We take a closer look at a pioneer of sustainable tourism in the world’s largest tropical wetland, the Pantanal.
While the phrases ‘tourism’ and ‘fragile ecosystem’ might seem an unlikely pairing, when travel outfits get it right, the benefits can be huge. One such place is the Caiman ecological reserve in Brazil, a 200-square-mile oasis offering wildlife adventures in the world’s most pristinely-preserved tropical wetland.
Here, days are spent hiking along lush paths as hyacinth macaws swoop overhead, canoeing past caymans and capybaras, or setting out on an evening safari to spot jaguars stalking their prey; this is the best place to see them in the world. There are horseback safaris and photographic trips, and sleek, stylish accommodation – and the whole experience has purpose. Caiman has been pioneering sustainable ways to bring travellers closer to the magic of the Pantanal for over 30 years, all while preserving the fragile landscape.
The refuge forms part of a vital wildlife corridor with neighbouring properties, and 10% of its land is designated a protected area. Working closely with neighbouring wildlife protection schemes, guests help fund projects such as the Hyacinth Macaw Institute, which has achieved the impressive goal of removing them from the endangered species list, as well as Onçafari, which uses skills learned from African safaris to habituate jaguars to visitors – bringing vital ecotourism earnings to the region.
Beyond the reserve, Caiman collaborates with other sustainable Brazilian tourism initiatives. The refuge recently teamed up with two other exceptional wildlife sanctuaries – Pousada Trijunção in the Cerrado tropical savannah, and Cristalino Lodge in the southern Amazon rainforest – to offer wildlife enthusiasts a three-stop circuit, covering incredible wildlife while channelling vital resources towards conservation. It all adds up to one thing: tourism dollars working hard to protect and preserve the environment.