See Brazil’s natural wonders over 10 days of wildlife safaris and adventures. First, you'll visit the Pantanal, the largest tropical wetland region in the world, where you'll go horseback riding across vast savannas and embark on safaris to try and spot the elusive jaguar. Then, travel south to Bonito, an ecotourism hub famous for its crystalline rivers, cavernous lagoons, and massive sinkholes home to tropical macaws.
- See monkeys, caimans, exotic birds, and even jaguars in the northern Pantanal
- Watch the sunrise over the Pantanal's savannas, wetlands, and rivers
- Go underground in Bonito and explore the lagoon cave at Lago Azul
- Swim with colorful fish on snorkeling tours down Bonito's clear rivers
|Day 1||Arrive in Cuiabá, Transfer to the Pantanal||North Pantanal|
|Day 2||Sunrise Over the Pantanal, Transfer to Porto Jofre||Porto Jofre|
|Day 3||Pantanal Boat Safari||Porto Jofre|
|Day 4||Porto Jofre to the Far North||North Pantanal|
|Day 5||Wildlife Tours in the Pantanal||North Pantanal|
|Day 6||North Pantanal to Campo Grande||Campo Grande|
|Day 7||Campo Grande to Bonito, Visit Lago Azul||Bonito|
|Day 8||Snorkel at Rio da Prata||Bonito|
|Day 9||Free Day in Bonito||Bonito|
|Day 10||Bonito to Campo Grande, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Cuiabá, Transfer to the PantanalWelcome to Cuiabá, capital of Brazil's Mato Grosso state. This city is the gateway to the Pantanal, the largest wetland ecosystem in the world. And upon arrival, that's exactly where you'll go.
From the airport in Cuiabá, you'll transfer by vehicle three hours up the Transpantaneira Highway to an outpost in the northern Pantanal region near the Claro River. You'll get the full rural experience with a stay in a fazenda (a traditional farm that doubles as a guesthouse). It's a great base from which to embark on wildlife tours and excursions into the Pantanal.
Day 2: Sunrise Over the Pantanal, Transfer to Porto JofreHead out before dawn on a guided boat tour on the river to watch the sunrise over the forested wetlands, gilding both the morning sky and the river waters. This trip also doubles as a wildlife safari, as you're sure to spot exotic waterbirds just starting their day. These include herons, kingfishers, and the exotic jabiru stork, known for the scarlet red ring around its neck.
After the tour, you'll return to your fazenda and have the rest of the morning free. Then, after lunch and check-out, you'll transfer to Porto Jofre, a small settlement on the Cuiabá River adjacent to Pantanal Matogrossense National Park.
Day 3: Pantanal Boat SafariIt's another early start today as you head to the Paraguay River before dawn for a guided wildlife tour by speedboat. These river expeditions are great opportunities to spot the mammals, reptiles, and hundreds of bird species that call the area home. The north Pantanal also happens to have the highest density of jaguars in the Americas. They're particularly fond of the vegetation along riverbanks, so, with any luck, you'll spot a couple.
Along the way, you'll witness the diverse wildlife of the riparian forest. Its centennial trees are home to monkeys and exotic birds like blue hyacinth macaws, while on the shore, mammals like tapirs and capybaras frolic around. In the water are even more exotic specimens like river otters, caimans, and anacondas. Jaguars, however, can be seen anywhere—on land, wading in the water, even sitting in trees.
Day 4: Porto Jofre to the Far NorthAfter a free morning, it will be time to hit the road again as you travel further north up the Transpantaneira—Brazil's famous dusty highway that cuts through the Pantanal. Pass marshes and dry grasslands as you make your way to the region's far north. This will be your base for the next leg of exciting wildlife tours in the Pantanal, including excursions to spot the famous jaguar. You should arrive at your fazenda in time for dinner.
Day 5: Wildlife Tours in the PantanalWake up early to embark on a full day of tours and adventures in the northern Pantanal, putting you up close with the region's natural wonders. Paddle a canoe down the river, horseback ride across the dry grasslands, then hop in an open-topped 4WD vehicle for a photo safari. Animals you're likely to see include howler and capuchin monkeys, capybaras, tapirs, deer, and various tropical birds like egrets, cuckoos, macaws, herons, and storks.
Later in the afternoon, head back to the river and watch the golden sunset over the Pantanal. Then, after dinner, board another 4WD vehicle for a night safari. This is the best time to view the nocturnal species while they're at their most active. Using a spotlight, your guide will point out animals like caiman, anteaters, and foxes. With any luck, you'll see an ocelot—a big cat and one of the most incredible nocturnal creatures in the region.
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Day 6: North Pantanal to Campo GrandeTransfer back to Cuiabá today and catch a one-hour flight south to Campo Grande, the capital of the Mato Grosso do Sul state. This large city (it's home to about a million people) is the gateway to the southern Pantanal region. Upon arrival in Campo Grande, you'll transfer to your accommodation and have the remainder of the day free.
Day 7: Campo Grande to Bonito, Visit Lago AzulThis morning starts with a 3.5-hour transfer southwest from Campo Grande to the town of Bonito, a small village that's become an ecotourism hotspot due to its many incredible natural wonders and adventure sports. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your pousada (guesthouse), located in a scenic area amid tropical vegetation and native wildlife.
Later, you'll visit Lago Azul, a cavern and grotto regarded as one of the most beautiful landmarks in the region. Led by an expert guide, you'll embark on a short hike to the mouth of the cave and descend nearly 300 steps to the shimmering blue lagoon. Along the way, your guide will point out various fossils—there are even some from a saber-toothed tiger. Once at the grotto, marvel at its sapphire-blue waters and hanging stalactites.
Day 8: Snorkel at Rio da PrataIn the morning, you'll transfer from your pousada to the Recanto Ecológico do Rio da Prata, a privately owned fazenda and nature reserve offering various outdoor excursions that include hiking, birding, and horseback riding.
Today, you'll snorkel the pristine waters of the Rio da Prata, a river that runs through the property. You'll view schools of colorful river fish like piraputangas, dourados, curimbatás, and others as you leisurely float down the gently running waters. Stop at the Vulcão Olho d’Água, an outcropping where water flows from underneath the river, kicking up sand and silt, which is why the locals call it a "volcano."
Day 9: Free Day in BonitoToday is yours to visit Bonito's many natural attractions. One option is a trip to the geological wonder Buraco das Araras. With a circumference of 1,640 feet (100 m) and a depth of 328 feet (100 m), this is the largest limestone sinkhole in South America. It's also the favorite nesting spot for over 40 exotic bird species, among them the colorful scarlet macaw.
You can also go abseiling at Abismo Anhumas, a cave located 14 miles (23 km) from the town of Bonito. Here, you can enjoy the thrill of rappelling down 236 feet (72 meters) to an underground lake. Alternatively, you can visit the Ceita Corê Farm to embark on a delightful nature hike to small caverns, waterfalls, and lagoons.