Current as of: April 25, 2024 - 03:35

Jaguar on the water's edge, Brazil

Land of the Jaguar Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Brazil
  • Programmes: Wildlife
  • Activity Level:

    1 out of 7 - Leisurely

  • 11 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 9 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: WAI
  • Carbon Footprint: 17kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Search the Pantanal wetlands for the largest big cat in the Americas

The Pantanal straddles the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia and is the largest wetland region in the world. Its plains and low scrubby forests are home to more than 1,000 bird species and 300 different mammals, including tapirs, anteaters, jabiru storks and the striking hyacinth macaw. Concentrating on the incredibly rich northern Pantanal in the southwest of Brazil, we divide our time between two lodges, journeying deep into the wetlands in search of jaguars, the largest feline in the Americas. These solitary, elusive predators, as well as being formidable opponents on land, are strong swimmers and are known to frequent the waterways we explore.

At a Glance

  • Four nights at Hotel Baiazinha lodge, three nights at Araras Lodge and one night at a hotel in Cuiabá
  • Travel by minibus, 4×4 safari vehicle and motorised canoe

Highlights

  • Seven boat trips to maximise chances of jaguar sightings
  • 90 percent success in jaguar sightings to date
  • Explore a more off-the-beaten-path part of the Pantanal
  • Wetland birdwatching
  • Good chances of seeing capybaras, giant anteaters, jabiru storks and other wildlife

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 1 (Leisurely) with a Wildlife Rating of Five. Visit our Activity Level Guidelines page for more on our trip gradings or our Wildlife Holidays page for more on our Wildlife Ratings.

Although the accommodation is of a good standard, you should note that we are in a remote area with limited access to luxuries.

The trip involves several long drives on dirt roads. These roads are generally in good condition (although sometimes bumpy) during the dry season when this trip operates; however, journeys may be significantly delayed in heavy rain.

We spend much of the trip in boats; if you suffer from seasickness, please note that these small vessels have a relatively shallow draft, which means any movement is more noticeable than in larger vessels, though the likelihood of feeling nausea is much lower on rivers than open water.

The rich wildlife here also includes lots of insects, including mosquitoes, so good repellent is a must as are tops with long sleeves.

When on excursions, there are specific spots where we can get off the boats but only accompanied by the guides.

Deposit terms

At the time of booking, we will ask you for the standard Exodus deposit plus an extra 10% of the trip cost to secure your space on the departure. If for any reason we are unable to secure the space and we have to cancel the trip, you receive a full refund.

Cancellation terms

Due to the nature of this trip, it has slightly different cancellation charges to those listed in the standard Exodus Booking Conditions. After booking, if cancelling your travel arrangements, you have to pay cancellation charges as follows:

  • Up to 61 days before departure: loss of deposit
  • 60 days or less (or failure to join the trip): loss of 100% of the trip cost

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 14

Itinerary

Land of the Jaguar

Land Only

  • Start City: Cuiabá
  • End City: Cuiabá

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Cuiabá

Welcome to Cuiabá, the capital of the Mato Grosso state and the gateway to the Pantanal wetlands. After arriving at the hotel, you have the rest of the day free to relax.

Accommodation: Deville Prime Cuiabá (or similar)

Day 2
To Hotel Baiazinha on the Paraguay River

This morning, we head towards the remote Paraguay River in the Pantanal. We start by driving 127mi (205km) towards the town of Cáceres before continuing a further 62mi (100km) on dirt roads to our lodge on the banks of the Paraguay River, where we spend the next four days exploring the region for jaguars and other wildlife.

This off-the-beaten-path area is the ideal place for jaguar spotting and, with fewer visitors than other areas of the Pantanal, is also much quieter.

This afternoon, we board our small motorboats to go on our first jaguar safari, exploring the river and its tributaries for the elusive big cat plus tapirs, monkeys, macaws, anacondas, capybaras, giant otters and any other wildlife we can find. While no guarantees can be made when it comes to wildlife, there is a 90 percent chance of seeing jaguars.

Accommodation: Hotel Baiazinha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 3 - 5
Morning and afternoon boat safaris on the Paraguay River searching for jaguar and other wildlife

We spend the next three days on morning and afternoon boat safaris looking for jaguars and other local wildlife and learning about the delicate ecosystem of the area. The exact lengths of the outings will vary depending on the sightings and you should be prepared to be flexible with the timetable. Make sure to bring all you’ll need including sun protection, insect protection, rain protection, water and your cameras and/or binoculars.

Accommodation: Hotel Baiazinha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Transfer to Araras Lodge

This morning, we retrace our steps towards Cáceres and onto Poconé and finally Araras 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. Expert bilingual naturalist guides from the lodge accompany us on all excursions to truly enhance our wildlife viewing.

Accommodation: Araras Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 7 - 8
Search for giant anteaters and capybaras

The next two days we have a full programme of activities around the lodge. Hundreds of bird species and dozens of mammals and reptiles have been recorded in the immediate surroundings; 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.

Accommodation: Araras Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
To Cuiabá; end

After breakfast, we head back to Cuiabá where the trip ends. We bid farewell and begin our return journey home. If you’d like a little more time to explore, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotel and Lodges

Land of the Jaguar

We spend the first night at a hotel in the centre of Cuiabá. We then spend four nights at Hotel Baiazinha on the banks of the Paraguay River. It has air-conditioned rooms and a swimming pool.

We also spend three nights at Araras Lodge, which is designed in a rustic regional style and has 19 comfortable rooms, all with air-conditioning, ceiling fans and private bathrooms. The lodge has a bar, swimming pool and gift shop, plus a spacious restaurant whose excellent dishes feature lots of local fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

Single supplement from £ 530

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, seven lunches and seven dinners are included.

All meals are included in Hotel Baiazinha and Araras Lodge. Food is likely to be a mix of dishes using a lot of local produce. The local fruit is normally very good. Meat is a staple part of the Brazilian diet, but vegetarians can be catered for throughout the trip. Please advise us at the time of booking if you have any special dietary requirements, especially since the remote nature of the places we stay means special supplies can be difficult to obtain without prior arrangement.

Camomile tea and fruit infusions are available at the lodges, however traditional tea is not available, so you may wish to take teabags with you.

Transport

We use a mixture of private minibus, purpose-built safari vehicle and motorboat.

Weather & Seasonality

The Pantanal has two clearly defined seasons. The dry season lasts from May to October, and the region experiences little rainfall at this time of year. This is generally considered to be the best time for viewing animals and birds. The wet season runs from November to May, and much of the annual rainfall occurs during these months. Temperatures are generally around 25C (77F), but there can be large seasonal variations. Humidity levels during the wet season tend to be much higher than during the dry.

Joining Instructions

­­­Key information

Start hotel: Hotel Slim Cuiabá Aeroporto, Av. João Ponce de Arruda, 860 – Centro Norte, Várzea Grande – MT, 78110-375
Phone: +55 65 3026-9600
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Cuiabá International Airport (CGB)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately a five-minute walk from the airport. Your options for this journey are:

Join the Exodus leader to walk to the hotel

The tour leader will meet people on the group flight at the airport and walk them over to the start hotel. Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times or to arrange a private transfer.

Make your own way

It’s possible to reach the start hotel independently on foot. On arrival at the hotel, please make the reception staff aware that you are part of an Exodus group and they will have more details on meeting with your leader and group.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to the airport for customers who Exodus booked onto a chosen flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Cuiabá
Location end: Cuiabá

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Sunglasses
  • High-factor sunscreen
  • Sunhat
  • Strong-soled shoes or boots for walking
  • Long-sleeve shirts and trousers (pants)
  • Waterproofs
  • Water bottle
  • Strong insect repellent
  • Torch (flashlight)
  • Warm jumper

Internal flights in the destination country are subject to a weight limit of 50lb (23kg).

Optional Equipment

  • Spare camera batteries
  • Extra memory cards or film
  • Binoculars for bird watching
  • Swimwear
  • Monopod for your camera (more useful than a tripod here)

Practical Information

Visa

Brazil

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Brazil. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

Vaccinations and Health

Brazil

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, rabies, tuberculosis and yellow fever. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic about the need for antimalarials.

Additionally, zika and dengue fevers, which are both spread by mosquitoes, are known risks in places visited. There are currently no vaccines or prophylaxes available; therefore, we strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Local Time

Brazil's time zone: America/Sao_Paulo (UTC -03:00)

Electricity

There are power sockets in the rooms at both lodges, which generally accept Type N plugs. A universal power adaptor should include this plug type. At Hotel Baiazinha, sockets take 110V. At Araras Lodge, there are both 110V and 220V sockets.
Land of the Jaguar

Money

Brazil's currency: Brazilian real (BRL)

ATM Availability

Credit cards are accepted at most medium-to-large restaurants and shops, but most smaller establishments will only accept cash. Araras Lodge prefers card payments over cash as they do not always have change on site.

There are several ATMs in Cuiabá, including at the airport. Please check with your bank before departure to ensure your cards are accepted by Brazilian banks.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We recommend taking your spending money for this trip in US dollars, since exchange rates tend to be better and they are easier to change into Brazilian reais. British pounds and euros can be exchanged in Cuiabá, but not all exchange desks accept them.

It is also possible to obtain reais before starting your trip. Most restaurants and shops will only accept local currency, although the lodges accept US dollars.

As most meals are provided, extra expenses on this trip should not be high. You should budget 48-72 reais (US$10-US$15) for each lunch not included in the itinerary and 57-96 reais (US$12‐US$20) for each dinner, excluding drinks, although it is easy to spend less than this depending on the standard of restaurant.

Beer and local spirits are generally slightly cheaper than in Western Europe and North America, and soft drinks about the same. A soft drink (can) starts at 10 reais (US$2), while a beer starts at 15 reais (US$3).

The lodges accept payment for bar bills or souvenir purchases in reais or US dollars.

Tipping

Although tips are not compulsory, they are part of life throughout Latin America, and Brazil is no exception. We recommend you budget for tips of 24-48 reais (US$5-US$10) per person per day for the local guides in the Pantanal, plus around 9.50 reais (US$2) for each driver, hotel porter etc per day.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.