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The Best Time for Jaguar Watching in the Pantanal by Laura Jeeves

The Best Time for Jaguar Watching in the Pantanal by
Article Posted: 01/26/2016
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The Best Time for Jaguar Watching in the Pantanal

Travel & Tourism
To anyone fascinated by the natural world, dedicated wildlife holidays are the most fulfilling way to experience the thrill of seeing a wide range of animals within their natural habitats. Whether it's Polar Bears in the high Arctic, whales in Scandinavia, or big cats in South America, the success of optimal sightings on these tours depends not only on the quality of the operator and the expertise and knowledge of local guides, but also on the location chosen and what time of the year one travels.

The Wildlife of the Pantanal

For those interested in Jaguar watching, there are multiple destinations from which to choose, but the undisputed premier location to see this elusive big cat is the Brazilian Pantanal, in South America. While many might assume the jungles of the Amazon region would be the best place to immerse in a wildlife experience, in fact, the open marshes of the Pantanal make it far easier to spot all kinds of wildlife. As well the big cat, the astounding bio-diversity of the region provides a home for a plethora of mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian species, along with 9,000 invertebrate sub-species, which all thrive in the lush, tropical wetland habitat.

The Seasons of the Pantanal

The Pantanal is an ever-changing, moveable feast of a landscape depending on the season. It has what is known as a 'savannah climate', with two distinct periods: dry from around April to September, and heavy rain from around October through to March. For those with Jaguar watching on the radar, the window of time for the excellent multiple sightings is actually quite generous.

During the wet season, some areas of the Pantanal become inaccessible due to flooding, and there are lots of busy, biting insects. From December to March temperatures are hot and steamy and humidity is very high. While this is the 'low' season – so prices will be cheaper – it's not the ideal time to visit.

From March to June the Pantanal is lush and green. High water levels mean fish, aquatic species and other wildlife are very active - although they tend to be spread over a larger area than in the drier months, when they congregate around water supplies.

The months between June and October offer the very best conditions for Jaguar watching – with July to September generally considered optimal. Up until September temperatures are comfortably warm, turning hotter after that. During this dry season, the water levels are low and there is a flurry of activity around the network of rivers. There are vast numbers of wading birds, lots of Caimans, and regular sightings of the big cats sunning themselves on the wide, dry riverbanks and prowling the savannahs and cooler forested trails.

For those who embark on a Jaguar watching tour, it is quite often the culmination of a lifelong ambition to see one of nature's most mysterious and majestic creatures in its natural habitat. At the right time of year, and in the spectacular location of the world's largest tropical wetland, participants can expect to see multiple sightings on what is without fail a memorable and quite often life-changing experience.

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Jaguar watching in the Brazilian Pantanal region. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led wildlife holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.

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