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Explore Brazil’s famed Pantanal wetland along its maze of channels in the Taiama Reserve, to seek out the elusive jaguar.

This innovative jaguar watching itinerary starts with two nights in a well-appointed ecolodge with first-rate wildlife guides at the northern end of the Pantanal, where you can see dry land fauna and the region’s phenomenal birdlife.

You will then spend four nights aboard a comfortable, modern, air-conditioned riverboat with twin-berth cabins that was originally designed for sports fishing. By sleeping on the river you minimise travelling time and maximise the possibility of seeing the reclusive jaguar in its natural habitat.

Suggested Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

    Depart the UK on an overnight flight to São Paulo.

  2. Day 2: Arrive São Paulo, onward flight to Cuiabá & transfer to North Pantanal.

    On arrival at São Paulo Guarulhos international airport, take a connecting flight to Cuiabá. On reaching Cuiabá you will be met and transferred (135 kilometres i.e. roughly two and a half hours drive) to your accommodation in the Northern Pantanal, arriving in the late afternoon. When you arrive at the lodge you will have an opportunity to settle in, with - depending on your arrival time - the possibility of an evening excursion before or after dinner.

    Accommodation: Pousada Araras Ecolodge, 2 nights

  3. Day 3: Morning & afternoon wildlife activities

    After an early rise this morning, you have a full day of wildlife excursions by vehicle, by boat and on foot, accompanied by a naturalist guide.

  4. Days 4-7 : Drive to Cáceres & board riverboat; river safaris through Talama Reserve in search of jaguar

    Today you transfer to the river, your base for the next four nights. The drive takes around four hours in all. On arrival at the river you board motor boats for a short transfer to your liveaboard base which lies moored at the edge of Taiama Reserve.  Then the exploring begins with an afternoon boat trip in search of jaguar with a naturalist guide. 

    Over the next three days, the daily rhythm remains more or less unchanged. After rising early you head out by boat with your naturalist guide to try and locate jaguar. This is also an excellent time for birding and to see the other wildlife typical of the region. When you come across a jaguar there is no rush to move on, so you can spend as much time as possible to make the most of the photographic opportunities. Returning to the mother-ship in time for lunch, there's plenty of time for a siesta in the middle of the day before heading out again in the late afternoon to look for jaguars. Dusk and dawn tend to be the best times of day for sightings - but there are no rules here. Fortunately there is no shortage of opportunity to attempt to see these magnificent creatures.

    Accommodation: Riverboat, 4-nights

  5. Day 8: Drive to Cuiabá & depart

    Drive to Cuiabá (approximately four hours) and board a flight to São Paulo and overnight connection back to the UK.

  6. Day 9: Arrive UK

You should note: Departures from Pousada Araras Eco Lodge every Thursday (Wednesday from the UK). This itinerary can be customised to add extensions down the Transpantaneira access road into the Pantanal, to the tablelands of Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park north of Cuiabá, into the Amazon rainforest at Cristalino State Park.

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: 9 days from £4,495 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 7 days from £3,645 pp
  • Single supplement: From £650
  • When to go: Jun-Oct: Fixed weekly departures
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
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
Suggested accommodation is 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.