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Brazil’s Pantanal: A place of superlatives. Home to the world’s largest fresh-water wetlands, the Pantanal is ten-times the size of the Everglades, draining into a single channel: the Paraguay River. We venture 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 discover wildlife thriving in a mix of savanna, forest, and wetland habitats. Even a relaxed day can yield more than 100 species of birds and dozens of mammals — Capybara are everywhere!
Brazilian Tapir, Capybara, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and yes, Jaguar (we saw seven on our 2017 trip!), are five of many incredible mammals we seek, while Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, and Helmeted Manakin top the list of impressive bird sightings. Rare Green Anaconda, the world’s largest snake, may be a lucky find, while the small crocodilian Yacaré can be seen by the thousands. For many, it is the sheer number and variety of species that leaves the most lasting impression.
Charming (and working) cattle ranches serve as our accommodations, each with its own impressive and 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. Don’t miss the pre-tour extension to Itatiaia National Park, one of South America’s most beautiful birding sites and Brazil’s oldest national park.
- “AWESOME, FANTASTIC. A trip of a lifetime! (Guides) Wes and Marco were as good as it gets.” — Charles Henderson, 2023 Traveler
- “I’ve already told family and friends that it may have been the very best trip I’ve ever taken. Oh, the jaguars! Watching three different ones for extended periods of time surpassed my expectations. And I got such wonderful photos and videos.” — Laura Jelemensky, 2023 Traveler
- “Excellent opportunity to view Brazil's southern (Panatal) wildlife. Remarkable birding…for me the most new species ever on a trip. Four different jaguars in three different locations; loved the Giant Anteaters…We were fortunate to see 20 within a two-day period; and Giant River Otters!” — Joyce Kelly, 2023 Traveler
- “Great opportunity to see lots of iconic wildlife up close…Capybaras were the reason I went to the Pantanal. Great to see other mammals like Giant Anteater too.” — Andrew Kimmel, 2023 Traveler
- “Amazing! Like a safari in the Land Before Time.” — Heather Warm, 2023 Traveler
- “If you want to see the birds and wildlife of the Atlantic forest and the interior of Brazil take this trip! It is a bit rugged and you are constantly on the move to see more species but it is well worth the effort. We saw over 300 species of birds, from flightless Greater Rhea, many colorful Macaws including the largest, Blue Hyacinth, my favorite Southern Lapwing, and little Eared Pygmy Tyrant, Piculets, and Pygmy Kingfisher. The greatest excitements were given the Giant Anteaters, the river bank Jaguars, and our one night roaming Cougar.” — James Cheevers 2023 Traveler
- “Amazing, exhausting, and exotic. As an amateur photographer the Pantanal was a wonderful location to see birds and wildlife out in the open, not too afraid of humans. Field trips were great as were the guides. I loved all the boat trips. Wes Larson was the American guide and was very patient and kind. He was organized and made sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. Benedetto was the Brazilian guide and was knowledgeable about birds and his English was excellent.” — Deborah Ellinger, 2023 Traveler
- “We saw many beautiful birds, great views of jaguars hunting along shorelines, a diversity of other mammals such as anteaters, armadillos, capybaras, deer, giant otters, peccaries, and monkeys, and, of course, plenty of caimans. The trip was well-guided, the accommodations were comfortable, the staff at the posadas and other places were friendly, and the drivers and boatmen were friendly.” — Gayle Garman, 2023 Traveler
- Watch for South America’s “Big Five” of mammals: Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, Brazilian Tapir, and Capybara
- Scout for 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!
- Experience the Transpantaneira wilderness road on safari-like excursions
- Look for five species of kingfisher
- Enjoy delicious local cuisine and exceptional hospitality at fazendas (working cattle ranches) at several stages along the road
- Cruise the Cuiabá River for our best chance at a Jaguar sighting
- See water birds in mass congregation — like those of the Everglades, but magnified!
- Watch for at least four species of monkeys and several hundred species of birds
- Discover night birds under intense southern sky constellations
- Come early for the pre-tour extension to birder's paradise Itatiaia National Park, which climbs in elevation from less than 1000 to 9,200 feet, creating an incredible diversity of habitats that is reflected in its many endemic birds, monkeys and other wildlife!
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Wed., July 3 : Arrival to São Paulo, Brazil
Arrive today in São Paulo, Brazil, at Guarulhos International Airport (GRU). Since many flights arrive in the early hours of the morning, we have rooms booked for you to access immediately on arrival. Mid-day we have a casual bird outing to a local park followed by a welcome dinner.
Those on our highly-recommended pre-trip to the Atlantic Forest are returning to join you this evening. We invite you to sample Brazil's national cocktail, the caipirinha, made with cachaça (sugarcane liquor), sugar, and lime. We predict this may be the first of many.
Accommodations at a convenient airport hotel (D)
Thurs., July 4 : Early Flight to Campo Grande Airport | Explore the South Side of the Pantanal
We should arrive to Campo Grande about 9:00 AM and are met by our local guides. We drive by van or mini-bus to our lodge (around four hours drivetime) with stops for mammals and birding on the way there. We are motivated to get there, since this is where we have lunch!
After checking into our rooms, we spend time birding around the lodge until the end of the day, looking for birds like the Chaco Chachalaca, Hyacinth Macaw, Blue-fronted Parrot, Nanday Parakeet, Toco Toucan, Lineated and White Woodpeckers, Narrow-Billed Woodcreeper, Greater Thornbird, Giant Cowbird, Crested Oropendola, Purplish and Plush-crested Jays, Red-crested Cardinal, and many others.
We then gather with friends for dinner and for those that wish, the daily checklist.
Accommodations at Aguapé Lodge or similar (B,L,D)
Fri., July 5 & Sat., July 6: Pantanal Safari
Our lodge is an excellent environment for birdwatching, a place where over 300 bird species have been recorded. The lodge is located 195 kilometers from Campo Grande city, which has an international airport, and 60 kilometers from Aquidauana city, which is known as the gateway to the Pantanal. We have two full days to explore from the lodge, plus our pathway coming and going. Optional fishing with local guides and boats can be arranged while you are at this lodge.
Interesting bird species are Southern Screamer, Blaze winged Parakeet, Gilded Hummingbird, Toco Toucan, Pale crested and White fronted Woodpecker, Red billed Scythebill, Helmeted Manakin, and the Scarlet headed Blackbird.
After an early breakfast, we embark on a safari drive with good chances to see the Undulated Tinamou, Capped Heron, Jabiru, Savanna Hawk, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Buff-necked and Plumbeous Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Hyacinth and Yellow-collared Macaw, Red-billed Scythebill, Orange-backed Troupial, and many others.
After lunch we are back at the lodge and make time to enjoy a siesta in the hot part of the day, and then we make another safari drive until the end of the day, returning in the dark with chances to see mammals like the Crab-eating Fox, South American Coati, Capybara, Marsh Deer, Southern Tamandua, Crab-eating Raccoon, River Otter, and night birds such as Common and Great Potoo, Spectacled and Striped Owl, Pauraque and Scissor-tailed Nightjar.
We find this area to be the best place to spot Giant Anteater in the whole region and we make the effort to find them, so keep your fingers crossed! We have dinner upon return, and for those that wish again, the checklist.
Accommodations at Aguapé Lodge or similar (B,L,D)
Sun., July 7 : Birding from Aguapé to Campo Grande
After an early breakfast we take a bird walk for excellent chances to see Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Blaze-winged Parakeet, Black-crowned Tityra, Chestnut-eared Aracari, and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and many more.
This morning we also enjoy a motorboat excursion at Aquidauana River. This river is full of life with good chances to see a family of Giant River Otter and special birds like Black-collared Hawk, five species of kingfisher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Blue-throated Piping Guan, and many others.
After an early lunch at the lodge we drive back to Campo Grande, check in to the hotel, and then enjoy a short visit to the “nesterar,” a place where a nice concentration of macaws and herons nest near the city.
Accommodations at Hotel Mohave or similar (B,L,D)
Mon., July 8 : Early Flight: Campo Grande to Cuiaba | Northern Transpantaneira Adventure Begins
After an early domestic flight to Cuiabá we begin the second (northern) half of our Pantanal adventure!
Driving south, we reach the famed Pantanal via a paved road to Poconé. En route we have lunch in a typical churrasqueria, and enjoy simple Brazilian-style cuisine. From here, we travel the dirt Transpantaneira Road, perhaps only rivaled by Tanzania’s Serengeti road for spotting wildlife. Along the way to our lodge, we might see Ringed Kingfisher, Red-crested Cardinal, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Toco Toucan, Jabiru, Limpkin, our Capybaras (of course!), Yacaré Caiman, and more.
Our lodge is located just 10km from Poconé. After check in, we can stretch our legs on a short walk. There is a lovely pool if anyone wants to cool off with a swim.
Accommodations at Pousada Piuval or similar (B,L,D)
Tues., July 9 : Birding & Wildlife Spotting on the Transpantaneira | Drive to Porto Jofre | Jaguar Boat Excursion
After some morning wildlife viewing at the ranch, we depart down the Transpantaneira, keeping an eye out for Red Brocket Deer, Marsh Deer, Crab-eating Fox, Greater Rhea, Chestnut-bellied Guan, Bare-faced Curassow, and a mix of wading birds. Bridges are hotspots from which we can view the presence of a huge food supply; Green Kingfisher, Great Egret, Cocoi Heron, both Bare-faced and Green Ibises, and White-lored Spinetail are just a few species we may see.
We pass through scattered palm woodlands, cerrado scrub, and seasonally-flooded grasslands reminiscent of the Everglades. Roadside ponds and canals are filled with waders: Roseate Spoonbill, Plumbeous Ibis, Limpkin, cormorants, herons, kingfishers, and their predator, Yacaré Caiman. August water conditions concentrate the fish for foraging waders like Jabiru and Maguari Stork.
At Porto Joffe, the “end of the road,” palms attract several resident pairs of Hyacinth Macaw. From this little town on the Cuiabá River, we board a small boat to reach our lodgings—two days on a lovely houseboat. Rooms are air-conditioned, with private bath. This “floating hotel” allows us to stay close to where the wildlife has been spotted; we explore from the houseboat each day on smaller boats.
We check into our boat cabins, have dinner, then have a briefing on safety and wildlife we hope to see. If skies are clear, star viewing is impressive?you can see the Southern Cross! Optional fishing is available while you are on the houseboat portion of the tour.
Accommodations in private cabins on a floating houseboat hotel! (B,L,D)
Wed., July 10 : Full Day Looking for Jaguar, Jabiru & More | Jaguar Boat Excursion
Awake on the river to a host of sounds and the sight of macaws and more flying overhead. We use smaller speedboats to spend the day searching for the iconic Jaguar, known for their affinity to water. They are good swimmers, and often lay down along the shore after a swim. Chances are good that we see at least one individual, male or female?perhaps even together!
We lunch on board, take a short siesta (yes, love that AC … ) and try for Jaguar again in the afternoon. Wildlife is plentiful in this remote part of the Pantanal, so once we accomplish the main task (a Jaguar, of course) we have time to admire other species like Giant Otter, Black Skimmer, Pied Plover, Southern Screamer, and Yacaré Caiman. We also visit little streams for skulkers like Pygmy Kingfisher and Sungrebe.
By late afternoon we return to the boat. We celebrate our sightings with caipirinhas before dinner!
Accommodations in private cabins on a floating houseboat hotel! (B,L,D)
Thurs., July 11 : Wildlife & Birding on the Lower Transpantaneira
After two days immersed in the wildest part of the Pantanal, we return north, retracing our route. We are not in a hurry though, and work some of the areas we previously traveled in more detail.
Perhaps we find a troop of Black-and-Gold Howler Monkey, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Snail Kite, Rusty-backed Antwren, Common Tody Flycatcher, White-browed Blackbird, and others species as we drive to our next lodge. We watch for Cream-colored Woodpecker, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Short-crested Flycatcher, Mato Grosso Antbird, Great Antshrike, and Purple-throated Euphonia. Near water we find Whistling and Capped Herons, Pygmy and Ringed Kingfishers, Sunbittern, Black-collared and Great Black Hawks, and Rusty-backed Spinetail.
Once we arrive at the hotel on the Rio Pixium, we settle in and check the feeders for brilliant-colored troupials, Palm, Silver, and Sayaca Tanagers, and Red-crested Cardinal. At this point in our journey we have seen numerous mammals and birds, and we can base our efforts on finding anything missing from our list.
Accommodations at Mato Grosso or similar (B,L,D)
Fri., July 12 : Pixaim River Area Wildlife & Birding
It’s another morning for gazing at the sunrise while sipping good Brazilian coffee. This morning, pending what we still need to see, we can do a safari drive, or we can take a small boat ride on the Pixaim River to spot secretive species like Agami and Zig-Zag Herons. This is a good spot for Giant Otter and, with luck, a Tapir.
Driving back to Cuiabá, the landscapes are iconic and make for great pictures. We look for Black-capped Donacobious, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Little Blue Heron, and other species like some very impressive iguanas. We can break up our drive with a walk in Gallery Forest habitat looking for special birds like Helmeted Manakin, Mato Grosso Antbird, Band-tailed Antbird, Black-hooded Tanager, Blue-crowned Trogon, and more.
Dinner finds us sampling authentic Grosso cuisine, including legendary piranha and local beef.
Accommodations at the Mato Grosso or similar (B,L,D)
Sat., July 13 : Wildlife Viewing | Return Drive to Cuiabá | Departures
Today, we make our way back to Cuiabá; the paved road is perhaps a welcome sight as we bid adieu to the marvelous but often dusty Pantanal. Our plan is to arrive in Cuiabá in time for connections to São Paolo for evening flights out. Plan on flights after 4:00 PM. For those not finding a good flight match up, you can return to GRU and overnight, or simply overnight in Cuiabá at the Odara Hotel, close to the city’s botanic gardens, and start fresh the following day. If you plan to overnight in Cuiabá and would like to add an outing at the botanic gardens, we are happy to offer that (added charge). (B,L)
Atlantic Forest Pre-Tour Extension
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Birding Itatiaia National Park
Don’t miss this extension to Itatiaia National Park, one of South America’s most beautiful birding sites and Brazil’s oldest national park. The park climbs dramatically from humid Atlantic Forest at 984 feet to nearly 9200 feet at the “campos de altitude”, creating a wide variety of habitats. An incredible variety of birds live here, including many exciting regional endemics, monkeys, and other wildlife. We bird our way from stream-laced grasslands to cloud forest studded with salvias bromeliads and orchids, to unique Araucaria conifer forest, to tundra-like shrublands at the top of the park.
Sat., June 29 : Arrival in São Paulo
One of the most beautiful birding sites in the Atlantic Forest is Itatiaia National Park, located just 250 kilometers from São Paulo and home to one of the largest altitudinal differences of any birding site in Brazil, ranging from humid Atlantic Forest at 300 meters, up to the “campos de altitude” at 2,800 meters.
Itatiaia was Brazil’s first National Park and shelters an incredible variety of birds, including Black Hawk-Eagle, Dusky-legged Guan, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Giant Snipe, White-throated Hummingbird, Brazilian Ruby, Frilled Coquette, Black-breasted Plover-Crest, Saffron Toucanet, Yellow-fronted and Robust Woodpeckers, Wing-banded Hornero, White-browed Foliage-gleaner, Itatiaia Thistletail, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Giant and Large-tailed Antshrikes, White-bibbed and Rufous-tailed Antbirds, Fork-tailed Pygmy-tyrant, Southern Antpipit, Velvety Black-tyrant, Pin-tailed Manakin, Eastern Slaty Thrush, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Black-and-Gold Cotinga, Brassy-breasted and Gilt-edged Tanagers, and Sharpbill.
This extension is a feast for the eyes for birders, an extraordinary array of species, many endemic to the region.
Arrive today in São Paulo for our Atlantic Forest pre-tour extension. Since many flights arrive in the early hours of the morning, we have rooms booked for you to access immediately on arrival. Mid-day we have a casual bird outing to a local park followed by a welcome dinner.
Accommodations in at a convenient airport hotel (D)
Sun., June 30 : Itatiaia National Park—Atlantic Forest
We want an early departure after breakfast so we can arrive at Itatiaia National Park (170 miles) before noon. Along the highway we look for Southern Crested Caracara and both White-tailed and Crane Hawks. Our stop at the park’s entrance station provides us with our first opportunity to bird the Atlantic Forest. White-eyed
Parakeet put on a show as they jet overhead, while we look for Curl-crested Jay, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Campo Flicker, Savannah Hawk, Ruby-crowned Tanager, Grey Monjita, and Crested Black-Tyrant. We have lunch, check into our rooms and then enjoy the stunning vista with an array of feeders and birds in the foreground. For birders and photographers alike, this is just such a treat to see so many of the colorful birds of this park, and so close: Red-breasted Toucan, Dusky-legged Guan, Green Honeycreeper, White-throated Hummingbird, Brazilian Ruby, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Green-headed and other tanagers, Crested Oropendola, and Red-rumped Cacique. This is a fine introduction to some of the species of the Atlantic Forest.
Accommodations at Hotel do Ype or similar (B,L,D)
Mon., July 1 & Tues., July 2: Midlevel & High-Altitude Exploration of Itatiaia National Park
These two days are dedicated to exploring the trails and roads of the central part of the park. We stop for flocks as we climb the road to the higher elevations of the park where we should find Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Planalto Hermit, Surucua Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot, Tufted Antshrike, White-bearded Antshrike, Variable Antshrike, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Plain Antvireo, Star-throated Antwren, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Ferruginous Antbird, Ochre-rumped Antbird, White-bibbed Antbird, Rufous Gnateater, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Blue-backed Manakin, Gray-capped Tyrannulet, Bay-chested Warbling-Finch, Buff-throated Warbling-Finch, Diademed Tanager, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, White-throated Woodcreeper, and Scaled Woodcreeper.
We drive through the area, making “specialty stops” to areas that have Violet-capped Woodnymph, Black Hawk-Eagle, and Collared Forest-Falcon. Higher elevation stops allow us to look for Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Itatiaia Spinetail, and Rufous-capped Antshrike. A number of different species occur along the transition zones of the various elevation-dependent habitats as we climb the road to the top. These include a long list: White-barred Piculet, Yellow-eared Woodpecker, Plain-winged Woodcreeper, Black-billed Scythebill, Rufous-capped Spinetail, Pallid Spinetail, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, White-browed Foliage-gleaner, Yellow Tyrannulet, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Cliff Flycatcher, Black-tailed Flycatcher, White-throated Spadebill, Velvety Black-Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, White-browed Warbler, Golden-crowned Warbler, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Golden-winged Cacique, Black-goggled Tanager, Rufous-headed Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager, and Ruby-crowned Tanager. We should also find monkeys: Black Capuchin along with Black-striped Capuchin.
One of the fascinating aspects of climbing this road is the different plant communities and species. We bird in Araucaria forest, a unique, high-elevation conifer of the park; the tundra-like plants found in the shrubby lands at the top of the park; and lower elevation cloud forest, complete with salvias, bromeliads, and orchids. Lower elevations have intermittent forests embedded with grasslands and streams. All of these habitats provide ample opportunity to experience this well-known and diversity-rich part of Brazil.
Accommodations at Hotel do Ype or similar (B,L,D)
Wed., July 3: Morning in Itatiaia National Park | Return to São Paulo
This morning we enjoy an early breakfast, and then drive to the Agulhas Negras road into the highlands on the far side of the park. This road gives us access to higher elevation habitat where some specialty birds are found. Notable among these are White-rumped Hawk, Rufous-thighed Hawk, Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Itatiaia Thistletail, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-tailed Antbird, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Black-capped Piprites, Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant, Shear-tailed Gray Tyrant, Diademed Tanager, Gray-throated Warbling-Finch, and Bay-chested Warbling-Finch.
After we finish birding here, we drive back to São Paulo where we meet up with our companions, overnight before the start of our main trip (and in-country flight) to the Pantanal!
Accommodations at an airport hotel (B,L,D)
Jaguar by Wes Larson
Lettered Aracari by Wes Larson
Birding by Boat by Jessie Hallstrom
Yellow-billed Cardinal by Wes Larson
Red-shouldered Macaw by Wes Larson
Jaguar by Wes Larson
Howler Monkey by Wes Larson
Greater Rhea by Wes Larson
Jaguar Print by Wes Larson
Tropical Screech Owl by Wes Larson
Afternoon Drive by Wes Larson
Macaw Soaring Through Waterfall by Wes Larson
Capybara & Friend by Wes Larson
Morning Drive by Wes Larson
Caiman by Wes Larson
Birding by Boat by Jessie Hallstrom
Houseboat by Wes Larson
Chapada Scenic by Wes Larson
Jaguar by Wes Larson
Blue-and-yellow Macaw by Wes Larson
Naturalist Journeys' & Local Guides by Wes Larson
Scoping Jaguars by Wes Larson
Little Blue Heron by Wes Larson
Chapada Extension Group by Wes Larson
Local Stay Grounds by Jessie Hallstrom
Ocelot by Wes Larson
Capybara Family by Wes Larson
Helmeted Manakin by Wes Larson
Giant Anteater with Young by Wes Larson
Crested Caracara by Wes Larson
Giant River Otter by Wes Larson
Crab-eating Fox by Wes Larson
Lesser Anteater by Wes Larson
Burrowing Owl by Wes Larson
Tapir by Wes Larson
Welcome to Pantanal Sign by Jessie Hallstrom
Jaguar by Wes Larson
Roadside Hawk by Wes Larson
Cost of the Journey
The cost of the 11-day main tour is $6690 DBL / $7370 SGL. Tour price includes 10 nights’ accommodations, all meals as noted in the itinerary, airport transfers, land and boat transportation during the journey, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. It includes two flight segments within country. The tour cost does not include airfare to São Paulo and from Cuiaba, personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities. Cost of the pre-tour Atlantic Forest extension is $1690 DBL / $1970 SGL. Extension costs are based on a group of four persons minimum and includes all lodgings, meals, transportation, guiding and park and reserve entrance fees.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival Airport: Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo
Arrival Details: Please plan flights to arrive July 3, 2024 at your leisure. There is an optional birding outing at 2:30 PM on July 3.
Departure Airport: Marechal Rondon International Airport (CGB) in Cuiaba
Departure Details: Please plan flights to depart July 13, 2024 after 4:00 PM.
Pre-tour Extension Arrival Airport: Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo
Pre-tour Extension Arrival Details: Please plan flights to arrive June 29, at your leisure.
Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, you can book an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Sao Paulo Airport Marriott Hotel. You can book online and send us the confirmation number with the goal being you won’t have to switch rooms. If you would like a day tour in Sao Paulo, they can arrange that at the hotel.
Important Visa Note US travelers to Brazil must obtain an E-visa. The online application can be found here.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Greg Smith, Guide Emeritus
Greg spent over 20 years working as an ecologist managing sensitive bird species for California State Parks along the Central coast. His decision to promote to the Park Superintendent series allowed him to work directly with partners in conserving lands for the benefit of birds, people, and resources. And then he retired! Three days later he started his now eleven-year career with Naturalist Journeys by leading his first of over sixty tours. He had already traveled to all seven continents, and now has a Master Bird Banding permit, both of which made him a great fit to work with Peg and to lead natural history and birding tours to her exceptional array of tour locations. His relaxed style and breadth of knowledge makes his tours both educational and fun, all while exploring Naturalist Journeys' diverse locations and viewing the areas' distinctive birds, wildlife, and plant species. Two of his favorite past times are good food and photography, so take a peek at his Flickr site to see some of what he shares with those that join him on his tours.
Other trips with Greg Smith, Guide Emeritus
Death Valley National Park Sampler Lens-FriendlyMarch 10 - 15, 2024
- Death Valley National Park Sampler
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport is valid for six months AFTER your return date. Your passport should have at least one blank page per entry stamp. If you are from another country, please contact the Brazilian embassy website for guidelines.
- US travelers to Brazil must obtain an E-visa. Apply online!
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Brazil and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Plan your flight reservations arriving into Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) with return from Cuiaba (CGB) to best match up to your international departure or extension.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Arrival to São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
Your arrival airport is at Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo, Brazil. For the main tour, plan to arrive at a time convenient for you the first day of the tour. Please take the free shuttle to our convenient and comfortable airport hotel. Remember, you have at least 1.5 hours to get luggage and clear immigration and customs; there are comfortable public areas in the hotel where you can relax if you don’t want to pay an early room fee.
Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your ground operator AND our office. You may also phone or text your guide. Quite a few of your guides will set up a WhatsApp connection so you can reach your guide(s) by phone.
Many flights get in during the morning hours. Rooms are not generally available until 2:00 PM, but as they are ready, they will let you check in, hopefully by Noon or 1:00 PM. An early morning check-in can be requested for about $40 but not until the day of arrival. Or you certainly can book the room (additional cost) for the night previous if this wait is of concern. There are public areas and a restaurant for you to use while you wait. We can recommend a good travel agent familiar with the routes to you upon request.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Pre-Tour Atlantic Forest Extension: If you participate in the pre-tour Atlantic forest extension, plan to arrive at a time convenient for you the first day of the extension. You arrive in São Paulo. After gathering your bags and going through customs please take the convenient shuttle to the airport hotel.
We include and coordinate two flight segments within the country so that the group can travel together. Once you register, our local operator will book the group flights. To do so, he needs your name as on passport, and date of birth. They will be morning flights.
Departure from Cuiabá (CGB) to Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
Please plan departures on the last day of your tour from Cuiaba’s Marechal Rondon International Airport (CGB), with a flight 4:00 PM or after, timed to connect with your own international flight. We do not include the segment from Cuiabá (CBG) back to São Paolo (GRU), as those going on to other parts of Brazil can take international flights back from other sites such as Belo Horizontes or Iguazu, and do not need the segment. And, it is worth checking to see if you can get a better price if combined with your international return. You should be able to book your flight into GRU and out from CBG to GRU and onward going back if only on the main tour. Our travel agent, Pam Davis, can assist you with ticketing if requested.
Your final night is in Cuiabá. For departure day, you may arrange air to best match up to your international flights. Some may want to go out that night if just around midnight, just be sure it’s the correct date if one of the just post-midnight flights! If you find you do not go out until the afternoon or evening the following day, our company can organize an outing to the local botanical garden, a very good site for birding. Please request this when you send in your flights.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
Your passport must be valid for six months AFTER your return to the USA and you need to have a blank passport page available for entry. Please check that expiration date! If you are from another country, please contact the Brazil embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at: travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Brazil.html
US travelers to Brazil must obtain an E-visa. Apply online! You will need proof of a return ticket. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well. It is always smart to check for possible changes to visa requirements 60-90 days prior to your tour departure.
As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency.
Vaccinations: Bring copies of your current vaccination records with you. Although at the time of writing, there are no required vaccinations to enter Brazil, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that "most travelers" to Brazil and most South American countries in general be up-to-date with routine and basic travel vaccines, including Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. He or she may recommend other preventative immunizations like DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis), which is recommended every 10 years.
Yellow fever: It is highly recommended that you do get a yellow fever (YF) vaccine. If Brazil has to change their vaccination requirements before your trip, you will be covered. If you do choose to get the vaccine, be sure to include the certification record with your other vaccination records you bring. If you cannot get a vaccine due to your age as cautioned by your physician, then bring a physician's letter saying you are in good health, but they do not recommend that you get the vaccine due to your age.
Other mosquito-carrying diseases: Although you are traveling in the dry season, which is a lower risk time of year, it is still important to protect yourself from the risk. The best prevention of infection from mosquito-carried diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever and Zika is protective clothing and insect repellent. Be prepared with insect repellent that contains DEET. You may wish to bring two strengths, using the most potent if and when mosquitos are encountered. It will be your decision on whether you wish to take anti-malarials as the Pantanal is not a high-risk area. If you are going to take them, be aware that some travelers experience dizziness and stomach upset from some of the medications, so please ask your doctor what the best recommendation for you is.
Check the CDC recommendations for travel to Brazil for other helpful information or reach them by phone at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health. If you have severe allergies, talk to your doctor about carrying an EPIPEN and notify your guides.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).
We generally follow the published itinerary but do network with other guides and may make changes if we hear of great bird sightings or a new opportunity. The joy of our travel is tremendous flexibility, and we make every effort to do the things you particularly want to do. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of the trip is moderate, with some early morning departures, extensive field time and now some options for hikes. It is also easy to take it at a vacation pace! You can pace yourself within our typically active schedule.
Weather & Climate
July and August travelers can expect at least some light rain. These are generally the driest months and temperatures average in the mid-60s to low 90s °F, with moderate humidity of about 60%.
September and October travelers can also expect at least some light rain with average temperatures from the mid-70s to low 90s °F, with moderate humidity averaging about 60%.
You may want to bring a gel bandana for helping you to keep cool. Dust is an issue and it's the reason we travel by a bus that has closing windows. A microfiber cloth (query microfiber towel and choose size) that can be quickly draped over optics, and a smaller one for your nose, is super helpful!
Pre-Tour Atlantic Forest Extension: If you are joining the Atlantic Forest Extension, temperatures will be comfortable during the day, but even the locals would say that their nights are chilly. Temperatures average with highs in the mid-to-high 70s and lows in the mid-50s/low 60s. You’ll want that extra layer of warmer clothing.
Annoyances & Hazards
Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. At grassland or farm locations you may encounter chiggers. If so, it really helps to spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks. Upon return, be sure to shower and air out your clothing. Chiggers are a part of lowland and mid-elevation habitats throughout Central and South America. Your guide should have a good read on whether it has been wet enough that they are active. There can also be poisonous snakes and insects, though encountering them is rare. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember, the sun is strong so be prepared with proper protection.
Food & Drinks
You will need to drink bottled water, and while we supply that for our tour outings, please be prepared to refill your water from the purified jug when at your lodges at night. The logistics of hauling water across the remote Pantanal Road will be improved if we depend on lodges for some of our supply. We recommend buying a Steri Pen so you can treat water in a few seconds or consider one of the new water bottles that include filters, like LifeStraw. Whenever possible, we want to AVOID the use of excessive plastics!
Meals are generally enjoyable and well-prepared at your lodges and restaurants. Menus are varied, sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available, and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. However, as in any case when traveling, we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages. This is the best way to avoid any unwanted problems. Ask for recommendations from your hotel or refer to a guidebook such as Frommers. Meals reflect the culinary contributions from American, European, Spanish, and local cuisines. Beer and wine are readily available for purchase at hotels, and we can stop to purchase liquor or snacks if needed, mainly at Cuiabá. Once out on the Transpantaniera there are no real facilities other than lodges.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
Please, pack light. Dress is very informal. You may wish to change for dinners, but casual dress is suitable at all locations. We strongly recommend neutral or dark-colored clothing for every area that we will visit on the tour, though we do not recommend camouflage. We advise that clothing colors should be unobtrusive, i.e. no bright yellows, reds or white, as this can make us very conspicuous and disturb wildlife.
Laundry services are generally available, but easiest if we have several days in one location. The boat we use for our Jaguar spotting is moored, it is not moving, so it is a stable environment and very comfortable, requiring no special gear.
Find a way to keep cool. Many bring a gel bandana that can be made wet and is very cooling. A spray mister is helpful as well as dressing in layers that are loose fitting.
The Real is the official currency in Brazil. For the current exchange rate, please refer to online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as the cash, an ATM card, and a credit card.
There are shops that accept the U.S. dollar in Brazil. It’s always a good idea to ask before you make a purchase. You can always carry U.S. dollars and exchange while in Brazil. Some hotels, large post offices, and money exchange offices can exchange cash. You’ll need your passport and your money must be new (2004 or newer) and in good condition. Each exchange method will involve a fee, so it’s a good idea to ask beforehand.
The easiest way to withdraw Reals is from a local ATM. ATMs will give you a better rate on changing money. Brazil ATMs are quite common in larger cities, but many are not as available in smaller towns. The ATM will give you local money and your bank will convert that into US Dollars. Many banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.
Credit cards are accepted, but not as widely as in the USA. Your lodges should take them, but in rural areas where you may buy handicrafts, you will need cash. We suggest you have more than one card available. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (one Visa, and one MasterCard), if possible. Not every shop will accept every card. Some machines are set up for both, while some will only service one or the other. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling to Brazil to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.
Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.
Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Typical items people purchase include: local souvenirs and T-shirts, carvings, beads, textiles, artworks, drinks before or with dinner, maps and natural history books. Cash is also handy for your drinks from the bar.
Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.
People wish to know how best to plan tips, the total is about $250-$300 per person, and our estimate of how they are split up will be (based on 10 days of service excluding departure day):
- Main guide ($100)
- Brazilian guide with you for the trip ($50+)
- Bus driver ($30+)
- Boat driver on Jaguar safaris, 3 days ($15-$20)
- Four Lodges (shared tip pool) listed on your eContact. Consider the boat, a lodge. Total of ($5-$10 per day depending on amount and quality for service)
- In São Paulo or Cuiabá, a simple maid gratuity will do.
- Porterage - $1 USD equivalent per bag as you use this service at city hotels, at nature lodges will be in your shared tip pool.
All tips are at your discrepancy, you may choose to do more or less according to service.
Local guides from lodges will be tipped by your Naturalist Journeys host. Questions, ask your tour host. Tipping is extensive in this culture, please note there is no expectation of an added tip for your Naturalist Journeys host.
You may tip your guides in USD, but for lodge staff and drivers, it is best to have local currency.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
Wi-Fi is available at our hotels and several of our lodges. Xavier, your guide, is well connected and can help if any urgent communication need arises. Some available Wi-Fi services there may have fees, and these are determined by how much data you use, so be aware of that if people are sending you photos, etc. There are free apps available on smart phones (WhatsApp, Viber, Skype) that offer free international calls and texts, and you may want to research this ahead of time.
Cell phone service is widely available in Brazil. Be sure to check your cell phone company’s coverage, roaming charges, how to turn on International service, or perhaps purchase a temporary international data/calling plan if you intend to use your phone abroad. Prepaid phone cards and SIM cards are also available. Possibly, it might be cheaper to rent an international phone or by a SIM card onsite. If you bring the phone for Internet and an alarm, but do not want charges, make sure you know how to turn OFF your cellular data function on your cell phone. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi.
Outlets in Brazil generally accept 1 type of plug, Type N. Make sure you do not confuse this with a similar looking European plug and adapter – it is not the same! Most USA electronic devices work in Brazil, where voltage is normally 110V to 127V. Occasionally you will find 220V. Check your devices, most now have a converter that can handle both voltages. Many modern electronics have a converter in the cord – that is the little box you see. A universal converter/adapter can be found online or at most electronics stores or online. Please make sure you have the Type N adapter as part of the unit you buy. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Brazil covers four time zones, and we will cross several during this trip. São Paolo is on Brazil Time, and Cuiabá is an hour earlier, on Amazon Time. In summer months, when the US observes Daylight Savings Time and Brazil is on Standard Time, São Paulo will be in the same time zone as Eastern Daylight Savings time during your trip, while Cuiabá will be an hour earlier. A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone us toll free at (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please pack light!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy.
The climate is tropical, with hot, rainy summers and dry, sunny winters that are characterized by warm days, cool nights and moderate humidity averaging about 60%. July and August will range primarily in the 60-80s °F (cooler if you are joining the Atlantic Forest Extension), and wind blowing in from the south, especially in August, can bring a chill. September and October will be warmer with temperatures in the 70s to 90s °F. October is a transitional month and is more likely to have some rain.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors. Camouflage clothing is not recommended and in some countries, it is not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield Clothing collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2-3 pair
- Shorts (optional)
- Lightweight long sleeve shirts, 2-3 (loose fitting keeps you cool and are great to layer over T-shirts or sleeveless shirts for staying cool)
- T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts or equivalent (1 per day – remember you may buy some as souvenirs along the way)
- Comfortable evening clothes (clean field clothes are appropriate, but feel free to go dressier if you wish)
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – lightweight and easy to hand wash and dry
- Comfortable walking shoes (tennis shoes, etc.)
- Lightweight hiking boots – preferably waterproof
- Sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days (optional)
- Shower thongs
- Lightweight jacket (fleece is ideal, but a sweater or sweatshirt will do)
- Raincoat or poncho (great if this doubles as a windbreaker)
- Bathing suit (optional)
- Hat with broad brim
- Bandana (optional, ones with gel inserts are great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty)
- Warm hat and gloves – for cool mornings and evenings
- Field vest (optional) a great source is Big Pockets
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
- Airline Tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
- A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
- As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the ID and entry stamp pages.
- Small daypack to carry your field gear while hiking
- Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
- Alarm clock (if you use your phone, be sure to turn off data roaming)
- Walking stick (optional, but recommended if you have one)
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
- Sunscreen/lip balm
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent (something containing DEET)
- Toiletry articles
- Kleenex or tissues
- Zip-lock bags are great for gear, and the 2-gallon size is useful to protect optics from dust
- Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
- Camera and extra batteries/battery chargers, film or digital memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos and charger (optional)
- USB cord for transferring photos from camera to tablet/laptop (optional)
- Portable external hard drive if you intend to take many photos (optional)
- Cell phone and charger
- Water bottle (or plan to refill one of ours to save on use of plastic)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing; consider laundry soap "sheets" instead of packing liquid
- Earplugs (optional – if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you)
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to treat local water where not filtered to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional but a great thing for world travelers to have!)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Personal medication (with copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses) and any medical alerts
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments and stomach ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
- Foot powder, lotions, general “comfort” items
- Hydrocortisone cream to ease itching from insect bites
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Antibacterial hand soap/hand sanitizer in small bottle, and cleansing wipes
- Health insurance information
- Vaccination Records
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Brazil and the Pantanal; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App – Brazil Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Brazil: All.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
A Colorful, Free and Indepth Travel Guide for Pantanal – Pantanal Escapes.com
5 Interesting Facts About The Pantanal
Spot Luck ? A witty and colorfully written article about the Pantanal
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Species of Pantanal – iNaturalist.org
Pantanal Wildlife Center - Jaguar Research Center (YouTube video)
Encyclopedic Bird List with Links to Pictures
Ema or American (Greater) Rhea
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
The Nature Conservancy
Pantanal Conservation Area (UNESCO)
World Wildlife Fund
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Brazil
Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
Natural World Heritage Site
Geology & Geography
A Good Overview
Understanding Sedimentary Processes in Pantanal’s Modern Wetlands
History & Culture
History, plus links to Pantanal wildlife and ecology
Basic Portuguese Travel Phrases (9-minute video)
Atlantic Forest Tour Extension
Itatiaia National Park
Atlantic Forest Conservation – WWF Article
Conserving the Atlantic Forest in Brazil – Regua.org
Atlantic Forest Species
Helpful Travel Websites
Arrival: Guarulhos International Airport (GRU), São Paulo
Departure: Marechal Rondon International Airport (CGB), Cuiabá
National Passport Information Center
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Brazil
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Center for Disease Control (CDC) - Brazil
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Brazil
Travel Health Pro (UK) - Brazil
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs - Brazil
Date, Time, and Holidays - Brazil
Photo credits: Banners: Toco Toucan (NJ Stock), Jaguar (Wes Larson), Hummingbird (Wes Larson), Macaws in Flight (Wes Larson), Hyacinth Macaws (Wes Larson), Jabiru & Hyacinth Macaws Flying (Wes Larson) Thumbnails: Jabiru Stork (Wes Larson), Howler Monkey (Wes Larson), Giant River Otter (Wes Larson), Hyacinth Macaw (Wes Larson), Yellow-billed Cardinal (Wes Larson), Jaguar (Wes Larson), Toco Toucan (Peg Abbott), Tiger Heron (Wes Larson)