Wildlife lovers and photographers planning to visit Pantanal should consider adding 3-6 extra days in order to experience three world-class wildlife experiences found just outside the southern edge of the Pantanal, near the towns of Bonito and Jardim and considered one of the best places to visit in South America. These three wildlife spectacles are 1) the Sinkhole of the Macaws, 2) remarkably abundant Giant Anteaters, and 3) snorkeling with extremely tame fish in crystal clear waters at “Recanto Ecológico Rio da Prata”.
The macaw spectacle involves pairs and flocks of up to 20-30 Red-and-Green Macaws flying at eye level and below you as you stand at the edge of a 125-meter-deep (450-foot-deep), 90-meter-wide (300-foot-wide) limestone sinkhole. Serious wildlife photographers make two or three visits of three hours each to this sinkhole, as the photo ops of large macaws flying beneath you is both unique in the world and is very challenging for photographers. The macaws are absurdly tame, with mated pairs often perching for minutes on end at only 3-6 meters from you. The real challenge for photographers is to freeze the action and choose the right exposure when the birds are flying fast, as the rock wall background changes quickly from sunlit to deeply shaded, making for uniquely-striking imagery.
The second spectacle is wild Giant Anteaters observed daily from only 3-6 meters. These 50-kilo creatures are some of the strangest and most beautiful animals on the planet. Most places in Latin America where the Giant Anteater occurs, it is hard to see more often than once every few weeks or months. The Pantanal, however, boasts some locations where you can see one of these powerful, long-nosed beasts on 80% of the days, and two or more on 20% of the days.
That’s all well and good, but after decades of field research, SouthWild’s special biologist guides have discovered locations within a75-minute drive of the town of Bonito where guests see 5-10 Giant Anteaters per day, and a number of them are mothers carrying a baby on her back!. The techniques that our SouthWild guides use to find and to take guests close to the anteaters are very specific and are based on many years of experience tracking these termite-mound-destroying specialists. It most definitely is not a good idea to try approaching Giant Anteaters if you do not have years of experience, as even Jaguars are terrified of the four-inch-long, razor-sharp front claws of these anteaters. When scared or threatened, a Giant Anteater sits upright and whirls its outstretched front legs with huge front claws cutting the air.
The third and final attraction of the region of the towns of Bonito and Jardim is the extraordinary opportunity to snorkel in crystal clear water with very tame, wild fish of a number of species. This fish snorkel experience takes place at the “Recanto Ecológico Rio da Prata”, a private conservation reserve closer to the town of Jardim than to the town of Bonito. Additionally, the bird feeders in the gardens at the headquarters of this attraction offer amazing photo ops of wild parakeets and even sometimes of huge Red-and-Green Macaws at only 2-3 meters from you.
In reality, the combination of Bonito tourism and Jardim deserves 6-8 nights, but even a three-night or four-night stay is well worth it for even the best-traveled wildlife photographer. Bonito and Jardim have 25 or more listed attractions, but SouthWild has determined that only the three attractions listed here offer world-class wildlife experiences with no equal anywhere else on Earth. We stay in comfortable, air-conditioned hotels, and we can design a flexible itinerary just for you.