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Enjoy the varied wildlife and landscapes of three of Brazil’s contrasting ecosystems: The Amazon rainforest, upland savannah in the Chapada dos Guimarães, and the Pantanal wetland.

By staying in comfortable, well-priced lodges, and avoiding long internal flights, this suggested itinerary presents an affordable way to see Brazil’s natural highlights – of which there are many!

Suggested Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

    Depart the UK on an overnight flight to São Paulo, with onward connection to Cuiabá.

  2. Day 2: Arrive Cuiabá

    On arrival in Cuiaba, you will be met by a local guide and transferred to your overnight hotel.  

    Accommodation: Hotel Deville, 1-night

  3. Day 3: Drive to São José do Rio Claro. Birdwatching trail walks in the Amazon rainforest

    Depart from Cuiabá and transfer to the Pousada Jardim da Amazônia, a drive of around five hours. After settling in, enjoy some birdwatching along the Orchid Trail.  There’s a good chance of seeing tapirs, South America's biggest mammal – or antas as they are known in Brazilian Portuguese, and you can also enjoy snorkelling in the nearby natural pool.

    Accommodation: Jardim da Amazônia Lodge, 2 nights.

  4. Day 4: Guided boat trips

    Today you will normally head out on a boat trip on the Rio Claro, with a visit to Anaconda Lake, and a stop at Palmeiras Beach. In the afternoon, canoe on the river to see some of the birdlife encountered here, which includes: muscovy duck, long tailed tyrant, cormorant, Amazon kingfisher, green and rufous kingfisher, swallow tanager, and heron species.

  5. Days 5-6 : Chapada dos Guimarães; hiking on the savannah tablelands

    Depart after breakfast for the drive back to Cuiabá, and then continue (another 55 kilometres) to the Chapada dos Guimarães.

    Accommodation: Pousada do Parque, 2-nights

  6. Day 7: Northern Pantanal; wildlife safaris in the Pantanal by vehicle, boat and on foot

    Return to Cuiaba in the morning, then transfer to Araras Eco Lodge, with plenty of stops en route for photos. On arrival at your lodge there's time for a late afternoon hike of the lodge surroundings, reaching the Mirante da Garça, a 12 metre high observation tower for an unequalled view of the sunset. After dinner, enjoy a star gazing trek, to hear the sounds of the floodplain.

    We recommend a stay at Araras Eco Lodge, however there are several lodges to choose from. Many wildlife lodges still function as cattle ranches which offer day and night trips by boat, vehicle, on foot and on horseback, accompanied by local naturalist guides to see some of Brazil's rarest wildlife, such as jaguar and giant otter. You may also see caiman, anaconda, tuiu storks, owls, nightjars, armadillos, foxes and perhaps even maned wolf.

    Accommodation: Araras Eco Lodge, 3 nights

  7. Day 8: Explore flora & fauna around the lodge; afternoon horseback ride

    A full day is dedicated to observing the Pantanal’s flora and fauna at the private reserve that surrounds the lodge. After breakfast, your guide will lead you on a two to three hour horseback ride through fields and woodland. Lunch is back at the lodge, and in the afternoon you'll hike to a different area to see and learn about this ecosystem.

  8. Day 9: Canoe excursion on the Rio Clarinho

    After breakfast, depart across the floodplain for the Rio Clarinho, from where you take a canoe to explore the riverbanks, mangroves and forest. With luck, you may spot a family of giant otters fishing, playing and teaching the youngsters to swim and fish. You will be able to fish for the elusive piranha, which are known for their ability to nibble bait off the hook without the fisherman noticing. However lambaris, another species of freshwater fish, are much easier to catch and are delicious when barbecued. A picnic barbecue lunch will be prepared at a site on the river, before you return to the lodge in the late afternoon.

  9. Day 10: Depart Cuiaba

    The day begins with a very early start to see the sunrise from the top of Mirante da Garça (Heron’s Tower), where you can hear the sounds of the birds leaving the nests for the day and watch the first rays of the rising sun bathe the vegetation in colour. After breakfast, there’s time to do another walk, followed by lunch before you return to Cuiabá airport in time for your overnight flight back to the UK.

  10. Day 11: Arrive UK

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 days from £3,695 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 days from £2,795 pp
  • Single supplement: From £530
  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Horse riding
Featured locations:

Rio de Janeiro

Rio is legendary for its stunning beaches and the iconic peaks of Sugar Loaf and Corcovado, with the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Nearby attractions include Tijuca National Park, where you can walk rainforest trails to see a variety of wildlife species such as iguanas and monkeys.

  • Excellent for: Beach stay, City stopover, History & culture

The Amazon

The basin of the world’s largest river contains its oldest tropical forest and most diverse ecosystem, with at least 40,000 plant species, and a variety of wildlife. The lodges offer outings on foot and by canoe to explore the rainforest. Alternatively a riverboat voyage can take you deeper into the rainforest.

  • Where: Amazonas
  • Ideal for viewing: capybara, giant otter, red and blue macaw, tapir, yellow anaconda
  • Excellent for: Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, River safaris, Jaguar watching, Birdwatching

Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park

Surrounded by rainforest, the little visited savannahs of this tableland are of enormous ecological importance, and attract many hummingbirds. Situated at the heart of South America, the red sandstone cliffs give the landscape its characteristic appearance, with canyons, caves and waterfalls.

  • Where: Mato Grosso
  • Ideal for viewing: jaguar, maned wolf, puma, scissor-tailed nightjar, tropical screech-owl
  • Excellent for: Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Birdwatching

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
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Pousada Araras Eco Lodge

Pousada Araras Eco Lodge is a rustic yet 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.

Pousada do Parque (Park Eco-Lodge)

This eco-lodge is located in a strategic position on the edge of Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, in an ideal spot for walkers and lovers of nature. Facilities include a swimming pool, verandah with hammocks and an open fire - an ideal place to relax after a day's walking in the park.