PANTANAL – MATO GROSSO DO SUL – BRASIL – AM. DO SUL
Located in the geographic center of South America, the Pantanal is the largest wetland plain on the entire planet. Its fields and mountain ranges, bays, rivers and lakes cover an extremely flat area of 210´000 km², fed by tributaries of the Paraguay River, which runs through the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, as well as Bolivia and Paraguay.
The unique combination of location, gently sloping topography and seasonal rise and fall of waters, characterized by rainfall in summer, gave rise to a lush, mega – diverse bioma.
The imposing and magnificent scenery is the habitat of the largest concentration of wildlife in the Americas. It shelters over 650 species of birds, 400 species of fish and 80 species of mammals, many threatened with extinction.
In 2000, the Pantanal wetland was designated a World Natural Heritage and World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Every summer, from October through April, torrential rains in the headwaters of the Paraguay River make rivers and lakes overflow, flooding the lower lying land. The Pantanal remains flooded for most of the year.
During winter, from May to September water is slowly withdrawing and the rivers move back to their usual beds, leaving behind plenty of fish caught in small ponds and swamps of the flooded plains. They attract huge crowds of birds that in turn feed themselves and their new offspring on these fish. Mammals and reptiles migrate in search of water courses and food.
This time of year the dry soil, fertilized by the flood, awaits the new rains that will make vegetation sprout once more.
The absence of mountains and the flat nature of the terrain offers no barrier to cold fronts coming from South. Therefore, temperatures can vary dramatically over short periods of time.