Pantanal

Our Pantanal tours are our most popular Brazil wildlife holidays due to the richness of this wetland paradise and the diversity of Pantanal animals you will see. Your private Pantanal river safari tour with your own boatman and expert local naturalist will open your eyes to the world’s biggest wetland and its amazing wildlife, including the most powerful big cat in the Americas; the mighty Jaguar. Our tailor-made Jaguar safaris spend a minimum of 4 full days on the Cuiaba River, which is the best place to see Jaguars in the world. Although the Cuiaba river is not located in the Jaguar wildlife reserve itself, it is home to the highest density of Jaguars in Brazil. Our Pantanal wildlife tours will also give you the chance to see many other iconic Brazilian wildlife species, including Tapir, Giant Anteaters and the stunning Ocelot.

Popular Itineraries in brazil

Amazon & Pantanal Jaguar Safari

For your Pantanal jaguar safari we explore different types of major habitats accessed by using the Transpantaneira road and you will have quality time in two of them. In particular, the Cuiaba River (and its tributaries) where approximately 90% of the jaguar sightings take place during boat safaris. You cannot visit this area for just a couple of days and expect to see Jaguars and you can certainly not expect to see them if you do not go to the end of this famous road and spend some quality time on the water. Most other operators return to their lodges or houseboats for lunch, but we take packed lunches and stay out all day. Unlike other big cats around the world, Jaguars are sighted often in the middle of the day; either relaxing under the shade of the riverine forest, or sometimes hunting Capybara, Caimans or other prey species.

We then fly you up from Cuiaba to Manaus and due to the timings of flight schedules between the capital city of the Amazon and Tefe, we overnight you in a charming bed and breakfast. We can organise a boat safari to the ‘meeting of the rivers’, or you can simply have a walk around the attractions of Manaus – we recommend a visit to the Opera House. You will then fly to Tefe and enjoy a spectacular small boat transfer to Uakari floating lodge; beautifully located on meandering loop of a river in the unspolit and wildlife rich Mamirauá Reserve. During your stay you will be able to explore the flooded forest in a private dugout paddle, as well as take small group boat safaris to observe pink river dolphins, spider monkeys and sloth. This is a genuine community led project with 50% of the income going back into the community and the majority of the food you eat is purchased from the local villages.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 15
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£4990
Brazil Jaguar Safari with Four Full Days of Private Boat Safaris

There are several different types of major habitats accessed by using the Transpantaneira road and you will have quality time in two of them. In particular, the Cuiaba River (and its tributaries) where approximately 90% of the jaguar sightings take place during boat safaris. You cannot visit this area for just a couple of days and expect to see Jaguars and you can certainly not expect to see them if you do not go to the end of this famous road and spend some quality time on the water. Most other operators return to their lodges or houseboats for lunch, but we take packed lunches and stay out all day. Unlike other big cats around the world, Jaguars are sighted often in the middle of the day; either relaxing under the shade of the riverine forest, or sometimes hunting Capybara, Caimans or other prey species.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 9
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£3690
South Pantanal Wildlife Tour with Iguacu Extension

As more and more exciting Jaguar photos ‘flooded’ the internet it was inevitable that locations like the Cuiaba river would start to attract large numbers of wildlife enthusiasts and we recognise that this is not the experience all wildlife lovers are looking for on their bespoke Brazil wildlife holiday. There are actually many other locations in the vast wetland known as the Pantanal and simply by flying into the south you can experience a very different style of wildlife safari.

Although the chances here to see Jaguars are less, the animal count can often be higher and more diverse and our clients have been lucky enough to see many giant anteaters, bush pigs, peccaries, 6 and 9-banded armadillos, capybara and caiman. Because you will have your own private naturalist, you can dictate the pace of the wildlife viewing; although we definitely recommend a few night time drives.

You will then fly south to Iguacu airport where you will be met by your friendly knowledgeable guide. We have visited this Unesco world heritage site multiple times, so know the importance of booking a hotel within the park and therefore being able to visit the falls in that ‘golden’ first 1-2 hours before the mainstream tourists arrive. We also know great places for bird watching and eating locally; so you will really maximise your 3 nights spent here before flying onto Sao Paulo or Rio.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 8
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2390
Two Rivers Pantanal Jaguar Safari

This really is the ultimate Jaguar safari in Brazil, as we take you to two famous Brazilian rivers, each with a high density of wild jaguars. Less people visit the Paraguay river and the Taiamã Ecological Reserve where you will be taking your boat safaris. In the last few years there have been more Jaguar sightings closer to our riverside lodge on the banks of the Paraguay and we can use the latest sightings reports to plan our daily activities. We have a large spacious boat designed for 12 but only carrying 4 Wildlife Trails clients; who will enjoy a huge amount of space for their comfort and all important camera equipment. After 4 nights on the Paraguay river we drive back to Cuiaba and start our journey down the Transpantaneira road. We focus on two different habitats along this road, the drier north where you are more likely to see Tapir, Giant Anteaters and Ocelot and then the end of the road for our Jaguar boat safaris; where we are also likely to see Giant river otters, Howler monkeys, Caiman and Capybara. To have the best possible chance to see Jaguars we again have a large boat with just a few clients in and we go out as early as possible and take packed lunches. Which means that we are still viewing and photographing Jaguars, while the other groups are back at the lodge or on their houseboats having siestas.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 13
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£6155
Ultimate Pantanal Birding Tour

When you visit Brazil on a wildlife holiday even if it involves a Jaguar Safari in the Pantanal you soon pick up on the fact that nearly all the local guides are full on birders and will take every opportunity to point out ‘special’ birds to their clients. As all birders know, if you want to maximise the variety of sightings and species you need to visit a diversity of habitats and altitudes in the company of an expert guide. This combination of higher altitude Cerrado plateau and Wetland habitat – without the need to travel too far in Brazil – is ideal for keen birders and those looking to see a diversity of landscapes and wildlife in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 6
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2500

Best time to visit the Pantanal

The first point to make is that of all big cats in the world, Jaguars are certainly not put off by a little rain and in reality, you could see Jaguars any month of the year in Brazil. However, it is important to point out that some of the roads to reach the best places to see Jaguars become damaged during the rainy season and overall logistics and difficulty increase during the rainy season. So, the general rule would be to wait until at least May and not visit much after early November to reduce the risk of heavy rains impacting your Jaguar safari in the Pantanal.

During the dry season in Brazil from approximately May until October we see the river levels start to drop in the Pantanal. This exposes more and more of the sandy river banks which the Jaguars love to rest on; often in the shade of trees, which cling precariously to the river edge. It is common for Jaguars to cross these rivers regularly; whether it to continue walking in their territories or when they are actively hunting. It has now been widely observed how the Jaguars hunt caimans, capybara and other prey by using the river and their low head position in the water as camouflage.

Pantanal animals – what are the key species you will see?

The Pantanal is known as a diversity hotspot for mammals in South America and from our experiences of organising Pantanal wildlife tours and Jaguar safaris since 2007, we would say in the world. 152 species of mammals have been recorded in Brazil, including 45 large to medium mammals. We have been lucky enough to see and photograph iconic Pantanal animals including Jaguars, Giant River Otters (River Wolves), Tapir, Southern Tamundra, Ocelot, Giant Anteater, Yellow Anaconda, Capybara, Armadillo, Caiman, Hyacinth Macaws, Ostrich, Marsh Deer and Howler Monkeys

Pantanal Lodges – where is the best place to stay?

You need to look at your Pantanal wildlife tour in 2 sections. First, you need to stay in the drier northern Pantanal for a better chance to see Ocelot, Tapir and Giant Anteaters and our personal recommendation would be Pousa Alegre. It’s a simple pousada, or ranch, located on huge grounds where you will set off very early in the morning (around 04:00) in a specially adapted safari vehicle, looking for Caiman, Southern Tamundra, Giant Anteaters, Tapir and Ocelot.

You then follow the famous Transpantaneira road until it stops at the Cuiaba River; there is no bridge, so you can go no further. There is an excellent Pantanal lodge called either Hotel Pantanal Norte, or the Porto Jofre Lodge. You cannot call this a luxury Pantanal lodge, but believe me, it is way better than staying at these so-called ‘Flotels’, with their tiny bedrooms and cramped communal living areas. Porto Jofre Lodge is located on the extensive ground, with nesting Hyacinth Macaws, Jaguars which sometimes come through the property, swimming pool, air-conditioned cottages and you just roll out of beds and walk 100M to the jetty on the Cuiaba river to start your private Pantanal river safari. The beauty of this type of Jaguar safari is you don’t have the humidity of the jungles and you enjoy the absolute perfect eye-level view of a Jaguar hunting for caiman or other prey species. These are the best Jaguar safaris in the world and it is a privilege to enter their kingdom.

Related Articles

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 thrive 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.

Giant Anteaters & Armadillos Rock!

Of course, many clients booking a Brazil wildlife tour are focused on charismatic predators, such as the legendary Jaguar. However, once you have enjoyed your Pantanal jaguar tour you might be looking for more unique Brazilian wildlife; such species as Giant River Otters, Maned Wolf, Armadillo’s and the utterly charming and bizarre Giant Anteater.

Brazil Wildlife Holiday; The Search for the River Wolves of Brazil

One of the most joyous wildlife encounters during a Brazil wildlife tour is to meet a foraging family of Giant River Otters on the river. These beautiful animals are superb swimmers and can avoid predators with their speed and agility. They can often turn defence into attack and push a caiman or snake from their territory, by constantly haranguing the unfortunate creature which gets too close to their heavily protected dens. It is often the case that you hear the Giant River Otters before you see them, and their distinctive high-pitched squeaks are one of the great sounds of a Pantanal jaguar safari.

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