Pantanal Escapes

Discover Brazil's Wild Wonderland

This local news segment (in Portuguese) takes the reporter on a visit to Fort Coimbra in the Pantanal. This was founded in 1775 - initially to protect the region against attacks by Indians such as the Paiaguás - but then became even more strategically important to protect the Portuguese Empire (Brazil) and against frontier disputes with the neighbouring Spanish Empire (Paraguay). The fort has seen invasions twice. One in 1801 during the War of the Oranges - a limited conflict between Portugual and Spain; and later in 1864 when Paraguay invaded Mato Grosso - initiating the Paraguayan War (or War of Triple Alliance). On that occasion, the small force of 157 Brazilians was under siege for several days by a force of 4,000 Paraguayans. The fort continues today as an active military base. Tourism is possible although permission needs to sought.

It takes about two hours to reach the fort by speedboat, or eight hours using slower river vessels. Fortunately, it now has modern comforts and a small community around it. There are several limestone caves close to the fort, which are also shown in the video.