Quest for Jaguar and Other Wildlife on the Pantanal
August 13 to 30, 2012
| At a Glance |
Other Details |
This exciting tour is designed to maximize field time for watching and photographing the diverse wildlife of the Pantanal, especially Jaguar. The rivers and marshes that nourish the savanna and woodlands provide a diverse combination of ecosystems. Jaguars are sighted on the Paraguay River and along the Cuiaba upstream from Porto Jofre at the end of the Transpantaneira. We have included both of these Jaguar hotspots. Wildlife at this season concentrates around water in the hot, dry months before the big rains beginning normally in December. Jaguars appear along the riverbanks especially when the weather is hot and sunny. Encounter other Pantanal specialties, maybe Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Tayra, South American Tapir and Yellow Anaconda. Hyacinth Macaws and many other birds are sure to provide great photography. This trip includes five days on the Paraguay River and eight days along the wildlife rich Transpantaneira.
This safari is now full but you can still join us on August 28 to September 14, 2012!
At a Glance
Costs: $6,900 per person, double occupancy, not including airfare. Review cost details.
Leader: Resident guide, Helder Freitas.
Group Size: 5, not including our leaders.
Number of Days: 18, including travel days.
Conditions: A non-smoking safari for people who are very interested in all wildlife and spending the maximum time in the field.
Update: This itinerary was updated in April 2012.
||Night flight to Brazil
||Arrive at the Cuiaba Airport for overnight at Cerrados Park Hotel.
||Journey to the Jaguar Tracker Floating Lodge on the Rio Paraguai.
|August 16 - 19
||Search for Jaguar and other special wildlife. Nights on houseboat.
|August 21 - 22
||Land based explorations, night drives and boating on the Rio Claro.
|August 23 - 24
||Cruise the Cuiaba River in search of Jaguar. Nights at Puma Lodge.
|August 25 - 27
||Up the Transpantaneira to Pouso Alegre and more great wildlife.
||Morning in the Pantanal and overnight at Cerrados Park Hotel.
|August 29 - 30
||Flights homeward, departing on Aug 29 and arriving on the 30.
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This itinerary may vary from day to day depending on road conditions, weather, river conditions, and circumstances beyond our control.
Map of Pantanal in Mato Grosso state, Brazil
August 13 - 14, Monday - Tuesday: Fly to Cuiaba for overnight on August 14
Fly to Cuiaba (CGB) in Brazil and arrive by August 14. We will arrange transfers to the hotel for arrivals on August 14. Overnight at the Cerrados Park Hotel, which is only a 10 minute drive from the Cuiaba Airport and is in Varzea Grande (the town on the opposite side of the Cuiaba River from the city of Cuiaba). The Cerrados Park Hotel also provides free shuttle service to and from the airport. Meals are not included today, but we would like to recommend the delicious piranha soup at the restaurant, Bedotti, across the street from Cerrados Park Hotel. Review flight details.
Lodging on August 14: Cerrados Park Hotel
August 15, Wednesday: Travel to the Pantanal
Enjoy a delicious Brazilian breakfast served at the Cerrados Park Hotel at 6 am. Our wonderful guide for this trip, Helder Freitas, will arrive by 7 AM at the hotel. Drive close to 3 hours in an air-conditioned vehicle for the 250 km to Cáceres through varied habitats. Helder will answer our many questions and point out interesting features, including any Capybaras sighted enroute in the marshes along the roadsides, but Capybaras will be seen by the hundreds on the Paraguay, so we will not make stops on this part of the journey. This very social rodent weighing around 60 kg has the demeanor of the "happy capy", a favorite nickname, and we never tire of passing them on the riverbanks and in the marshes of the Pantanal where they reside in large numbers. Certainly the very abundant Capybaras, as well as Yacaré Caiman, are very important prey for Jaguar in the Pantanal!
From the Cáceres dock, travel by small boat down the Paraguay River to the new Jaguar Tracker Floating Lodge for the nights on the Paraguay River. The Reserve is about 140 km from Cáceras and the houseboat is moored to the north of the Reserve. Luggage travels in a separate boat. It's best to travel light on this trip, as the climate is normally quite hot and clothes dry very quickly. Also the space in the boot of the vehicles is limited. Stop for a great lunch at a fishing lodge located on the Paraguay. Sometime in the late afternoon before dinnertime arrive at our houseboat, or floating lodge (all cabins air conditioned and with private baths), which is located on the Paraguay just north of the Taiama Ecological Reserve. Taiama is off limits to any landings and covers over 43 square miles with the Paraguay River dividing around it, so it is a wonderful refuge for Jaguar. The Jaguar Tracker Floating Lodge is moored very close to the best Jaguar zone of the Paraguay River, the 32,000 hectare Taiama Ecological Reserve. After dinner this first evening Helder will take time to give us all the guidelines necessary to get ready, especially for Jaguar, Giant Otter and Yellow Anaconda searching.
Lodging: Jaguar Tracker Floating Lodge (houseboat)
Jaguar Tracker Floating Lodge
August 16 - 19, Thursday - Sunday: Jaguar quests by boat around the Taiama Reserve
Enjoy the Paraguay River and its lovely baias (lagoons) with Giant River Otter, Capybaras, and other wildlife, including many birds. Last year we encountered two Yellow Anacondas, one sunning in a lagoon and the other in the process of shedding its skin well protected in a log against the riverbank. Doing a circumnavigation of the Taiama Ecological Reserve is a full day trip. There are places on the opposite bank of the river from the Reserve where it is safe to stop for bush breaks, so do not hesitate to ask for stops. Some days return to the houseboat for lunch and a siesta, but on some days take full-day boat trips with Helder and his excellent boatman along the Taiama Reserve to search for Jaguar. Jaguars are most likely to make their appearance along the river in the hottest part of the day. Hope for hot, sunny weather for the best Jaguar viewing. Enjoy the many waterbirds, including Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills and egrets. We will also see many Yacaré Caiman along the river and parakeets, parrots and caciques in the flowering trees. Birds of prey are frequently encountered. In the trees above the river Black Howlers and Black-striped Tufted Capuchin monkeys are sometimes spotted. The sunsets are beautiful in the Pantanal and by the time we arrive back at the houseboat on some evenings, we will have done some night spotting to find nocturnal animals on the river, such as Large Fishing Bats and Band-tailed Nighthawks.
Lodging: Jaguar Tracker Floating Lodge (houseboat)
Immature Rufescent Tiger-Heron
August 20 - 22, Monday - Wednesday: To Caceres and drive down the Transpantaneira "Highway"
Begin early this morning traveling upstream along the Paraguay River and keeping a sharp eye out for wildlife during the four hour trip back to Cáceras. Have lunch in Cáceras, then drive to the Claro River and Pousada Rio Claro located half way down the Transpantaneira "highway" (all dirt road from 5 km after Poconé, the major town just before the gateway into the Transpantaneira). See large numbers of storks, egrets and other waterfowl that thrive all along the edges of the raised roadbed where water vegetation also thrives. Yacaré Caimans and Capybaras are well protected from hunting throughout the Pantanal and their abundance reflects it. We travel slowly crossing the many wooden bridges before turning off on the side road to Pousada Rio Claro. Both Pampas and Marsh deer can be seen in the tall grasslands, while Black Howlers are sometimes spotted in the trees. Each morning enjoy a before breakfast walk or drive or boat trip by 6 am, as there are many ways to get out and encounter the wildlife near this wonderful lodge. Situated beside the marvelous intimate Rio Claro, special mammals like South American Tapir and great birds like Fasciated Tiger Herons and Rufescent Tiger Herons, are sighted.
Lodging: Pousada Rio Claro
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August 23 - 24, Thursday - Friday: On the Cuiaba River and Puma Lodge in search of Jaguar
Before breakfast at Pousada Rio Claro, join Helder for a walk in the low streamside woods looking for Tapir and other mammals. Also perhaps encounter such specialties as the beady-eyed Gray-crested Cacholote, the confiding Band-tailed Antbird, the endemic Mato Grosso Antbird, and the very cute Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant. After breakfast drive almost to the end of the long Transpantaneira and check in at Puma Lodge, have lunch, then continue to the Cuiaba River, the boundary between two Brazilian states. A bridge across the river and the road on the other side were never built fortunately for the wildlife still thriving here. Now the Transpantaneira "Highway" is famous for its wildlife viewing and has never become more than a dirt road, never the major highway once planned to connect the state of Mato Grosso to the other side of the river. At the Cuiaba River we reach an opening known as Campo Jofre, where in recent years Jaguars have been consistently encountered along the river. Peccaries and Tapir are possibilities here. Hundreds of Yacare Caimans and some Green Iguanas are the most noteworthy reptiles throughout the Pantanal with Yellow Anacondas rarely encountered. We have good chances of spotting a Jaguar anywhere from Porto Jofre, all the way up along the Rio Tres Irmaões, upstream of Porto Jofre, within the Parque Estadual Encontro das Aguas and up the Piguiri, a tributary of the Cuiaba.
Return again this time for a full day boat trip and hope to encounter Jaguar in good light to photograph. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the bank of the river and return to Puma Lodge in the late afternoon for a delicious Brazilian dinner.
Lodging: Puma Lodge
August 25 - 27, Saturday - Monday: Pouso Alegre and abundant wildlife along its roads and trails
Walk with Helder before breakfast at Puma Lodge, then drive to Pouso Alegre. The grande finale of the Transpantaneira part of the trip will be a wonderful 3 days at Pouso Alegre. Arrive in time for lunch. The lodge is 7 kilometers down a side road off the beaten track of the main Transpantaneria. We have a variety of options available to us at this wonderful fazenda (also a working ranch): walks to view wildlife, safari in open vehicles, boating, and night drives. Find Chestnut-bellied Guan -- the only endemic to the Pantanal, as well as many other attractions, such as Chaco Chachalaca and Bare-faced Curassow. Walks inside the woodlands will be fun to look for Black-tailed Marmosets, Black Howlers and other primates, as well as some fascinating forest birds. Elusive wildlife is very challenging to photograph, so we will spend a lot of field time to be sure to get some great photographic results, including photographing Hyacinth Macaws. The two principal avian emblems of the Pantanal are the Jabiru (which by this point we will have seen in considerable numbers) and the Hyacinth Macaw -- a much less common, but equally impressive species. The world's largest parrot, it occurs at scattered localities along the Transpantaneira, but is most often seen in the immediate vicinity of lodges and fazendas where they easily steal the show feeding on the native palms growing on these properties. Each day we will begin by dawn, return for breakfast, then go out for more wildlife encounters followed by lunch and siesta time and more wonderful game viewing by 4 pm. Stay out until after dark for some night viewing.
Lodging: Pouso Alegre
August 28, Tuesday: Travel back to Cuiaba and Varzea Grande to the Cerrados Park Hotel
Today we will have a full morning at Pouso Alegre both before and after breakfast, then drive back to Pocone for lunch at a Brazilian Churrascaria. Pouso Alegre is 150 km from Cuiaba and 17 km from Pocone. By this time in August the beautiful pink flowering tree, the Piuva, should be in full flower to add great scenic beauty to the Pantanal. Drive back to Varzea Grande for overnight at the Cerrados Park Hotel again beside the airport. Dinner and remaining meals are on our own.
Lodging: Cerrados Park Hotel
August 29 - 30, Wednesday - Thursday: Flights home
Transfer from the hotel to the Cuiaba Airport for your flight on August 29 using their complimentary shuttle service to check in two hours before your flight. Arrive home on August 30 or contact us if you would like assistance to do an extension while in Brazil.
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Costs, Payments and Cancellations: All reservations require a deposit due at the time of making the reservation. Upon receiving your deposit and reservation form, we will send trip materials with additional information to help you prepare for your safari. Until the final payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person. This fee may go toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip's departure date. There are no refunds given after the final payment due date. We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between now and the date of travel.
|Cost per Person
|Trip cost, double occupancy
|Deposit - to reserve your space
|August 15, 2011 - second payment
|March 30, 2012 - final payment
|• All costs listed above are per person.
• For reservations made after the second payment date, the deposit and second payment will be due with registration.
- Expert guiding, lodging and boat trips as listed in the itinerary.
- All meals from breakfast on August 15 through lunch on August 28.
- Airport transfers on dates listed.
- All airfare. Airfare round trip to Cuiaba, Brazil, is not included in the cost and is approximately $1,500 to $1,600 (subject to change, quoted September 2011).
- Brazilian visa fee.
- Meals before August 15 and after lunch on August 28.
- Travel insurance.
- Separate airport and hotel transfers.
- Items of a personal nature, alcoholic beverages, and items not on the regular menu (if you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your reservation form).
- Gratuities: Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting $18 per day per participant (a total of approximately $250 per participant) to be distributed among our resident naturalist, boatman, lodge staff, and drivers. We will provide tipping guidelines when we send more trip details before the trip begins.
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To Make a Reservation: Please contact us (there are many methods of contacting us) to assure space availability and to let us answer your questions. Then, print our reservation form, fill out one form per person, and post it to us in the mail with your deposit. Or fill out our handy online information request and we will send you more information.
|Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris
20800 Kittredge Road
Saratoga, CA 95070
|Toll Free: (800) 527-5330
Fax: (408) 741-0358
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Leader: Helder Freitas is a Brazilian biologist, ecologist and naturalist who has been guiding in Brazil for over 20 years. Helder grew up in São Paulo, where he studied. He received his guide license in 1990, starting off his career in Florianopolis on Brazil's Atlantic coast. For the past 15 years he has guided in the Pantanal. He earned a degree in Biology at UNIVAG (Centro Univeritario de Varzea Grande) near Cuiaba. His knowledge of ecology, wildlife and culture is remarkable, including the bird songs of the birds of the Pantanal. He is also well versed in Brazil's economics, politics and history and speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Flights: Arrive in Cuiaba, Brazil (CGB) by August 14 and depart from Cuiaba on August 29. More flight information will be given once airlines have their flight schedules firmed up about eleven months before the return dates. Please let us know if you would like assistance reserving your flights.
Accommodations, Houseboat, Climate, and Meals: Lodge, has a dining area and eight comfortable double cabins with private bath and hot showers. The electric generator runs at night and again at midday for air conditioning and battery recharging. Staying in the houseboat on the river allows us maximum time in the field. Cerrados Park Hotel, Pousada Rio Claro, Puma Lodge and Pouso Alegre all have both private baths and air conditioning. In Brazil most toilets are not plumbed to flush paper, so a container is provided beside each toilet to dispose of paper. When in Brazil it is convenient to do things as Brazilians do. On hot days while on the Transpantaneira part of the trip, take a siesta or rest after lunch before doing a late afternoon outing into the evening. Being out at 6 AM right at dawn is also an excellent time to drive along the dirt roads where there are lagoons when a Giant Anteater might be out in the open to seek a drink of water in one of the remaining pools. Meals will be buffet style, the Brazilian way. Many Brazilian specialties will be served, such as for breakfast delicious cheese and manioc flour bread rounds shaped like doughnut holes and baked. Drinking water will be provided on the houseboat, but not at the lodges. Helder will stop at a supermercados in Poconé for you to buy large jugs of water to refill your water bottle. This will cost much less than at the lodges. It is important to bring a water bottle to fill from the large bottle and carry with you at all times to avoid dehydration in this normally hot climate. Note: "Bush-stops" will be made during the day in remote areas without a toilet when needed, such as along the Paraguay River.
Travel Insurance: Emergency Medical Insurance is optional, but encouraged, for this tour. Read about travel insurance and our recommendations and requirements.
Trip Materials: Detailed information about your specific tour will be sent to you after you make your reservation with us. These trip materials include information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, packing, etc. Please take a moment to read this important informtation upon receipt.
Conditions: We have a strict non-smoking policy - smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours. We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience. Travel to remote places is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants. For all tours that are ship-based, please note that although we cannot guarantee a request for a specific cabin, we do guarantee that you will be in a cabin of equal or greater value specified in your reservation.
Mailing List: If you would like to be on our mailing list or request information, please use our online information request form or contact us to give us your name, address, email address and phone number. Please note we will never share your personal information with anybody!
Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris, Saratoga, California, act only as agents and shall not be responsible or become liable for any delay incurred by any person in connection with any means of transportation, nor for the loss, damage, or injury to person or property by reason of any event beyond the control of the agency or default of such agency suppliers. We reserve the right to cancel the tour prior to departure in which case full refund will constitute full settlement to the passenger. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour unless arrangements are made at the time of booking. All rates are based on current tariffs, exchange rates and fuel prices and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited. Baggage is at the owner's risk.
Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is registered as California Seller of Travel #2063050-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is a participant in the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). In event of a client canceling where a refund is applicable in accordance with the schedule above, or in the event that CES needs to cancel the trip, all payments for transportation or travel service not provided to the client shall be promptly refunded, unless the client instructs us otherwise in writing. All client payments are deposited into a trust account in accordance with California law. If for any reason a valid refund is not forthcoming, the client may request reimbursement from the TCRC within six months of the scheduled end of the tour. Please feel free to ask us for more information.
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All material © Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris.
All photos © Doug or Ted Cheeseman, unless otherwise credited.
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