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Pantanal, Brazil: Jaguars and Giant Otters

Join us in the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland and home to one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. This program is designed to offer one of the best chances to see jaguars in the wild.

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  • The Pantanal holds the world's highest density of wild jaguars. Unlike in other areas, jaguars here are active during the day, offering excellent chances to see these elusive cats in the wild.
  • Along the way we also expect to see giant river otters, anteaters, tapir, capybaras, hyacinth macaw, and the world’s largest stork, the jabiru, among other wildlife.
  • Our final day is spent at the SouthWild Pantanal Lodge where more than 300 bird species have been recorded.
  • Our expedition is guided by award-winning nature photographer Pete Oxford, who has been guiding expeditions to the Pantanal for years.

Join us as we explore the incredible Pantanal in Brazil, the world's largest tropical wetland, with renowned wildlife photographer and Pantanal expert, Pete Oxford. Our Brazilian adventure starts and ends in Cuiabá, the northern access point to the Pantanal.

From Cuiabá, we make our way into the Pantanal, starting at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge where more than 300 bird species have been recorded including Hyacinth Macaws and Jabiru Storks, as well as giant river otters, giant anteaters, and more. We then continue on our way to Porto Joffre where speedboats will be waiting to transport us to SouthWild Jaguar Flotel & Suites: our live-aboard river hotel that will serve as our ‘home base’ for the next six nights while we search the rivers for jaguars.

The northern Pantanal offers the best opportunities for jaguar sightings in the world, and your trip leaders were among the first people to photograph wild jaguars in the region (the photos adorned National Geographic, including the cover). The most reliable way to find and photograph this enigmatic and elusive cat is to patrol the sand banks of the Cuiabá River and its tributaries by boat. We will devote five full days to look for these majestic animals while staying on the river in the heart of jaguar country. Though jaguars are the expedition’ focus, the region also boasts some 350 species of birds plus much more to appease your naturalist and photographic desires. We will also enjoy seeing a host of other animals – some of them endangered, like the giant river otter.

Prior to the start of our expedition, you can choose to join our (highly recommended) trip extension to visit one of the great wonders of nature: Iguaçu Falls. We will stay just a short walk from the breathtaking falls at the only hotel located within Iguassu National Park, allowing you to visit the falls at dawn and dusk when other visitors have vacated the park.

Offered in partnership with Pete Oxford Expeditions.

Trip Dates & Cost

2019: September 20–29. From $6,895 / person.* Group limit 12.

Don’t miss our optional 3-day pre-trip extension to explore spectacular Iguaçu Falls (from $2,100/person)! Contact us for information.

* Special terms and conditions apply. Trip, without extension, starts and ends in Cuiabá, Brazil. International airfare not included. Limited single supplements available for a fee of $990.


Pete Oxford works in some of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a full-time professional photographer. His images have appeared in major magazines including National Geographic, Time, Outdoor Photographer, and Smithsonian, and have been featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Pete and his wife Reneé also lead expeditions to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse areas of our planet.


Optional three-day pre-trip extension to Iguaçu Falls: Iguaçu means “big water” in the Guarani Indian language, which is a fitting description for this magnificent landscape. Iguaçu is simply spectacular! The falls range from 60-80 meters (200-269 feet) in height and stretch for 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles), making them twice as wide as Niagara Falls. They are located within two UNESCO World Heritage sites, which means the lush microclimate created by the large clouds of spray and the falls themselves are protected. A visit here will undoubtedly leave you in awe. The fauna around the Iguaçu Falls is extremely rich with over 60 species of mammals, 422 birds, over 40 reptiles, 18 amphibians, and 250 butterfly species. This area tends to be our best chance of seeing large numbers of Toco Toucans, the most spectacular of all toucans. Contact us to request a detailed itinerary.

Day 1: Arrive to Cuiabá
The expedition begins at the gateway to Brazil’s Pantanal: the city of Cuiabá. After arrival we will transfer to the Slaviero Varzea Grande Hotel. Dinner will be in a local restaurant followed by a briefing about the trip.

Day 2: Cuiaba - Pantanal (Southwild Pantanal Lodge)
Today begins with breakfast at the hotel. Afterwards we will commence our journey into the Pantanal on the Transpantaneira road, enjoying the benefits of the raised earthen road to view many native Pantanal animals. We will arrive at this birders’ paradise in time for lunch followed by a relaxed boat ride on the river for the afternoon activity. In the evening we will look for another elusive cat, the ocelot. Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge.

Day 3: Pantanal
After breakfast at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge we will continue to Porto Joffre where speedboats will be waiting to transport us to SouthWild Jaguar Flotel & Suites: our live-aboard river hotel that will serve as our ‘home base’ for the next six days while we search the rivers for jaguars. This afternoon we have our first river excursion in search of jaguars. Overnight at SouthWild Jaguar Flotel & Suites.

Days 4–8: Pantanal (SouthWild Jaguar Flotel & Suites)
For a full five days we will invest our time heavily in pursuit of Panthera onca, the jaguar. Expect to find this elusive feline patrolling the banks of the many rivers and to be able to photograph it from our private speedboats. The days will be filled with the exciting expectation of seeing jaguars, followed by the adrenaline of coming face to face with one. Between jaguar sightings you will be able to enjoy watching or photographing many animals which live in or around the river. These could include giant river otters, tapirs, Toco Toucans, caiman, capybara, monkeys a plethora of birds and many more species. Overnight at SouthWild Jaguar Flotel & Suites.

Days 9: Pantanal (Fazenda Pouso Alegre)
Today we retrace our steps part way back up the Transpantaneira for an overnight stay at a naturalist’s paradise Fazenda Pouso Alegre. Apart from a wealth of birds including hyacinth macaws and many other tropical species that we will see during our explorations, on foot this will also be our best chance for giant anteaters. Jacaré caiman and capybaras will also be present around the lodge. Overnight at Fazenda Pouso Alegre.

Day 12: Pantanal - Cuiaba - Fly home
After our final breakfast together we will say our goodbyes and head for the Cuiabá airport for flights back home.


During our expedition we will stay at comfortable hotels that have been selected due to their convenience, access to wildlife, and immersion within the natural areas we aim to explore. Hotels include:

Slaviero Varzea Grande Hotel (1 night): This modern high-rise hotel is located just 100 meters from the Cuiabá airport, and offers a comfortable landing place from which we will embark on our expedition.

SouthWild Jaguar FlotelSouthWild Pantanal Lodge (1 night): This intimate, land-based lodge allows provides access to a variety of wildlife for which the Pantanal is famous, including jabiru storks, toucans, tapirs, and giant river otters.

SouthWild Jaguar Flotel & Suites (6 nights): This comfortable floating hotel and suites is located in the area of highest jaguar density and offers unmatched access to prime jaguar viewing areas of the Pantanal. Rooms are air conditioned and WiFi is available. A full-time jaguar researcher is on-site and science lectures are provided during our stay.

Fazenda Pouso Alegre (1 night): A simple, comfortable, and highly-rated lodge that is situated to offer some of the terrestrial wildlife viewing in the Pantanal.

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