On arrival at Cuiaba airport, you will meet your zoologist escort and be taken to your accommodation in Cuiaba (4* hotel – Amazon Hotel). Your zoologist escort will be around all day for you to ask any questions before your welcome to Brazil evening meal and briefing on the tour.
After breakfast you will leave at around 07:30am and depart for the Pantanal, this is a 1.5 hour drive to reach Transpantaneira Road, which is one of the best places in the world to spot wildlife (rivalling anywhere in Africa or India). Whilst travelling we will stop several times in order to appreciate the spectacular flora and fauna. We will be looking for hyacinth macaws, giant anteaters, capybara and other bird life but one species we will have no difficultly in finding is the Yacre caiman. There are around 20 million of these in the Pantanal and at this time of year they are everywhere. There are some excellent wildlife photography opportunities along the way and around half way there we will stop and have lunch along the way at the Mato Gosso Hotel before continuing onto the accommodation (permanent safari tents – Jaguar Camp).
Over the next 5 nights you will be exploring the Pantanal via the Cuiaba, Piquiri and Tres Irmaos Rivers in search of jaguars and other wildlife of this very rich area. Jaguar watching trips here average 1.1 jaguar sightings per day and with a 94% success rating for all people who stayed here (we have 100% record in this area ourselves); it is the best place to see jaguars in the world. We had a record tour in September 2011 where we totalled 14 different Jaguar sightings, including 2 kills (1 Caiman and 1 Capybara), numerous failed hunts, a female and cubs swimming across the Rio Cuiaba and a fight between 2 males. As you will have access to a private boat each day we can go where you please but each day usually follows a set routine, each morning you will be taken into onto the waterways with the expert help of trained jaguar trackers (who are in radio contact with other boats, wildlife photographers, film makers and researchers) and your zoologist escort. Most of the day will be spent looking for recent jaguar activity on the river banks as they come down to the water to cool off in the hot dry season. During these jaguar spotting days you will visit the Tre Irmaos River which has the highest density of jaguars in the world and here more sightings are recorded than anywhere else in the world. Most sightings occur during the day and at close range so that the photography here is just exceptional. In fact most of the video footage and photographs you will have seen of wild jaguars will have been taken here. During the middle of the day we often find a secluded and shady area of the riverbanks for lunch and a siesta, before continuing our search for jaguars and other wildlife. Other wildlife in the area which is commonly seen include capybaras, giant otters, yellow anacondas, black howler monkeys, green iguanas as well as hundreds of species of birds. Also on some of the evenings you will be offered the chance of spotlighting in a jeep night safari to find some of the many nocturnal wildlife such as crab-eating foxes, Brazilian tapirs, Yacre caiman and nocturnal birds like nightjars and potoos. It is the nightjars and potoos who provide many of the sounds you will hear amid the general hubbub of bullfrogs which all adds to the intense and spellbound atmosphere of the rainforest in the evening. Each evening you will stay at the jaguar camp in Porto Jofre (permenant safari tents).
This morning we can try to find jaguars again for a couple of hours in the early morning, but as we should have seen some by now you may choose to leave for the trip back to Cuiaba in the morning. So that the whole day is not as long as it could be. On the way back to Cuiaba we will once again have some wildlife watching along the Transpantaneiro Highway. Once we arrive back in Cuiaba you will have your evening meal before a well deserved rest in the hotel (4* hotel – Amazon Hotel) before heading south to the next stage of your tour.
Fazenda Barranco Alto
Today you will be transferred to Cuiaba airport in order to catch the short internal flight to Campo Grande, (approx 1.5 hours) where a new local guide will be awaiting you. From here you will be transferred in a 4×4 vehicle to Barranco Alto lodge (5-6 hours). The length of this journey is dependent on the amount of wildlife we see on the way. There are excellent chances to see greater rhea (the largest species of flightless bird in the Americas), giant anteaters and other grassland species. We should arrive in the early afternoon and so you will be able to have an afternoon safari around the ranch to see some of its common wildlife. A short jeep safari or boat ride can often reveal Brazilian tapirs, giant anteaters, any of 3 species of deer, macaws and possibly a big cat. As you arrive you will be introduced to the local guides here as well as having some of the excellent food.
Fazenda Barranco Alto
During your time in the Barranco Alto Lodge you will explore the park in a variety of different ways. You can have guided walks through the forests and or grasslands. The walks can be tailored to your requirements and so if you are not keen on long walks we can have short ones, or not even walk at all. You can also explore the ranches private section of the Rio Negro which is home to many of the same bird species as the North Pantanal as well as the abundant Yacre caiman and capybara, but you may catch a glimpse of the very rare neotropical otter here, which is absent from the Northern Pantanal rivers. We use stable flat bottom boats fitted with comfortable individual seats that spaciously distributed so you can handle camera equipment with ease. The boats are fitted with a four stroke silent outboard engine and a silent electric engine so the wildlife is not disturbed as we gently move up or down the river. Another great way of seeing the ranch is on horse-back through the large grasslands, where deer and cattle live side by side and along the tree lines there is the ever present possibility of a puma, jaguar or maned wolf being spotted. One of the most popular ways of seeing the ranch (and covering the largest amount of ground) is via an open-topped Jeep. These safari drives are very much like African safaris and by driving through the grasslands, forests and around the lakes you have a great chance of seeing the largest variety of species. On the upside when we are out late on an afternoon drive we will spotlight around and this is when foxes, ocelots, jaguars, pumas, giant armadillos and other wildlife is more commonly seen. As with most wildlife around the world the best time to spot animals is the early mornings and late evenings. You will see many birds, as well as possibly spotting a boa constrictor, ocelot, tyra or a group of collared peccaries. The surprise element is always the exciting aspect when wildlife watching in the Pantanal. You will be in the hands of a local guide as well as myself as we search for the many local birds and mammals. The local guides we use can identify the birds from their calls and they are even able to reproduce the calls himself in order to attract the more elusive birds into the open. We are also accompanied by a native field guide who is very familiar with the vegetation and its inhabitants. The native guide knows the medicinal values of the flora and will entertain you with genuine folklore tales as you take in the beauty of the area during your walk. This guide is very much a tracker who can decipher the footprints of animals and the sounds increasing our chances to see the rarer birds and mammals. During the evenings and the free time in the middle of the day you will be free to explore the compound area of the Lodge where there are a great variety of birds and mammals (including a resident pair of Azara’s agoutis, breeding red & gold macaws and the rare golden-collared macaws. There is even a male Brazilian tapir which sometimes comes to the front of the main lodge and feeds off palm nuts in the evenings. You can go for walks around the compound and there is always a field guide available to take you around safely. You can also ask to go to our white sand beach along the river for sun bathing, a swim or even do some piranha fishing. We also have a stilt-hide on the riverbank where you can read a book while waiting for a wildlife surprise. This is an ideal location from which to observe unnoticed the giant otters catching and eating fish from very close up or see them go on to the beach opposite the hide to do their toiletries or just relax in the sun. In the past they have spotted jaguars and tapir crossing the river from this hide. The facilities and wildlife watching during these 5 days and nights are exceptional and will leave you not wanting to leave the Pantanal at all.
This morning we will have a lie in and a lazy start to the day, before we catch our private plane transfer from here to Campo Grande. This flight is a brilliant way of seeing the Pantanal so have your camera ready for this great scenic flight. Once we arrive at the air taxi airport we will be transferred to the domestic airport in time to get the connecting flight back to Cuiaba. We will probably arrive back late in the evening and will be taken straight to hotel for a last drink and overview of the tour before your departure tomorrow.
Today you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.