Transpantaneira Park Road
All of the above photos were taken whilst travelling on the Pantanal Park Road, also called the Transpantaneira, which was constructed in the 1970s by the military government. At the same time, it constructed the Transamazon Highway and the BR-163 interstate, which connects Cuiabá to Santarem in Pará State. The Transpantaneira Highway connects Poconé in Mato Grosso to Corumbá in Mato Grosso do Sul.
It was originally built to serve as a boiadeira, a road for transporting local cattle to the meat-processing plants in the South, thus eliminating the traditional great cattle marches, known to be carried out for centuries (photos of which you will see above, as this type of transport is, in fact, still continued in the Pantanal today though to a lesser degree. There are about 1000 head of cattle represented in these photos). In this era, the Pantanal was the largest producer of cattle in the country achieving quantities of up to one million head.
The project was conceived by Dr. Gabriel Muller, an agronomist with a deep knowledge of the Pantanal region. At that time he was also the director of CODEMAT (Company for the Development of Mato Grosso). A businessman, who was also an owner of a large area of land in the Pantanal and well connected to the military government, also encouraged the construction of this road.
Taking advantage of the lack of environmental controls, he built a large fazenda with embankments made by large machines and altered the course of rivers to his own benefit, while harming innumerable Pantaneira families.
In 1977, when the territory of Mato Grosso was divided into two states, thus creating Mato Grosso do Sul, the highway had already reached the banks of the Cuiabá River, 145 km from the south to Poconé as it remains today. With 122 bridges for the run-off during the floods, it does not follow the normal rules of existent roads, which are built on the highest parts of the terrain.The road was constructed by creating borrowing ditches along the sides; earth was removed to increase the elevation of the road. These ditches accumulate water, even in the dry season, transforming themselves into fish reserves and attracting birds, reptiles and other animals.The best time of year to visit is May to October when the rains have stopped and the flora and fauna are exuberant. From November to April, during the flood season, it is more difficult to access the side roads of the Transpantaneira, and while there is less fauna to be seen, the aquatic flora is splendid.