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Brazil Wildlife: Iguazu, Pantanal and Amazon

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Brazil hosts blankets of tropical forest and steaming wetlands brimming with wildlife just waiting to be revealed to you. For this nature-focused holiday we have selected three places where you have the best chance of appreciating the variety.

Start off at Iguazú Falls, where you will step out of your hotel room to a symphony of birdsong and the thunderous roar of water crashing over lofty granite cliffs fringed by tropical rainforest. Toucans and parakeets dodge the spray, while inquisitive coatis will try to investigate the contents of your bag. Move on to the country’s heartland and the Pantanal wetlands for a few days based at a nature-lovers’ lodge. The Pantanal is an open area of swampy grasslands, leaving fauna exposed to view. The wildlife co-exists harmoniously with the cattle which breed on the ranches in the area. According to season, you might observe regiments of alligators, and flocks of thousands of roseate spoonbills, ibis, macaws and giant storks.

Move on for a week’s expeditionary cruise on a traditional-style wooden craft in Amazonia, including several days sailing along the black waters of Rio Negro away from the tourist routes. There, you pass few settlements so there is little river traffic: beyond the beautiful Anavilhanas archipelago you are on your own, with a real feeling of remoteness. There’s a catalogue of bird, mammal and reptile life to be seen from macaws and sloths to anacondas: much of it is shy but your experienced guides are experts at spotting it.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Foz do Iguaçu. Transfer to your accommodation on the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls.

Day 2

Guided excursion to the Brazilian side of the falls.

Day 3

Guided excursion to the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.

Day 4

Fly to Cuiabá in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s remote interior.

Day 5

Transfer to your lodge in the Pantanal wetlands.

Days 6-7

Wildlife-spotting expeditions from the lodge.

Day 8

Fly to Manaus, Amazonia; transfer to riverside hotel.

Days 9-14

Cruise on the Amazon river and Rio Negro.

Day 15

Optional city tour. Transfer to Manaus airport for international flight home.

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What our experts say

A real wildlife enthusiast’s heaven, this trip dives into the depths of Brazil and its plethora of wildlife. From the sprawling wetlands of the Pantanal to cruising down the Amazon, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat this holiday for wildlife-spotting opportunities. And with the journey down the black waters of the Rio Negro, a feeling of true remoteness and closeness to wild Brazil will ensue.

Lina

Lina Fuller

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Brazil Wildlife: Iguazu, Pantanal and Amazon

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Iguazu Falls
Iguazu falls

Straddling the border between southern Brazil and northeast Argentina, The Iguazú Falls (spelt  Iguaçú in Brazil) are usually rated number one of the big three waterfalls, the others being Niagara and Victoria. They are often considered to be Latin America’s most awe-inspiring natural sight and a must-see for anyone visiting the highlights of the continent.

The 275 separate cascades form a curtain of foaming water which crashes through tangled sub-tropical jungle over a vast granite amphitheatre, protected by national park status. Both countries offer scenic walkways with breath-taking scenery around every corner and easily observed wildlife. From the Brazilian side you’ll get a panoramic view of the 3km cliff edge, on the Argentine side there is a series of walkways leading you above, below and even behind the water.

When's the best time to go to Iguazu Falls?

Iguazú Falls is a year-round destination, but water levels and weather conditions vary with the rainy (Dec-Feb) and dry (Jun-Jul) seasons. The water supply to the falls also varies according to the local control of the dams upstream. It can be busy with tourists in local holiday seasons, for example in Feb and at Easter.

What's the official language in Iguazu Falls?

Brazilian Portuguese; Argentinean Spanish.

How do i get to Iguazu Falls?

There are direct flights connecting Iguazú Falls to Buenos Aires (2 hours), Rio de Janeiro (2 hours), Lima, São Paulo, and Salta in northern Argentina.

What's the official currency at Iguazu Falls?

Brazilian Real.

Brazil: notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in Foz do Iguazú Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC accept UK credit or debit cards. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.

Argentina: there are a couple of ATMs in Puerto Iguazú where the banks are only open in the mornings.

What's the time difference between GMT and Iguazu falls?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving from October to the end of February (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What countries combine well with Iguazu Falls?

Argentina: Buenos Aires - there are direct daily 2 hour flights from Puerto Iguazú; Salta in the northwest Andes: daily flights take 1 hour 50mins.
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro - There are daily flights from Foz do Iguaçú; Southern Brazil: there are flights from Foz do Iguaçu to Curitiba with connections; The Pantanal or the Amazon: there are daily flights to Campo Grande or Manaus with connections in São Paulo.
Peru: there are daily flights from Foz do Iguaçú to Lima, 4.5 hours.

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The Pantanal
Pantanal storks
Slap in the centre of Brazil is the world’s largest wetland, a mix of wilderness and cattle ranches with savannah, swamps and sluggish rivers. Just one road (the Transpantaneira) leads into the heart of the region, giving access to farms and eco-lodges.

You could spend a week or more in the Pantanal but 3-4 days can provide a memorable experience of its remarkable wildlife and inexplicable beauty. Stands of trees are scattered, so that the huge array of wildlife: birds from giant storks to macaws, mammals from capybara to anteaters and reptiles from caimans to anacondas are easily viewed by nature enthusiasts exploring by boat, on foot and on horseback. Flooding after the rains brings vast lagoons reflecting apricot sunsets; the dry season reveals walkable trails.

The Mato Grosso region has much more to offer besides: the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park near Cuiabá is endowed with waterfalls, ridges and tablelands, a magnet for birders. Closer to Campo Grande, a nucleus of labyrinthine rivers and caves has turned Bonito into a soft adventure destination.
When's the best time to visit the Pantanal?

From Jan-Mar, heavy rainfall results in widespread flooding, with wildlife packed onto islands above the water level. Apr-Jun the waters recede and water-birds return to the isolated lakes, while Jul-Sep (winter) wildlife is at its most abundant - though it can take cover during cold snaps. The highest temperatures (up to 40°C) are reached in Nov-Dec. Insect life (including mosquitoes) is less abundant in winter.

What's the official language of the Pantanal?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.

How do I get local currency in the Pantanal?

Brazilian Real.

Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in larger cities including Cuiabá and Camp Grande; withdraw what you need before entering the Pantanal (many lodges accept credit cards).

What's the time difference between the Pantanal and UK?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving from Oct to the end of Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What places combine well with the Pantanal?

The Amazon basin, Brazil’s other wildlife-spotting and nature wilderness; region the waterfalls at Iguazú (most flights via São Paulo).

How do I get to the Pantanal?

Regular flights from Rio (2 hours 50mins) and São Paulo (2 hours 15mins) to Cuiabá in the north of the region and Campo Grande in the south (2 hours 20mins and 1 hour 30mins). It’s a long way from anywhere by road!

What are the festivals and cultural events in the Pantanal?

Lasso Festival: One of the most important events in Pantanal culture, the festival takes place at different times on various ranches. Attractions include cowboys in traditional costume taking part in lasso competitions and guitar- playing groups.

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The Brazilian Amazon
Brazilian Amazon
The Amazon basin: romantic, exotic, huge, and vital to Man’s survival. The Brazilian state of Amazonas is where the river really comes into its own. The black acidic waters of the Rio Negro merge with the sludgy brown waters of the Solimões at the giant city of Manaus, 1,000km from the sea, and form a waterway 10km wide. This vast wilderness with its secretive wildlife and undiscovered indigenous tribes also supports many human communities on its fertile banks, farmers, fishermen, tradesmen; old wooden riverboats still provide the only transport, although things are changing fast, with new bridges and roads opening up previously isolated areas.
When's the best time to visit Brazilian Amazon?

Amazonas is a year round destination with temperatures ranging from 25-40°C. Most rain falls Mar-May but it rains all the year round. When you go has more to do with the height of the water level in the river than the weather. At the maximum height (Jun), the river waters are 14-17m higher than at the lowest. The river floods the surrounding forest and you can navigate all these new creeks and lakes by canoe. When the river is high you can reach your lodge by boat more quickly. In the low water season the many trails through the forest are walk-able.

What;s the official language of Brazilian Amazon?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue; indigenous tribes’ languages.

How do I get local currency in Brazilian Amazon?

Brazilian Real. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in Manaus but the amount you can withdraw may be lower than at home. There are also money exchanges where you can exchange cash.

What's the time difference between Brazilian Amazon and UK?

GMT -4 hours. There is daylight saving in Brazil Oct- end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour but frequently Amazonas sets its own agenda.

What places combine well with Brazilian Amazon?

The Pantanal, Brazil’s other wildlife-spotting and nature wilderness (flights via São Paulo); region the waterfalls at Iguazú (most flights via São Paulo).

How do I get to Brazilian Amazon?

Regular flights from Rio and São Paulo (each about 4 hours) to Manaus.

What are the festivals, cultural and sport events in Brazilian Amazon?
Carnival: Manaus; 5 days in Feb/Mar, variable. Parades in the purpose-built sambadrome, modelled on Rio’s.
Festival do Amazonas: Manaus, Jun, with events and exhibitions of aspects of the region’s cultural life.
Festival de Opera, Manaus Opera House, annually Apr-May. The theatre also has other musical and theatrical events throughout the year.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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