The trip starts in Cuiabá today. We stay in a comfortable hotel close to the airport, and the day is free to relax after the flight.
Today we drive for around 4 hours to Porto Jofre, situated deep in the heart of the Pantanal along the Cuiabá River. The first stretch is on paved roads, then we follow the Transpantaneira Highway, the main dirt road through the Pantanal, to the lodge. Along the way, we cross numerous watercourses, and the opportunities for wildlife sightings are endless. Common sightings include caiman, capybara, deer, rheas and a huge variety of birds including the huge Jabiru stork, macaws, egrets and spoonbills. After lunch and some free time to settle into our comfortable surroundings, we take an afternoon boat safari on the rivers close to the lodge in search of Jaguar. Sightings of these magnificent cats are relatively common in this area (a high percentage of visitors staying longer than three days see at least one during their stay), but there are no guarantees when it comes to wildlife, and even if we don't spot them we will encounter a huge array of animals and birds.
Day 3 - 5
The next three days are spent in boats looking for Jaguar and learning more about the delicate ecosystem of the Pantanal. The vessels' seating plan means that no-one will experience the problem of being stuck in a middle seat when out on the river, so expect uninterrupted views and the best possibilities for wildlife spotting and photography! Although we will have a boat safari each morning and afternoon, the exact length of each boat trip will be determined by the animals we see, and if Jaguar are spotted our timetable may well go out of the window as we track them and observe their behaviour, so be prepared to be flexible and to spend longer than planned on the water.
This morning we have a final boat safari before we drive back along the Transpantaneira to the Araras Eco Lodge. Surrounded by pristine forest, the lodge offers a range of activities designed to showcase the flora and fauna of the Pantanal, including jeep safaris, trail walks, nocturnal safaris, canoeing and horse riding. The lodge's expert bilingual naturalist guides accompany us on all excursions to truly enhance our wildlife viewing.
Today we have a full programme of activities around the lodge. Almost 700 species of bird, 80 mammals and 50 reptiles have been recorded in the immediate surroundings, and if we are lucky, we will catch sight of the striking Hyacinth macaw (Portuguese: Arara jacinta) after which the lodge is named. The largest of the macaws, its dark blue plumage and the bright yellow skin around its eyes and beak make it instantly recognisable.
After an early morning wildlife spotting activity and breakfast, we return to Cuiabá airport, where the trip ends.