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. There are few mosquitoes and you will spot fauna throughout.
Jaguar spotting is only possible at the height of the dry season, June to October, when the river is low. In the flood season, jaguars do not need to come to the river to drink. Late July, August and September are the best months – this is the very driest time, when jaguars come to the river bank in search of food. September is the hottest month of the year.
There is an enormous biodiversity within the Cristalino Private Reserve 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 dry season, May – October - matching the Pantanal - lower water levels mean better chances of seeing mammals such as giant otters on the river. Weeks can pass with little or no rain.
2 domestic flights, plus 2 others connecting from/to your international transatlantic flight; 4 road journeys.
We have chosen a variety of comfortable hotels and lodges offering en suite accommodation and excellent opportunities to spot a wide range of wildlife in significant numbers, with naturalist guides and varied excursions. Cristalino Lodge is beautifully crafted, and Pousada das Araras has a lovely pool area which attracts a multitude of birds. Hotel Porto Jofre has guest bungalows in an idyllic riverside setting.
The Cuiabá hotel is a functional, mid-range option where you can rest before your explorations.
Breakfast daily; dinner day 2; full board days 3-10.
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 boat expeditions in search of jaguars.
• Guided safari expeditions from Pantanal lodge.
• Daily guided explorations from the rainforest lodge in Alta Floresta.
Summary of nights
11 days, 10 nights: Cuiabá 1; Alta Floresta 4, Pantanal lodge 1 Porto Jofre 2; Pantanal lodge 2.
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).
Most of your meals are included in the holiday itinerary, but you will need cash for tips, drinks and the odd souvenir. 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 airport in 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.
Credit cards are accepted in 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
If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.
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.
At the lodges guides are well-informed and expeditions, which include kayaking, 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. Hard hats are not available during riding activities.
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.
Jaguar spotting safaris are done by small boat, far from luxurious, and some stamina is required. You may spend much of the day waiting for sightings and without shade or on-board toilet facilities. In the heat of the day, temperatures reach 40°C. Back on dry land however, your accommodation is very comfortable.
Families are welcome at the lodges but we would only recommend it for those with older (teenage) children as some excursions and the long periods of waiting for jaguar sightings are not suitable for young children.
This jaguar spotting trip only operates in the dry season, from July to September, the southern winter. Jaguars are only visible at this time. Late July, August and September are the best months – this is the very driest time, when jaguars come to the river bank in search of food. September is the hottest month of the year.
The dry season is also the most comfortable for visits to the Pantanal although the sun can be strong. It can be cool in June and July with temperatures just before dawn dipping on occasion to just above zero, though it will be warm during the day.
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. Be sure 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.
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
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 https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html
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.