The name "Pantanal" comes from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning wetland, bog or swamp.

The Pantanal is the world’s largest freshwater wetland, a seasonally flooded plain fed by the tributaries of the Paraguay River. At 68,000 square miles, it is almost 10 times the size of the Everglades. The Pantanal is also one of the world’s most productive habitats. Annual floods, fed by tropical rains, create a giant nursery for life. As the waters recede in the dry season, the Pantanal attracts a great influx of birds and other animals. The seasonally-flooded savanna and tropical forests offer some of the finest wildlife viewing in Latin America.  This area harbors a world-record 82 species of large birds, which can be seen during a 1 hour car ride on the raised Transpantaneira Road, the only all-year route that penetrates the heart of this enormous wild land.  This uniquely fauna-rich route starts only 60 min by car from Cuiabá.

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