Pantanal Escapes

Further Reading

The following books are recommended reading for those interested in finding out more about the Pantanal, its wildlife and history.


Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal & Cerrado
A must-have for bird watchers or anyone with a passing interest in the birds of the region. This documents 740 species along with illustrations to help identify them. Includes a short overview of the ecology and different landscapes of the region. Paperback only.
ISBN-13: 978-0801476464

Pantanal Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide to Brazil's Great Wetland
Another useful guide to help identify and learn more about Pantanal wildlife, with other useful background about about places to stay or visit. Not very detailed (book is less than 200 pages), but a great introduction. Its overview of the major fazendas and associated wildlife is the best we've seen. Paperback only.
ISBN-13: 978-1841623054

Brazil: Amazon And Pantanal (Travellers' Wildlife Guides)
This is a more ambitious alternative to the wildlife guide above. It includes more detail (almost 500 pages). It's much bigger and bulkier to carry if you're traveling, and the content is more scientific in nature. However, if you're really interested in the wildlife and the natural aspects of the Pantanal this is a great reference. Paperback only.
ISBN-13: 978-1566565936

Migratory Fishes of South America
Published by World Fisheries Trust, World Bank and Canada’s International Development Research Centre, this collection of scientific studies provides a fairly comprehensive overview of Brazil’s riverine environment, fauna, related economy and the impact of development.
Print, HTML and PDF
ISBN: 9-68395-821-2

Pantanal: Understanding and Preserving the World’s Largest Wetland
A further set of scientific papers published at part of a scientific conference on the region in 2000. Many papers focus on the developments proposed at the time, such as hidrovia (defeated but likely to be resurrected as a result of new Brazilian/Chinese investment deals made in 2015). Provides a good overview of the environment and issues impacting the region’s biodiversity.
Paperback only. See website.
ISBN-13: 978-1557787910

Pantanal - Araquem Alcântara
Araquém Alcântara is one of Brazil's most renowned nature photographers, with over 20 books covering the wildlife and culture in Amazônia, the Pantanal and elsewhere in Brazil. His work can be seen at
ISBN-13: 978-8506039588

The Tapir Scientist
Children's book describes the conservation efforts and field work of researchers working with the Brazilian lowland tapir in the Pantanal. We like tapirs. Tapirs are cool - even though most people have never heard of them. More information about tapirs (and the efforts of Patricia Medici, plus other tapir conservationists elsewhere in Latin America) can be found on the Tapir Preservation Fund website. Hardback only.
ISBN-13: 978-0547815480

Published in New Zealand and Australia, this is an excellent collection of photographs with text background about the Pantanal. Although this is available through, it's significantly cheaper through Australian supplier Hardback only.
ISBN-13: 978-1554070909

The Pantanal in Fiction

The Testament
Entertaining novel by John Grisham. The story of an American lawyer sent to Corumbá and the wilds of the Pantanal to carry out the last will and testament of an eccentric billionaire. Almost worth the price for the first two chapters alone. Paperback, Kindle and iBooks
ISBN-13: 978-0345531964

Travel Guides

Philips Guides: Pantanal & Bonito
Released in 2000. This is probably the best ever travel guide we've seen for the Pantanal. Now hard to find and somewhat outdated. Portuguese-language version of this is still available from some Brazilian booksellers as part of their Guias Philips series. Paperback only.
ISBN-13: 978-8588031029 (English)
ISBN-13: 978-8588031012 (Portuguese)

Insight Guides: Brazil
Highly recommended. Insight's guides are among the best for providing background about the history, people and culture about the places they describe. However, it's not so great if you're looking for information about hotels/hostels or local services (which is where Lonely Planet and Footprint excel).
Paperback, Kindle,and iBooks
ISBN-13: 978-9812823182 (paperback)

Lonely Planet: Brazil
Although this lacks the detailed background (and photos) of the Insight Guides, Lonely Planet excel with their detail about places to stay, places to eat, and how to get around. A perennial favourite for backpackers. The newest update (2013) has been brought out in time for the World Cup.
Paperback and Kindle/PDF/ePub (PDF /ePub version available on Lonely Planet website)
ISBN-13: 978-1742200606

Footprint: Brazilian Pantanal
This small book is essentially an extract of the Pantanal chapter from Footprint's Brazil guide. There's some useful info on where to stay but its honestly pretty disappointing. It also seems very confused if it's covering the Pantanal or the Amazon. Not particularly recommended.
ISBN-13: 978-1908206640

Hunter Guides: BOLIVIA The Pantanal & the Amazon Basin
This is a useful guide documenting a rarely experienced region of the Pantanal. This side of the frontier lacks the infrastructure of the Brazilian side, and is probably for those with a more adventurous spirit. Available as eBook on Kindle and iBooks.


Exploration Fawcett
This book is compiled from Fawcett's own journals, and includes his final messages right up until his disappearance. This provides insights into the region in the early 20th Century, and the dangers faced by early explorers. Some expeditions were planned out of the Pantanal town of Corumbá. His final expedition left from Cuiaba (in the North Pantanal). Paperback only.
ISBN-13: 978-1590204306
Also see online book, The Making of a Legend: Colonel Fawcett in Bolivia by Rob Hawke.

The Lost City of Z
The intriguing true story of Colonel Percy Fawcett (supposed inspiration for Indiana Jones) who disappeared in central Brazil in 1925. He was looking for the remnants of a lost civilization which supposedly rivaled the Incas. Fawcett was a noted explorer who'd spent several decades in the region, and helped set the boundaries marking modern day Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Portuguese-speaking readers should also consider a related book by Brazilian author Hermes Leal. Paperback, Kindle and iBooks
ISBN-13: 978-1400078455

Land Without Evil
Out of print since 1993, but readily available second hand. This is a travel book with a difference - containing probably the best researched and most detailed history of the Pantanal region available in English. Chapters can be previewed in Google Books.
ISBN-13: 978-0860913986

History - Paraguayan War

The Empress of South America
The true story of Eliza Lynch, an Irish courtesan, who rose to become a virtual empress of Paraguay (then South America's richest country), and its national heroine. This gives a tragic account of the Paraguayan invasion of Mato Grosso and the Pantanal region - including some of the first naval battles involving armored river steamships. A similar book on this topic is also available from Australian author Sian Rees. Paperback and Kindle
ISBN-13: 978-0099428091

The War in Paraguay
Originally published in 1869, and available as a free eBook download through Google Play, this tells the history of the Paraguayan war based on testimonies of those who fought or were caught up in the events. At almost 150 years old, it still reads well - and some of the material has been re-used word for word by later works. Thomas Whigham's The Paraguayan War is another good reference but ridiculously priced.

De Miranda a Porto Canuto
This Portuguese-language book, by Ricardo Almeido de Oliveira, and published in 2008 is currently out of print, but tells the story of the column of imperial Brazilian soldiers and volunteers who marched over 2,000km from Minas Gerais to Coxim and Miranda in response to the Paraguayan invasion. They then tried to take the war back into Paraguay - but met met fierce resistance, resulting in a long retreat from Paraguayan territory back to Porto Canuto (near Aquidauana). The story of the Retreat from Laguna, in which more people died from disease than as a result of battle, was a major event in Brazilian military history - treated almost as a tropical version of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.
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Giant Otters in the Pantanal, Brazil
Giant anteater in the Pantanal, Brazil
Pantaneiro cowboys in the Pantanal, Brazil
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Photo Credits: Rufus-Tailed Jacamar (Shutterstock/Natalia Sinjushina/Evgeniy Meyke)

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