The numbers are impressive: 93 reptile species, 122 mammal species, around 300 species of fish, over 600 bird and 1032 butterfly species have been registered in the Pantanal so far, according to the WWF. In the heart of South America, the largest tropical wetland on Earth may not be as famous as the neighboring ecosystem to the north, the Amazon, but the absence of hills and big trees allows for the spotting of many more animal species throughout its 96,525 square miles area.
In the northern portion of this fascinating biome, we take wildlife photographers and admirers close to the main draws to the region. The caimans here measure as long as 8 feet, the anacondas are over 15 feet in extension and the jaguars, “el tigre de las Americas,” are known to weigh over 330 pounds. And there are plenty of giant otters, capybaras, tapirs and birds.
It doesn’t matter if you're in the northern or southern section of this landscape: there will be birds everywhere. Heading south, the expedition leaves the flooding area on a drive to Bonito. This small town was christened after the crystalline waters of its rivers and waterfalls. But there is an even greater attraction for wildlife admirers: the Macaw Sinkhole (Buraco das Araras), an astonishing natural observatory where you can photograph red-and-green macaws from above while they take flight.
This is only possible because the macaws use the sandstone walls for roosting and nesting. And our observation point is located at the top of one side of this huge hole in the ground. There’s probably no other place in the world where a photographer can capture such beautiful red macaws in action and with those photogenic brown walls in the background. It's simply amazing – and the best way to wrap up an immersive experience in this veritable Garden of Eden for wildlife lovers.