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.
You will spot birds, reptiles and mammals all year round, albeit frequently only from a distance. The main criteria for deciding when to visit have more to do with the height of the water level in the river than the weather or the life cycle of the wildlife. At the maximum height, the river waters are 14-17m higher than at the lowest. The river floods the surrounding forest.
High water in Amazonia is from April to August. The advantage of travelling on the Tucano at that time is that the water level facilitates movement by boat into small creeks and streams. This is more rewarding than the trips down the main riverbanks which are the only alternative when the water levels are low. You should see a large number of birds along the more intimate banks of the minor creeks.
The vegetation is especially beautiful between May and June when many exotic plants are in flower.
Two domestic flights, plus 2 others connecting from/to your international transatlantic flight; 2 road journeys in the Pantanal. 8 day Amazon cruise.
For this holiday we have chosen the best accommodation available in each location. On this tour we use a mix of first class and mid-range hotels with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning. The grand and stately hotel in Iguaçú is a beautiful luxury property with a lovely pool. The Pantanal lodge has attractive white, red-roofed chalets with en suite facilities and mosquito screening.
On the Tucano river cruiser, built in the style of a traditional Amazonian river boat, there are just 9 guest cabins, guaranteeing an intimate (but not oppressive) atmosphere where guests soon get to know one another. Rooms have shelving and hooks making the most of the restricted space. There’s air conditioning keeping you cool at night.
Breakfast daily, full board days 4-6, 8-14.
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.
- Guided tour of the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.
- Safari expeditions from the Pantanal lodge.
- Daily guided explorations from the MV Tucano Amazon river cruiser.
Summary of nights
15 days, 14 nights: Iguazú Falls 2; Cuiabá 1; Pantanal lodge 3; Manaus 1; Amazon cruise 7.
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 domestic 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).
It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of 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 Pantanal and on the Amazon cruise, though prices are reasonable and not more than in the UK.
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 Cuiabá and Manaus. 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 the Pantanal lodge but you should not depend on their use as there may be problems with connectivity upon attempting the transaction. Credit cards are not accepted on board the Amazon cruise vessel. It is usually advantageous to pay your drinks bill in dollars rather than in reais as the exchange rate on board has been reported to be poor.
Tips are expected 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.
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
If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.
There are no long days of travel on this trip. There are two domestic flights by commercial jet and these may include a change of aircraft en route.
In the Pantanal, guides are well-informed and expeditions, which include kayaking on the river at sunrise, as well as nature walks and horse riding, are suitable for most ages and abilities. 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.
The Amazon cruise is comfortable, the cabins are cosy but there is proper bedding, shelves and hooks to store your belongings, private bathroom with shower (hot water restricted hours), and air-conditioning at night. You should be able to climb the quite steep steps leading from deck to deck on the Amazon vessel, and get in and out of the boat to board the motorised launches and canoes which pull up alongside.
The holiday is suitable for all reasonably fit wildlife lovers and older children. If you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.
In the summer months (December to March) the weather is particularly hot, wet and humid; you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.
At Iguazú and in the Pantanal December to March are the hottest, wettest and most humid months (up to 40°C), but the highest temperatures in the Amazon are reached (also up to 40°C) in August when there is little cloud cover. Otherwise a temperature of around 30-32°C with partial cloud cover and varying amounts of rainfall is the norm there.
The dry season (April-November) is the most comfortable for visits to the Pantanal and Iguazú although the sun can be strong. It can be cool at Iguazú and in the Pantanal in June and July with temperatures just before dawn dipping on occasion to just above zero, though it will be warm during the day. You may wish to bear in mind the wildlife viewing opportunities before making your decision about when to go.
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 might like to 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 (you can recharge your camera battery on board the Tucano). Rubber boots are supplied on the Amazon cruise and you may be given a complimentary straw hat.
Clothing at the lodges and on the Tucano 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. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.
You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health
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 relevant consulate.
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:
ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online
This costs $14 per person, and 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.