Arrive in Rio de Janeiro and transfer to our hotel on famous Copacabana Beach, where our Brazil adventure begins with a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Rio / Cuiaba / North Pantanal
Fly early this morning to Cuiaba, then transfer by road to Araras Ecolodge in the northern Pantanal. Declared a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2000, the Pantanal’s vast expanse of wet marshlands and dry islands is South America's primary wildlife sanctuary. Its name derives from the Portuguese word
Day 3: Exploring the North Pantanal
Covering 75,000 square miles across Brazil, Bolivia
Day 4: North Pantanal / Porto Jofre—Jaguar Viewing
On a sunrise nature walk from our ecolodge, listen to the chorus of birdsong and monkey calls announcing a new day. After breakfast, depart for Porto Jofre via the Trans-Pantanal Highway, which traverses some of the best wildlife viewing areas in the ecosystem. Along this remote dirt road that crosses 123 bridges, search for caiman, capybara, giant anteater, anaconda, jabiru stork, macaws and more. Our destination is Porto Jofre, where the highway ends at the Cuiaba River—an important port for transporting cattle and agricultural products from the Pantanal along the road artery to the town of
Days 5 & 6: Porto Jofre—Jaguar & Wildlife Viewing
The area around Porto Jofre offers exceptional wildlife encounters, and our focus is on sighting jaguars and giant otters. We look for them and a multitude of other Pantanal species, including caiman, capybara, toucans
Day 7: Porto Jofre / South Pantanal—Chartered Flight to Caiman Ecological Refuge Private Lodge
This morning, fly via chartered small plane directly to Caiman Ecological Refuge, enjoying splendid aerial views and avoiding a rugged 10-hour drive. Deep in the green recesses of the South Pantanal, this renowned ecolodge is our private base for exploration. It lies at the remote heart of a 130,000-acre sustainable cattle ranch, and the atmosphere reflects the distinctive local cowboy culture, which taps 200 years of combined Portuguese, Paraguayan and indigenous traditions. The lodge was the first ecotourism operation in the region and remains a conservation leader. When the refuge was established, 10 percent of the ranch acreage was set aside as a private conservation area, off-limits to cattle but open to visitors. The protected area, chosen with the aid of research scientists from the University of Sao Paulo, is remarkably diverse, with habitats encompassing wooded and scrubby savanna, open pasture, stands of caranda palm, hammock forests, streams and seasonal channels—all providing sustenance for numerous Pantanal species, including Brazilian tapir. This afternoon, we head out on a game drive in the Caiman Ecological Refuge, perhaps offering our first jaguar sighting in the south.
Days 8 & 9: Exploring the South Pantanal
A range of activities in the refuge offers varied perspectives on the South Pantanal. Depending on seasonal conditions, we may take nature walks and day and night 4x4 safaris in open-sided trucks. Local guides join our Expedition Leader to reveal and interpret the area's many natural phenomena. Wildlife abounds in the vicinity, including jaguars, and the refuge is the site of the Onçafari Jaguar Project. This new conservation initiative aims to promote wildlife ecotourism in the Pantanal by habituating jaguars to vehicles so people can observe them while on safari. With patience and luck, we hope to be among the fortunate few to see wild jaguars here, as sightings continue to increase with concerted conservation efforts. On clear nights from mid-June to mid-October, the starry skies overhead are spectacular, and we may have the chance to view planets and constellations through powerful telescopes during evening astronomy programs around the campfire.
Day 10: Caiman Ecological Refuge / Campo Grande
After a last morning nature activity at Caiman Ecological Refuge, we drive to Campo Grande and check in to our hotel. Campo Grande is the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Highly multicultural with a distinctive mixed-ethnic heritage, Campo Grande's population includes immigrants and descendants from Japan, the Middle East, Armenia, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Spain and Paraguay who have mixed with indigenous Amerindian peoples and Afro-Brazilians. This evening, reflect on highlights of our adventure over a farewell dinner.
Day 11: Campo Grande / Depart
A transfer is provided to the airport this morning for departing flights for Sao Paulo or Rio to meet international connections, or to continue on our Iguazu Falls Extension. Depending on flight schedules, you may wish to include our Sao Paulo Extension during your layover, before overnight departures for North America.