Private Journeys

Wildlife Brazil: Jaguars of the Pantanal

11 days from £4,930pp

Brazil / Iguazu Falls

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Essentials

Journey Grade

There are a few hours of travel on unmade roads travelling to and from the Pantanal Lodge but there are many opportunities to spot wildlife and enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace so they are really part of the adventure.  Your accommodation is very comfortable.

At the lodge guides are well-informed and explorations 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.

Pantanal wildlife spotting safaris require stamina and patience as, in the heat of the day, temperatures can reach 35-40°C.

Families are welcome at the lodge, and this trip is most suitable for older (teenage) children.

Wildlife

Pantanal:

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.

Whilst there are no guarantees, in recent years Refugio Caiman has become one of the best places in the Brazilian Pantanal to spot jaguar. Chances of seeing jaguar at Refugio Caiman are higher during the dry season, which runs from April to October, when water levels are dropping. The peak of the dry season (late July, August, September and early October) is the optimum period, but sightings do occur in the shoulder months (Apr-Jun and Nov). You are much less likely to see a jaguar during the wet season, which usually begins in Nov/Dec and lasts until March.

Transport

2 domestic flights, plus one other connecting from your international transatlantic flight; 2 road journeys within the Pantanal region.

Accommodation

We have selected comfortable modern hotels  in Iguazú, Rio de Janeiro and Campo Grande, offering good quality en suite accommodation. Refugio Ecológico Caiman is the most upmarket lodge in the Pantanal and one of the most long-standing. There are excellent opportunities to spot a wide range of wildlife in significant numbers, with naturalist guides and varied excursions.

Meals

Breakfast daily; dinner day 5; full board days 6-8.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 30 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. Guides at the Pantanal Lodge are qualified wildlife-spotters.

Summary Of Nights

11 days, 10 nights: Iguazú Falls 3; Campo Grande 1; Pantanal lodge 4; Rio de Janeiro 2.

Currency

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

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 at the airport in Iguazù and in Campo Grande and Rio de Janeiro, 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.

Daily Spend

Some of your meals are included in the holiday itinerary, but you will need cash or card  to pay for other meals. Take cash for tips, drinks and the odd souvenir. Drinks other than local juices, water, coffee and tea are charged in the wildlife lodge.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. Qualified naturalist guides and drivers in the Pantanal hope to be rewarded. 

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. 

Insurance

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.

Climate

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.

July-October are the best months for jaguar spotting – this is the very driest time, when jaguars are seeking the last sources of water. September and October are among the hottest months of the year.

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.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

As of 2018, visitors to Brazil travelling on our holidays should be protected with a vaccination against yellow fever, and carry the corresponding certificate. In April 2013, the World Health Organisation Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation concluded that a single primary dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and lifelong protection against yellow fever disease, and that a booster dose is not needed.

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

Visas

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.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Brazil?

Brazil is an all-year destination, but it’s a vast country: when you go will depend on your chosen itinerary and interests. Late Dec-Mar are the hottest months – very hot (over 40°C) from Rio northwards – and the local holiday season, so attractions can be very busy. During the Amazon’s wet season (Jan - Jun) it’s easier to get round by boat, the dry season is sunnier and better for wildlife-spotting but very hot. The Pantanal may be best avoided during the wettest months (Nov - Mar) when there are many mosquitoes. However this is the best time to visit the beaches of the south where it’s cool outside this period.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Brazil?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue; indigenous languages in Amazonia.

How do I get local currency in Brazil?

Brazilian Real. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs at airports and in larger towns and cities. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. Banco do Brasil, HSBC accept UK credit or debit cards allowing daily withdrawals of 1,000reais. Bradesco allows a lower limit. Other banks eg Banco 24horas do not accept foreign cards. Most towns have a Banco do Brasil. ATMs close at 10pm. Currency also obtainable in banks and money exchanges.

What's the time difference between Brazil and UK?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving from Oct- end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What are the festivals, cultural and sport events in Brazil?

Carnival: 5 days in Feb/Mar, variable.  Live bands, costume balls, over -indulgence and general frivolity in towns and cities all over the country: the best parades are in Rio, Salvador and Olinda.

Olympic Games: 5 - 21 Aug 2016. Rio de Janeiro.

Which countries combine well with Brazil?

Argentina: The crossing at Iguazú Falls is convenient for many visitors.  

Peru: There is a direct flight from Lima to Rio de Janeiro (5 hours) and to São Paulo (4-5 hours with many connections to other cities).

What's included in the 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

Included Excursions

  • Half-day guided excursion to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls
  • Full day guided exploration of the Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls
  • Guided safari expeditions from Pantanal lodge
  • Full day guided jaguar experience in the Pantanal
  • Guided excursion to Corcovado and the statute of Christ the Redeemer

What's not included in the price

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

What's included in the 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

Included Excursions

  • Half-day guided excursion to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls
  • Full day guided exploration of the Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls
  • Guided safari expeditions from Pantanal lodge
  • Full day guided jaguar experience in the Pantanal
  • Guided excursion to Corcovado and the statute of Christ the Redeemer

What's not included in the price

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

Inspired by this trip

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

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    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

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    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

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    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

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