The pantanal is the largest freshwater wetland in the world. Just how big is it? Well, put it this way, if England and Wales were suddenly transplanted to the heart of this wetland complex in southwestern Brazil, everyone in both of those countries would be getting their feet wet.
The pantanal is also one of the last major wilderness areas of the world and is unique in that most of the animals appear to sustainably coexist with the two-legged inhabitants of the region. The wet savannahs, fields, huge marshes, and gallery forests are the stronghold of the Hyacinth Macaw (the largest parrot inn the world), endangered Giant Otters can be seen in rivers and lakes, and this damp ecosystem is also the best place in the world to see two other large neotropical mammals; the Giant Anteater and the Jaguar.
Giant Anteaters require large areas of undisturbed habitat to satiate their voracious appetite for termites and ants and the pantanal not only provides enough six-legged delicacies to meet their dietary needs, but the wide, open plains also make it easier to spot this strange, ponderous-looking creature.
Jaguars reach their largest size in the pantanal and are also more common there than anywhere else. These facts (and the thousands of waterbirds seen every day) demonstrate the highly productive nature of the pantanal. The big cats are more difficult to see than the Giant Anteater but once again, due to the open nature of the habitat, are encountered on most guided excursions that look for them!
One of the best places to stay for jaguar watching and experiencing the incredible Brazilian pantanal is the Jaguar Research Center. More of a comfortable hotel located in the heart of the pantanal than a biological field station, visitors to this place have a nearly guaranteed chance of seeing at least one jaguar during a three night stay (every single group of visitors since 2006 who stayed for three nights has seen one or more jaguars).
When not searching for this fabled big, spotted cat of the Americas, guests can also watch myriads of storks, egrets other wading birds, capybaras, and might also see an Anaconda!
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