2017 Brazil Pantanal Jaguar Wildlife

8 - 19 Sep, 2017
Group Size: to 14 people
Operated by:
Photo leader:
12 days, from 8550 USD

Applications closed

Looking for the photography trip of a lifetime? Join Dan and Tanya and explore deep into the pristine Brazilian Pantanal, home to one of the largest, healthiest jaguar populations on Earth. No other location in the world can offer this many jaguar sightings. Our 2013 tour had 21 sightings of jaguars in five days! We work with the best! Six nights in prime jaguar country!

Hundreds of species of beautiful and rare birds include anything from small hummingbirds to the large jabiru stork, parrots, macaws, and parakeets. Enjoy sights of the world’s largest rodent, the capybara, along with reptiles, fish, and mammals, including giant otters and Brazilian tapir. This trip can be addictive!!

2017 Brazil Pantanal Jaguar Wildlife Photo Expedition Travel Plans

Friday, September 8
Depart U.S./Canada

Saturday, September 9 (D)
Arrive São Paulo (GRU) or Brasilia (BSB) and board your connecting flight to Cuiabá. There will be a representative to greet you at the Cuiabá airport and transfer you to the hotel. A welcome group dinner is planned at a nearby venue. Overnight Slaviero Slim Cuiabá Airport near airport.

Sunday, September 10 – Monday, September 11, 2 nights (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast, we’ll depart from Cuiabá for the elevated Transpantaneira Road, one of the best wildlife-viewing areas in the world. The road is unpaved with over 136 little wooden bridges. There may be encounters with capybara, coatimundis, crab-eating foxes, caiman, or neo-tropical otters. Anaconda, the world’s largest constrictor, can sometimes be seen, along with other elusive mammals including the giant anteater or tapir. This area harbors a world record 82 species of large birds. This time of the year, the Transpantaneira is typically quite dry, so we’ll stop periodically to photograph areas along the way with birds and wildlife.

Please Note: Other tour operators will use an open “military style” vehicle for these transfers which is SO uncomfortable! It’s hard to get up and down the ladders to get on and off the vehicle, and the seats are very hard for such a long ride. The temperatures are hot and the roads very dusty. We prefer to have guests in an air-conditioned bus. It’s easy to get in and out of for photography stops, and you’ll welcome the refreshing air-conditioning.

Explore wildlife all around the ranch-style lodge on trails or from unique wildlife observation towers, one near a nest of habituated jabiru storks. In morning or mid-afternoon, take a boat ride on the Rio Pixaim River, a great source of photo opportunities for caimans, capybara, brown capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, and also birds including toucans, kingfishers, parakeets, and hawks. It’s also one of the best sites for predictable viewing of a wild family of giant otters from a distance of only 3 to 16 feet away. Often they will come close to the boat, craning their necks, and snorting loudly. The group will split up and alternate between boat and truck safaris. There may be opportunities to see jaguar here (Dan got one of his best shots here!), however, jaguar sightings will be more prevalent when we stay at the flotel on the river.

Tuesday, September 12 – Sunday, September 17, 6 nights (B, L, D)
Depart early after breakfast, continue on the Transpantaneira Road en route to our second lodge, the flotel. We’ll travel to the end of this road (about three hours with stops) and then boat on the Cuiabá River to our remote camp in the Meeting of the Waters State Park.

We’ll be staying in the heart of jaguar country.
To improve the jaguar viewing experience, we’ll stay at a superb alternative to the tented camps or land lodges that many other tour operators use. Located 40 minutes closer to the best area for sighting jaguars, the Jaguar Flotel is an air-conditioned floating hotel. This optimal location combined with administration by biologists, highly trained jaguar spotters, and a unique fleet of radio-equipped scout boats have enabled all guests visiting in past years to see jaguars multiple times.

In the early days when tourism in this region was getting started, the flotel was mostly used by sport fisherman. The jaguars became accustomed to hearing their motorboats going up and down the rivers. For the flotel to accommodate tourists, it needed some updates and some TLC. This will be our sixth year staying at the flotel and we’ve seen great improvements by the management team, including “floating suites” which provide larger and more comfortable rooms, a better variety of quality food, and of course, a friendly accommodating staff.

Other tour operators will stay at hotels in Porte Jofre at the end of the Transpantaneira Road. The flotel is located 30-40 minutes up the river from Porte Jofre. If staying at Porto Jofre, you have to travel up the Cuiabá River each day to get to where the majority of jaguars live. Not only would you be traveling more by boat each day if staying at the land lodges, but you wouldn’t have a place to go for a bathroom break or a place to stop for lunch between searching either. Many people don’t realize how important it is to be at the right location to view wildlife in this area. We feel if you’re going to spend the money to do an expedition like this, you should be as close to the jaguars as possible!

At the flotel, we’ll begin our full day searches for jaguars along the riverbanks in the radio-equipped boats. The jaguar flotel offers the highest probability of any Pantanal camp of seeing the Big Three South American rainforest mammals – the jaguar, the giant river otters, and tapir.

A number of the giant otter groups that live nearby are quite habituated, permitting superb photo opportunities of these hyperactive, entertaining “river wolves.” Monkeys and numerous species of birds can also be seen.

We’ll use comfortable motorboats connected by radio to search for jaguars in the narrow and wild rivers. The driest months (July, August, September) in the Pantanal are the prime time for spotting jaguars – many of them are at close range for extended periods of time. Often they can be seen on the riverbanks resting, drinking water, hunting prey, or swimming. All photographers will have their own row of seats in the jaguar search boats for gear and ability to photography from both sides of the boat. Dan and the guide will rotate between the boats. We’ll do our best to track these cats for optimal viewing and photography. Boat sizes will vary and we will rotate guests between them. Patience is always needed – wildlife tracking can be hard, long days. This is not a zoo – on this trip you are venturing out to see jaguars in the wild which can be challenging.

All camps in the Pantanal are NOT EQUAL - 10 reasons this is the BEST jaguar camp
  1. We’ll wake up and go to sleep in the middle of jaguar country (and have lunch there with a snooze after lunch). We’re where the action is, 24/7. Since we’re staying where the cats live, we’ll be out searching one to two hours before and can stay longer in the field than competitors.
  2. Our camp keeps close track of which cats are active, where they are, and what they are doing.
  3. We have the only camp with a systematic radio network linking all boats, and there is a central control tower that coordinates how and where our boats should go to see any cats that one of our boats finds.
  4. Scout boats with radios help us to find more cats.
  5. Meals are eaten where the jaguar are. We’ll never take you from a sitting jaguar unless you vote to leave (we WILL take people away one by one for a bathroom break and then return them to the boat).
  6. No other tour operator has information with maps of where the cats live.
  7. Our tour operators have tested all speeds and distances from the riverbank and know which speeds and distances produce the best results for jaguar sighting. Some of the competitors go much too fast and miss a lot of cats and also erode the riverbanks with their big waves.
  8. Our tour operators carry out scientific research on the cats by building up a profile of their use of time (a so-called “ethogram”).
  9. The jaguar flotel is right in prime jaguar country. The competing lodges have cement block houses 40 minutes away from the central jaguar zone.
  10. We work with the only operation that has a full-time biologist on staff to help coordinate data collection and give lectures.
Monday, September 18 (B)
After a quick, early breakfast, head back on the Transpantaneira Road to Cuiabá. We’ll arrive in Cuiabá by 12:00pm for your flight to São Paulo or Brasilia. Please try to get a flight out of Cuiabá after 1:00pm. Evening flight home from São Paulo or Brasilia.

Tuesday, September 19
Arrive home
Accommodations for 2017 Brazil Pantanal Jaguar Wildlife Photo Expedition

September 9, 1 Night
Slaviero Slim Cuiabá Airport
Slaviero Slim Cuiabá Airport features rooms with air-conditioning, minibar, cable TV, and free WiFi. Restaurant available on site. Close to the airport.

September 10-11, 2 Nights
Transpantaneira Land Lodge
One large fully-screened living/dining room with many overhead fans, outdoor sitting areas, and a library on Brazilian nature. Screened guest rooms have private bathroom with hot showers, overhead fans, and air conditioning. Many bird species right outside your room to photograph at feeders in the morning.

September 12-17, 6 Nights
Jaguar Flotel
The Jaguar Flotel features ten cabins, each of which has two beds, an air conditioner, and a private bathroom with flush toilet and a never-ending, hot water shower. Accommodations are very small and basic but comfortable. The flotel is anchored right in the center of the river sections that have produced the best jaguar sightings in recent seasons. 

 

To be honest, it is not the Ritz by any standard but a place to sleep with air-conditioning (which is so needed), private bathrooms, good food, and cold beverages. There are newer floating suites (built in 2013 and later) which are very roomy, with an area to set up your computer and two double beds. If you want the BEST opportunity to see jaguars, the flotel is by far the place to stay!

Jaguar Flotel – Main Accommodation
8 cabins measure 3m x 3m (9 sq m = 97 sq ft). These cabins have two single beds (doubles).
2 cabins measure 3m x 4m (12 sq m = 129 sq ft). These cabins have one double bed and one single bed (singles).

Jaguar Floating Suites – New in 2013!
Below is an example of a suite; suites may vary. All suites measure 4.5m x 6m (27 sq m = 291 sq ft). Please note that there is an additional cost if you book this option.

8550 per person, based on double occupancy

Single Supplement: 1090

Upgrade to a floating suite! Rooms are large with two double beds, sitting area, and private bathroom. Built in August 2013 – 8 suites available.

Add 735 per person based on double occupancy
Add 1370 for single occupancy

Deposit
$1500 Per Person Due at Time of Booking
Visa, Master Card or Check Accepted

Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are necessary, we require this request in writing. We will do our best to resell your space. Only if we can resell your space, we will refund (minus deposit and discounts given to sell your space). No partial refunds are possible for unused services.

Installments
August 1, 2016: $4000 First Installment
February 1, 2017: Final Payment

Check only for first installment and final payment. Please make check payable to Natural Exposures and mail to:

Natural Exposures
810 N. Wallace, Suite E
Bozeman, MT 59715
Included
  • Private small group travel with Daniel J. Cox
  • Naturalist guide
  • Transfers in Cuiabá and to/from wildlife camps
  • Accommodations in Cuiaba and wildlife camps, 10 nights
  • Meals where indicated (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Unlimited mineral water on jaguar safaris and at the lodges
  • Each photographer has their own two seats (side by side/row across) in the jaguar search boats for optimal space for gear and shooting
  • Entrance fees
Not Included
  • International airfares
  • Domestic airfares – connecting flights from São Paulo (GRU) or Brasilia (BSB) to Cuiabá (CGB) and Cuiabá (CGB) to São Paulo (GRU) or Brasilia (BSB)
  • Laundry, miscellaneous expenses, beverages
  • Vaccinations
  • Tourist visas
  • Gratuities for staff and guide
  • Travel insurance
  • Emergency evacuation insurance (REQUIRED for this trip)
Helpful Information for 2017 Brazil Pantanal Jaguar Wildlife Photo Expedition

Patience is always needed for wildlife photography. This trip is considered low activity. You have to be able to get in and out of a boat and carry your own camera gear. You have to be able to get along with others! We stay at the best hotels and lodging available in the areas we’ll be visiting but all are very basic.

Average temperatures range from 85-90 °F so it can be very hot. If we are moving on the boats, the heat is not so bad with the breeze off the water. July, August, and September are hot months, however, it is quite dry and not as humid and stuffy as it is in the Amazon. Bring a good hat that covers your neck and a lot of sunscreen.

Jaguars can be seen ANY time of day which is unlike most large mammals. These cats can get up to 300 pounds and love to swim. We may see three jaguars or fifteen; each trip is different. Be prepared for long, hot days on the water while searching for jaguars. Sometimes the viewing is limited, but at other times we’ll be able to watch them while they hunt, swim, relax, mate, etc. Every day is different; some days it’s easy to spot a jaguar and then you may go a day without seeing one. Odds of sightings have been predictable over the years, even more then we originally expected.

There are also a lot of birds and other animals to photograph while touring. Often you will stop to photograph a bird or caiman and then out of nowhere a jaguar appears. They can be anywhere, so sometimes just stopping, listening, and observing the area can be rewarding. All of these animals and birds live in jaguar country too, so we encourage you to enjoy all the Pantanal has to offer.

The Transpantaneira can be a BUMPY road; conditions vary year to year. The standard bus size is 32-passenger for 14 guests. Space is limited for luggage, so please pack as light as possible and make sure all your bags have name tags on them. We know many will have big camera bags and understand this, but please do not bring hard case lugggage, only duffel-roller-type bags.

Boats range in size, so be prepared to rotate between larger and smaller boats. We will try to keep couples together on the same boat if this their preference. Our goal is for every guest to have a full row in the boat to themselves and some outings with Dan in your boat. If there are mechanical issues with a boat, we will do our best to fix the situation; we will have to work as a group to try to deal with circumstances that may arise. We’ll be in a remote area and our local tour operator tries very hard to keep equipment working smoothly but things can happen. These boats are running full days every day for five months.

As this area becomes more popular, more tourists will be in the area. Sometimes sightings of the jaguars are private, and at other times there can be multiple boats. It can be busy with boats. This is not always pleasant, however, more boats on the water equals more eyes looking, giving everyone a better opportunity to see more jaguars. Try to be courteous of your fellow travelers and people in the other boats. The jaguars do not fear multiple boats, but it can get frustrating at times trying to photograph. Each trip is different, but be prepared to not be alone most of the time while viewing the cats. Our boat drivers are experienced and great at maneuvering the boats; they understand a photographer’s needs. We might see two cats or twenty; it depends on the cats, how long we’re out searching, and the weather.

Trip rates typically go up yearly due to increased overhead by our tour operator. It’s our goal to give you the best value possible. As when working in any increasingly popular destination, we have little control of overhead costs that may arise.

We have limited this year’s group to 14 guests. If there is a couple requesting to book the last space, we will add one additional guest to the group. We will often do this as a courtesy to regular guests. We appreciate your understanding on this matter.

PASSPORT/VISA
US citizens must carry a valid US passport (valid on the date of entry) and visa when traveling to Brazil for any purpose. One blank passport page is required for the entry stamp.

Please visit the US Department of State • Bureau of Consular Affairs for the most up-to-date entry, ext, and visa requirements.

Visas may be needed for entry into Brazil depending on what country your passport has been issued from. Get them early! When filling out your application, make sure your mailing address on your driver’s license matches your application – no P.O. Boxes! It can take two to three weeks to get a visa if everything is acceptable on the first application. We are not responsible if you have been declined or are too late in obtaining your visa.

Guests with passports issued from certain countries do NOT need a visa to enter Brazil. Please click on the link below to check if you will need a tourist visa to enter Brazil:
Tourist Visa Exemptions

BRAZILIAN CONSULATES IN THE U.S.

VACCINATIONS
No vaccinations are required to enter Brazil.

LANGUAGE
Almost everyone in Brazil speaks Portuguese, however, our guide will speak English. Less than 5% of Brazilians speak English!

CLOTHING
Typical long and short-sleeved field clothes. Waterproof jacket. One sweater or fleece, in case a light cold front appears (it can happen!). No boots needed – only sneakers and sandals. Good sun hat. A list will be sent to everyone closer to trip time with additional details. Please pack light! No hard luggage – duffel bags are preferred. There is limited laundry service at the flotel for a fee (all is hand-washed by the staff and hung to dry outside).

CAMERA GEAR
Dan will phone each guest to discuss camera gear needs and we’ll also send a list of suggested items to bring. Tripod or monopod can be used on the boats. Many handhold most of the time, including Dan.

TYPICAL FOOD
Chicken, beef, catfish, in various manners. Beans (vegetarian) and rice at every lunch and dinner. A lot of fresh fruit, vegetables and salads. Potatoes, pasta. All simple but hearty.

AIR CONDITIONING and WIFI
Both locations along with our hotel in Cuiabá have air-conditionin along with complimentary WiFi. WiFi usually works quite well however it is never guaranteed.

Natural Exposures cannot control nor is responsible for abnormal weather, natural disasters or any other disaster that might affect the trip. Travel insurance should be purchased to cover any missed flights or medical problems that may affect/delay your travel. National Parks have the right to change our itinerary.

By booking a trip with Natural Exposures, you agree to the following CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY POLICY

"What a wonderful place. The Pantanal is spectacular and you guys (including Kike, who is a treasure!) took care of every detail. I hope to travel with you again soon."

Freddy Gamble, New York


" I agree with the above! A wonderful experience, not to be forgotten."

Carol Clark, Washington


"Thank you, Dan, Tanya and Fisher for making this glimpse into the nature in the wetlands of the Pantanal possible!"

Meggi Reader, California


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