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The Best Wildlife of Latin America

From the world’s largest wetland and rainforest to wildlife rich countries and islands, Latin America is one of the most environmentally diverse and important regions on the planet. When traveling to Latin America, the wildlife comes as an added extra to the spectacular landscapes found in this part of the world. Having recently explored the best Latin America wildlife destinations for 2015, we dive into Amazonian Rivers, swing through tropical forests and explore vast wetlands to bring you our favorite wildlife of Latin America.

Piranha Fishing, Pantanal

From piranhas in the Pantanal to Galapagos penguins, discover the best wildlife in Latin America

♦ Friendly Piranhas in the Pantanal

As the largest wetland area in the world, the Pantanal is home to some of the world’s most incredible wildlife. Many of the wildlife encounters that you will experience in the stunning 81,080 sq. mile Pantanal wetlands will be surprisingly personal as the wildlife remains relatively passive to your presence. Armed with a simple fishing rod one of the most unique Pantanal experiences is fishing along its waterways. Surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of this tropical paradise the catch of the day in the Pantanal is not salmon or trout but instead the razor-toothed piranha! While fishing for piranhas on this you may also be treated to sights of giant otters, caiman, and other beautiful waterfowl.

♦ The Capybaras of Esteros del Ibera

Africa has hippos, and South America has capybaras! The capybara is synonymous with South America and they are found Esteros del Ibera in their droves. Water is a vital source of life for the capybaras as they eat the water plants and grasses as well as use the water itself to escape from danger. Although originally thought to be some sort of pig, the capybara is in fact a rodent and the largest one in the world to be exact. Built somewhat like a barrel with legs and with slightly webbed feet, the capybara is usually found in groups of around 10 and form a regular part of the spectacular Esteros del Ibera scenery.

Esteros del Ibera wildlife

Get up close to capybaras, the world’s largest rodent in Esteros del Ibera

♦ Walking with Galapagos Penguins

Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, the endangered Galapagos Penguin is the only penguin species found north of the equator. With a population of less than 2000, 90% of the penguins can be found on the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina. As the smallest of the South American penguins and the third smallest species of penguin in the world, the Galapagos Penguins will melt your heart. Visiting the Galapagos Islands is one of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences in the world and having a front row seat as Galapagos Penguins awkwardly waddle by is simply unmissable.

Galapagos Islands wildlife

Waddle alongside the adorable penguins of the Galapagos / Source

♦ Hanging out with the Monkeys of Costa Rica

The Howler Monkey, Capuchin Monkey, Spider Monkey and Squirrel Monkey are the 4 species of monkeys native to Costa Rica and are classified as New World Monkeys. While traveling in Costa Rica, the White-Faced Capuchin Monkey is the species you are most likely to encounter. Found in the dry forests along the Pacific coast and the wet forests of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, these small monkeys are most common in the National Parks of Manuel Antonio, Corcovado and Santa Rosa. Living up to their mischievous reputation, they are known to snatch anything edible or shining so you will want to play close attention to your food and valuables when near an area popular with Capuchin Monkeys.

Costa Rica wildlife

Keep an eye out for the Costa Rica’s New World Monkeys

♦ Meeting the Pink River Dolphins in the Amazon

Of all the things that creepeth and crawleth, swim, swing or fly in the Amazon, the Pink River Dolphin is perhaps the most sought after. Growing up to 9ft. long and weighing over 300lbs, the Amazon Pink River Dolphin is the largest freshwater dolphin in the world. Swimming through the flooded forests, bending their bodies around submerged and obtrusive branches and trunks, you will see flashes of the Pink River Dolphins darting past your boat. These fascinating dolphins have adapted superbly to their surroundings with elongated beaks to snatch fish, bendable bodies to slither through trees and small eyes to help pinpoint prey in the muddy Amazonian rivers.

Amazon wildlife

See the weird but wonderful Pink River Dolphin in the Amazon / Source

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