Brazil: Jaguars and Wildlife of the Pantanal

Exploring the World’s Largest Wetland


The Pantanal of Brazil, the world’s largest tropical wetland, is a vast water-world of flooded grasslands, tropical savannas, and gallery forests that shelter phenomenal wildlife. Hundreds of rare and wildly colorful avian species nest in the Pantanal, caiman and capybara roam the meandering river banks, and the top predator in this hotspot of biodiversity is the majestic jaguar, the largest native cat in the New World, found here in great numbers. We bring you into the heart of the Pantanal for an incredible wildlife adventure, and unlike the Amazon, where wildlife can be hard to spot, the Pantanal has wonderfully open habitats. We’ve timed our trip for the dry season, when the waters recede, the wildlife is concentrated, and jaguars are found near the Paraguay River, where they come to drink, swim, and hunt. We’ll bring you to a remote lodge for this thrilling experience (avoiding the crowded Port Jofre area), and we explore by boat on the lookout for these magnificent creatures. Heading deeper in the Pantanal, we safari by 4WD vehicle and canoe in a riverine forest with extraordinary birdlife, including macaws and huge jabiru storks. With luck, we may see giant anteater and giant otter here as well. We combine our wildlife safari with hiking in the stunning “cerrado” ecosystem of Chapada Dos Guimarães National Park, a land of tropical savanna, sandstone cliffs, red-rock formations, and towering waterfalls. Here we’ll explore the canyons, valleys, and savannas, with opportunities for refreshing dips in some of the many waterfalls. Our accommodations include a forest ecolodge in the Pantanal reserve and a small, ideally located lodge in Chapada Dos Guimarães that brings us broad vistas across the park, with hiking trails all around us. This adventure with Brazilian naturalist Sergio Freitas is safari-style, with early morning starts for optimum wildlife viewing, mid-day breaks to avoid the afternoon heat, and late afternoon excursions. We will also have after-dinner outings to see nocturnal wildlife. Join us in Brazil for a phenomenal wildlife adventure!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
The Pantanal / Riverine Forest Wildlife

We meet in Cuiabá, capital of the Mato Grosso state, and the next day drive to our first great wildlife location, the remote Aymara Lodge on the Paraguay River, set in an area renowned among wildlife photographers and birders. From our lodge, a true forest gem, we explore on foot or by canoe, keeping an eye out for native avians including cocoy, striated, and agamy heron and all five species of South American kingfisher. The birds in this area often include sought-after hyacinth macaw (the largest parrot species in the world).

Hotel Deville
Cuiabá, Brazil
Day 1 (1 night)
Aymara Lodge
Poconé, Brazil
Days 2 to 4 (3 nights)
Days 5-7
Paraguay River / Taiamã Ecological Station / Jaguars in the Wild

Just getting to the Hotel Biazinha, deep in the Pantanal, is a kind of “safari” as we look for an array of spectacular birds along the way, possibly including jabiru stork, roseate spoonbill, and rufescent tiger heron. We’ll have two full days to make forays along the Paraguay River and into the Taiamã Ecological Station. This part of the Paraguay River is the world’s premier area for seeing jaguar, who are drawn to the sandy river banks during the dry season to drink, swim, and hunt for their favorite prey, the capybara, as well as caiman. Unlike the Amazon, the Pantanal has a wide-open habitat, which makes for easier viewing and photography.

Hotel Baiazinha
Caceres, Brazil
Days 5 to 7 (3 nights)
Days 8-10
Hiking in Chapada dos Guimarães

Red-rock formations and tumbling waterfalls are protected in wild Chapada dos Guimarães National Park. On daily hikes, we explore the tablelands and tropical savanna. At the 300-foot-high Véu da Noiva waterfall, we’ll look for birds, including channel-billed toucan and blue-winged and red-and-green macaw. Our ecolodge is set on 1,200 acres of private land. Depart on Day 10 via Cuiabá.

Pousada do Parque
Chapada Dos Guimarães National Park, Brazil
Days 8 to 9 (2 nights)



See jaguars in the wild along the banks of the Paraguay River
Witness spectacular birdlife, from hyacinth macaws to roseate spoonbills
Look for giant anteater, capybara, caiman, and giant river otter
Hike in the stunning landscape of Chapada dos Guimarães National Park
Enjoy overnights in cozy wildlife lodges


Length: 10 days
Cost From: $6595  
Arrive: Cuiabá, Brazil
Depart: Cuiabá, Brazil
Lodging: 1 night hotel, 8 nights wildlife lodges
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Wildlife and Natural History
Trip Level:

Easy nature walks and light hikes in a hot and humid Pantanal climate, river excursions by motorboat and canoe, hikes in Chapada dos Guimarães National Park