Paddling along the Clarinho River in Brazil's northern Pantanal will offer many fantastic wildlife sightings, but the capybara may be one of the most interesting for those seeking a rich nature travel experience.

Resembling both a guinea pig and a beaver, the 100-pound mammal is the largest rodent in the world. Found in several South American countries, the capybara lives in the dense vegetation that surrounds lakes, rivers, marshes and ponds, which is why visitors to the Pantanal — a spectacular wilderness of wetlands — are likely to see one.

In fact, while canoeing along the river, paddlers will probably see more than one capybara, as they gather near the water in groups of up to 20. Although they tend to be nocturnal like many rodents, capybaras can be found lying in the mud during the hottest parts of the day. Visitors should listen for whistles, clicks, barks and whimpers, which are their main methods of communication.

When they swim, only their eyes, ears and nostrils show, which is why capybaras use their partially-webbed feet to evade predators such as jaguars, caimen, ocelots and anacondas.

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