At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more

Brazil Wildlife: Deep Pantanal and Amazon

14 days from £6434pp

Book Holiday Enquire online

Brazil Wildlife: Deep Pantanal and Amazon:
Trip Dossier

Brazil hosts vast areas of wilderness landscapes with a prolific and varied endemic wildlife. The hot, and until recently remote, interior states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul are sparsely populated; much of the territory is carpeted with savannah grassland cut through by rivers and dotted with table-lands, swamp and tropical forest.  In the grasslands, cattle ranching co-exists symbiotically with the wildlife, but much land has now been put down to soya cultivation.

On this holiday with a wildlife-viewing focus we take you to three locations for a comprehensive experience of wetland and tropical rainforest. The Pantanal’s open area of marshy grasslands, rivers and lagoons leaves fauna exposed to view. According to season, you might observe regiments of alligators, and flocks of thousands of roseate spoonbills, ibis, macaws and giant storks.  In contrast, Alta Floresta has undisturbed primary rainforest hosting a variety of mammals, reptiles and especially birds. 

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Campo Grande and transfer to hotel.

Day 2

By 4WD vehicle to southern Pantanal wetlands lodge.

Day 3-4

Guided safaris into the wildlife-rich savannah.

Day 5

Return to Campo Grande, overnight.

Day 6

Fly to Cuiabá; transfer to lodge in the northern Pantanal.

Days 7-8

Wildlife-spotting expeditions from the lodge.

Day 9

Fly to Alta Floresta; by road and boat to Cristalino rainforest reserve.

Days 10-12

Guided wildlife-spotting expeditions.

Day 13

Fly back to Cuiabá, overnight.

Day 14

Transfer to airport.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Campo Grande and transfer to hotel.

Transfer to hotel in Campo Grande capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The city lies on the edge of the Pantanal and as such its airport is the major transit point for visitors to the region. Overnight.

Day 2

By 4WD vehicle to southern Pantanal wetlands lodge.
The Pantanal wetlands cover a large basin half the size of France. This basin is seasonally flooded and is drained by the Paraguay River, which flows into the south Atlantic via the River Plate estuary. The result is a paradise for nature lovers, especially for wildlife observation. Unlike the areas of high jungle, the Pantanal is an open area of swampy grasslands, leaving some of the highest concentration of fauna in the continent exposed to view.

Transfer to Barra Mansa by 4WD vehicle (May-Oct only).  The 5-6 hr journey is in itself an opportunity to begin your wildlife spotting adventure. Lying 225km from Campo Grande the only way to reach it in the wet season is by light aircraft.

Barra Mansa is a small traditional lodge, simple but comfortable, located near the banks of the Rio Negro. This river it flows into a flood plain, which makes the area almost inaccessible, and therefore the natural environment untouched (See Places to Stay).


Day 3-4

Guided safaris into the wildlife-rich savannah.
At leisure to discover the wildlife of the surrounding wetland. All excursions are included and offered privately, you will not be sharing your adventure with anyone else but your guide. You can choose what you want to do the night before in consultation with your guide.

Activities include horse riding, boat trips, dawn walks, bird watching and safari by jeep.  The horses are of excellent quality and proceed at a slow relaxed pace, ideal for beginners.  As at all the Pantanal lodges, excursions are made in the early morning, then again in late afternoon until sunset.  Wildlife is more active at these times.  If you are lucky you will spot giant otters, along with capybara, wild pig, and hyacinth and red-green macaws.

Hyacinth macaw

Day 5

Return to Campo Grande, overnight.
Transfer back to Campo Grande for the night.

Day 6

Fly to Cuiabá; transfer to lodge in the northern Pantanal.

Fly to Cuiabá, a major city in the heart of Brazil’s interior and the gateway to the northern Pantanal wetlands. Continue by road across the savannah to your lodge, Pousada do Rio Mutum. The lodge offers a programme of activities where you can view wildlife. Sun-seeking caiman (alligators) stretch out on the river beaches or observe you with a beady eye just visible above the water’s surface.  Gangs of the ubiquitous capybara -a giant rodent - stroll lazily across the road. Giant storks and roseate spoonbills wade through the standing water while agitated parakeets and clouds of snowy ibis take to the sky.

Caiman in the Pantanal

Days 7-8

Wildlife-spotting expeditions from the lodge.

Depending on local conditions, daily expeditions may include boat rides, walking trails and horse-riding through the Pantanal’s watery landscapes. You could visit a fazenda (farm) on the banks of a shimmering lake for sunset, when birds congregate for evening feeding with a raucous cacophony of sound. You may set off on an excursion by safari vehicle or boat to view wildlife in the crystal clear waters on a remote section of the Mutum river; seize an opportunity to fish for piranha, or take a boat trip to a small fishing community on the Cuiabá river.

Pantanal canoeing

Day 9

Fly to Alta Floresta; by road and boat to Cristalino rainforest reserve.
Fly from Cuiabá (90mins) to the tiny airport at Alta Floresta. It’s a 1hr transfer by rutted red-earth road to the Cristalino river, then 30mins by boat. You drive first through Alta Floresta town – it’s a small sleepy place, not the gritty frontier-type jungle town you might expect; modern but low-rise and, laid-back.  After a few minutes you realise how remote the region is: just isolated cattle farms and a few patches of forest here and there.

After 45 mins you reach the boundary of the Cristalino reserve and you are suddenly immersed in pristine rainforest. Depending on how much wildlife there is en route, it takes around 15 mins to reach the Cristalino river bank: you may spot red and green macaws and morpho butterflies .You then travel by motor boat (30mins) upstream to the lodge. It’s a beautiful trip: the river is wide with jungle foliage reflected in the still waters. Typical birds to be spotted include macaws, green ibis, tiger herons and kingfishers. As it is late afternoon, this is the perfect time to spot wildlife and the boat transfer is operated by excellent (Portuguese-speaking) field guides.

Guests are assigned to a small group with an English-speaking guide who looks after you from start to finish, and dines with the group in the evening (when briefings about the next day’s activities are given). The guides are all very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, usually biologists and each has his or her specialist field.

Alta Floresta

Days 10-12

Guided wildlife-spotting expeditions.
There is a serious emphasis upon spotting and identifying wildlife, especially birds, in excursions. While nothing is guaranteed there is much wildlife to be seen here. This sets Cristalino apart from more mainstream jungle lodges. As no-one lives here there are no visits to ‘native villages’ and other gimmicks.

Dawn is the best time to spot wildlife, and floating downstream with the boat’s motor switched off is a magical experience. The early morning mist which rises off the river is lit by the dawn sunshine as the sounds of the awakening forest become louder and louder. Macaws screech overhead and you may see a neo-tropic otter poke its head out of the water.  As the reserve is uninhabited - there are no other boats or people about - you may feel like you have the jungle to yourselves. Look out for caiman, brown capuchin monkeys, otters, macaws, arassaris, green ibis, sun-bitterns and kingfishers.

Your second excursion could be one of the lodge’s 10 walking trails passing through a variety of forest ecosystems – flooded forest, terra-firma forest with ancient hardwoods, or deciduous forest.  Sightings of brown capuchin monkeys and agouti are common, and butterflies flutter across the path. One of the trails leads to a clay lick where you may see peccaries or tapirs taking a bath. All the trails are easy; only one has an uphill gradient which leads to a look-out point and a breathtaking view over the jungle.

Afternoon excursions usually depart once the heat of the day has passed. This might be to one of the 2 impressive  50m canopy towers.  You will usually visit both of them, watching the jungle from the top at dawn and dusk. Late afternoon to dusk is prime time to spot birds and animals: white-whiskered spider monkey, howler monkeys and birds galore: toucans, arassari, macaws, spangled cotinga and swallow-tail kites. You stay at the top for a couple of hours to watch the sunset and return just after nightfall to the lodge.

In the dry season, night-spotting excursions are offered on the river, with the opportunity to sight dozing caimans.

Alta Floresta

Day 13

Fly back to Cuiabá, overnight.
Transfer to Alta Floresta airport and fly to Cuiabá, a large, modern city. Overnight.

Flight from Alta Floresta

Day 14

Transfer to airport.

Essential information

The Wildlife

Wildlife can be spotted on this holiday all year round. If there are brief cold snaps (e.g. in June in the Pantanal), fauna may hide away.

In the dry season, scores of caiman laze on the river beaches, capybara (a type of giant guinea pig) stroll across the roads, and you may come across armadillos, anteaters and howler monkeys. We recommend that you travel at this time when there are fewer mosquitoes and you will spot fauna throughout.

In the rainy season (December to April) roads are muddy and even impassable, excursions may be by boat: but the reflection of the tangerine sunsets on the flooded plains creates a rich and sumptuous tableau. In the months when the wetlands are flooded wildlife congregates on islands marooned above the water’s surface, so you will be able to observe birds and animals more sporadically but in greater numbers.

Alta Floresta:
Here 3 protected areas form a biological corridor which provides for enormous biodiversity within the Cristalino Private Reserve (300m) with 612 species of birds, 1,370 plant species and a growing collection of endemic creatures  including jaguars. Cristalino is considered one of the very best places in Brazil (if not South America) in which to appreciate primary rainforest and its inhabitants; the forest here has never been cut down and the density of enormous hardwoods testifies to this.

In the popular dry season, May – October - matching the Pantanal - lower water levels mean better chances of seeing mammals such as giant otters on the river. In the wet season there are intervals of blue skies between heavy downpours and thunderstorms, the jungle is more lush and the river as much as 3m higher. Trails are muddy but still viable and it is a good time to go for frogs, snakes and flowering plants.  It is more humid and the beginning of the wet season (November) can be very wet. Night spotting excursions by boat are not possible in the wet season and there are no swimming beaches. Occasionally excursions may be disrupted or delayed by rain.


3 domestic flights, plus 2 others connecting from/to your international transatlantic flight; 4 road journeys in the Pantanal, two boat transfers.


For this holiday in each wildlife location we have chosen the accommodation which offers the best chance of spotting a wide range of wildlife in significant numbers, with the best guides and most varied excursions. Each is unique, but all offer a lovely setting, good food and comfortable rooms with private facilities. Cristalino Lodge, in the midst of pristine tropical rainforest and beautifully crafted, is one of Brazil’s best jungle lodges. Rustic Barra Mansa, one of the most remote lodges of the Pantanal makes up for its lack of luxurious accoutrements with a lovely intimacy and good service. Pousada do Rio Mutum has attractive, air-conditioned chalets and a delightful semi-open air dining room amidst bird-filled tropical gardens.

The city hotels are functional, mid-range options where you can rest before and after your explorations.


Breakfast daily, lunch day 13, dinner days 2, 6, full board days 3,4,7,8, 10-12.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

•    Guided safari expeditions from each of the Pantanal lodges.
•    Daily guided explorations from the rainforest lodge in Alta Floresta.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Campo Grande 1;southern Pantanal lodge 3; Campo Grande 1; northern Pantanal lodge 3; Cristalino Reserve 4, Cuiabá 1.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.


The unit of currency in Brazil is the real (plural reais).

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40 per day should cover the cost of the few meals not included in the holiday itinerary, tips, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more. Drinks other than local juices, water, coffee and tea are charged in the wildlife lodges.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip. You can withdraw Brazilian reais at the airport on arrival, and at the airports in Campo Grande and Cuiabá and In most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Credit cards are accepted in some of the lodges but you should not depend on their use as there may be problems with connectivity upon attempting the transaction.


Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

You can tip the guides at the lodges in dollar bills or reais.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier


Travel insurance is essential.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are a few long days of travel on this trip for positioning at the lodges but there are many opportunities to spot wildlife and enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace so they are really part of the adventure. 

Expeditions at the lodges, which include kayaking on the river at sunrise, as well as nature walks and horse riding, are suitable for most ages and abilities and families are welcome at the lodges. However we only recommend this holiday for those with older (teenage) children as some excursions and viewing towers are not suitable for young children.

The Pantanal excursions will include drives down occasionally bumpy unpaved roads, and there are walks and canoe rides in the wetlands, although none of these is compulsory. Horse riding is also offered but hard hats are not available.

Barra Mansa Lodge is 225km from Campo Grande and the only way to reach it in the wet season is by plane: this holiday is based on travel in the dry season (May-Oct) when access is by 4WD vehicle along a gravel road.

With its ease of access, good quality accommodation and excellent excursions Cristalino Lodge in Alta Floresta is suitable for a wide range of visitors. But those with a deeper interest in the rainforest will find it particularly rewarding for its biodiversity, intact rainforest, observation towers and ease of spotting wildlife. Bird lovers especially will appreciate the emphasis on locating and identifying birds during all excursions.  General interest visitors will enjoy the comfortable accommodation but some may be surprised by the fairly intensive programme during their stay.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day outdoor wear you should take loose-fitting, breathable clothes including long-sleeved shirts and light, quick-drying trousers for protection on jungle walks. Comfortable shoes or walking boots, a sun hat and sunglasses are essential. You should take a light fleece for cool nights and consider a Gore-Tex layer or rain cape and rain hat, as well as swimwear, insect repellent, sun-block and a torch. You should take your own binoculars for observing wildlife; the better the quality, the more rewarding the wildlife observation experience. Similarly you won’t regret taking a camera with a long lens, and plenty of memory.

Clothing at the lodges is informal but you might take one smart change of clothes to wear in the hotels.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A and yellow fever. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on malaria tablets.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the Brazilian consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online at
This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/destinations/brazil/holidays/brazil-wildlife-deep-pantanal-and-amazon/trip-dossier

Page ID: {446877B4-A09B-49E6-A651-4B11143A425F}

Page Name: trip-dossier

Page Display Name: Trip Dossier

Page Template Name: T054-TripDossier

Page Template ID: {4B17EDBB-85D2-4A79-B178-A0CE05055C05}

Parent ID: {870DF1F6-37F4-416A-AB74-ACCE7705971F}

Parent Name: brazil-wildlife-deep-pantanal-and-amazon

Parent Display Name: Brazil Wildlife: Deep Pantanal and Amazon

Parent Template Name: T013-Tour

Parent Template ID: {9701B79C-85FD-4A45-8072-3FFF55338F72}