This epic adventure is designed to showcase the beauty of both the southern & northern Pantanal - ultimately the Best of the Pantanal experience.
The Pantanal covers a large area and is home to a rich variety of wildlife & exotic birds. The tour starts in the southern Pantanal where you’ll go in search of the 2 anteaters species. Our location will be an active cattle ranch that's realised the importance of eco conservation & tourism. They've adapted their ranch to host visitors and in so doing gives you the opportunity to see exciting wildlife with a touch of local culture.
An exciting visit to Buraco das Araras will also be included where you’ll photograph Red & Green Macaws nesting on the large sinkhole’s cliff face. These macaws are stunning and the opportunity to see & photograph them in flight against a dark moody backdrop is a photographers delight.
After your experience in the south you’ll travel up towards the northern regions of the Pantanal where you’ll go in search of the mighty Jaguar. You’ll spend almost 7 full days on the river looking for not only Jaguars but also species such as Giant River Otters, Jacare Caiman, Capybara and even the elusive Tapir.
All in all this is one of the most comprehensive offerings on the market today to explore the best that the Pantanal has to offer in the company of two field & photographic experts - one local and the other your dedicated Wild Eye guide. The diverse array of subjects and boosts of colour to your portfolio of images will not only seeing you having the very best time, but will also ensure you miss the Pantanal before you even leave.
About the Jaguars of the Pantanal
The question has to be asked of just how this experience came to be. Why are the Jaguars of the Pantanal so approachable & photogenic, yet in other regions they are near impossible to see, let alone photograph?
Over the years the cats along the edges of rivers like the Cuiaba River, have grown used to seeing trade boats and fisherman going up and down the river going about their daily business. This region of the Pantanal is largely impossible to navigate by land and much business is done by boat, especially during the months when the Pantanal is flooded. The area has a dense Jaguar population and during the drier season the big cats congregate along the banks of the rivers & small tributaries. They hunt mainly caiman (crocodile species) and capybara (worlds largest rodent) and the best place to find both are along the rivers themselves.
Naturally, the cats would encounter boats as farmers and others alike would travel up and down the river. Local fisherman also pay little attention to the cats. In so doing, the cats grew accustomed to the presence of boats and people on them, and this made for a strange acceptance. Much like in Africa where lions and leopards tolerate and accept game viewers, the Jaguars of the Pantanal have grown to accept the presence of boats.
Around the year 2007 more people started paying attention to the tourism & photographic opportunity emerging from Porto Jofré and the northern Pantanal. Soon enough visitors started coming as well as serious wildlife photographers and film crews alike. The industry has grown ever since and today the Jaguar experience on offer around Porto Jofré is second to none.
Whilst we can never promise anything when it comes to wildlife photography, the Jaguar viewing experience has proven to be massively successful for Wild Eye, with the 2019 season spanning across 6 weeks produced over 100 sightings of these magnificent big cats.
About the Itinerary
You'll arrive into Campo Grandé (via Sao Paulo) and overnight at a local hotel. Here you'll meet your Wild Eye guide as well as the rest of the group.
After breakfast we will leave the airport by road for a 3 hour transfer to Aguapé Lodge. This lodge is well known for incredible Giant Anteater sightings as well as the smaller anteater, the Southern Tamandua. This will be the afternoon’s focus.
A fisherman's camp nearby also attracts habituated Ocelot - can’t be promised but we’ll try photograph this elusive cat during the evenings.
The morning will see us out again in search of giant anteaters and other possible species such as pampas deer, yellow armadillo, nine-banded armadillo, southern tamandua and an incredible variety of bird life. Hyacinth macaw, blue-and-yellow macaws, golden-collared macaw, white fronted woodpecker, plush-crested jay and many more are often seen.
The afternoon will once again see us in search of general wildlife, with a focus on anteaters and in the evening, the nocturnal Ocelot.
After breakfast we will hit the road and transfer to Bonito. We will spend the morning on the road arriving for lunch. We will go to Buraco das Araras where we will photograph the red-and-green macaws in flight in front of the well known red cliffs. After this fantastic experience we’ll head to our lodge for the night, a forty minute drive away.
After breakfast we will return to Buraco Das Araras. After a quality last-morning session we will board a chartered flight that will take us directly into Jaguar territory - Porto Jofré. We'll touch down at Hotel Pantanal Norte's private airstrip, a short walk away from the hotel itself. After being showed to our rooms and settling in, we'll enjoy lunch together and enjoy a short induction from our local guide on the region and more specifically, on the Jaguars.
After lunch we'll board a 14-seater boat specifically designed to view & enjoy the jaguars and other wildlife within the region. Return to camp in the early evening, short time to freshen up before enjoying dinner together and talking about the exciting day.
Day 6 to 11 will be full days, staying at Hotel Pantanal Norté. This will be our base for the duration of the Jaguar encounters and more.
We'll leave first thing in the morning by boat, and search the region for Jaguars. The camp has a network of boats on the river at any given time, and they will be in touch with one another in the event of a sighting. The Jaguars use the river to hunt. Prey come down for a drink and this is what the Jaguars exploit. Our goal will be to spend just about the entire day out on the boat, apart from returning to camp for a lunch break. There are no set-schedules and we will take things as they come depending on the sightings of the day.
Other species that we will encounter are Giant River Otters (largest otter in the world), Capybara (largest rodent in the world), Tapir, Cayman, Anaconda and much more. This is what you’ve come to see and few other safaris offer as much dedicated time in Jaguar country as this Best of the Pantanal tour offered by Wild Eye.
On the last day and after a morning breakfast we take on the road to our next hotel along the Transpantaneiro road where we will spend the night. This road is famous for all of the bridges you cross as you make your way along - a total of 128 bridges on a 145 kilometre gravel road. Once at our new camp we will enjoy a river cruise or land based game drive in the afternoon and there will be good photographic opportunity for river animals & stunning birdlife.
Our last day starts with breakfast after which we will travel to Cuiaba Airport by road, signalling the end of our Best of the Pantanal itinerary.
Additional Useful Information:
- The tour spans across 13 days and there will be time on the road here & there. Bring a good book to read as well as some music and ear/head phones.
- For the photographers, you'll end up (more than likely) taking alot of images. Bring a large enough hard drive and another to back it up to.
- There'll be a little bit of walking in the southern Pantanal, so bring adequate comfortable shoes for that purpose.
- The Pantanal can get rather hot & being on a boat for large portions of the day, you should best come prepared. Remember important items such as long-sleeved clothing, sunscreen, a wide-rimmed hat, small compact umbrella and anything else you’d need to avoid the sun & heat.
- Contrary to popular thought, the Pantanal does not have alot of bugs during the months of July to November. Mosquito’s however are ever-present so bring along strong repellant. Clothing that can withstand stings & bites would also go a long way.
- As with most travel, be conscious of what you pack for the tour. Laundry services are on offer in camp and it’s best to pack mainly what you need and in the process lighten the load on the internal chartered flight.
Key species you could encounter:
- Giant Anteater & Southern Tamandua
- Primates like capuchins and howlers
- Iguana & Yellow Anaconda
- Diverse birdlife including eagles, hawks, toucans, macaws, herons & egrets, kingfishers, parrots and more.
Camera Equipment for the Pantanal
The environment within the Pantanal is stunning, yet you’ll find that you spend the bulk of your time on your telephoto lens. We would recommend that you look at something that covers the range of 400mm – 600mm. The prime lenses (fixed focal lenses) always perform best in this environment. Think along the lines of a 400 f2.8, a 500 f4 or a 600 f4. These lenses also perform very well with teleconverters and those should be brought along too.
Do expect a fair amount of bird photography & once again, the longer faster lenses will be put to great use.
If you own something like a 100-400 lens and don’t have access to a fixed prime lens, bring it along. It’s performed very well in the past and along with a camera body that can handle some low light conditions and higher ISO’s, you’ll be fine. You might find yourself a little short at times though, as a word of caution.
It's always a great idea to have a zoom lens that covers the mid-range focal lengths.
If you're bringing a long telephoto lens like the 400mm - 600mm's, we'd suggest that you consider bringing a 100-400 or a 70-200 lens along. This can be on your second camera body and you'll be able to reach for it should the need arise.
We have found from past experience in the Pantanal, that wide-angle lenses tend to stay in the bag for most of the trip. It’s always nice to have it around though and should you wish to bring one along, look at something like a 24-70mm, or the 24-105mm.
We always anticipate plenty of action when on the rivers in the Pantanal. From Jaguars on the move swimming through channels, or even hunting caiman or capybara, to birds fishing & flying over the boat. There’s so much to see and you want to be able to capture all of this excitement and action.
It’s recommended that you bring along 2 camera bodies. At least one of the 2 bodies should be equipped for action photography, able to shoot at a high frame rate and capable of shooting in low light conditions with the potential of higher ISO’s. Most brands produce a flagship sports and action camera and these are ideal for the Pantanal. If you don’t have access to this kind of camera, then bring what you have. It’s all about the experience and making the most of what you have.
It’s always a great idea to have a second camera body on hand. This can be mounted to your mid-range zoom lens at all times. It saves you time and avoids you having to change lenses. In addition, should a camera break you’ll have a second camera body to fall back on.
Please remember that your Wild Eye guide will always be on hand before the departure date of the tour to discuss your camera equipment at length. Ultimately they’ll be able to assist and suggest the best way forward for this exciting adventure.
Take a moment to see the Jaguars of the Pantanal experience for yourself in the video below.
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