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 waterworld 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 river banks, and the top predator in this hotspot of biodiversity is the majestic jaguar, the largest native cat in the New World. 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 and the wildlife is more concentrated. We’ll begin at a remote lodge to explore by boat on the lookout for magnificent Pantanal wildlife and birdlife, with a day trip to the Porto Jofre area, where jaguar sightings are well known. 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 finish our safari with hikes in the stunning “cerrado” ecosystem of Chapada Dos Guimarães National Park, a land of tropical savanna, sandstone cliffs, red-rock formations, and towering waterfalls. This adventure with Brazilian naturalist Sergio Freitas is safari-style, with early morning starts for optimum wildlife viewing and late afternoon excursions. We will also have after-dinner outings to see nocturnal wildlife. Join us in Brazil for a phenomenal adventure!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
The Pantanal / Riverine Forest Wildlife / Day Trip to Porto Jofre

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). We'll also take a day trip to the Porto Jofre area, where jaguar frequent the Cuiabá River, and meet with a researcher from the Jaguar Identification Project.

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)



Search for the elusive jaguar along the Pantanal’s rivers
Witness spectacular birdlife, from hyacinth macaws to roseate spoonbills
Meet with a researcher from the Jaguar Identification Project
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