Experiencing the beauty of the Pantanal and having the opportunity of seeing a jaguar in the wild has been something I've been dreaming about for some time.
The mystery thereof, the massive rainforests and meandering rivers is something that certainly appeals to me, as it does to so many wildlife photographers around the world.
A couple of months ago I embarked on this epic journey with four extremely excited guests to not only absorb the beauty that the Pantanal has to offer, but also hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive jaguars that roam these forests.
After a couple of nights in Cuiaba, our starting point of the tour, we made our way towards Piuval Lodge which was the start of our Jaguars of the Pantanal tour. This area consists of one of many ranches found along the route towards the Northern Pantanal, and is prolific in terms of birdlife as well as the opportunity to view capybara, cayman and even wild jaguars that often roam these wide open spaces.
One of the highlights during our first afternoon was spending time with the local Pantaneiros, who are the local people who live in these areas and although the term is not totally correct, the only way they can be described is the equivalent of Brazilian cowboys. It was amazing seeing these local people on horseback as they herd their cattle with the greatest of ease, elegantly galloping across the fields.
The next day we made our way towards the Northern Pantanal on the famous Transpantaneiro road. A road consisting of 100+ bridges and the gateway to the Northern Pantanal which was going to be our home for the next 9 nights.
Tourism and photographic safaris are still relatively new to this area, so it is to be expected that the lodges and infrastructure are not totally developed. The rooms at Hotel Porte Norte are however extremely clean, the food delicious and the staff very friendly and is without a doubt the best accommodation available in the area. For those looking for super luxury, this most probably is not for you, but we were here for one reason, to see the mighty jaguars in the wild!
All the activities from Porte Jofre are done by boat, and although I had my doubts initially, they were all put to bed when we found our first jaguar within the first hour on our very first excursion.
It is almost impossible to explain the feeling of seeing your first jaguar and very similar to when I saw a tiger in the wild for the first time, my guests and I were left speechless. Such an amazing creature, with such beautiful patterns yet so strong and so fearless.
Along with the jaguars, which are the obvious main attraction, the Pantanal is every birder's dream, with around 600 species of birds found in the Northern Pantanal alone. Personally I cannot remember ever seeing so many birds in one area and although they can be quite tough to photography from the boat, they are incredible to see.
Our 9 nights in Porte Jofre delivered no fewer than 18 jaguar sightings, from a mother with her sub adult cubs, to watching individuals roam the banks of the Cuba river in search of their sought prey species like capybara and cayman.
The jaguar viewing was simply incredible and we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams to have the sightings that we did. The 9 days in Porte Jofre confirmed to our guests and myself that this is indeed the best place to see jaguars in the wild.
We are extremely excited to go back to the Pantanal next year, and have given a new twist to this jaguar tour, adding the workshop element to it which will take your photography to the level that you want it to be. We will have our usual morning and afternoon safaris on the river, with the break in the day being dedicated to working through various elements in wildlife photography such as composition, the art of wildlife photography and various editing techniques to get the most out of your images.
We hope to see you there next year!
Best of the Pantanal
From Giant Anteaters to Jaguars and Macaws to Toucans, this is an experience not to be missed for any nature lover or wildlife photographer. The Pantanal covers a large area and is home to a rich variety of wildlife & exotic bird life. This adventure is designed in order to showcase the beauty of both the southern & northern Pantanal to you.
Jaguars of the Pantanal workshop
This exciting Wild Eye Workshop is designed to take you into the heart of the spotted cat’s territory as we dedicate 10 days to spending time with Jaguars and other interesting species inhabiting the Pantanal.