Map of Brazil and the Pantanal
The Pantanal is a natural region encompassing the world's largest tropical wetland area. It is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay. It sprawls over an area estimated at between 54,000 and 75,000 sq mi.
Roughly 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species. Floodplain ecosystems such as the Pantanal are defined by phases of standing water and phases of dry soil, when the water table can be well below the root region. The dry season is roughly April through October.
During this visit in May 2014 the standing water in the Pantanal was very high, often over the banks of the rivers. Most of the fields and forests were flooded so we couldn’t do any hiking except for along the road or raised boardwalks. We only encountered a few late (but hard) rainstorms while we were there.