In less than a week, you can experience the best wildlife tours in Brazil's remote Pantanal region. Travel across the largest wetlands on earth by boat, vehicle, and on foot to see exotic animals ranging from friendly capybaras and blue macaws to menacing caimans and stalking jaguars. This packed itinerary includes photo safaris, nature hikes, sunrise tours—even a horseback ride with Pantanal cowboys.


  • Spot nocturnal animals like ocelots on a night tour
  • Go on photo safaris and boat tours to see caimans and jaguars
  • Ride horses alongside real Pantanal cowboys

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive & Explore Cuiabá Cuiabá
Day 2 Cuiabá to North Pantanal, Nocturnal Wildlife Tour North Pantanal
Day 3 Sunrise Over the Pantanal, Boat Tour & Horseback Riding North Pantanal
Day 4 Pantanal Jaguar Safari North Pantanal
Day 5 Hiking the Pantanal, Photo Safari North Pantanal
Day 6 North Pantanal to Cuiabá, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive & Explore Cuiabá

 The temple of Senhor Bom Jesus de Cuiabá
The temple of Senhor Bom Jesus de Cuiabá

Welcome to Cuiabá, the capital of Brazil's Mato Grosso state! Upon arrival at the airport, a personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. You'll then have the day free to enjoy this fascinating city, which is the gateway to the famous Pantanal, the largest wetland ecosystem in the world.

The city of Cuiabá is steeped in colonial history, having been founded by the Portuguese in the early 18th century. Learn all about this legacy on a visit to the Palacio de Instrucao history museum. Another noteworthy sight is the Senhor Bom Jesus de Cuiabá, a massive Art Deco Catholic temple. And if shopping is your thing, there are crafts markets on weekends and plenty of stores to buy traditional cowboy attire like boots and hats to wear during your Pantanal excursion. 

Day 2: Cuiabá to North Pantanal, Nocturnal Wildlife Tour

The Cuiabá River, in the northern Pantanal
The Cuiabá River, in the northern Pantanal

This morning, you'll leave Cuiabá on a trip to the northern Pantanal region. It's about a three-hour ride up the Transpantaneira Highway to the outpost of Porto Jofre, located on the Cuiabá River and adjacent to Pantanal Matogrossense National Park. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your pousada (guesthouse). This will be your base for excursions into the northern Pantanal, an area home to the highest concentration of wildlife in the Americas.

Get your first glimpse of the region's animals after dinner when you embark on a nocturnal wildlife tour. Throughout this 1.5-hour experience, you'll travel to the best wildlife-viewing areas and use a spotlight to search for creatures. Some active wildlife you're likely to see include capybaras, anteaters, foxes, and caimans. Get lucky, and you might even spot an ocelot—a big cat that's one of the most incredible nocturnal animals in the region.

Day 3: Sunrise Over the Pantanal, Boat Tour & Horseback Riding

The Pantanal at dawn
The Pantanal at dawn

Rise early today to meet a local guide aboard a paddleboat or canoe and head out on the water while the sky is still dark. As you paddle along, witness the sun rising over the forested wetlands, gilding the sky and water. Accompanying this spectacle are the songs of the various birds like jabiru storks and the bright blue hyacinth macaw, the largest parrot in the world.

The river theme continues later with a one-hour motorboat tour down the Rio Claro. Along the way, you'll witness the wildlife of the riparian forest. Its centennial trees are home to monkeys and exotic birds, while mammals like tapirs and capybaras frolic on the shore. In the water are even more exotic specimens like river otters and caimans, and even anacondas. 

The Pantanal may be the largest wetland ecosystem in the world, but what many don't know is that cattle ranching is the main industry here. In the afternoon, you get to go horseback riding with a real-life pantaneiro (Pantanal cowboy). Trot off around a scenic area comprised of dry savanna and forested wetlands. The ride doubles as a wildlife tour, as you're sure to spot animals like deer, collard peccaries, and the red-footed tortoise. 

Day 4: Pantanal Jaguar Safari

Jaguar on the hunt
A jaguar on the hunt

It's another early start today as you head out on safari to find one of the star residents of the Pantanal. Leave the pousada before sunrise and travel about 62 miles (100 km) to a small settlement on the Cuiabá River. Here, you'll have breakfast before setting off on a full-day wildlife tour to locate the famous jaguar. The lion may be the king of the jungle in Africa, but make no mistake: the jaguar is the monarch of Central and South America.

The best place to see these animals in the wild is in the northern Pantanal—there's a higher concentration of jaguars here than in any other place on Earth. As their natural habitat is in the vegetation lining the banks, you'll hop in a boat and travel down the river in search of these big cats. If you do spot a jaguar (and most people see at least one during the tour), they'll probably be hunting along the river, relaxing in the sun, or even silently scanning the area from high in a tree.

Day 5: Hiking the Pantanal, Photo Safari

A capybara and friend

This morning, lace up your hiking boots for a three-hour trek through the Pantanal wetlands. Keep an eye out for wild animal tracks along the hike, which could lead to seeing animals like capybaras, tapirs, and deer. In the trees, you're sure to spot monkeys and perhaps even hyacinth blue macaws. The route also passes some scenic areas, such as lakes and wooded savannas.

This afternoon's tour is another great opportunity to enjoy the Pantanal's diverse array of wildlife. You'll meet the open-topped vehicle in front of your pousada and then head off on a two-hour safari that runs about 10 miles (16 km) down the Transpantaneira Highway. Along the way, there will be ample opportunity to glimpse animals on land, in the trees, in the water, and in the air. Animals you may see include howler and capuchin monkeys, capybaras, anteaters, deer, caimans, anacondas, hyacinth macaws, jabiru storks, and many more.

Plan your trip to Brazil
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: North Pantanal to Cuiabá, Depart

Sunset over the Pantanal
Sunset over the Pantanal
You'll transfer from the Pantanal back to Cuiabá's airport, where you'll catch your international flight home. See you soon!

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Map of Cuiabá & North Pantanal Wildlife Tour - 6 Days
Map of Cuiabá & North Pantanal Wildlife Tour - 6 Days