Brazil

Pantanal and Emas National Park

Explore two of Brazil's best national parks for an extraordinary range of mammals and birds

WildWings have been offering mammal-focussed trips to Brazil for many years and one of our most popular holidays has been our small group tours to the Pantanal and Emas National Park. We are, therefore, delighted to offer a new and improved itinerary for 2022 which visits all the key sites and will look for an amazing list of speciality species.

South America's biggest cat, the Jaguar, is the star attraction on this outstanding trip and we stand an excellent chance of multiple encounters with this amazing feline. Other species we hope to see including Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Crab-eating Fox and both Giant and Neotropical River Otters and there are even chances for Ocelot and Puma !!

Whilst the focus of our trip is mammals, it is impossible to ignore the birds in this amazing part of Brazil and we hope to see upwards of two hundred and fifty species including the world's largest parrot, the superlative Hyacinth Macaw. We can expect to see plenty of other specialities including Greater Rhea, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Toco Toucan and the gorgeous Helmeted Manakin.

Led by our popular expert Brazilian guide Regina Ribeiro, this holiday promises to be an extremely memorable experience !!

Tour Dates & Prices

Sat 1st October 2022

Mon 17th October 2022

  • Available

Tour Cost: 17 Days from £5275 excluding international and domestic flights

Deposit: £1275Single Supp: £795Group Size: 8Leaders:  Regina Ribeiro
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What's Included?

  • WildWings tour leader (Regina Ribeiro)
  • All accommodation and meals from dinner on Day 2 until lunch on Day 16
  • Ground transportation in vehicles with drinking water
  • Private open truck safaris at Aguape Lodge and Emas National Park, boat ride at the Aguape Lodge
  • Boat trips at Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso and Porto Jofre
  • All entry fees and taxes
  • Internal flight (Campo Grande to Cuiaba)

Cost Excludes

Flights (international and internal except Campo Grande to Cuiaba), insurance, drinks, airport meals/snacks and other items of a personal nature.

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Notes

The Land Only Tour Cost is the amount you will pay WildWings.

For flight details, we recommend that you contact Sacha Barbato who is a highly experienced independent travel agent working under the ATOL bonding of Travel Counsellors. Sacha’s contact details are as follows: [email protected] and 01603 360099

WildWings and Sacha have agreed which flights are most suitable for each trip and we encourage you to book through him as you then have support if there are any problems such as flight cancellations or delays.

Sacha will also be advised by WildWings when the trip is a confirmed departure and in many cases can hold flights for you until then.

Tour Highlights

  • A mammal focussed holiday searching for Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Crab-eating Fox, Giant and River Otters as well other cats, armidillos and several primates
  • Two days of boat trips at Porto Jofre in search of Jaguar
  • Private night drives and day time safaris throughout
  • Visit to the vast Pantanal wetlands home to a profusion of mammals and birds
  • Explore the drier (savannah) habitats of Emas National Park
  • Excellent chances for Hyacinth Macaw and Toco Toucan and a host of speciality birds
  • Small group tour - maximum of 8 participants
  • Led by WildWings billingual Brazilian expert guide Regina Ribeiro

Outline Itinerary

  • Depart London Heathrow late evening for Sao Paulo/Rio de Janeiro.

  • Arrive Brazil with connecting flight to Campo Grande. Drive to Aguapé Lodge

  • Aguapé Lodge

  • Morning at Aguapé Lodge. Transfer and overnight in Campo Grande.

  • Drive to Emas National Park. Overnight Pousada do Gloria

  • Emas National Park

  • Morning at Emas NP Depart in the afternoon for Campo Grande.

  • Morning flight to Cuiaba. Drive to Hotel Mato Grosso Pantanal. Safari in the surroundings.

  • Morning boat ride then leave for Porto Jofre. Arrival late afternoon. Night Safari after dinner. Overnight Panthera Ranch.

  • Boat rides at Porto Jofre. Night safari. Overnight Panthera Ranch.

  • Morning departure for Araras Lodge. Afternoon and night safaris.

  • Full day at Araras Lodge with a combination of walks, safaris and night drive.

  • Early morning at Araras Lodge. Leave for Cuiabá airport with onwards international connection to UK.

  • Arrive London Heathrow

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
Trip Reports
Giant Otters
Giant Otters © Regina Ribeiro

WildWings have been offering trips to the Pantanal and Emas National Park for many years and combining these two very different destinations allows us to look for an amazing list of specialities species in just a couple of weeks.

The focus of this holiday is finding some of the key mammals of Brazil, in particular Jaguar, Ocelot, Giant Anteater, Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter and Maned Wolf (Emas NP), and we hope to see upwards of 30 species of mammal. We will also search for more than 250 species of birds including the spectacular Hyacinth Macaw, however, it is important to appreciate that this is first and foremost a mammal tour and we will not be spending a lot of time trying to track down ‘little brown jobs'.

Our trip visits four main sites and we start with a visit to the Southern Pantanal and a two night stay at Aguapé Lodge. This is located 195km from Campo Grande airport on a traditional Pantanal ranch and is considered a prime destination to look for Giant Anteaters. Other wildlife which can be found in the area includes Southern Tamandua, Yellow Armadillo, Nine-banded Armadillo, Crab-eating Fox, Ocelot, along with many species of birds such as Nanday and Blaze-winged Parakeets, Caatinga Puffbird, Black-banded owl and Great Potoo.

We will then head north to Emas National Park which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the northeastern edge of the Pantanal, the park protects over 132,000 hectares where there is a mixture of grasslands and riparian forest. The habitat here is much drier than we will find in the Pantanal and there will be a very different suite of mammals and birds to see. Possibilities here include Maned Wolf, Hoary´s Fox (a Cerrado endemic), Pampas Cat, Puma, Giant Anteater, Hog-nosed Skunk, Lesser Grison, Brazilian Tapir and White-lipped Peccary. Avian specialities include Red-legged Seriema, Curl-crested Jay, Collared Crescentchest, Cock-tail Tyrant, Black-throated Saltator, Coal-crested Finch and White-rumped Tanager. It is also a very good area to spot reptiles with an impressive diversity of snakes and lizards, including Duseni´s Lizard which is a Cerrado endemic and found at Emas NP.

After three full days at Emas, we will head for the Northern Pantanal where our priority will be to see South America's largest cat, the mighty Jaguar. We have scheduled two full days of boat trips and if our previous experiences here are repeated, we can expect to enjoy multiple encounters with this impressive feline.

As at some of the other locations we intend to visit, there may be opportunities for some spotlighting after dark and possibilities could include Brazilian Tapir, Collared Peccary, Ocelot, Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Racoon, Giant Anteater, Azara´s Agouti and Brazilian Rabbit.

For the final part of our holiday, we will enjoy a two night stay at Araras Lodge where there is not only more comfortable accommodation but also a nice variety of habitats. Once again, our time will be split between excursions in vehicles and on foot and we are likely to go on at least one spotlighting trip after dark. During the day we will search for monkeys such as Black-tailed Marmoset, as well as Neotropical River Otter, whilst our after dinner night drive the possibilities include Giant Anteater, Yellow Armadillo and Crab-eating Racoon. With birds such as Agami Heron, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw and Mato Grosso Antbird to look for, our holiday to SW Brazil should most definitely end on a high!!

With the highly experienced billingual guide Regina Ribeiro to look after you, this holiday promises to be a truly memorable experience.

Jaguar
Jaguar © Regina Ribeiro

Day 1: Depart London Heathrow for Sâo Paulo

Our tour to the Brazilian Pantanal and Emas National Park begins with an overnight nonstop flight from London Heathrow to Sâo Paulo in southeast Brazil.

Day 2: Arrive Sâo Paulo and take connecting flight to Campo Grande. Drive to Aguapé Lodge

Following our morning arrival in Sâo Paulo, we catch a Brazilian domestic flight northwest to Campo Grande, where our guide Regina Ribeiro will be waiting for you. It is then a c.200 kms drive to our first destination, the delightful Aguapé Lodge. Once we turn off the main highway, we will be able to look for wildlife and this will be our first opportunity to look for species such as Giant Anteater. The area is also excellent for a wide variety of birds with the possibilities including Greater Rhea, Jabiru, Red-legged Seriema, Toco Toucan and Golden-collared Macaw.

Days 3-4: Aguapé Lodge

We will have almost two full days to explore the area around Aguapé Lodge (we return to Campo Grande for the night of day 4) and will have a mixture of vehicle safaris, gentle walks and a boat trip to maximise on what we see.

Day 5: Departure to Emas NP. Overnight Pousada do Gloria

We intend to leave Campo Grande in the early morning as it is almost 400 kms from there to Emas National Park, however, we will break the ride up with periodic stops to look for any wildlife we may see along the way. On previous occasions we have, for example, found both Greater Rhea and Giant Anteater.

Depending on how long the drive takes (and the length of the stops we make along the way), we hope to reach Pousada do Gloria by mid-afternoon which should give us time to begin our exploration of the area. Located on the border of the National Park, the area around the lodge will be an excellent place for us to begin and possibilities include White-lipped Peccary, Azara´s Agouti and Black-and-white Tegu lizard with birds such as Small-billed Tinamou, Guira Cuckoo and Campo Flicker also possible.

If time allows we will venture a little further and the birds we might find include White-tailed Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Blue-fronted and Yellow-faced Parrots, Blue-crowned and Peach-fronted Parakeets, Burrowing Owl, Curl-Crested Jay and Toco Toucan.

Days 6-8: Emas NP. Overnight Pousada do Gloria

We have three full days to explore Emas National Park which is situated on the northeastern edge of the Pantanal. The 132,000 hectares of grasslands and riparian forest are a UNESCO World Heritage site and a priority area for protection as elsewhere much of the Cerrado Biome, ie Brazilian Savannah Woodland, has been cleared for agriculture.

Our rustic but very pleasant pousada is perfectly located for exploring this extensive area and high amongst the list of mammals we hope to find is the Maned Wolf. Other mammalian possibilities include Puma, Pampas Cat, Hoary's Fox, Crab-eating Fox, Hog-nosed Skunk, Brazilian Tapir, Giant Anteater, Giant Armadillo, Nine-banded Armadillo, Yellow Armadillo, White-lipped Peccary and Pampas Deer so there will be plenty to look for during our stay.

A number of birds which are largely restricted to the cerrado can also be found here including Red-legged Seriema, White-winged Nightjar, Curl-crested Jay, Collared Crescentchest, Cock-tail Tyrant, Black-throated Saltator, Coal-crested Finch and White-rumped Tanager. If we are extremely fortunate, we will also hope to see Cone-billed Tanager which was believed extinct until it was rediscovered at Emas in 2003.

Another special feature of the park are the thousands of termite mounds which produce a unique phenomenon, especially in September-October, as these sometimes glow after dark when the rains cause bioluminescence.

Day 9: Emas NP in the morning. Leave in the afternoon for Campo Grande. Overnight Vale Verde Hotel

We will have a final morning at Emas to look for any species which may have eluded us and after lunch will head for Campo Grande where we will spend the night.

Day 10: Morning flight to Cuiaba. Drive to Hotel Mato Grosso Pantanal. Safari in the surroundings.

After a short morning flight to Cuiaba, it should take another 3-4 hours (depending on what we see on the way) to reach our hotel which is located by the Pixiam River. We plan to explore the surroundings in the late afternoon and may also visit the lodge´s tower which offers a great view and possibilities to spot animals.

Day 11: Morning boat ride then leave for Porto Jofre (Jaguar reserve). Night Safari after dinner. Overnight at Panthera Ranch

Shortly after dawn we will board a boat to explore along the Pixiam River. This area is a reasonably reliable site for Giant Otters and locating this species will be our priority. On one of our more recent trips, we found a family party including a couple of youngsters and if we have a similar experience in 2022, hopefully, we will be able to enjoy a close encounter with this endangered species.

As well as the Giant Otters, there are also chances for Neotropical River Otters and a number of interesting birds including Sunbittern, Sungrebe, Bare-faced Curassow, Chaco Chachalaca, Blue and Red-throated Piping-guans, Chestnut-bellied Guan, Bare-faced Ibis and Grey-necked Woodrail.

Returning to the wharf, we will then set off for Porto Jofre where we are likely to arrive in the late afternoon. The journey should, however, be very rewarding with a fantastic array of birds being possible including the iconic and beautiful Hyacinth Macaw. Other likely species include Capped Heron, Southern Screamer, Green Ibis, Toco Toucan with mammals such as Marsh Deer, Capybara, Azara´s Agouti and White-lipped Peccary all possible.

There may be time for a short local exploration before the sun sets, however, we plan to go out after dark for a night safari. There are plenty of possibilities here including Brazilian Tapir and Ocelot.

Days 12-13: Full day of boat ride from Porto Jofre. Night safaris. Overnight Panthera Ranch

We have two days scheduled at Porto Jofre which is widely regarded as the best places in the world to look for Jaguars and WildWings has an enviable record of showing these large felines to our clients.

We will essentially divide the day into three, with a morning and afternoon river trip exploring along the Cuiaba River and its tributaries and then a night-time vehicle-based safari excursion. Our morning boat rides will start early (departure typically at 06:00) to give us maximum chances of locating Jaguars and our other target species and we will then generally rest up during the heat of the day when wildlife activity decreases markedly. We will then head out on the river in the latter part of the afternoon (ie when the temperature has dropped), return to our hotel for dinner and then go out again after dark.

We plan to maintain this routine for both days we are based at Porto Jofre to maximise on our chances of having multiple encounters with the Jaguars that live in this region and, on occasions, have seen as many as five different individuals in day.

Other mammals we could see here include Azara´s Capuchin, Black-and-Gold Howler, Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter and Capybara, but the area is also very rich in birds with the possibilities including Jabiru Stork, Capped Heron, Sungrebe, Spectacled Owl, as well as a variety of parrots.

We could also find Anaconda here and there are excellent chances of Paraguayan Caiman which is the main prey for Jaguars in this region.

Day 14: Morning departure for Araras Lodge.

The final leg of our trip will see us head north along the transpantaneira towards Araras Lodge, where we will aim to arrive in time for lunch. With its cosy accommodation and friendly atmosphere, this should be a great finale to our trip and we will explore the variety of nearby habitats through a combination of walks, day time safaris and night drives.

We will be exploring different habitats and the species likely to be seen include Nine-banded Armadillo, Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Black-tailed Marmoset, Ocelot, Crab-eating Raccoon, Brazilian Tapir, White-lipped and Collared Peccaries, Marsh Deer, Grey and Red-brocket Deer, Azara´s Agouti and Brazilian Rabbit.

The lodge also has two towers overlooking their fields and we plan to make use of these as they give us a great opportunity to spot mammals and birds.

Day 15: Araras Lodge

We have a full day to explore for wildlife around Araras Lodge and the mammal possibilities include Black-tailed Marmoset, Yellow Armadillo, Forest Rabbit, Neotropical River Otter, South American Coati, both Red and Grey Brocket Deer, Crab-eating Fox and Brazilian Tapir. We will also hope to get lucky and spot a Puma as this cat has been seen on a number of previous tours.

The birds here can also be equally varied with Greater Rhea, Whistling Heron, Great Potoo, Spot-tailed Nightjar, Great-rufous Woodcreeper, Campo Flicker and Red-crested Cardinal amongst the species we could see.

Day 16: Morning at Araras Lodge. Leave for Cuiabá airport and connecting flight for UK

After a final morning birding around the lodge, we will reluctantly return to Cuiaba airport from where we will fly back to Sao Paulo with an onwards overnight connection back to the UK.

Day 17: Arrival at London Heathrow

Brazilian Tapir
Brazilian Tapir © Regina Ribeiro

This tour focusses on some of the key mammals of Brazil, in particular, Jaguar, Ocelot, Giant Anteater, Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter and Maned Wolf (Emas NP), and we hope to see upwards of 30 species of mammal.

We also anticipate finding at least 250 species of bird including the spectacular Hyacinth Macaw, however, it must be remembered that this is first and foremost a mammal tour and that we will not be spending a lot of time trying to track down ‘little brown jobs', although we will try to accommodate the wishes of keen birders as far as possible.

The daily routine will vary according to what we are looking for. In the Pantanal, for example, the key times are dawn and dusk and we will also be spending long hours spotlighting after dark. Consequently we will, when we are able to do so, spend the heat of the day when there is little mammal activity enjoying an afternoon siesta.

There is no obligation on any tour participant to take part in every excursion but we would strongly recommend that you do so. It is better to catch up on your sleep in the back of the vehicle where we can wake you if we see something good, than in the hotel room, where you might miss something.

Transpantaneira - The Pantanal is a mixture of open grasslands, gallery forest and wetlands teeming with birds and other wildlife and over 600 species of bird and 260 species of fish have been recorded in the whole of this region. We will be visiting the Transpantaneira, the road traversing the northern part of the Pantanal. Key mammals include Jaguar, Ocelot, South American Coati, Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Raccoon, Giant and Neotropical River Otters, Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Brazilian Tapir, Red and Grey Brocket and Marsh Deer, White-lipped and Collared Peccaries, Capybara, Azara’s Agouti, Black-striped Capuchin, Brazilian Cavy, Black-and-Gold Howler, Black-tailed Marmoset, Brazilian Rabbit and Greater and Lesser Fishing Bats together with an outside chance of Giant, Yellow, Seven- and Nine-banded Armadillo, Paca, Jaguarundi, Puma and Margay. It also offers a chance to see Yellow Anaconda.

Emas National Park – This is a much drier habitat, with open grasslands and scrubby woodland. Key mammals we will seek here include Maned Wolf, Puma, Giant Anteater and armadillos plus a variety of birds.

In the Pantanal and Emas most excursions will be either by road or in boats and there will be very little physical exertion. Whilst concentrating on looking for Jaguar, expect to spend long hours in a passenger boat as we journey, often considerable distances on the rivers.

Regina will sit at the front not only to locate mammals of interest but also to hold the boat by whatever means once a desired species is found, hopefully a Jaguar! This will not affect the viewing and photography opportunities as we will endeavour to put the boat side on to the animal. A guide at the front also aids checking landing sites quickly, just in case there is a large cat hidden in the undergrowth! Elsewhere we will need to spend more time on foot in order to find some of our targets, although none of the walks are particularly tiring and we will try to avoid the heat of the day.

Accommodation and meals

We aim to stay in the best hotels or lodges close to the sites we plan to visit. Some hotels can occasionally be noisy in early evening and light sleepers should bring earplugs as a precaution.

When we are in the field, lunches will generally be picnics, whilst on travel days, these are more likely to be at a convenient restaurants. Breakfasts are invariably buffet-style consisting of fruit juices, coffee, hot chocolate and normally tea, a selection of fresh fruits, fresh yoghurts, bread, cheeses, cold meats, and in some hotels hot sausage and eggs.

Hotel dinners will normally be buffet-style consisting of a variety of meats and vegetables. Beef, chicken and pork are the meats most commonly encountered. Fish is likely to be on the menu along the Transpantaneira.

We will probably order a range of dishes for people to sample as single dishes are normally too large for one person. If you have any particular dietary restrictions or any particular culinary dislikes can you please advise us in advance.

Weather

It is likely to be very hot in the Pantanal in October as it will approaching the end of the dry season. Emas is higher in altitude and if there is rain it might get cold when spotlighting at night, so bring extra clothes just in case (eg a windbreaker and poncho will be welcome at this time).

Insects

Mosquitoes can be a problem in the Pantanal, although it seems to vary a lot from year to year and we have not experienced any major problems on our previous tours, however, please come prepared with repellent and long sleeved clothing. Some outdoor clothing manufacturers sell a range of ‘mosquito-proof’ clothing which you may want to consider purchasing. The ‘Zika’ virus is carried by day-flying mosquitoes and is largely an urban issue. Our general recommendation is ideally to try not to get bitten.

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