The Pantanal is the largest continuously inundated plain of the world, formed mainly by the floods of the river Paraguay and its tributaries. The region of about 250 thousand square kilometres is for 80% situated in the federal states Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, while the rest is mainly in Bolivia and a small part in Paraguay, where it is named Chaco.
It has an impressive diversity of fauna and flora. According to the WWF, there are 1,132 species in the Pantanal of butterflies, 656 birds, 122 mammals, 263 fish and 93 reptile species. In the rainy season, between October and February, the Pantanal is virtually impassable by land. In the remainder of the year, the soil is an excellent pasture for livestock.
The Pantanal Express
The train, operated by Serra Verde Express, parts from Campo Grande and passes by Aquidauana and Miranda on Saturdays and makes its return trip on Sundays. The journey is 220 kilometres long and takes some 7 hours.
The price of an economic class ticket costs BRL 39,00 (€ 13,50), and on-board service is not included. The Tourist class is sold for BRL 77,00 (€ 27,00) and includes lunch, soft drinks and service of a commissioner. The Executive class and cabins go for BRL 126,00 (€ 44,00) and guarantee snacks, mineral water, soft drinks, beer and a bilingual commissioner.
The Pantanal Express begins its adventure on May 8, 2009. Administered by the Serra Verde Express, concessionaire of the tourist trains Paranguá-Curitiba (in the Serra do Mar), the Pantanal Express is designed to meet the international tourist, but will certainly attract the nationals also.
The train will stop at four stations: Campo Grande (departure), Piraputanga (where it makes a short stop), Aquidauana (for lunch) and Miranda (arrival at the end of the day, after seven hours of travel). A future extension of the line will end in Corumbá.
With nine wagons, including restaurant and luggage van, the Pantanal Express has a total capacity of 400 passengers.
The average speed is scheduled to be 35 km/h, not much more slowly for not tiring the passenger, but with the right speed to take photos. With panoramic windows, the trip will give the passenger the opportunity to observe typical Pantanal species such as the araras-azuis (macaws) and others in a variety of shades until the next stop in Aquidauana, passing the rivers Miranda and Aquidauana.
The first stop is in Aquidauana, founded in 1892 by colonels (land owners) and major Teodoro Rondon, it was the most developed town in the former state of Mato Grosso.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Gothic style, standing at the entrance of the town, is worth a visit.
For the lunch the options are between a juicy feijoada de pintado (a dish with brown or black beans and pintado (Pseudoplatystoma corruscans)) a fish very much appreciated in the region) or a dish made of white meat, caught from the fresh waters in the region.
Those who want to extend their stay can choose between boat trips, hiking trips, horseback riding, and observe the nocturnal wildlife.
Back on track, the journey ends in Miranda, where the main activity is fishing, inspiring the local culinary experience. There are also artisan products made by the Kadiwéu Indians. The Indian villages, five kilometres from the town centre, can be visited.
What can you expect to see during this train journey?
* Ariranha ((Pteronura brasiliensis), a species of the otter, very common in the Pantanal. It is a carnivorous mammal and semi-aquatic South American. Lives in groups on the banks of rivers. He feeds mainly on fish.
* Onça Pintada (Panthera onca). The jaguar of the Pantanal, threatened with extinction. The largest cat of the Americas is an animal with nocturnal habits, hunting capybaras, deer, fish and birds. An adult can reach two meters in length and weigh 160 kg. It is also found in areas of the Atlantic Rainforest and the Amazon.
* Tuiuiús or Jaburu is a migratory bird inhabiting South and Central America, most common in the Pantanal. It can reach a height of more than a meter.
More infomation visit: Pantanal Ecoturismo.