On foot or on horseback: exploring the Pantanal
If your dream is to explore the Pantanal area of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, either on foot or on horseback, here you can see everything you need to know to make this an unforgettable trip:
When to go
The best time to visit the Pantanal shall depend on what you wish to see. During the flood season, which can occur between February and May in the Northern area, or between May and July in the Southern area, everything is greener – which means that this is the best time to see the native plant life at its best.
On the other hand, the animals are hidden at this time of year, trying to take refuge from the heavy rains; in addition, locomotion is difficult and mosquitoes are king. In the dry season, which is between July and September in both areas – the animals dominate, and everything is more accessible.
This means that if your main aim is to walk through the Pantanal or explore it on horseback, the dry season is ideal – in contrast, the flood season is better for boat trips.
How to get there
Getting to the Pantanal can be a bit troublesome depending on which region of Brazil you are coming from. However, there are several options available for you, whether by car, aeroplane or bus.
By aeroplane, you can arrive either in Cuiabá or Campo Grande, and from there either charter a private flight or rent a car with one of the car rental shops that are available right inside the airport, to reach your accommodation.
Another possibility is the good old bus, leaving from the bus station of either of the local capital cities (Cuiabá and Campo Grande) to your destination in the Pantanal.
What to do
Visiting the Pantanal on foot is something that can be done at your own account and risk. However, we recommend counting on the help of a local guide, as this person knows the region, and this shall provide you with a safe trip, rich with precious information.
Several trails have also been specially prepared to welcome those wishing to cross the region on horseback and see the vegetation and the animals from close range. It is also possible to see the husbandry of the cattle along the river branches in some regions and at some times of the year. Safaris may also be organised.
If your interest is to enter the area of the National Park, you should be aware that it is necessary to see authorisation of the park administration in advance. The entrance to the Park is in the small village of Porto Jofre, near the city of Poconé, in the Northern part of the Pantanal.
Where to stay
You do not have to worry, you won’t have to sleep in the forest. The Pantanal has a large number of guest houses and hotels at your disposal, with complete infrastructure to serve you very well indeed. What you will not find in the Pantanal are luxury hotels and large resorts; this is because of environmental protection issues.