Into the Wild Pantanal

Pantanal Brazil - Pantanal BrasilFour Brazilian fishermen and I piled into the back of a covered pick-up truck at the roadside rendezvous point to catch a lift into the Pantanal.

They knew the area well and were happy to be returning to their familiar fishing spot, while my joy came from each and every unknown.

Despite being one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world, and an exceptional place to encounter wildlife in South America, I hadn’t even heard of the Pantanal up until a few weeks ago.

Luckily for me, I had a guide named Gil who picked me up from the airport in Campo Grande after my quick flight from Brasilia and explained everything I needed to know.

The Pantanal stretches across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, however, a large majority of the territory lies within the western Brazilian State of Mato Grosso do Sol.

Rio Negro Pantanal Brasil
A view of the Pantanal along Rio Negro

I was heading to the Pantanal Discovery camp on the southern end of the region, where I’d be spending the next four days off the grid.

Pantanal Map - Pantanal Discover Location

My stop came and I wished the guys good luck as they continued a bit further down the muddy dirt road.

Once on-site, I barely had enough time to throw my bag on the bunk before another guide signaled me down to the river and onto a small motorboat for a sunset wildlife scavenger hunt.

Pantanal Lodging - Pantanal Discovery Brazil
The riverside Pantanal Discovery lodging along Rio Negro

Joined by two bird-loving Frenchmen and their Brazilian brother-in-law, we journeyed an hour down river as they identified birds I’ve never seen before.

Something about that cool breeze hitting my face as we cruised down the uninterrupted river while the sun fleeted below the tree-line that put me at complete peace in this foreign place. I don’t think I said one word the entire trip, I just nodded and smiled every time they pointed to a moving object.

Pantanal Brazil - Pantanal Brasil

Content on just soaking in that tranquil moment, I knew that tomorrow would be a different story…

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My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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