tour, we take a couple of hours to visit a fishing village named Cuiabá Mirim situated on the banks of Rio Cuiabá. Here you will have the opportunity to engage with the local community, who exist by way of fishing and subsistence agriculture, learning about their peaceful coexistence with their environment.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler seeking a new challenge or a beginner eager to learn from experienced guides, the Pantanal offers an immersive fishing adventure that is sure to leave you with a great appreciation for the Brazilian wetland’s wonders.

4. Canoeing and Boating Expeditions in the Brazilian Pantanal 

The Brazilian Pantanal reveals its hidden wonders not only on land but also along the shimmering lengths of its waterways. Canoeing and boating expeditions in this wetland paradise offer a serene and tranquil connection with nature, allowing adventurers to immerse themselves in the heart of an ecosystem that thrives in the ebb and flow of water. 

Canoeing through the Pantanal’s calm waters is an experience of true harmony with the environment, which can be enjoyed by people of all abilities. Our expert tour guides recommend this activity during sunrise; your gentle paddling won’t disturb the wildlife too much so you can truly appreciate the awakening of nature in Brazil’s wetlands. Each stroke draws you into a conversation with the water’s reflections, the passing wildlife, and the intricate vegetation that lines the shores. These expeditions offer a unique vantage point, allowing you to observe the wildlife up close as they go about their daily routines.

Boating expeditions, on the other hand, open up a wide expanse of the Pantanal’s waters, revealing its grandeur and diversity. They’re an excellent opportunity to witness the array of South America’s magnificent species, so much so that our Pantanal Exploration Tour dedicates 3 relaxing days to boat tours, up and down the rivers Cuiabá, Piquiri, Três Irmãos. You might find yourself cruising past sunbathing caimans, catching a glimpse of the legendary jaguar emerging from the forest’s edge, or witnessing the elegant flight of a jabiru stork overhead.

Guided by experienced local boatmen who know the waterways intimately, these expeditions are an opportunity to learn not only about the Pantanal’s flora and fauna but also about the stories and traditions of those who have coexisted with this environment for generations. 

Canoeing and boating expeditions in the Brazilian wetlands are a testament to the tranquillity that lies at the heart of this vibrant ecosystem. They offer moments of reflection and awe, where you become a part of the water’s gentle flow and establish a connection to the Pantanal that lingers long after you’ve returned home.

5. Horseback Riding in the Brazilian Pantanal 

Saddling up for a horseback riding tour in the Brazilian Pantanal is an invitation to journey through time, retracing the steps of generations who have formed an unbreakable bond with this captivating landscape. The rhythmic clip-clop of hooves merges seamlessly with the soundtrack of nature, creating a harmonious melody that resonates with the soul of the wetlands in Brazil. 

The Pantanal’s flat expanses and open vistas lend themselves perfectly to exploring on horseback, allowing riders to discover areas that might otherwise be inaccessible. Every step of your trusty steed will allow you to quietly observe the Pantanal’s diverse inhabitants and witness the landscape shift from wetlands to woodlands, showcasing a captivating panorama that unfolds as you ride.

The legacy of horsemanship runs deep in the Pantanal, holding real cultural significance. The Pantaneiros have woven their lives intricately with these animals. Your journey on horseback is an invitation to slow down, savour the landscape, and embrace this heritage, bridging the gap between past and present. It’s a journey that transports you not only across distances but across time, allowing you to walk in the footsteps of those who have forged a profound connection with this magical land.


We hope this article has given you an insight into the best things to do in the Brazilian Pantanal. Whether you’re an avid wildlife lover, a passionate birdwatcher, an angler seeking the thrill of the catch, or simply someone yearning to connect with the untamed wilderness, the Pantanal promises an experience beyond compare. It’s more than just a destination; as you capture these memories through your lens and your heart, you’ll carry a piece of the Pantanal’s magic with you long after you’ve returned home.

If you are considering a trip to the Brazilian Pantanal, our small group tour invites you to explore the wetland’s breathtaking beauty, and is designed for those seeking unparalleled encounters with some of the world’s most captivating creatures. For 11 days, our experts will take you on a journey of a lifetime through the Pantanal, educating and showing you all the best parts of the region that you might struggle to uncover without a guide. 

Get in touch with a member of our team today to enquire about the wonder that is Brazil’s Pantanal.

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