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Visiting three simple, but comfortable, lodges in Brazil’s North Pantanal, this expert led small group trip offers the chance to see a fabulous variety of mammals and birds.

The Brazilian Pantanal offers some of the finest bird and mammal-watching in South America. With the onset of the dry season, this enormous wetland gradually begins to dry out, leaving its inhabitants with ever-diminishing pools around which to congregate and feed. Families of capybara, the world’s largest rodent, often end up vying for position alongside huge numbers of yacaré caiman, storks, herons and ibises … and all under the watchful gaze of numerous predators, both avian and mammalian. 

Typical Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: Arrive Cuiabá & transfer to Pouso Alegre

    Following an early morning arrival in São Paulo, we board a domestic flight to Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso State and the gateway to the Pantanal, the world’s largest contiguous wetland. 

    After an early lunch in Cuiabá, we commence our jounrey to Pouso Alegre. Shortly after passing the small town of Poconé, we join the infamous Transpantaneira, a raised-dirt and gravel road that extends south for approximately 150 kilometres through the North Pantanal. The Transpantaneira is excellent for wildlife-watching and as we drive slowly south we are likely to begin encountering some of the region's famed wildlife inhabitants. Families of capybaras, the world’s largest rodent, can often be seen grazing in the margins of the remaining pools, alongside huge numbers of yacare caiman, whilst egrets, ibises and storks wade through the shallow pools, and kingfishers perch on nearby branches.

    Accommodation: Pouso Alegre, 2-nights     

  3. Day 3: Wildlife activities from Pouso Alegre

    Over the course of our stay at Pouso Alegre, we will explore the surrounding habitats of the lodge, on foot and by safari truck, likely encountering a myriad of mammal and bird species. Azara’s agouti can often be found foraging in the lodge grounds, whilst the forests at the rear of the lodge provide refuge to the diminutive black-tailed marmoset. At the height of the dry season, nearby water hollows have been known to attract a variety of thirsty visitors including Brazilian tapir and giant anteater. The open grasslands around the lodge are inhabited by ostrich-like greater rhea and red-legged sereima, whilst the lodges fruiting trees often attract beautiful chestnut-eared aracari.      

    Equipped with a powerful spotlight, night drives along Pouso Alegre’s entrance track provide yet further opportunities to see the area's mammals, with many species more active in these cooler hours, as well as variety of nocturnal birds such as common paraque, nacunda nighthawk and scissor-tailed nightjar.

  4. Day 4: Pouso Alegre to Jaguar Retreat

    This morning we leave Pouso Alegre and continue our journey south to the locality known as 'Porto Jofre' which is located at the end of the Transpantaneira. Travelling in our open sided safari vehicle, the drive will  take around four hours, through a variety of habitats where we can encounter a wealth of wildlife. Roadside hawks, savannah hawks, black-collared hawks and snail kites will be a common sight on our travels and there is always the possibility of a chance encounter with a variety of mammals.

    Arriving in Porto Jofre, we will enjoy a quick lunch before taking to the water and travelling approximately 45 kilometres up the Cuiaba River to our remote accommodation. Located on the northern frontier of what is widely known as the ‘Jaguar Zone', the journey will see us travelling through some of the most productive waters in the world for jaguar and giant river otter viewing and there is an excellent chance of encountering, either or both species on route.

    Accommodation: Jaguar Retreat, 4-nights  

  5. Days 5-7 : Morning & afternoon boat safaris from the Jaguar Retreat

    Over the next three days we will follow a programme of morning and afternoon boat safaris, typically spending around eight hours on the river each day and returning to the lodge in the middle of the day for lunch and some downtime. Cruising slowly along the river we will scan the sandy banks and dense riparian forest in search of the Pantanal’s top predator. Drawn by the high density of caiman and capybara in the area, jaguars can frequently be found stalking the rivers in search of prey or resting in the shade of an overhanging tree.

    Whilst exploring the vast network of rivers and channels, we will doubtless meet with a varied selection of mammals and birds. In addition to the capybara and caiman, we have an excellent chance of finding a family of giant river otters, with previous trips also encountering ocelot, Brazilian tapir and even tayra patrolling the river banks.  Birds are likely to include black skimmers, both large-billed and yellow-billed terns, maguari stork, blue-crowned parakeet and a host of different raptors and passerines.

  6. Day 8: Jaguar Retreat to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge

    After breakfast, we travel by boat back to Porto Jofre to our safari truck and from there we retrace our steps back up the Transpantaneira to KM 66, where our third and final lodge is located, the intimate SouthWild Pantanal Lodge (previously known as Santa Tereza). Here, we settle into our air-conditioned rooms and have a couple of hours rest, before venturing out in the late afternoon for a boat trip on the wildlife-rich Pixaim River or for a wildlife walk on one of the extensive forest trails. 

    Accommodation: SouthWild Pantanal Lodge, 3-nights

  7. Days 9-10 : Wildlife activities from SouthWild Pantanal Lodge

    We have two full days to explore the lodge grounds and surrounding area, through a mix of walks, drives and boat safaris. The river is excellent for a range of bird species including black-crowned night heron, boat-billed heron and with luck, the jewel of the Pantanal, the stunning agami heron.

    Unusual amongst the land-based lodges in the North Pantanal, over the years SouthWild Pantanal Lodge has enjoyed some fantastic sightings of jaguars in the lodge grounds and along the Pixaim River. Although limited to only a few sightings a year, with only a few boats operating on this stretch of the river, if we are lucky enough to see a jaguar in this area, it is likely to be a very exclusive sighting.

    During our stay we will also have the opportunity to undertake further night drives, venturing out with a spotlight along the Transpantaneira or visiting the ocelot hide, which boasts an incrediblely high success rate. 

  8. Day 11: Transfer to Cuiabá & depart

    This morning we travel the remaining distance up the Transpantaneira to Pocone and on to Cuiabá where we board a flight to São Paulo, connecting with our onward flight to the UK.

  9. Day 12: Arrive UK

You should note: Should you wish to extend your time in Brazil, we have several exciting options available to the Amazon, Southern Pantanal or Iguazu Falls. Please enquire for details.

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 12 days from £4,395 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 10 days from £3,595 pp
  • Single supplement: From £495
  • Group size: 12
  • Departures:
    1. , Fully booked
    2. , Fully booked
    3. , Limited spaces
    4. , Limited spaces
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 2 nights Pouso Alegre
    • 4 nights Jaguar Retreat
    • 3 nights SouthWild Pantanal Lodge
    • All meals and excursions
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Nature drive
    • Walking
Featured locations:

Northern Pantanal

Accessed via the town of Cuiaba, the northern Pantanal is home to some of Brazil’s rarest wildlife, such as jaguar and giant river otter. Many of the lodges here are still functioning cattle ranches, offering day and night trips by boat, vehicle, on foot and on horseback, accompanied by local naturalist guides.

  • Where: Mato Grosso
  • Ideal for viewing: capybara, giant anteater, giant river otter, jaguar, spectacled caiman
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, River safaris, Jaguar watching

The Pantanal

This ecological paradise is the world’s largest wetland, with 124 mammals (including the world’s largest jaguars), 177 reptiles, 1,100 species of butterfly, and a myriad of birds, brightly coloured flowers, and shoals of fish. There are significant differences between the north and south; we recommend visiting both.

  • Where: Mato Grosso & Mato Grosso do Sul states
  • Ideal for viewing: capybara, giant anteater, giant river otter, jaguar, spectacled caiman
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Self-drive, River safaris, Jaguar watching, Birdwatching