Jaguars and More in the Pantanal

Stuart Hardie

17 Oct 2019

NWS Client Stuart discovers an array of wildlife in the pantanal

Jaguar!” The safari vehicle came to an abrupt stop, and as the flashlight beamed across a field full of termite mounds, two eyes glowed back at us through the darkness! It was, by my count, our twenty-third and final jaguar sighting from the fabulous safari in the Pantanal, and while it wasn’t the best view we had of a jaguar, it was definitely the most unexpected!

The tour for our family of four had started around a week earlier at the majestic Iguassu Falls. We spent a guided day on the Brazilian and the Argentinian side of the falls, soaking up the atmosphere amongst the spectacular scenery of the falls and surrounding rainforest. A highlight was a powerboat trip to the foot of the falls, which left us soaked and shivering as a cold front was passing through and the temperature was struggling to reach double figures (Celsius), but still very happy!

We left Iguassu in the early hours of the following morning, and after two flights we met our guide Tito in Cuiaba over a delicious churrasco lunch (grilled meat and fish was definitely a theme of the holiday!). A short drive later and we made it to the start of the famous Transpantaneira. Wow! Wildlife as far as the eye could see; thousands of caimans packed like sardines in the diminishing pools of water, herons and egrets gathered in their hundreds on the bushes and small trees, and the greatest density of birds of prey I’ve seen anywhere. Not surprising that it took several hours to reach our destination, Hotel Pantanal Norte, as we stopped time and again for photos.

The wildlife experiences during the next three and a half days of river safaris from Porto Jofre are difficult to summarise, but I think it is fair to say that the Pantanal deserves the reputation as the Serengeti of South America. We came for the jaguars of course, but there was much to see otherwise; yellow anacondas and green iguanas in the riverbank bushes, howler monkeys in the treetops, gregarious families of giant otters hunting and catching fish, caiman, capybaras and spectacular birdlife around every river bend.

It was hard to beat Porto Jofre, but the next two days at Southwild were a refreshing change. We tried a forest walk, night safaris, piranha fishing and horse riding (a family favourite). The wildlife highlights were many, such as a great horned owl, great potoo, capuchin monkeys, agami heron, tapir and jaguar on the night drives, plus two beautiful ocelots visiting the night hide. Sadly, we didn’t see a giant anteater, but a great reason to return to this wonderful place.

We finished off with four days sightseeing in stunning Rio, Brazil, from our very comfortable hotel on Copacabana Beach. A world-class destination in its own right, and a great way to end the holiday.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience, one that will live long in the memory. All of the travel arrangements worked very well, and we benefited from the expert advice of our destination specialist Tristan. If you are looking for a wildlife holiday, then Rio, Iguassu and the Pantanal with Natural World Safaris is highly recommended!

Talk to one of our specialists for further details on travelling to Brazil.

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