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Pantanal Jaguar tour – which one is the best for you?

Posted in: Brazil


Pantanal Jaguar tour – which one is the best for you?

The Pantanal is a huge seasonal wetland covering the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso in Brazil. In recent years it has become famous around the world as the best place to see Jaguars in the wild. This magnificent big cat and deadly killer thrives in this rich mosaic of huge rivers, enormous ranches and riverine forest. However, there are different locations within the Pantanal that attract a variety of wildlife and big cat enthusiasts looking for the ultimate Jaguar photo. So, if you are thinking of a Pantanal jaguar tour as part of your Brazil wildlife holiday, here are a few thoughts for you to consider. We first travelled to the Pantanal to look for Jaguars in 2007 and have visited multiple times since.

Best time of year to see Jaguars in the Pantanal?

Such is the adaptability and ‘dominance’ of the largest cat in the Americas – especially since the hunting of Jaguars in the Pantanal was massively reduced – you can actually see and photograph it at anytime of the year. However, the rainy season which runs from mid-November to March/April will present more difficult challenges for photographers especially. Not only will heavy rain showers (these tend to be short but powerful) make jaguar photography more challenging, the remote lodges or pousada’s you will be staying at, will be more difficult to reach and journey times can sometimes double. So, on this basis, we can narrow down the best time to see jaguars in Brazil to the months from June to October. Then within this particular window we can say that the months become drier the later you go and the very dry months of September and October can lead to the best jaguar watching tours. Simply because river levels are generally lower and the Jaguars like to stay fairly close to the water for a cooling dip and to use various ambush tactic as they stalk prey like caimans, capybara and even snakes!

Best places to see Jaguars in the Wild?

We already know that the Pantanal in Brazil has the highest density of Jaguars and also has the more open riverine habitat, that makes actually watching and photographing Jaguars, far easier than in locations with thick jungle; such as the Amazon and locations such as Belize and Guyana. We then have a rough split between the north and south Pantanal and various ranches and pousada’s which offer the chance to see Jaguars – so which is the best Pantanal jaguar tour for you?

Jaguar safari in the South Pantanal

The South Pantanal is generally accessed via the airports of Campo Grande or Curumba and over the year various family owned Brazil wildlife lodges have promoted a mixture of Jaguar and Giant Anteater safaris, birding and more ‘soft adventure’ activities, such as horse riding, canoeing and cycling. So, this is an ideal location for families and adventure tourists; rather than the full of wildlife photographer looking for that classic close up of a Jaguar. So if you are after the ultimate Pantanal jaguar safari, with more variety and a chance to also see anteaters and armadillo's; then our North and South Pantanal safari is a great option for you.

Jaguar safari in the North Pantanal

Now rightly regarded as the best place to see Jaguars in Brazil and easily accessed from either Sao Paulo or Rio; Pantanal jaguar tours in the north are the most popular way to seethe big cat and follow a famous one way route called the Transpantaneira. The further you drive down this road, the ‘wetter’ the habitat becomes and after a half-day drive on unsealed roads you arrive at the beautiful Cuiaba River. It is here where the Jaguar watching tours intensify; as you take daily boat safaris on the river and its tributaries looking for Jaguars. If you are interested in Jaguar safari in Brazil that focuses on this superb location then check out our small group Jaguar safari in the Pantanal.

Jaguar safari in the South Pantanal

As already mentioned earlier in this blog, wildlife viewing in the South Pantanal tends to be more varied and the focus is not just on seeing Jaguars. That is not to say you will not see Jaguars while staying at a Pousada in the south; it will just not be with the same regularity as the north. However, certain other species – like the amazing Giant Anteater – can be seen more easily than the north and overall the cost of staying in the south is less. We would say that if you are interested in more variety for your Brazil wildlife holiday, then a combination of a Pantanal Jaguar tour which visits both the north and south is a great option. Check out our North and South Pantanal Jaguar safari.

Jaguar safari on the Paraguay River

Our final option for you to consider is a Brazil wildlife tour which focuses on a ‘more tranquil’ location to view Jaguars. The Paraguay River is a huge freshwater artery in northern Brazil and the only river in this huge country which flows from north to south. There are many opportunities along this river to spot Jaguars, but we have chosen a Brazilian wildlife lodges accessed from Caceres (nearest airport Cuiaba!). This is a very comfortable riverside lodge and because it is not as famous as the Jaguar safaris taking place on the Cuiaba River, you are likely to see less people on the river. This lodge provides access to the Taiama Ecological Reserve, but recently Jaguar sightings have been more common closer to the lodge. If you prefer a quieter Jaguar safari in Brazil then this private Jaguar watching Pantanal tour is for you.

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