Situation and CharacteristicsIn the border area between Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, to the east of the Rio Paraguai, is the swampy plain of the Pantanal (from pantano, "swamp"), traversed by numerous watercourses. When the water level is high great tracts of the Pantanal are completely flooded, but when the water is low form excellent grazing for cattle.
Landscape and Wildlife
Landscape of the PantanalThe great attraction of the wide green landscape of the Pantanal is the extraordinary richness of its animal life - feline predators such as the ocelot and jaguar, giant snakes, armadillos, capybaras and many species of birds. An area of some 130,000 hectares/325,000 acres in the south of Mato Grosso state is now a nature reserve. In spite of the protection thus afforded the eco-system is still under threat - on the one hand by industrial effluents (containing mercury and other harmful substances) from the gold mines, on the other by poachers and illegal animal-trappers.AccessThe best time to visit the Pantanal is during the period of low water (November to March), when there is much more wild life to be seen than when the water is high. Good bases for a visit are Cuiabá and Corumbá, where enquiry should be made of the local tourist information office about the availability of organized excursions. It is not advisable to visit the Pantanal on your own.