Jaguar, the only Panthera species found in the Americas is also the largest in the Western Hemisphere and occurs in the Pantanal in their highest density. © Jonathan Rossouw
Hyacinth Macaws, the avian epitome of the Pantanal’s wilderness, are delightfully numerous in copses of palms. © Jonathan Rossouw
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is the largest in its family and is mostly terrestrial, in contrast to other anteaters and sloths, which are arboreal or semiarboreal. © Jonathan Rossouw
The rather shabby-looking Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira) is a social, non-parasitic cuckoo found widely in eastern and southern Brazil. © Jonathan Rossouw
The world’s largest rodent and a very selective feeder, the Capybara is a semi-aquatic mammal found in densely forested areas near bodies of water. © Jonathan Rossouw
Brazil Amazon & Pantanal ToursBrazil boasts the highest natural diversity of any country on Earth and yet few have even scratched the surface of its immense natural attractions. Apex Expeditions has crafted an in-depth itinerary including Amazon rainforest and Pantanal tours to discover South America’s two foremost wildlife wildernesses. Explore Cristalino State Park, the very richest site in the iconic Amazon Basin, along with two incomparable wildlife treasures in the northern and southern Pantanal—Porto Jofre and Caiman Ecological Refuge. From the world’s largest rainforest to its largest tropical wetland, Giant Anteaters to Jaguars, Capybaras to Caiman, this is a Neotropical wildlife extravaganza without equal.
- Travel by Air
- Travel by Road
- Travel by Boat
- Travel by Bullet Train
- Travel by Rail
- Travel by Dog Sled
You will be met on arrival for the transfer to your hotel in Cuiabá. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing at Gran Hotel Odara.
Cuiabá / Alta Floresta / Cristalino State Park
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Alta Floresta. Upon arrival, a drive and a boat ride will take you into the stunning 460,000-acre Cristalino State Park. Located in the highlands of the southern Amazon River Basin, Cristalino is strategically situated to preserve a huge swathe of rainforest, acting as an effective buffer between the timber extraction and cattle ranching to the south, and the virgin areas to the north. Your home base for the next two days is Cristalino Jungle Lodge, on a 30,000-acre private reserve connected to the park. It is known for being one of the richest places in the Amazon for observing birds, mammals, butterflies and orchids in a primary forest environment. Gather for sunset drinks with a view over the pristine Cristalino River flowing right in front of the lodge. Dinner and overnight at Cristalino Jungle Lodge.
Cristalino State Park
The lodge’s reserve contains a great variety of medium- to low-altitude eco-zones, allowing for great diversity (even by Amazonian standards) of wildlife. From predators like the Jaguar, Harpy Eagle and Giant Otter to herbivores like the Capybara and Agouti, all the organisms which took thousands of years to evolve and which make Amazonia unlike any other biome in the world are still alive and doing well here. Its location near the junction of two rivers—one a “White-water” and the other a “Black-water” river—gives the reserve a combination of two different soil types which furnish a staggering variety of trees, orchids and bromeliads. 600 bird species are known to live in the region, including many endemics. Among these are the Rufous-capped Nunlet, Chestnut-throated Spinetail, Manu Antbird,Peruvian Recurvebill and Ornate Antwren, as well as many species of parrots, puffbirds, and manakins. Mammals seen most frequently are the diminutive Pantanal Marmoset, White-whiskered Spider and White-nosed Saki Monkeys, Brazilian Tapir, and the Greater Fishing Bat. Cristalino is also one of the best areas in Brazil to observe Green Anaconda, largest of all constricting snakes.
Take in all the area has to offer by hiking on the reserve’s many trails, boating down the Cristalino River, and climbing the 50-meter observation tower for a stellar vantage point over the whole area. Dinners and overnights at Cristalino Jungle Lodge.
Cristalino State Park / Alta Floresta / Cuiabá / Porto Jofre
Today is an adventure in boats, cars and airplanes. Return by boat and car to Alta Floresta for your flight back to Cuiabá. Continue by car along the Transpantaneira, a raised-dirt highway, into the northern Pantanal with frequent wildlife stops along the way to marvel at Marsh Deer, Capybaras, Crab-eating Foxes and eye-catching birds. The concentration of wildlife builds throughout the drive as you head into the heart of the Pantanal, culminating in a spectacle of birds, Capybaras and caiman by the time you reach your accommodations this evening at Hotel Pantanal Norte.
The area around Porto Jofre is undoubtedly the best area to see Jaguar, the largest cat in the Americas. Jaguars remain elusive and hard to spot so perseverance and a healthy measure of luck are required. The hotel is ideally located to allow for two full days of immersion into this wildlife-rich wetland paradise. While Jaguar sightings remain the grand prize, you’ll see howler monkeys swinging across the canopy, bands of South American Coati hunting for food, and large groups of Capybara, always entertaining to watch. You’ll be surrounded by the sights and sounds of bright, colorful birds such as the Hyacinth Macaw, Black-hooded Parakeet and Plush-crested Jay. Enjoy lunch back at the hotel with afternoon boating excursions along the Cuiabá River. Watch for Jaguars coming to the river banks in search of food and water. Birding highlights include Jabiru, Pied Lapwing, Black Skimmer and Yellow-billed Terns. Dinners and overnights at Hotel Pantanal Norte.
Porto Jofre / Caiman Ecological Refuge
After breakfast, set off on your charter flight into the southern Pantanal, the world’s largest floodplain. The 130,000-acre Caiman Ecological Refuge was once part of a large beef cattle ranch in the Pantanal, and has since been transformed into an enterprising land management model combining the traditional “Pantaneiro” cattle ranching system, conservation programs, and ecotourism. It includes a 14,000-acre protected reserve covering a great variety of habitats that harbor many of the diverse species of the Pantanal, which is home to the highest concentration of wildlife in the Americas. Overnight at Caiman Lodge within the reserve.
Caiman Ecological Refuge
Once a year, the mighty Paraguay River floods its banks, inundating an area ten times that of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. As the floodwaters recede in the dry season, this ever-changing mosaic of lagoons, shallow wetlands and higher islands of deciduous forest sets the stage for one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles.
Herds of Capybaras, largest of all the world’s rodents, graze along shores lined with Yacare Caimans, amidst throngs of storks, herons and ibises. At dawn, the surrounding woodland rings to a deafening cacophany of woodcreepers, Guira Cuckoos, antbirds and flycatchers, with Toco Toucan yelping from the treetops and noisy flocks of Turquoise-fronted Amazons winging overhead. Huge Hyacinth Macaws, the avian epitome of the Pantanal’s wilderness, are delightfully numerous in copses of palms, while areas of higher ground are home to the spectacular Giant Anteater, Greater Rhea and the peculiar Red-legged Seriema.
Of all the denizens of this watery wilderness, none is more sought-after than the Jaguar. Using detailed local knowledge of the resident population, you’ll track the cats by vehicle and on foot, in the hopes of seeing and photographing this largest of American felids. Ranging from northern Mexico to central Argentina, Jaguars are rarely encountered anywhere else, but occur in the Pantanal in their highest density on Earth. The combination of the refuge’s open, savanna-like terrain and years of formal protection from hunting brings experiencing the Americas’ most charismatic predator into the realm of possibility.
Caiman Ecological Refuge / Campo Grande / Depart
Depart Caiman early for the drive to Campo Grande and depart on late-afternoon flights homeward.