Tour Dates: Saturday 19th September – Saturday 3rd October 2020 (Cuiaba to Cuiaba)
Tour Price: £4,995pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Cuiaba (via Sao Paulo) approx. £900 return
Deposit: £600 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £250 – £300
Minimum Number: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 8 people
Birds: Hyacinth Macaw, Jabiru, Agami Heron, Capped Heron, Green Ibis, Buff-necked Ibis, Toco Toucan, Sunbittern, Nacunda Nighthawk, Great Potoo, Pied Lapwing, Black Skimmer, Helmeted Manakin, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, Band-tailed Antbird, Mato Grosso Antbird and many more!!
Mammals: Jaguar, Ocelot, South American Tapir, Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Racoon, Giant River Otter, Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua and a possibility of Puma. Plus numerous deer and monkey species
The Pantanal is one of the world’s largest wetlands and during September / October it is teeming with wildlife. During this tour to the Northern Pantanal, our focus will be all wildlife, but with a particular effort to try and see Jaguar. These jaw dropping cats can often be found resting on the edges of the sandy river systems in the shade where the photographic opportunities are excellent. We have three full days dedicated to exploring the river Cuiaba and its tributaries by boat where we have our best chance of finding the Jaguars. Our accommodation during the tour is based at a number of the best lodges and hotels along the entire length of the famous Transpantaneira dirt road. It is the only road to cross the northern Pantanal and is over 150 kilometres in length. Much of the wildlife in the Pantanal is viewed from the Transpantaneira, making it very easy to view wildlife. Standing on the numerous famous old wooden bridges and using them as viewing platforms, allows for some great views of wildlife and photography too.
This relaxed itinerary spends a good amount of time at a number of different lodges allowing time to saviour the wildlife at each. It also includes three full days on the Cuiaba river systems searching for Jaguars and birds. Plus another three boat trips on the rivers Claro and Pixaim searching for other birds and mammals too.
ACCOMMODATION: 14 nights in Brazil
Good quality lodges and hotels throughout the tour
2 nights Pouso Alegre, 2 nights Rio Claro Lodge, 1 night Pantanal Hotel, 2 nights SouthWild Lodge, 4 nights Porto Jofre, 2 nights Pousada Piuval and 1 night Cuiaba.
Inclusive Meals: Full board
DAY 1: Arrival at Cuiaba – Pousa Alegre
On arrival at Cuiaba airport we travel South West to the town of Pocone, the gateway town to the great wetlands of the Northern Pantanal. After passing through Pocone, our adventure really starts as we join the famous dusty track that is the Transpantaneira! Birds en route will be many, but we will keep a particular eye out for Red-legged Seriema, Greater Rhea and the beautiful Buff-necked Ibis. We should arrive at our Pousada in good time to explore the garden and surrounding wetland where the birding is fabulous. Photography will be too tempting as we pass close to many waterbirds that may include numerous Jabirus, herons and kingfishers. During the evening, we will look for Tapir which often visit the area and we will also do some spotlighting for Southern Tamandua and Great Potoo. We might even get lucky with an Ocelot or Black-banded Owl. We have even seen Puma here on our 2015 tour! Overnight Pousa Alegre
DAY 2: Full day Pousa Alegre
This morning we will be up early making the most of the cooler temperatures when bird and mammal activity is at its greatest. A Giant Anteater often wanders around the lodge grounds here, so we will certainly look in all the likely spots for this fantastic animal. We will then spend the day birding the grounds at this very relaxing lodge where we are sure to see our first Hyacinth Macaws, Toco Toucons and the stunning Sunbittern!
In the evening we will look for mammals and in particular for Tapir. This lodge has very good numbers in the surrounding woodland and wetland areas and it is not unusual to see a number of different animals. We will of course be looking for birds as well and Great Potoo will be a key target species. There is even an outside chance of Puma! We were very lucky to see one during a night drive during our 2015 tour and the lodge still gets irregular sightings! Overnight Pousa Alegre
DAY 3: Pousa Alegre – Rio Claro
After breakfast and some final birding around the lodge we will travel a short distance south along the Transpantaneira, to the Rio Claro Lodge. Here, there are many great birding opportunities just in the gardens with Blue-crowned and Nanday Parakeets. After lunch we will take a short walk to explore the dry and gallery forests on the lodge property. The forests and associated grasslands can be very good for birding with key species like Red-billed Scythebill, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Dull-capped Attila, Red-legged Seriema, Little Woodpecker, Black-bellied Antwren and Flavescent Warbler all being possibilities. Overnight Pousada Rio Claro
DAY 4: Full day Rio Claro
This morning after some pre-breakfast birding around the lodge gardens we will take the first of our boat trips, on the river Claro, just a short stroll from our rooms. Whilst on the river we hope to find Giant River Otters and we may even be lucky with Southern River Otter. Of course birds will also play a big part in our boat trip with numerous kingfisher and heron species as well as specialities such as Solitary Cacique and Golden-collared Macaw to name just a few. During the afternoon we will have plenty of time to explore the gardens of the lodge and nearby birding areas. Overnight Pousada Rio Claro
DAY 5: Rio Claro – Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso
After some pre-breakfast birding around the lodge gardens, we continue our journey south along the Transpantaneira. We will be birding along the route stopping for the guaranteed numerous bird and mammal distractions! We are sure to see something of interest wihether it is a family group of Jabirus, the unmistakable Scarlet-headed Blackbird or a group of Agoutis or Peccaries crossing the road.
We should arrive in time for lunch at our next lodge located beside the river Pixaim. Here we will spend some time enjoying the bird feeders which are always busy with Red-headed and Yellow-billed Cardinals as well as Purplish Jay and maybe the stunning Orange-backed Troupial. During the late afternoon we will take another boat trip, this time on the river Pixaim (right beside our hotel) where, if we stay out until dusk we may see the very rare Zig Zag Heron. There will of course be plenty of other distractions on the river with excellent chances of finding Giant River Otters as well as many special birds like Agami Heron, Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, Sunbittern and Sungrebe. Overnight Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso
DAY 6: Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso – SouthWild Pantanal Lodge
Before breakfast we will explore the grassland area close to our hotel for species such as Rusty-backed Antwren, Lesser Seedfinch and numerous Seedeater possibilities. After breakfast we will spend time birding the various trails through gallery forest looking for specialities such as Band-tailed Antbird, Mato Gross Antbird, Helmeted Manakin, Rusty-fronted Today Flycatcher and much more!
After lunch, we will continue on south for a short distance to another great lodge. SouthWild Pantanal was once called Fazenda Santa Tereza, which was a traditional cattle ranch, but today, it is an eco-lodge on 3,500 hectares of flooded lands situated at the end of the Pixaim River. Once checked in to our rooms we will spend the afternoon exploring our new surroundings and simply enjoying the abundant wildlife. Overnight SouthWild Pantanal Lodge
DAY 7: SouthWild Pantanal Lodge
Today we will have a full day exploring the lodge including a four hour boat trip to explore a different section of the river Pixaim where we should have more great opportunities to photograph Giant River Otters as well as numerous kingfishers, herons and other wildlife. During the evening we will once again switch to mammals where we have an excellent chance of seeing Ocelot within the grounds of our accommodation! Overnight SouthWild Pantanal Lodge
DAY 8: SouthWild Pantanal Lodge – Porto Jofre
After some final birding around the lodge grounds, we will continue our journey south to the end of the Transpantaneira and the small fishing village at Porto Jofre. We will be staying at the Porto Jofre Hotel which is perfectly situated with wildlife greeting you as soon as you step out of your room. The hotel gardens are home to many good birds with resident Hyacinth Macaws, Toco Toucans and other parrots. A small wetland area within the hotel grounds sometimes holds species such as Collared Plover, Pied Lapwings and White-backed Stilts as well as roosting Nacunda Nighthawks sometimes sat out on the grass. Mammals are common in the garden too, with the rare Brazilian Porcupine sometimes sleeping in the garden trees and Jaguars have even been seen across the river from the hotel garden! Overnight at the Porto Jofre Hotel
DAY 9 – 11: Porto Jofre
During the next three days we will spend most of our time specifically looking for Jaguars. This shall involve three full days searching the river Cuiaba and its associated creeks and tributaries by boats that we board just metres from our hotel. Our daily routine will usually involve spending the first 5-6 hours of the morning cruising the river on a boat searching for Jaguars and other wildlife. We usually return to the hotel restaurant for lunch and a short break. We then return to the river for 4-5 hours until dusk. Dependent on the most recent information, we may take packed lunches and spend the entire day on the river. At this time of year Jaguars can often be seen loafing in the shade of the trees or walking the sandy beaches of the river and photographic opportunities should be numerous. Of course whilst looking for Jaguar we will see plenty of other amazing wildlife along the way with superb Toco Toucans, Sungrebes, Giant River Otters, Tapirs scores of Capybara as well as Black Skimmers and Black-collared Hawks to name just a few of the highlights. If you fancy more relaxation time, there is even a hotel garden swimming pool to cool off after a hard day watching Jaguars!
One night after dinner, we will also venture out from the hotel to do some spotlighting where we may be lucky and find Ocelot or maybe Scissor-tailed or Spot-tailed Nightjar. Overnight at the Porto Jofre Hotel
DAY 12: Porto Jofre – Pousada Piuval
After some final birding around the lodge gardens and nearby trails we take the long journey north re-tracing our route, but taking various stops for the wildlife. By the end of the day we will reach the northern part of the Transpantaneira and arrive at the very attractive Piuval Lodge. Dependent on daylight we may have time for some birding around the nearby wetlands visible from the lodge grounds. There are usually plenty of herons and storks present as well as Sunbittern and Red-legged Seriemas. Overnight Piuval Lodge
DAY 13: Piuval Lodge
A full day at Piuval allows us plenty of time for look for key birds and mammals. We will have many opportunities to see the congregations of waterbirds as well as specialities such as Cream-coloured Woodpecker and Great Rufous Woodcreeper. The lodge grounds and nearby woodland can be excellent for birding with many species visible just a short stroll from our rooms therefore it is a perfect lodge to end our time in the Pantanal. Piuval is also an excellent area for Giant Anteater and its smaller cousin, the Southern Tamandua. After dinner we will head back out for some spotlighting where we hope to find Ocelot and other nocturnal species during a night drive. Overnight Piuval Lodge
DAY 14: Piuval Lodge – Cuiaba
We will end our time in the Pantanal with a final morning birding around the lodge before lunch, targeting species that we may have missed, or simply enjoying more views of the commoner species. This also gives us another early morning to try for Giant Anteater if we have been unsuccessful. We will then make the final journey to Cuiaba where we spend the night in a hotel very close to Cuiaba airport. Overnight Cuiaba
DAY 15: Transfer to Cuiaba airport
Our hotel is just a couple of minutes away from the airport, so we can enjoy breakfast in the hotel before heading to the airport where the tour concludes.
Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides
Leaders: Wise Birding Leader & local bird guide
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, bottled water, all entrance fees, all boat trips and services of the leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: 985USD Equivalent
Transport: A/C Minibus through the tour
The vast majority of birding is done in close proximity to the vehicle or from boats. Some short walks on flat trails in gallery forest / grassland.
Climate: Hot and humid
Tour Start Point: Cuiaba airport, Brazil
Tour End Point: Cuiaba airport, Brazil
Suggested Airlines: KLM or TAM