Jaguars & Wildlife of Brazil's Pantanal
Please note: This itinerary is applicable to our 2015 departures only. We are working on a new 2016 itinerary that will be ready in July. It will be more jaguar-focused and spend more time in the Pantanal and likely not include Iguacu Falls as part of the program, but as an optional extension instead.
Day 1: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro and transfer to our hotel in the city's famous Copacabana district, where our Brazil adventure begins with a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Rio Botanical Gardens / Tijuca Forest
Explore the natural side of Rio with a visit to the city's spectacular botanical gardens. Located near the base of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, the park boasts more than 6,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees. Next we visit the Tijuca Forest, a tract of rare Atlantic rain forest covering more than 12 square miles, where we encounter hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many threatened, in the world's largest urban forest.
Day 3: Rio / Pantanal
Fly to Campo Grande and transfer approximately four hours along a beautiful road to Caiman Ecological Refuge, deep in the green other-world of the Pantanal. Declared a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, this vast area of wet marshlands and dry islands is South America's primary wildlife sanctuary. The name of the region derives from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning 'swamp.' With rhythmic regularity, this vast depression in the center of South America floods with the annual rains, submerging most of its environs. As the waters recede during the dry season, they leave a mosaic of pools and marshes where a plethora of life flourishes in intense concentration. Some 3,500 different plants thrive here, as well as nearly 650 bird species, 160 kinds of mammals, 100 reptile species and 320 different kinds of fish.
Days 4–7: Exploring the Pantanal
From our base at the
Day 8: Iguaçu Falls
At Iguaçu Falls, straddling the Brazil/Argentina border, we are immersed in the roar and spray of one the mightiest waterfalls on the planet. First, we cross Tancredo Neves Bridge to explore the national park on the Argentine side. Some 275 waterfalls pour into this horseshoe-shaped canyon along a 2-mile stretch of the Iguazu River, and the noise alone is astounding. Our guided tour takes us over misty
The national park—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is full of other wonders, too. Located just across the border from Brazil, Argentina's Iguazu National Park covers 167,000 acres, protecting one of the most biodiverse areas in the country. The Paranaense subtropical rain forest, a continuation of the southern Brazilian jungle, is a nearly virgin preserve that holds more than 2,100 known plant species. Among its verdant
Day 9: Foz do Iguaçu / Home
This morning we explore the Brazilian side of the falls, walking along the canyon rim above the Iguaçu River where we observe the hundreds of small waterfalls that comprise the mile-long cataract. A full view of the gaping maw of Devil's Throat reveals the most dramatic section of the falls, where 14 separate falls plunge 350 feet into the canyon, creating a perpetual plume of rainbow-accented spray. This afternoon, our Brazil adventure comes to a close as we transfer to the airport for flights home.
Physical Rating: Moderate / Flexible