Travel to São Paulo, Brazil
We recommend arriving in São Paulo today.
Explore the vast Pantanal for South America’s Big Five – jaguar, giant anteater, giant otter, ocelot, and South American tapir. Travel via boat, private bus, and safari vehicles through regions where marshes, lakes, and streams provide a diverse ecosystem that fosters superb encounters with these awe-inspiring mammals plus many beautiful birds, like the hyacinth macaw. Journey down the famous Transpantaneira Highway in the northern Pantanal to Porto Jofre where cruises on the Cuiabá River afford numerous opportunities to see jaguars, giant otters, and other wildlife not easily seen by land. While in the southern Pantanal, stay at Caiman Lodge, a top wildlife destination, and a sure bet for giant anteaters and ocelots. Join biologists in the field to learn about this region’s wildlife research and conservation efforts. Don’t miss this UNESCO world heritage site and biosphere reserve of spectacular beauty!
Itinerary Updated: April 2022
|Oct 8||Travel to São Paulo, Brazil.|
|Oct 9||Meet Diogo in São Paulo, then fly to Cuiabá. Drive the Transpantaneira Highway to Porto Jofre.||Hotel Porto Jofre, Porto Jofre||D|
|Oct 10-13||Boat trips on the Cuiabá River to find jaguar, giant otters, monkeys, and birds.||Hotel Porto Jofre, Porto Jofre||B, L, D|
|Oct 14||Morning boat ride then drive and sightsee north to Araras.||Araras Eco Lodge, Northern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 15||Explore Araras.||Araras Eco Lodge, Northern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 16||Morning game drive at Araras, then fly to Pousada Aguapé.||Pousada Aguapé, Southern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 17||Learn about local issues and wildlife at Pousada Aguapé with conservation researchers.||Pousada Aguapé, Southern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 18||More research at Pousada Aguapé; drive to Fazenda San Francisco in the afternoon.||Fazenda San Francisco, Southern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 19||Search for giant anteater, ocelot, and other wildlife at Fazenda San Francisco.||Fazenda San Francisco, Southern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 20||Morning search for wildlife, then travel to Caiman Lodge.||Caiman Lodge, Southern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 21-22||Look for giant anteaters and other wildlife around Caiman Lodge.||Caiman Lodge, Southern Pantanal||B, L, D|
|Oct 23||Morning game drive at Caiman Lodge, then travel to Campo Grande.||Hotel Deville Prime, Campo Grande||B, L, D|
|Oct 24||Flights from Campo Grande to São Paulo and then homeward.||B|
|Oct 25||Arrive home.|
Diogo studied Biology at Bahia Federal University, one of the most renowned academies in Brazil, and began working as a naturalist guide in the Pantanal region in 2011. His skills in zoology, animal behavior, botany, animal tracking, ecology, birding, and photography have propelled his career in guiding for renowned lodges, safari groups, and research programs. On safari, Diogo aspires to build a bond between travelers and nature and instill a commitment to conservation by sharing his experiences, knowledge, and love for the region.
We recommend arriving in São Paulo today.
Arrive in São Paulo by early morning at the latest. Diogo will meet you at the São Paulo Airport to catch the mid-morning flight to Cuiabá located in the northern part of the state of Mato Grosso. Upon arrival, drive across 56mi of the Cerrado region (Brazilian savanna) to the town of Poconé, and then drive 26mi south to the entrance of the Transpantaneira Highway – a truly extraordinary gravel road traversing some 93mi of the Pantanal. You will continue south down the Transpantaneira to Porto Jofre.
The best chances to spot jaguar are on the Rio Cuiabá. The jaguars in this region are protected and have become accustomed to boats full of photographers pointing lenses at them. You’ll ride in boats that can quickly reach the various tributaries of the Rio Cuiabá where the cats may be lounging or hunting.
You'll enjoy morning and late afternoon private boat trips when the sun isn’t directly overhead. Besides the beautifully colored birds, keep an eye out for mammals, including black-striped tufted capuchins, the crab-eating fox, South American tapir, and the enigmatic ocelot. You may encounter the most noteworthy reptiles throughout the Pantanal, including hundreds of Yacaré caimans and some green iguanas, and if you are lucky, you may come across a rare yellow anaconda.
After an early morning boat ride and lunch at the hotel, you’ll journey north up the Transpantaneira Highway to Araras, making stops along the way. Water lingers alongside the Transpantaneira, concentrating a wide variety of wildlife. Diogo is very familiar with this area and knows some excellent places to stop to stretch your legs and take photographic opportunities.
The principal avian emblems of the Pantanal are the jabiru stork standing five feet tall and the hyacinth macaw, the world´s largest parrot. The hyacinth macaw is usually near lodges where they easily steal the show while feeding on palm seeds. You can sometimes see two species of brocket deer, plus pampas and marsh deer, in the tall grassland.
Explore the grounds of the Araras Eco Lodge, which include 7,413 hectares of wetlands, forest, and savannah. You can find birds, such as the cinereous-breasted spinetails and Mato Grosso antbirds, in the woodlands around the lodge and along an elevated boardwalk. The Araras property extends east of the Transpantaneira into the dry grasslands where you have a great chance to view both lesser and giant anteaters. After dinner, you will go on a night drive, the best time to encounter tamandua (also known as the lesser anteater) and perhaps a South American tapir.
Start today with an early morning game drive. After lunch, take a charter flight to Pousada Aguapé, a remote working ranch with abundant opportunities for wildlife encounters.
With a base near Pousada Aguapé, the Peccary Project (Projeto Queixada) has partnered with the surrounding rural community to protect the Pantanal’s biodiversity. The ranch’s sustainable practices have contributed to the high wildlife diversity you will see as you tour the area. Local researchers from the Peccary Project will show you their conservation work in the region, including their work on the critically endangered white-lipped peccary.
Continue your search for more magnificent birds and charismatic mammals of the southern Pantanal region. In the afternoon, you will travel to nearby Fazenda San Francisco.
Here, you’ll have your best chances of finding giant anteater and ocelot on game drives and during nightspotting, and sometimes you may even see jaguar, maned wolf, and South American tapir. Fazenda San Francisco has extensive native forest, wetlands, and grasslands, but it’s also a working ranch with cattle pastures and vast rice fields. The owner and staff work very hard to preserve wildlife, particularly to protect the rare mammals. Blue-and-yellow macaws, parrots, parakeets, toucans, and toucanets are plentiful right around the lodge and are extremely habituated. You’ll game drive in the evening and at dawn for the best action, and enjoy breaks on the lodge grounds during the warm part of the day.
Take another early morning game drive before heading to the famous Caiman Lodge.
Caiman Lodge, which is best of the best of nature lodges in South America, has charming accommodations, a very experienced friendly staff, delicious food, very high-quality service, and best of all, amazing wildlife! This is our favorite location in all of the Pantanal. You’ll begin your explorations in the beautiful surroundings for birds and other wildlife. You’ll also enjoy night drives to spot nocturnal wildlife in action. You have good chances for locating jaguars, but the overall wildlife experience while immersed in beautiful native habitat is the highlight here at Caiman, named for the plethora of Yacaré caimans, who peer with their gleaming, beady eyes at night. With luck, you will encounter mother giant anteaters with young on their backs, gray brocket deer, pampas deer, two species of armadillos, tapeti (Brazilian rabbit), and crab-eating raccoon. Elusive wildlife is very challenging to photograph, so you’ll spend ample time in nature to be sure to get some great images.
Spend the last morning photographing the resident macaws and other species. If the light is not ideal, or the group prefers, you can take a drive to the river for some action there!
You’ll transfer as a group to the Campo Grande Airport for your flight to São Paulo and then homeward.
Explore the Pantanal to seek South America’s “Big Five” – jaguar, giant anteater, giant otter, ocelot, and South American tapir.
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip Cost, double occupancy||$13,800|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except for three internal flights), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
If you are a single traveler, we will find a roommate for you, but if we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement. Single rooms cost extra and are subject to availability.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||November 1, 2021||$2,000|
|Final||May 1, 2022||Remaining balance|
Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
The Pantanal can be very hot, from 90 to 100+°F (32 to 38+°C), especially during midday and afternoons. Stormy, windy weather from the south can make boating on the rivers very chilly, in the 60s°F (~15 to 20°C), so layer clothes to manage these changing conditions!
Most wildlife viewing is done from small boats and vehicles. Walks to search for wildlife are generally less than an hour over relatively flat trails or along the gravel roads.
Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in São Paulo, Brazil (GRU) early enough to connect with a morning flight to Cuiabá, Brazil (CGB) on October 9. Depart from São Paulo, Brazil (GRU) in the late afternoon or at night on October 24.
Flights we book for you: Three internal flights are included in the trip cost.
While the Amazon is much more famous, the Pantanal is the best place to see Brazil’s wildlife as it has much greater biodiversity and a higher density of that biodiversity. The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and therefore attracts many large mammals (the Big Five), smaller mammals such as monkeys and capybaras, and many beautiful birds.
We visit the Pantanal during the dry season (May through October) when wildlife tends to concentrate around the ponds left after the wet season’s floods. Fields are now dry, enabling us to hike and drive safari-style through them to look for wildlife. It is also warmer during these months and the coolness of the river entices jaguars to the riverbanks to cool off. This is also a great time to see plentiful birds.
Our goal is to see the Big Five, but we cannot guarantee that we will see them all as wildlife is wild and unpredictable! But to best meet our goal, we spend the maximum time in nature to greatly increase our chance of seeing the Big Five and lots more.
During days near the Cuiabá and other rivers, we spend a lot of time in boats as it is the best way to see jaguar and other wildlife. Wildlife are accustomed to tourist boats and feel safe around them, generally allowing us to approach to watch and photograph them.
The rivers in this region are calm and we have never had problems with anyone getting seasick.
All lodges have private baths and air conditioning.
You will travel by air-conditioned private bus, boat, and commercial air. Some remote roads in the Pantanal are unpaved, dusty, and bumpy. Some of the drives between regions are long, between one and five hours, but most of these are on paved, modern roads. The boats are comfortable (the seats have back rests) and are easy to get in and out of. Although the boats have limited space, you have room for your daypack and camera gear near your feet and on your lap.
By traveling with Cheesemans’ to Brazil, you directly support the local community, as well as the people who work in ecotourism that are passionate about conservation. Our local operator, Daniel Rondon has long-lasting personal relationships with the owners of the lodges and private locations you experience on our Brazil itineraries. In addition to helping nurture these grass-roots relationships, he works with the local lodges to facilitate sustainable environmental practices such as water and sewage treatments, waste separation and recycling, solar power for hot water showers, and more. Our local operator also supports specific conservation projects by promoting and sending visitors to them and by organizing groups to take part in scientific research and donation efforts. It is Daniel’s passion and belief that tourism and conservation are not separate and thus symbiotic, and when done right, tourism is an effective tool to protect and preserve important ecosystems such as the Pantanal of Brazil.
Brazil’s ecotourism industry also gives local people sustainable job alternatives that help further conservation. For example, Daniel’s company is locally owned and operated and he chooses only hand-picked guides and leaders committed to environmental and cultural values that are in line with their founders. With Cheesemans’, they work with Alexine of the Peccary Project to connect tourism to important conservation projects, and they are also involved with the Tapir Conservation Project, Giant Armadillo Project, Hyacinth Macaw Project, and jaguar specific conservation projects, Onças do Rio Negro and Onçafari.
Read our current Terms and Conditions.