10 Best Railroad Journeys in South America – # 9 Pantanal Express
February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
This seven hour train ride pass through 220 km of pure nostalgia, a roadmap framed by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The Pantanal train departures from Campo Grande traveling to the town of Miranda. Passengers on board are delighted by the large glass windows where they can view the largest continuous wetland in the world and the spectacular wildlife and birds that live there including the hyacinth macaw. Along the way scenery including wetlands, hills, waterfalls, and the beautiful Aquidauana River.
The original train, the Estrada de Ferro Noroeste do Brasil began the route in 1914 connecting the Pantanal with other parts of Brazil. The 20th century also saw the Pantanal’s economy boomed, with the widespread establishment of cattle ranches across the region. By the 1950s, there were also rice, soybean, coffee and sugarcane plantations popping up around the Pantanal’s perimeter. In 1981, the huge Parque Nacional Pantanal Matogrossense was established, with the aim of preserving the vulnerable ecosystem. It was declared a Ramsar Site of International Importance in 1993 and in 2000 a UNESCO world conservation site.
The Pantanal train ran on Noroeste for 81 years, until the closing of RFFSA, Brazil’s federal railway company, limited Noroeste trips to cargo only. The Serra Verde Express stepped in and 2009 began offering the Pantanal Express. The train journey continues through tunnels, bridges, steep gorges and through the largest continuous wetland in the world, the Pantanal.