Brazil’s Pantanal is a place of superlatives. The Pantanal is home to the world’s largest fresh-water wetlands, ten-times the size of the Everglades and draining into a single channel: the Paraguay River. We travel deep into this world-class wildlife hotspot on a long road that bisects the Transpantaneira wilderness, in search of an adventure that can’t be missed.

In this famed region, we witness wildlife thriving in a mix of savanna, forest, and wetland habitats. Even a relaxed day can yield 100+ species of birds and dozens of mammals — Capybara, the world’s largest rodent, are everywhere!

Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and yes, Jaguar (we saw four on our 2016 trip!), are five of many fantastic mammals we seek, while Harpy Eagle, Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, and Helmeted Manakin top the list of impressive birds. The Green Anaconda, the world’s largest snake, may be a lucky find, while the small crocodilian Yacaré can be seen by the hundreds. For many, it is the sheer number and variety of species that leaves the most lasting impression.

Charming (and working) cattle ranches are our accommodations, each with its own distinctive wildlife community. Lazy afternoons invite photographers to wander between shade circles of the ranch trees for rare time with Hyacinth Macaw and other species.

Tour Highlights

  • Search for South America’s “Big Five” of mammals: Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and Jaguar
  • See the “Big Five” of birds: Harpy Eagle, Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, and Helmeted Manakin. Add Southern Screamer, Sunbittern, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, and so many more!
  • Travel the Transpantaneira wilderness road on safari-like excursions
  • Seek five species of kingfisher
  • Indulge on local cuisine and hospitality at fazendas (working cattle ranches) at several stages along the road
  • Cruise the Cuiabá River for an excellent chance at a Jaguar sighting
  • Witness water birds in mass congregation — like those of the Everglades, but magnified!
  • Support the Pantanal Wildlife Center with your visit
  • Search for at least four species of monkeys and several hundred species of birds
  • Watch for night birds under intense southern sky constellations

Photo credits: Banner: Hyacinth Macaws, Mark Wetzel; Agami Heron, Lori Conrad; Rufous Hornero, Peg Abbott; Jaguar, Peg Abbott, Boat-billed Herons, Tom Dove; Capybara Family, Peg Abbott; Caracara, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Giant Otter, Peg Abbott; Caiman, Xavier Muñoz.