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Brazil wildlife holidays – best place to see Jaguars in Brazil?

Posted in: Brazil


Brazil wildlife holidays – best place to see Jaguars in Brazil?

Seeing a wild jaguar in Brazil represents one of the most exhilarating big cat encounters in the world. The jaguars are found throughout the entire country and sometimes in the most unlikely places. When visiting Brazil with my family in 2013 and staying in Iguacu to see the magnificent falls, I was amazed to see a night time video of a Jaguar walking right past the tourist counter for the boat activities on the river. A place where literally thousands of tourists visit each day. However, the best known locations to see Jaguar are the Amazon and the Pantanal. So below we tell you what to expect with regards to Jaguars sightings in the Amazon, or on your Pantanal jaguar safari.

Is it possible to view Jaguars in the Amazon?

The short answer to this is YES and each year some very, very lucky people catch a glimpse of a wild jaguar on their Brazil wildlife holiday; either from the Amazon wildlife lodge you are staying at, or during a small boat Amazon cruise. However, the fact that these sightings are often brief, or not very clear, is simply to do with the habitat you will find in the Amazon region of Brazil. Thick, luxuriant forest provides superb camaflague to these beautiful big cats and that makes trying to find them all the more difficult. Jaguars do however love water and swim across river bodies on a regular basis as part of patrolling their territories. This probably provides you with your best chance of seeing a wild Jaguar in the Amazon.

Is the Pantanal the best place to see Jaguars in Brazil?

It is astonishing to think back to the 1980’s and a time where Jaguars were heavily poached by the owners of the vast ranches which bred huge herds of cattle in this massive wetland and feared for the safety of their animals. Not only was the Jaguar population at an all time low, they were almost impossible to find and photograph due to their fear of man. Almost exclusively nocturnal, brazil scientists only managed to obtain the odd photo of a jaguar in a camera trap.

Fast forward 30 years and there is no doubt that the Pantanal in Brazil is the best place to see Jaguars in the World and on a good day, you may see multiple wild jaguars by boat safaris on rivers like Rio Paraguay and Rio Cuiaba.

How to see Jaguars in the Pantanal?

The first thing to do is make sure you get a good local wildlife guide. We would encourage you to use a local one; as it is the Pantaneiro themselves who we owe a debt of gratitude (and some excellent NGO’s) for saving the Jaguars. By starting to offer jaguar viewing and photography, they put a value on this amazing big cat, where it was worth more alive than dead.

There is a famous unsealed road in the northern Pantanal called the Transpantaneria, which starts at Pocone and stops at Porto Jofre; due to the fact that the bridge was never built over the wide and tranquil waters of the Rio Cuiaba. On the northern drier section of this road we may be lucky enough to see wildlife such as ocelots, anteaters and crab eating foxes. The further south we head, the wetter the landscape! This is prime jaguar territory and back in 2007 we saw one large male jaguar about 1 hour from Porto Jofre; close to the JER lodge. However, it is the boat safari on the Cuiaba river, where things really start to hot up and your chance to get some incredible wild jaguar photos increase.

Pantanal Jaguar safari – best time to see Jaguars in Brazil?

It is actually possible to see Jaguars all year round in the Pantanal, but due to the difficulties of road transfers in the rainy season and also client comfort, it makes sense to avoid the rainy season from November to April. Then you have this long travel window from May to October. What happens in this dry period, is that the later you travel, the lower the water levels and the more exposed beaches and resting areas are available for the Jaguars. This is the reason why many professional wildlife photographers regard September and October as the best time to see Jaguars in the Pantanal. If you would like to join them, check out our fantastic small group Pantanal jaguar safari which departs every October.

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