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HomeTravel articles & guidesThe Amazon vs. Pantanal

The Amazon vs. Pantanal

26 June, 2019
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South America is home to the Amazon Rainforest and the Pantanal Wetlands.

Two utterly fantastic nature areas, each of which have something truly different to offer.

But where will you go?

Read on below and find out what special traits the two places have to offer.

The Amazon

Amazonas jungle

The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

On the map, the rainforest makes its mark on an area covering approximately 6.7 million km2. The Amazon is often associated with Brazil, as 40% of the rainforest is located here. However, the rainforest actually stretches across 9 countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela.

Why is the Amazon fantastic?

Amazonas river dolphin

The Amazon is the world’s richest and most varied biological reservoir, consisting not only of rainforest, but also of seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests and savannah.

Additionally, the 6400-km long Amazon River, the world’s largest waterway measured by volume and the area of the drainage basin, runs through the rainforest. On this long stretch, the river splits into over 1000 tributaries, creating a massive network of rivers that give life to plants and animals.

And there is so much life here!

There are about 40,000 different plant species in the Amazon. These plants are of immense importance to the world’s climate. The plants of the Amazon help reduce the greenhouse effect, as the rainforest transforms a large portion of the world’s CO2 to oxygen. This has also led the rainforest to be nicknamed “the lungs of the world”.

The rainforest is also home to millions of animal species. Many of the species can also be found in other parts of the world, but the Amazon Rainforest has many unusual animals as well. Some of them haven’t even been defined as species yet. The list is long, but some of the animals that live in the Amazon include Amazon river dolphins (pink dolphins), jaguars, sloths, toucans, scarlet macaws, poison dart frogs, anacondas, caimans, tapirs and capybaras.

Although there are many animals in the Amazon, you must keep your eyes open to see them. This is because the animals stay in the shadows of the Amazon’s wild rainforest and vegetation, making it easier for them to hide in the shade of the plants.



Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetlands with an area of approx. 200,000 km2. This means that Pantanal is approx. 28 times smaller than the Amazon.

Pantanal is primarily located in Brazil, but also encroaches over the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay.

The wetlands area is completely unique but does not always get as much attention as the Amazon, although it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Why is Pantanal fantastic?

Hyacinth macaw

The wetlands of Pantanal consist of a network of rivers, waterways, watering holes and swamplands. Nature itself offers more open landscapes, where water dominates the landscape.

It is never completely dry in Pantanal. The wetlands area is a seasonal floodplain, and in the rainy season, from November to March, approx. 78% of Pantanal is underwater. During the dry season, the water recedes.

Pantanal’s animal species number at just about half of the Amazon’s. However, it is actually said that Pantanal has the largest concentration of animal life on the South American continent, as the animals live very close together. Therefore, you have an excellent chance to spot these animals. Yes, it’s almost like being in a zoological garden, only without the cages.

Not only is the density high, Pantanal also features a wide range of animal species. Some of the truly unique animals you should keep your eyes out for include the Brazilian giant otter, ant eater, armadillo, caiman, capybara, maned wolf and the Pantanal swamp turtle, which is known for its large head. Depending on where you are in Pantanal, you may be lucky enough to spot ocelots, pumas and jaguars.

Pantanal is also a Mecca for bird lovers. With over 600 different bird species, Pantanal is an excellent place to watch birds. You will be able to see the jabiru stork, giant toucan, nanday parakeet, as well as the hyacinth macaw, the largest member of the parrot family.

Beyond its many distinct and unique animals, Pantanal is also known for being a major cattle farm area. This means that some of the lodges in the area are proper, cattle-raising farms. It is a unique experience to see real cowboys ride on their way to the business of the day while you head out to experience the rich nature and animal life of the wetlands.

The Amazon or Pantanal?

Both the Amazon and Pantanal offer utterly fantastic nature and a rich animal life, and both destinations will provide you with unforgettable experiences.

So, where should you travel to?

Travel to the Amazon, if you would like to:

  • go on a unique jungle experience bringing you up close to the rainforest’s wild plant life.
  • see the natural phenomenon known as the “Meeting of Waters”.
  • ride the Amazon’s rivers, where you may be lucky enough to see the fantastic pink Amazon river dolphin and caimans.

Travel to Pantanal, if you would like to:

  • get up close to the world’s largest wetlands, both at sea and on land.
  • experience South America’s greatest concentration of animal life, right up close.
  • see Pantanal’s colourful birds, a truly impressive sight – even for those not usually interested in birds.

Experience the Amazon or Pantanal on these tours:

The Amazon and Pantanal are two fantastic places in Brazil.

You can be completely sure to get an unforgettable tour no matter which destination you choose. If you are still in doubt, or if you have some questions, then please get in touch with our tour consultants, who are ready to help you.

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