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What to do in Pantanal? 17 Tours and Attractions to Make the Most of them

You are interested in exploring the Pantanal biodiversity, but don't know yet what to do in Pantanal? Here we reveal the best tours for you to take in the heart of Pantanal and never forget.

Considered a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, Pantanal is the largest floodplain on the planet and is located in Mato Grosso do Sul, where it shares with Bonito the status of best tourism in Brazil.

Its area extends over the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, as well as Paraguay and Bolivia, making it a fabulous destination to enjoy the region's fauna and flora.

If you have been to Bonito, in the central western part of Mato Grosso do Sul, but couldn't fit a tour into Pantanal, this is your time!

It has tours in Miranda, Aquidauana, Corumbá, and Cáceres, with several typical pantanalian activities, such as horseback riding, fishing, a photographic safari, night focus, canoeing, and hiking.

Even free rides are possible when traveling to Pantanal!

To find out what to do in this region of Mato Grosso do Sul, just continue reading our article today.

Let's go!

What to do in Pantanal? The best tours in the Pantanal region of Mato Grosso do Sul

First of all, first-time visitors should know that the Pantanal region is divided into two areas: Pantanal North and Pantanal South.

While Aquidauana, MirandaCorumbá, Coxim, Rio Negro and Porto Murtinho are part of the Pantanal South (Mato Grosso do Sul), the cities of Barão de Melgaço, Poconé and Cáceres comprise Mato Grosso, that is, the Pantanal North.

Pantanal is a region with diverse influences from the Amazon, Atlantic Forest, Cerrado, and Chaco, showing its diversity in every corner.

Knowing this, let's get to know Pantanal and see where to go and what to do in this Pantanal region:

  1. Boat, chalana, canoe or hotel-boat trips
  2. Fishing (sport fishing and artisanal fishing)
  3. Photo Safari
  4. Vazante Trail
  5. Night focus
  6. Horseback riding + life as a pantaneiro
  7. Train ride to Miranda/MS
  8. Miranda
  9. Aquidauana
  10. Project Blue Macaw
  11. Pantanal Restaurants
  12. Serra da Bodoquena
  13. Pantanal Park Road
  14. Fort Coimbra
  15. Daveron Beach
  16. Pantanal Christ the King
  17. Casario do Porto

Now let's get to know Pantanal in 17 attractions!

1. Boat, chalana, canoe or hotel-boat trips

Pantanal
Source: reisezeiten2 (Flickr)

Do you know Christ the Redeemer? The historical monument of Rio de Janeiro is a sure stop for every traveler, as well as the boat trips on Pantanal.

Tourists have the option of taking the tour by luxury boat (hotel-boats), chalana, canoe, and rowboat. With any of these options, you will love the feeling of being in the waters of the Pantanal.

During the trip, you will see the animals of the Pantanal region, such as alligators, birds, giant otters, and many fish.

It is a great way to observe the animals, either by land or by the river. It is worth including this tour in your travel itinerary when wondering what to do in Pantanal.

2. Fishing (sport fishing and artisanal fishing)

Fishing Pantanal
Source: Ricardo (Flickr)

For those who don't know what to do in Pantanal, know that fishing is one of the most common activities in the region, especially in Pantanal South.

The Paraguay River basin has a rich diversity of fish - there are more than 200 species - and is one of the preferred destinations for those who practice sport fishing.

You can enjoy fishing in the historic Corumbáwhich borders Bolivia, Cushionone of the largest ecotourism centers in Brazil, and also Aquidauana and Mirandatwo perfect destinations for fishermen.

But if you don't want to miss the opportunity to catch different species of fish, prefer to set up your travel itinerary for August/September, the period of abundant fish and drier rivers.

Just avoid visiting Pantanal Sul (Mato Grosso do Sul) between December and Februaryif you want to go fishing. At this time of year, fishing is prohibited due to the piracema.

Otherwise, fishing is an activity that attracts even curious people to the Pantanal.

3. Photo Safari

Photographic Safari
Source: Magda Slazak (Flickr)

Have you always dreamed of going on a safari without leaving Brazil? Well, in Pantanal you have a lot to do, including watching animals in a 4×4.

The safari is one of the tours in the travel package to some farms, such as Aguapé, Casa São João and Fazenda San Francisco.

But the ideal is to do the safari during the dry season (between July months and September), especially because it would be unfeasible to see toucans, anteaters, and alligators under the rain, which is very common in summer.

A golden tip: have a camera with a zero memory card to take lots of pictures. Even leave the camera set to multiple shots, so you don't miss the best moments of the animals and their poses.

4. Vazante Trail

A tour that matches the photographic safari is the Vazante Trail. The hike inside the forest capes leads visitors to the 10-meter high lookout. What for?

To once again contemplate the Pantanal landscape. It doesn't matter whether you're up close on land, over the water, or at the top of the lookout, because Pantanal has one of the most beautiful sceneries in Brazil.

If you have opted for this tour in the late afternoon, take the opportunity to accompany the sunset. There may be several beautiful places to enjoy the sunset, but in this region of Mato Grosso do Sul, the late afternoon stands out even more.

When you return to headquarters, be prepared to eat a rather unusual delicacy: popcorn, piranha broth, and juice. But if you are very hungry, the different combinations will not be a problem.

5. Night focus

Night focus
Source: Mkt Ideiatours (Flickr)

Think you've seen too many animals on safari? Well, wait until include night focus in your travel itinerary. The focus group tour is similar to the photo safari, but the difference is that you spot the nocturnal animals.

The advantage is that these animals of various species, such as wolves, alligators, and other critters appear more frequently. In addition, the guided tour helps you find them in the best possible way.

Of course, the trip is done in a 4×4 vehicle and possession of a flashlight, since nobody wants to trip over or run over an alligator, right?

The night focus is one of the tours offered by farms in Pantanal, such as Pousada Aguapé, Fazenda San Francisco and Casa São João. It is one of the best tips for the list ?what to do in Pantanal?

6. Horseback riding + life as a pantaneiro

Horseback riding in Pantanal
Source: Sara (Flickr)

Don't know what to do in Pantanal? Horseback riding is one of the best rides to do in this rural destination. But what if besides riding you could also cattle handling?

It may sound easy in the novel Pantanal, but in reality, you will see that it is not quite so. You need, first of all, to have some experience of riding horses. For the rest, the people help you.

For horseback riding, there are some good options in Miranda and Aquidauana, such as Fazenda San Francisco (Miranda) and the lodges Aguapé and Pequi (Aquidauana).

Ah, just be sure to bring long pants for the horseback rides, as they are much more comfortable.

7. Train ride to Miranda/MS

If you have already checked out the nature of the Pantanal aboard a 4×4, on a boat, or high above a lookout, how about following the natural beauty through a train?

The train trip on Pantanal takes the traveler to Miranda (in Pantanal South), on a contemplative tour, either to enjoy the landscape or to admire the native species of this region.

The train leaves from Campo Grande, but does not go direct to Miranda: before, a stop in Aquidauana for everyone to have lunchand also in Taunay and Piraputanga, to buy handicrafts.

The route also includes the Serra de Maracaju, the Serra da Bodoquena and a beautiful area of Ipês. Take advantage of August and September if you want to see the flowers in their best time.

8. Miranda, in Pantanal South

Miranda Pantanal
Source: Luciano Justiniano (Flickr)

Have you arrived in Miranda? Then it's time to find out what to do in this town in Pantanal.

Miranda is one of best cities in Pantanala historic city, with houses dating from the beginning of the 20th century and where the largest indigenous population of the state is concentrated.

By the way, visit Terena Culture Referential Centera space dedicated to exploring tribal culture and where you can purchase unique handicrafts.

If you want to spend 1-2 days there, look for Refúgio Ecológico Caiman or Refúgio da Ilha, two of the best places to stay.

The trip from Campo Grande to Miranda is a long one, so it is good to guarantee a good stay so as not to get tired on the way back.

9. Aquidauana, gateway to Pantanal South

Aquidauna
Source: PHOTOS BY KELLY VENTORIM Trabalho (Flickr)

Aquidauana is known as the gateway to Pantanal South, but for some tourists, it ends up being the exit gate as well. This will depend on the schedule of your travel itinerary.

In any case, Aquidauana is a city that blends scenic landscapes of the Pantanal with historic buildings, including everything from caves to freshwater beaches!

There are many tourist attractions in one place, so the recommendation is to stay in one of the inns or farms in the region.

It is also good to remember that Pousada Aguapé is located in Aquidauana and also offers unmissable attractions, such as horseback riding, night focus, and many other activities.

Hiking in Aquidauana

In addition, hiking in Aquidauana is one of the best ways to get to know Pantanal while hiking.

You cross fields and forests, see wild animals, and explore the local fauna and flora. All this in two of the best-hiking destinations in Aquidauana: Paxixi Hill and the Mirantes Trail.

While in Paxixi you enjoy the sunset, with access from the Estrada Parque de Piraputanga on foot or by bike, the Trilha dos Mirantes is inside a rural property in Piraputanga, and offers secondary trails and even an archeological site.

By the way, the Estrada Parque Piraputanga is a highway that connects two regions, Aquidauana and Dois Irmãos do Buriti. You can take pictures of the road with rock walls.

Lots of attractions in Pantanal, huh?

Aquidauana's downtown

Already the downtown invites you to visit some historical attractions, such as the Casa do Artesão (Artisan's House), the Museu de Arte Pantaneira (Pantanal Art Museum), the Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição Church (one of the free tours), the Indian market, the Afonso Pena Square, and the Casa Primavera.

No doubt you will leave Aquidauana with a rich background about the Pantanal people, and this is the best way to say that the trip was worthwhile.

10. Blue Macaw Project

Project Blue Macaw
Source: Tereré News (Flickr)

The Blue Macaw is an environmental preservation project that has existed for more than 30 years. The project has not only worked but has increased the number of these animals from 1500 to 5000.

This wonderful work, of course, cannot be left out of your travel itinerary to Pantanal.

It is an opportunity to become aware of the importance of taking care of our nature, and preserving species of Brazilian fauna and flora.

11. Restaurants in Pantanal

Rodeio Restaurant
Source: MPGJ (TripAdvisor)

Eating well is also on our list of what to do in Pantanal, of course! The typical Pantanal food is not left off the tourists' menu and almost nobody refuses the most common delicacies: caiman meat and piranha broth.

Is your palate ready for new flavors? We hope so, after all, the experience of tasting a strip of an alligator in piranha broth is unforgettable.

Among the restaurant options in Pantanal, you have the Rodeio Restaurantin Corumbá, with lunch and dinner a la carte.

There is also YellowIt is located in Anastácio, with a great rodízio of fish (battered fish, fried fish, pacu ribs, pirão, among other tasty delicacies) and a friendly price

But if you are between Bonito and Pantanalyou can check out the famous João's HouseIt is a stronghold of artists. But you get there aware of the uneconomical prices, however, the advantage is in the Moqueca de Pintado, one of the most common dishes at Casa do João.

These are the best tips for eating well in Pantanal, even if you secure a free lunch at inns or hotels where you stay.

But when traveling between one city and another, it can be impossible to escape the restaurants. So take note of these tips to build your travel itinerary.

12. Serra da Bodoquena, a short walk in the region near Pantanal

bodoquena mountain waterfall

One of the most amazing tours for those visiting Bonito/MS is also a sure stop for those going straight to Pantanal. A Serra da Bodoquena is one of the tourist attractions of every hiker and waterfall enthusiast.

There are more than five swimming stops in the crystal clear waters, beautiful and inviting waterfalls and natural pools of the Betione River, and many activities for the whole family.

For example, Bodoquena has spas where visitors can go down a zip linepaddle your kayaks, and venture downriver with a buoy cross.

The Serra da Bodoquena bathhouse also offers a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, and a hammock area, perfect for an entire daybefore you return to Pantanal or, if it is your last day of travel, head for Campo Grande Airport.

A great recommendation to enjoy with the little ones.

A complex of stunning waterfalls
Serra da Bodoquena Waterfall

Don't miss the chance to visit this waterfall complex, with several magnificent guided trails and natural pools for you to bathe in and 'wash your soul'. In addition, there is also a delicious lunch with all the typical dishes of the Bonito region, so you can get into the local atmosphere!

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What to do in Pantanal for free?

Among the many paid options in Pantanal ? and that is very worthwhile? there are some free rides to do there. We have selected a few for you to add to your travel itinerary and save money, check them out!

13. Park Road, our first free ride in Pantanal!

Park Road
Source: Antonio Carlos Pavanato (Flickr)

Pantanal has an incredible diversity of fauna and flora in the region, making it one of the best options for eco-tourism. A free way to get a privileged view is to drive through the Pantanal Park Road.

There is 120 km of travel and more than 70 wooden bridges between the cities of Corumbá/MS and Miranda/MS, with the possibility of crossing beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Imagine crossing paths with a jaguar? That would be very lucky, but if the jaguar doesn't show up, there are still alligators, anteaters, monkeys, capybaras, and many other animals.

The tour can be done on your own or with a guide through an organized tour. The advantage of a guide is that you can identify the strategic points to observe the animals.

Besides, the travel guides in Pantanal know every corner of this flooded plain and will know how to recommend the best inns for you to satisfy your hunger.

Or did you think you would stay 4 hours on Park Road without eating? Not at all! No one needs to arrive "starving" by the end of the trip.

Ah, the route can be done in a 4×4 vehicle during the rainy season, but to avoid this period, the April months to September, which is the dry season.

14. Fort Coimbra

Fort Coimbra
Source: Marcos Cezar Dolato (Flickr)

The Pantanal is not only about beautiful swampland landscapes. Those who want a free and historical tour can bet on the Fort Coimbraa Portuguese construction, dating from the 18th century that served as a strategic point in the Paraguayan War.

Protected by IPHAN, the Fort is located on the triple border (Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay) and was taken over by the Paraguayans during the war, until 1870.

The place has a lot of history to tell, so it has a museum with documents and photos about the war, a great time to learn about history.

In addition, the tour to the Fort still takes visitors to the Ricardo Franco cave, a hidden cave that no one tells how grand it is inside.

But you must book as far in advance as possible to avoid being denied access.

The only way to get to the Fort is by boat, and the closest access is through Porto Morrinho.

15. Daveron Beach

Daveron Beach
Source: Elton Cesar (Flickr)

One of the postcards of Cáceres, the Daveron Beach, also called Daveron's Bay, is one of the sights of Pantanal.

It is on the banks of the Paraguay River, where the largest fishing festival in the world is also held. It is an excellent way to enjoy the nature of the Pantanal for free, because Daveron Beach offers space for some physical activities, such as playing volleyball.

But you can also rest while watching the boats and tour boats approach.

After so many trips back and forth between cities, sightseeing on this beach is a great way to rest, while enjoying the local beauty.

16. Christ the King Pantanal

Pantanal Christ the King
Source: Andrew Mercer (Flickr)

If the money is too tight for get to know Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro's postcard, don't worry. The Pantanal has the 12-meter high Christ the King (the Christ of Rio de Janeiro is 38 meters high) and underwent a good renovation in 2015.

Tourists can take advantage of the local structure, with bathrooms, parking lots, a guardhouse, and bicycle parking, as well as a hill with a stunning view of the Pantanal.

It is one of the best places to enjoy Pantanal without paying anything for it.

17. Casario of the Port

Casario do Porto
Source: ceruleo (Flickr)

Registered as a Cultural Heritage Site, the Casario do Porto is a group of buildings located along Rua Manoel Cavassa and on the slopes Cunha and Cruz, as well as José Bonifácio.

This is one of Corumbá's main postcards, and the tour of the old architecture is free.

It was once the site of large emporiums, bank branches, and family residences that made river navigation very rich.

Today, there are bars, handicraft stores, and other commercial establishments, but nothing that makes the feeling of a trip to the past disappear.

Did you like the tips on what to do in Pantanal?

Farms, trails, horseback and boat rides, beautiful scenery, animals of various species, and typical food - all this you will find when you go sightseeing in Pantanal.

But don't forget book the tours in advanceYou should also check the hotels and inns in each city you visit. Remember that some of them require hours of driving, so it is good to be prepared.

Anyway, if you didn't know what to do in Pantanal, you now have a list of at least 17 attractions, some of which are free to enjoy in the Pantanal towns.

If you still found it too complex, check it out some Bonito and Pantanal packages we did.

Did you like these travel tips and want to know more about Mato Grosso do Sul? See what to do in Bonito/MSThis is a city very close to Pantanal.

Book your tours with Roteiro Bonito MS today, by e-mail or WhatsApp, and come see this paradise!

Thiago Araújo

I am 30 years old. I am husband to Flavia and father to 3 beautiful boys: Kauã, Kaio and Lorenzo. I am an entrepreneur with a passion for Bonito/MS. I love to travel and I also like to show the best that my city has to those who come to visit us. Count on my help.
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