Best Time to Visit Brazil

What a vast and amazing country and with that enormous land mass and diversity of ecosystems and habitats, of course you can expect huge variations between weather patterns in different parts of the country. That is why Wildlife Trails always takes a scientific, tailored approach to the planning of our Brazil wildlife holidays and once we have discussed the wildlife objectives of the safari with our clients and the key species they would like to see, we can then start to look at the best time of year to travel to Brazil.

January – This is very much wet season in the north and central regions of Brazil and that means regular heavy showers and increased river levels. Visiting the Amazon at this time of year is a very unique experience as you really get the full ‘flooded forest’ effect and large areas around your Amazon rainforest lodge can be explored by dugout with your own private boatman – one of the great wilderness experiences in the country. Obviously, photography is more challenging during the rainy season and in general the wildlife will be more dispersed, as water and food is everywhere. Although the water loving Jaguars continue to roam in the Pantanal, most big cat lovers and photographers would wait until at least May before heading on a Pantanal jaguar safari.

February – This is the month when many of Brazils famous carnivals take place, so you can think about planning your Brazil wildlife holidays around one of the most famous ones. Although this can mean early booking of accommodation in cities like Rio de Janeiro to ensure you do not miss out. We would still recommend a visit to the Amazon at this time of year and two of our favourite options are either a stay at the stunning Uakari Lodge (access from Tefe), or a slow luxury small boat Amazon river cruise aboard the gorgeous Tucano. It is still too early to head to the Pantanal to see Jaguars, but you could consider a stay at the spectacular Belmond das Cataratas to see Iguacu falls with the taps fully turned on. Please note that some trails can be closed due to heavy rains.

March – The dry season in the south of Brazil starts in March, although you should expect the odd heavy shower in the first few weeks. So, as well as a visit to Iguacu Falls where the flow will be pretty much at it’s maximum and most of the walking trails should be accessible, you can also consider some trekking in the beautiful canyon national parks in the south. Aparados da Serra National Park is one of the country’s oldest national parks. This park is located in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. The park is a popular destination for trekking and is known for its spectacular canyons and rainforests. A little rain will not affect any of the key wildlife activities in the Amazon, such as rainforest walks, a paddle in a traditional dugout through the flooded forest and boat safaris looking for pink river dolphins.

April – This month and May are the transmission period between the heat and humidity of the summer and the drier, cooler summer months which coincide with the best chance to see some of the most charismatic big cats, like Jaguars and Pumas. We would consider taking a risk with a quick visit to the Pantanal on a private tailormade jaguar safari. Of course, river levels could still be high and occasional heavy showers could still be a factor and you need to be a traveller with an adventurous spirit and accepting of some changes to your itinerary which may be weather related. If you are a keen birder you could consider a quick extension to the stunning Cristalino Lodge and support their vital work in protecting a small remaining island of beautiful tropical forest.

May – River levels continue to drop and photographers keen to capture the Americas largest cat start to arrive at the Pantanal and plans their boat safaris in the Rio Paraguay, or Rio Cuiaba. We definitely think that May can be a great option for a Pantanal jaguar safari and we would look at combining this with another destination for wildlife. One option would be to fly up to Belo Horizonte and be met by your private naturalist and drive to Canastra national park. Up on the plateau of upper Canastra you have the chance to see both Giant Anteater and Maned Wolf.

June – Take advantage of the fact that not only this prime time for wildlife viewing in Brazil but also the cost of international flights has not ‘jumped’ yet and book yourself a Brazil wildlife holiday to remember. All of the best locations to see wildlife in Brazil will be accessible and the daytime temperatures will be very comfortable. Consider a visit to one of the beautiful Pantanal wildlife lodges in the south, where there is a chance to see some amazing wildlife. Recent clients were luck enough to see giant anteaters, giant river otters, bush pigs, peccaries, 6 and 9-banded armadillos, capybara and caiman. The bird life is amazing for both close sightings and the sheer numbers of different species seen.

July – The last two Brazilian wildlife holidays we have made as a family have been in the month of July to fit in with school holidays and we have been rewarded with superb wildlife encounters, dry weather and plenty of Jaguar action on the Cuiaba river. The key point about the dry season in Brazil, is that the river levels continue to drop and more and more beaches and ‘resting areas’ for the Jaguars are exposed. This stunning big cat just loved the water and it is here by the riverine forest that they hunt, play and mate. The river levels are also dropping in the Amazon and this can be a great time to visit Amazon rainforest lodges, like Cristalino Lodge or Uakari Lodge. The winter school holidays for Brazilians occur in this month, so some locations like Iguacu Falls will be very busy.

August – The winter season continues with super weather and temperatures starting to climb in the afternoons. It is important to point out that this heat in the Pantanal is a dry heat, with very little humidity. Indeed, racing along the cool waters of the Rio Paraguay, or Rio Cuiaba, is one of the best big cat experiences in the world. Feel the cool wind in your face, marvel at the amazing scenery and come round a bend in the river to be face to face with the most powerful cat in the Americas! Now most Brazilian children have returned to school, national parks will be quieter and we would recommend adding on some time in the coastal Atlantic Forest. This is not only a superb birding location, but also a place for very rare primates, such as the Golden Tamarin.

September – So, a very common question from clients about our Pantanal jaguar safaris is when the best month is to see Jaguars and the answer is September and October. Infact, I would add to this that is not just a great time to see Jaguars, but in fact all wildlife in the Pantanal. Our clients have a lot more sightings of giant anteaters, tapir and lesser cats, like Ocelot, in these two dry and sometimes very hot and dusty months. Remember that some roads like the Transpantaneira are unsealed, so many months of dry weather start to create dust. That said, you can easily escape the heat on the morning boat safaris and we choose accommodation that is ideally suited for the warmer weather. An example is Hotel Pantanal Norte at Porto Jofre, where there are cute air-conditioned cottages and a lovely cool swimming pool.

October – Now the heat of the day feels intense and if is certainly not a month to travel if you struggle with hot temperatures. However, for big cat lovers and keen photographers you may be hitting the absolute peak of Jaguar sightings in October. It is not uncommon for Wildlife Trails guests to get into double figures with their Jaguar encounters; based on the minimum 4 days of boat safaris we normally suggest. We recommend a real wildlife adventure in Jaguar country by linking up both the north and south Pantanal by boat (most people fly!) using two rivers and actually passing through the protected Jaguar reserve. This is one of our pioneering Brazil wildlife holidays and will give you a perfect combination of jaguar safaris, bird watching and stunning scenery.

November – It is possible that the rains due in November may arrive late and you can fit in a sneaky Jaguar safari with hardly any other visitors around at the start of the month. However, with no rains expect hot temperatures and dusty roads in the Pantanal and this would definitely be the time to choose comfortable accommodation for your trip. Also, a great time to head up to the Amazon for a river cruise or a multi night stay in one of the best Amaz0n rainforest lodges. If you love whale watching then visit the Right Whale Project in Imbituba, which has space for visitation, an animal viewing deck, a research laboratory and a library. Everything to inform the public and help to preserve the species, which is in danger of extinction.

December – This is the start of Brazils summer and for most parts of the country that means more rain and not an ideal time for wildlife viewing. Although as well all know, climatic changes have changed the seasonal weather patterns considerably and if you are visiting Brazil on business or to see family and friends; let them be your local guides to the places to explore after your time together. This is the best time to visit the beaches of southern Brazil when the weather is hot but not sticky. There is a lot of local festivals going on around Christmas and the New Year, so unless you are staying with friends and family, make sure to book your hotel very early.

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