Pantanal: discover the country’s most important ecological tourist destination

Brazilians began to discover the Pantanal through the small TV screen, with the super-production of the telenovela Pantanal, more than thirty years ago, presented at the extinct Rede Manchete, becoming one of the main ecological tourism destinations in the country; and now Rede Globo, in its remake of the novel, brings that world back in the eyes of this country, apart from everything we know, with a unique color palette: the largest floodplain in the world, painted in just two seasons, full of and dry, with colors blending with each sunset, resulting in photos of surprising beauty, making it without a doubt one of the most sought-after destinations.

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It is 250,000 square kilometers in length, spread across the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, in Brazil, and in neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay.

Considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, it has a magical weather that makes those who live there, or even those who pass through it, connect with its natural essence through a link with nature in its purest rusticity.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The high water season occurs from November to March when many roads are flooded and it is not possible to carry out some activities. The best period is from April to October, when the rains are less constant.

HOW TO GET TO THE PANTANAL?

For those who want to get to know the area of ​​the Pantanal called “north”, the gateway is via Cuiabá (MT), and via the Transpantaneira, with a length of 147 kilometers, connects Poconé with Porto Jofre. A dirt road with many bridges, some still made of wood and those have great tourist attractions around you. It was created to connect MT to MS, but it is not completed and ends in Porto Jofre. On the banks of the Parque road, it is possible to observe countless animals living free.

For those seeking the southern Pantanal, there are two options for arriving by plane: Campo Grande, capital of the state of Mato do Grosso do Sul, from where transfers to Aquidauana and Miranda depart; and Corumbá, with a port prepared for the departure of large ships.

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airports

  • Cuiaba (Marechal Rondon Intl.)
  • Campo Grande (Campo Grande Intl.)

Airlines

  • Gol Linhas Aéreas, Azul and LATAM

Transfer at Campo Grande

There is much to see and live in the Pantanal

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NON-PANTAL TOURISM

For decades, the wetland attracts foreign tourists to discover this unique biome, and they remain, for a share of 80%, among others Dutch, French, Danish.

There is much to see and live in the Pantanal and there are several hotel options that offer everything from the comfort of a five star hotel with luxury accommodation to inns of various sizes, farms opening their doors to jungle lodges and boat hotels.

Almost all hotels offer experiences like piranha fishing, where the fish turns into a delicious broth; horseback riding in swampy areas, with an average duration of one and a half hours, to better understand the life of the local pedestrians.

photo safari

The photographic safari, which can be done in a special car or by boat, is the time to get to know some of the animals of the region. With a bit of luck you will find anteaters, pampas deer, maned wolves, capybaras, otters, giant armadillos, which can reach 3 meters in length, numerous alligators and the largest of the American cats, the famous jaguar; with a large population concentration in the Porto Jofre region (MT) and also mainly present in the Miranda region (MS).

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wild camp

There are hotels that offer one night option in a wild camp, where after a few hours of sailing along the river, tents are set up next to a riverbank, far from civilization of any kind. Usually, capybaras and other animals pass through the camp at night, which makes the experience even more unique.

Jaguar in the Pantanal
Jaguar in the Pantanal

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water activities

Canoeing and drifting are options for water activitiesnext to the focus, a nighttime walk along the river so you can get acquainted with the habits of animals that have the night as their peak of activity, such as alligators.

boat ride

The sunset boat ride is a magical moment. The sunset brings colors never seen before, with mixtures that seem unlikely, such as the sky painted in purple and orange, or red of various shades, creating a natural frame where it can only be seen in the Pantanal. Suddenly, as if a curtain had been drawn, night falls and at the same time thousands of points of light scatter, creating a sky with so many stars that it is impossible to count.

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PLACES TO STAY

Mato Grosso

Mato Grosso do Sul

boat hotel

Pantanal was considered a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve
Pantanal was considered a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve

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PANTANEIRA GASTRONOMY

The cuisine of the Pantanal is heavily influenced by indigenous and gaúcha, with its own flavors, based on fish, beef and carrots.

Macarrão de Comitiva and Carreteiro rice are typical dishes of the entourages that accompany the shepherds who cross large tracts of land to bring the cattle to dry places, during the floods of the Pantanal. They are responsible for feeding pedestrians throughout the journey. They make unique dishes, cooked in one pan and with a rich protein power.

At the Macarrão de Comitiva, the dough is first baked and then boiled, adding beef; is a version of the famous Arroz de Carreteiro, which, in addition to rice and meat, usually dried meat, mixes various ingredients such as vegetables. A popular side dish at meals during the trip is Paçoca Pantaneira, made with shredded dried meat mixed with onion, garlic and manioc flour.

crooked pause

Quebra-Torto is a common breakfast on farms in Mato Grosso do Sul, consisting of Carreteiro rice, eggs, and farofa. It is common for hotels and inns in the Quebra-Torto region to serve as an afternoon snack for guests.

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Paraguayan soup
Paraguayan soup

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Piranha Broth and Paraguayan Soup

Typical of the region is Caldo de Piranha, a type of soup made with the meat of shredded fish, said to be a great energy drink and an excellent aphrodisiac.

A throwback to the Paraguayan War, it features on the Pantanal menu with the Paraguayan soup, which, although it bears the name “soup”, is actually a cornmeal cake with cheese and onion, mainly consumed for breakfast and afternoon tea.

chipa

Also of Paraguayan origin, Chipa is present at the table of pantaneiros. Similar to a cheese bread, it has a firmer consistency and a unique taste.

sarrabulho

It is impossible to talk about the Pantanal cuisine without mentioning the Sarrabulho, based on offal, olives and red wine, pepperoni and sausage, accompanied by the Pantanal barbecue, the latter learned from the people of Rio Grande and adapted to the local culture, as well as the Tererê, the cold version of chimarrão.

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Bolivian Saltenhas

The Saltenhas Bolivianas, a breaded chicken with potatoes, raisins, which have a slightly sweet dough, were also used in Pantanal cuisine, as well as, in the capital Mato Grosso do Sul, the Sobá, a Japanese ramen noodles, which 2006 received the status of cultural heritage of intangible nature of Campo Grande, classified by the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage.

desserts and fruits

Among the desserts, the traditional pumpkin candies in syrup and milk stand out, and the list of Pantanal fruits includes bocaiuva, araçá, guariroba, jatobá, jenipapo, dew, pequi, araticum, and acuri – the latter two being highly prized by the macaws.

RESTAURANTS OPTIONS TO KNOW

Mato Grosso

  • Barara (Pocone) – Phone: (65) 9998-4781
  • Traditional Steakhouse – Phone: (65) 3345-1060

Mato Grosso do Sul

For other tourist information, visit:

*By Patricia Campos

Text originally published in the journal Qual Viagem (Edition 98, Volume 8 Apr 2022).

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