Having explored the Best Trips in Latin America for 2015 towards the end of last year, we are moving our attention to the stunning wildlife within this spectacular region. Bringing together our favorite Latin America wildlife destinations, from the verdant Amazon to the unique Galapagos Islands, these 5 breathtaking destinations will bring out the naturist in you.
♦ The Pantanal, Brazil
Recognized as the world’s largest freshwater wetland, the Pantanal region located in southwestern Brazil is one of the best places in Latin America to get up close to wildlife. Extending hundreds of thousands of square miles across Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay, the Pantanal is a portrait of flooded grasslands, savannas and tropical forests. Almost 80% of the enormous Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the wet season, which helps nurture the region’s breathtaking biodiversity. The relative openness of the Pantanal landscape makes it somewhat easier to spot the amazing wildlife on offer than from within the dense rainforest of the Amazon. With one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Latin America, the jaguar, hyacinth macaw, giant river otter and marsh deer are amongst the rarest animals to be sought.
♦ Esteros del Ibera, Argentina
While second to the Pantanal as the largest wetland area in the world, the Esteros del Ibera are similarly as stunning and is a Mecca for birds and animals of all shapes and sizes. Included as one of the Best Trips in 2015 by National Geographic, this uncrowded wildlife sanctuary is a real treat for birders and nature enthusiasts alike. The Esteros del Ibera wetlands cover approximately a quarter of the vast Corrientes Province in northeast Argentina, and are a filter for one of the largest underground lakes in the world, the Guarani Aquifer. Wetlands aside, this area is one of the most interesting and unspoiled in Argentina offering the chance to come face to face with capybaras, giant anteaters, caiman and over 350 different species of bird.
♦ The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador is the world’s treasure trove of endemic species, renowned for their natural wonders and of course unique wildlife. With the Galapagos Islands playing a central role in the development of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, there is no other wildlife destination quite like the Galapagos Islands. From seasoned professionals to amateur naturalists, traveling to the Galapagos Islands is one of the greatest wildlife experiences on the planet. Perhaps one of the greatest and most surprising aspects of the islands is that the spectacular animals that reside there are extremely tolerant of humans allowing you up close and personal interactions with the wildlife. From blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises to marine iguanas and penguins, exploring the islands and their famous wildlife cannot be missed.
♦ Costa Rica
Owing to its location between two continents and two seas, Costa Rica is a biogeographical bridge bursting with life and natural wonders. Possessing approximately 4% of the world’s biodiversity, you can visit 12 different ecosystems, 20 national parks, 26 protected areas, 9 forest reserves, 8 biological reserves and 7 wildlife sanctuaries all in Costa Rica. Regarded as a model for conservation in harmony with community development and economic growth, Costa Rica is the birthplace of ecotourism. Slightly smaller than West Virginia, Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 different species, of which 300,000 are insects. From endemic reptiles, birds, insects and animals, Costa Rica is one of the best wildlife and ecotourism destinations in the world.
♦ The Peruvian & Brazilian Amazon
Covering 2.5 million square miles, the Amazon Rainforest enters Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. Despite 60% of this enormous natural haven being found in Brazil, 17% is within Peru and both of these destinations offer very distinct Amazon experiences. With some 10% of the species known to science calculated to be found in the Amazon Rainforest, whichever part of the Amazon you visit, you are in for a wildlife treat! From the mighty boa to the hardworking leafcutter ant and, the red piranha to pink dolphins, Amazon wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether high up in the rainforest canopy or within the meandering Amazon waterways, the Amazon is full of life. With a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the well-being of the planet, visiting the Amazon is so much more than just a travel or wildlife experience.
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