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The northern Pantanal, undoubtedly offers some of the finest opportunities to see rare wildlife, such as jaguar and giant river otter, along with spectacular birdlife.

From Cuiabà, the capital of Mata Grosso state, a tarmac road leads 100 kilometres south to the town of Poconé at the start of the Transpantaneira highway. 

The unasphalted Transpantaneira runs south for a further 145 kilometres through the heart of the Pantanal to the town of Porto Jofre on the Cuiabà River, passing through areas where huge concentrations of wildlife and massive flocks of birds are found.

On either side of the road, accommodation is provided by a number of pousadas, many of which are still functioning cattle ranches that offer a variety of trips using different modes of transport, to see caiman, anaconda, jabiru stork, owls, nightjars, armadillo, fox and perhaps even maned wolf. However for sightings of shy jaguar and giant river otter you have to go yet further off the beaten track and enter deep into the river system, either by taking day trips by boat from Porto Jofre, or by staying on a liveaboard boat on a remote stretch of river.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: capybara, giant anteater, giant river otter, jaguar, spectacled caiman
  • Where: Pantanal, Brazil

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Just Jaguars

Explore the maze of channels in Taiama Reserve, part of Brazil’s famed Pantanal wetland, to seek out jaguars. After two nights in an ecolodge in the north, your base for the next few days is the Taiama River, where you will head out each day by boat to search for jaguar.

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 9 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,445 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Brazil’s Natural Highlights

Enjoy a complete Brazilian wildlife experience, visiting three contrasting ecosystems. This trip offers an affordable option to explore the diverse Amazon rainforest, the rarely visited savannah of Chapada dos Guimarães, and the Pantanal wetland, home to some of Brazil’s rarest wildlife, such as jaguar and giant otter.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,695 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Jaguar Fiesta

There is no finer place in the world than the Pantanal to see South America’s greatest apex predator - the jaguar. Accompanied by acclaimed wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt, we track and photograph these magnificent felines with our research team and get close encounters by boat from Porto Jofre.

  • When to go: Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 17 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £8,995 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Jaguars of the Pantanal

Staying in comfortable lodges, this trip offers some of the finest opportunities to see rare wildlife in the Pantanal. In the company of skilled naturalist guides, search for the elusive jaguar on the Cuiabà River, before continuing to Cristalino Private Reserve, which possesses a high number of species and endemics.

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

The Pantanal - Brazil’s Wetland Wonder

Join acclaimed prize-winning photographer, Nick Garbutt, to watch and photograph wildlife in the Pantanal. This immense landlocked delta in the heart of South America offers tremendous habitats and the finest opportunity to see the elusive jaguar, as well as other iconic and rare animals, often up close.

  • When to go: Aug-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 18 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9.895 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Cidade Barao de Melgaco Boat Lodge

This is a good quality liveaboard lodge-boat. Normally used for high-end sport fishing trips, off season it is transformed into the perfect base for exploring Taiama Ecological Reserve. Being mobile it can locate itself in a number of places adjacent to Taiama to maximizing the wildlife watching opportunities.

Hotel Pantanal Norte

With direct access to the Ciuaba River, Hotel Pantanal Norte is one of the best places in Brazil to see the elusive jaguar, as you journey down quiet creeks and tributaries. In between excursions, the hotel has a swimming pool and lots of outside space in which to relax and observe birds or wildlife.

Pousada Araras Eco Lodge

Pousada Araras Eco Lodge is a rustic, but sophisticated lodge surrounded by more than 3,000 hectares of private land. You can see various birds, including the highly attractive, endangered, hyacinth macaw, from the lodge’s forest boardwalk, and tapir, marmoset and howler monkey are seen regularly in the area.