The Pantanal covers over 81,000 square miles of wilderness, an area larger than Greece. It is considered the world's largest wetland and is one of the richest wilderness areas on the planet. The Pantanal spreads across Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. During the rainy season (October through March) Rio Paraguay floods the entire savannah, transforming the area into a huge swamp. Pantanal means "swamp" in Portuguese. However, during dry season the swamps disappear and the land becomes a savannah dotted with lakes and ponds. The canals formed by the river are destinations in themselves. The water birds seen in this reserve are countless, but there are also raptors, songbirds and dry land birds. Wild animals, such as howler and capuccine monkeys, capybaras, peccaries, tapirs, spectacled caiman, otters, marshland deer and giant anteaters are numerous. Occasionally, jaguars are seen. Herons, storks, kingfishers, parakeets and orioles are numerous. Laguna Mandiore is 122 miles upriver from Puerto Suarez and is a two-day trip. Along the way there is an area of unique sandstone rock formations that surround the lake. The wildlife is exceptional simply because the entire area is unexplored. As for the Amazon region, it covers about one third of the country's territory. A huge amount of the the region remains unexplored. It is rich with wildlife - birds, plants, insects and amphibians - but low in human density. About a dozen indigenous groups inhabit the area. La Paz is the trading center and Santa Cruz is the hub for the Mamore area. Trinidad is by far the largest city. The Amazon has mysteries that reveal themselves in different ways. One example is the Llanos de Moxos, or earth mounds. It was an astute archeologist, who, while flying over the jungle, knew from experience that the lines of hillocks and canals that he could see from the plane were not natural. The area is now a major destination for researchers and tourists who are curious about the lives of the people who built these mounds of dry land in an ocean of swamp. Vivien Lougheed shares her passion for Bolivia, telling you about the history, geography, landscape, hidden treasures and top highlights. Comprehensive background information - history, culture, geography and climate - gives you a solid knowledge of each destination and its people. Regional chapters take you on an introductory tour, with stops at museums, historic sites and local attractions. Places to stay and eat; transportation to, from and around your destination; practical concerns; tourism contacts - it's all here! Detailed regional and town maps feature walking and driving tours. Then come the adventures - fishing, canoeing, hiking, rafting, llama trips and more. Never galloped along a beach on horseback, trekked up a mountain, explored ancient sites? "Adventure Guides" include extensive lists of recommended outfitters, with all contact details - e-mail, website, phone number and location.
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