The Wattled Jacana is sometimes referred to as the Jesus Christ Bird as it sometimes appears to walk on water. In reality however it is just walking on plant stems and leaves that are just under the surface.
The Pied Lapwing, can be found in the shallows on the edge of the water. This often means that it creates a nice reflection into te water.
The Red Legged Seriema, reminds me somewhat of the roadrunner form the Warner Brothers cartoon. It has a funny looking tuft of feather on it’s head just behind its beak.
Bird watching in the Pantanal is one of the greatest things a bird watching enthusiast could ever experience. This is because the place provides a wealth of magnificent bird life but it also presents you with the chance to see some amazing mammals and reptiles. These include Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Tapir, Giant Otter, Caiman and Anaconda.
The Pantanal has a wide variety of bird life with over 1000 species recorded. Observation is also generally a lot easier than in the neighbouring rainforests. Because of its unique topography, it is the world’s largest wetland, and strategic geography, The Pantanal offers a great habitat for so many different types of bird. From raptors to kingfishers and from herons and ibises to parrots and parakeets, the variety is enormous.
About the Pantanal
The Pantanal can be split into two areas, the North Pantanal and the South Pantanal.
The North Pantanal can be reached through the gateway city of Cuiaba, the capital city off the state of Matto Grosso with a population of 500,000. From here it is about 1 hour by car to Pocone a little town at the start of the Transpantaneira. The Transpantaneira is a 147km long gravel road, with 126 bridges, which goes straight through the heart of the Pantanal. It was mean to be a complete crossing over the Pantanal to create a link between the north and the south Pantanal. However when they reached the Cuiaba river, it was too difficult and expensive to proceed with a bridge there so it just stopped.
The resulting roads however did open up this part of the Pantanal, before there were large isolated farms dotted all around the area. With the new link road it really opened up the area to tourists and there are various excellent lodges along the road. It is possible to hire a car and do an independent drive along the Transpantaneira, overnighting at lodges along the way. However it is worth bearing in mind that there is very limited traffic on the Transpantaneira and you could easily get a puncture or break down without anyone passing for hours. It is also worth noting that a guide can be invaluable in helping locate the wildlife. Guides are also not that expensive, especially if you factor in what a hire car would cost.
The South Pantanal can be reached from the city of Campo Grande, the capital city of Matto Grosso do Sul. It has a population of 750,000. The South Pantanal does not have one main insertion route like the Tanspantaneira in the north. Instead you can access it via different routes, one of the most popular being via Corumba a small city on the border with Bolivia. From here there are various operators that can arrange a tour. However I would recommend booking a lodge in advance, the lodges should also be able to offer a transit service from Campo Grande. Often you have the choice between an expensive flight or a long drive to get to the lodge. We thought the flights were too expensive and decided on a 4 ½ hour drive when we went to Embiara lodge. The frist 1 ½ to 2 hours were on a paved highway, but after that we entered the dirt roads of the Pantanal. The wildlife viewing was amazing we saw loads of Peccaries, macaws and also a giant anteater. It was great and I would definitely recommend the drive. The Embiara lodge was great and the wildlife viewing amazing. There was wildlife everywhere and the hospitality and remoteness was also wonderful.
Some recommendations when you visit the Pantanal.
A good pair of binoculars is also essential, unless you have a camera with a large lens and it is unwieldy to carry both. We used a pair of waterproof Nikon binoculars as the humidity is quiet high. You can also tell the difference between a quality pair and a cheaper pair. It is well worth spending the extra money.
Long sleeved shirts are also very handy, both for keeping the sun of your arms as well as to protect you, somewhat, from the mosquito’s.
All in all I can really recommend the Pantanal. The variety of bird and mammal life is spectacular.