• Jaguar in the Brazilian Pantanal, Paul Joynson-Hicks

Itinerary Summary

10 Days
Small Group Safari
Duration Price When Destination Type
10 Days £5500 JUN Brazil Small Group Safari
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Jaguar Research Expedition in the Amazon

Explore the northern section of the world’s largest wetland in search of the elusive jaguar, staying in floating accommodation and embarking on boat safaris through this unique habitat.

Uakari Lodge sits floating at the heart of the Amazon, within the protected Mamirauá Reserve. During the rainy season, the surrounding forest becomes flooded, leading the apex predator of the Americas – the jaguar – to take to the trees. For three to four months, these jaguars live and hunt among the treetops, an amazing behavioural change that can only be observed in Mamirauá. On this expedition, you’ll join just three other guests in aiding the researchers of the Iauaretê Project, whose aim is to better understand these specially adapted big cats. Following the expedition, you’ll travel south to the northern section of the Pantanal, a region whose waterways and riverbanks offer better chances of spotting jaguars than anywhere else.

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Be one of the few to observe the unique arboreal behaviour of jaguars in Mamirauá, a reserve which has one of the highest densities of the species in the world.
  • Help researchers place camera traps, study jaguar blood samples and track the cats using their GPS collars.
  • Explore the singular beauty of the Amazon’s flooded forests.
  • Spot other remarkable Amazon wildlife like the uakari monkey, lowland tapir, giant river otter, three-toed sloth, scarlet macaw and hoatzin.
  • Look out for passing wildlife as you travel down the Transpantaneira Highway.
  • Ply the waters of the northern Pantanal to see jaguars stalking their prey – including caiman and capybara – along the riverbanks.

Gain a unique insight into the iconic jaguar as you travel to two of the cat's most important strongholds.

Embedded Video Overview

A 10-day jaguar safari beginning with a research expedition in the Amazon, and ending with further jaguar viewing in the northern Pantanal – from $6,435 per person sharing, excluding international flights.

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Day by day

Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Tefé – Uakari Lodge

After arriving into Tefé Airport, you'll be met and transferred the short distance upriver to Uakari Lodge, which can be found floating on the Japurá River. Upon arrival, guests will have a chance to explore the surroundings of Uakari Lodge to adjust to the flooded forest. You'll also be able to help the researchers set camera traps along the trails, which will capture images of the jaguars. These images will later be presented to you at the end of the program. After dinner, there will be a small presentation about Mamirauá Reserve, Uakari Lodge and the Iauaretê Project. At the end, the researchers will talk about their schedule for the next few days.

Overnight: Uakari Floating Lodge (D)

Day 2

Uakari Jaguar Program

After breakfast, your group will go on a field trip to look for jaguars. One researcher will lead the work in a separate canoe equipped with a VHF receiver. Guests will be able to use the receiver to help track the elusive jaguars, but a safe distance must be maintained between the group and any jaguars you happen to find. The goal of the expedition is to contribute to jaguar research, learn about the species and witness the Americas' largest cat in its natural habitat. During the afternoon, guests will be involved in regular research activities like inspecting treetop camera traps. The aim is to capture images of the jaguars or signs of their presence, such as leftover animal carcasses. After dinner, the documentary 'The Trapper' will be screened.

Overnight: Uakari Floating Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 3

Uakari Jaguar Program

Today again begins with a search for the area's jaguars, and corresponding research activities. In the afternoon, guests will travel to Mamirauá Lake ready to observe the incredible sunset. While cruising towards the lake, be on the lookout for the fearsome black caiman, monkeys like the bald-faced uakari (from which your lodge takes its name), and a host of birds including the hoatzin, tui parakeet and horned screamer.

Overnight: Uakari Floating Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 4

Uakari Jaguar Program

After more jaguar excursions, you'll have the chance to visit one of four communities: Boca do Mamirauá, Caburini, Sítio São José or Vila Alencar, all of which regularly receive visitors from Uakari Lodge. While in the community, you will have the opportunity to observe first-hand how the traditional communities of Amazonia conduct their daily activities. During these trips, sightings may be made of the three-toed sloth, one of the main sources of prey for jaguars in the area. By helping the researchers count these sloths, you'll be able to correlate their numbers with those of the jaguars. After dinner, guests will be able to go through camera trap images with the researchers.

Overnight: Uakari Floating Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 5

Uakari – Tefé – Cuiabá

There will be time for one more short outing on the river this morning, before you take your leave of Uakari Lodge and the researchers of the Iauaretê Project. After being transferred back to Tefé, you will then catch a flight south to the city of Cuiabá, the gateway to the northern Pantanal.

Day 6

Cuiabá – Northern Pantanal

After breakfast this morning you will be met by your private driver, who will transfer you south (with a stop at a local restaurant for lunch along the way) to Poconé, the start of the Transpantaneira Highway. This 145km dirt road leads south through the heart of the Pantanal, with its terminus at the town of Porto Jofre on the Cuiabá River. As you begin your journey on the Transpantaneira you’ll start to see families of capybaras, pools of caiman and flocks of birds. While travelling to your lodge – a journey of about three hours – you’ll have the chance to stop and enjoy the many lakes and streams which are packed full of animals here, including tapirs and giant river otters. Once there, settle down for a hearty meal and head out with a guide to the ocelot hide, a short mile away.

Overnight: Southwild Pantanal (D)

Day 7

Northern Pantanal – Jaguar Viewing Area

After breakfast at the SouthWild Pantanal, you’ll re-join the Transpantaneira and continue south to Porto Jofre. As with your first day’s journey, you’ll again have the chance to stop and enjoy the views while looking out for the Pantanal’s wildlife. This journey will take two to three hours depending on how often you stop, and really is a safari in itself. Jaguars are often spotted along the final 35 kilometres of the road before reaching Porto Jofre, so keep a keen eye glued to the road for possible sightings. On arrival, you’ll transfer to a boat and head upstream into the heart of the jaguar viewing area here. After lunch, head out by speedboat in search of these majestic cats as they come down to the water’s edge to drink and hunt. This is the first of your tracking excursions in the northern Pantanal, the best place in the world to see jaguars!

Overnight: Hotel Pantanal Norte (B, L, D)

Days 8-9

Jaguar Viewing Area

The next two days of your safari will be spent exploring this area of the Pantanal and searching for the jaguars and other wildlife that live in and around the Three Brothers, Cuiabá and Piquiri Rivers. You’ll be able to enjoy two private boat outings per day, returning to the lodge for lunch in between. Photographers will be especially pleased with the boats’ pivoting chairs that offer 180° views of the riverbanks. This is the best place in the world to see these elusive cats in the wild, and our clients have reported an average of two jaguar sightings a day here during the dry season! Following each day’s excursions, you’ll head back to your hotel to relax and reflect on your sightings.

Overnight: Hotel Pantanal Norte (B, L, D)

Day 10

Northern Pantanal – Depart Cuiabá

After a trio of action-packed days in the Eastern Cape, fly over to the west coast and the La Clé des Montagnes estate to relax in the lap of luxury, just an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Each one of the four private villas also comes with a private pool, garden and butler to ensure you’re not wanting for anything during your stay. Sample renowned local wines and award-winning cuisine before soaking in the culture of the village of Franschhoek, just a few minutes’ stroll away. During this time you can also choose to partake in a complementary day of adventure, climbing into your own private vehicle alongside a specialist guide who will be there to show you the sights and sounds of the Western Cape. Included with the experience are stand-up paddleboards, hiking packs, safety gear, gourmet snacks and beverages, and a travelling toy box for the little ones. 

Trip Details

The Amazon portion of this trip is a small group expedition focusing on jaguar research in the Mamirauá Reserve. Places are very limited, with just four guests permitted on each expedition.

The Pantanal portion of this trip can also be taken on a tailor-made basis; see here for an example itinerary.

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