In the dry season, scores of caiman laze on the river beaches, capybara (a type of giant guinea pig) stroll across the roads, and you may come across armadillos, anteaters and howler monkeys. There are few mosquitoes and you will spot fauna throughout.
Whilst there are no guarantees, in recent years Refugio Caiman has become one of the best places in the Brazilian Pantanal to spot jaguar. Chances of seeing jaguar at Refugio Caiman are higher during the dry season, which runs from April to October, when water levels are dropping. The peak of the dry season (late July, August, September and early October) is the optimum period, but sightings do occur in the shoulder months (Apr-Jun and Nov). You are much less likely to see a jaguar during the wet season, which usually begins in Nov/Dec and lasts until March.
2 domestic flights, plus one other connecting from your international transatlantic flight; 2 road journeys within the Pantanal region.
We have selected comfortable modern hotels in Iguazú, Rio de Janeiro and Campo Grande, offering good quality en suite accommodation. Refugio Ecológico Caiman is the most upmarket lodge in the Pantanal and one of the most long-standing. There are excellent opportunities to spot a wide range of wildlife in significant numbers, with naturalist guides and varied excursions.
Breakfast daily; dinner day 5; full board days 6-8.
We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 30 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return. Guides at the Pantanal Lodge are qualified wildlife-spotters.
• Half-day guided excursion to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls.
• Full day guided exploration of the Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls.
• Guided safari expeditions from Pantanal lodge.
• Full day guided jaguar experience in the Pantanal.
• Guided excursion to Corcovado and the statute of Christ the Redeemer.
Summary of nights
11 days, 10 nights: Iguazú Falls 3; Campo Grande 1; Pantanal lodge 4; Rio de Janeiro 2.
Included in the journey price
• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.
Not included in the journey price
• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.
The unit of currency in Brazil is the real (plural reais).
Some of your meals are included in the holiday itinerary, but you will need cash or card to pay for other meals. Take cash for tips, drinks and the odd souvenir. Drinks other than local juices, water, coffee and tea are charged in the wildlife lodge.
How to take it
Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip. You can withdraw Brazilian reais at the airport on arrival at the airport in Iguazù and in Campo Grande and Rio de Janeiro, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.
We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused.
Credit cards are accepted in the lodges but you should not depend on their use as there may be problems with connectivity upon attempting the transaction.
Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. Qualified naturalist guides and drivers in the Pantanal hope to be rewarded.
Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.
You can tip the guides at the lodges in dollar bills or reais.
Travel insurance is essential.
Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance
If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.
There are a few hours of travel on unmade roads travelling to and from the Pantanal Lodge but there are many opportunities to spot wildlife and enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace so they are really part of the adventure. Your accommodation is very comfortable.
At the lodge guides are well-informed and explorations are suitable for most ages and abilities. The Pantanal excursions will include drives down occasionally bumpy unpaved roads, and there are walks and canoe rides in the wetlands, although none of these is compulsory.
Pantanal wildlife spotting safaris require stamina and patience as, in the heat of the day, temperatures can reach 35-40°C.
Families are welcome at the lodge, and this trip is most suitable for older (teenage) children.
At Iguazú and in the Pantanal December to March are the hottest, wettest and most humid months (up to 40°C), but the highest temperatures in the Amazon are reached (also up to 40°C) in August when there is little cloud cover. Otherwise a temperature of around 30-32°C with partial cloud cover and varying amounts of rainfall is the norm there.
The dry season (April-November) is the most comfortable for visits to the Pantanal and Iguazú although the sun can be strong. It can be cool at Iguazú and in the Pantanal in June and July with temperatures just before dawn dipping on occasion to just above zero, though it will be warm during the day. You may wish to bear in mind the wildlife viewing opportunities before making your decision about when to go.
July-October are the best months for jaguar spotting – this is the very driest time, when jaguars are seeking the last sources of water. September and October are among the hottest months of the year.
Clothing and special equipment
For day-to-day outdoor wear you should take loose-fitting, breathable clothes including long-sleeved shirts and light, quick-drying trousers for protection on jungle walks. Comfortable shoes or walking boots, a sun hat and sunglasses are essential. You should take a light fleece for cool nights and consider a Gore-Tex layer or rain cape and rain hat, as well as swimwear, insect repellent, sun-block and a torch. Be sure to take your own binoculars for observing wildlife; the better the quality, the more rewarding the wildlife observation experience. Similarly you won’t regret taking a camera with a long lens, and plenty of memory.
Clothing at the lodges is informal but you might take one smart change of clothes to wear in the hotels.
Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.
As of 2018, visitors to Brazil travelling on our holidays should be protected with a vaccination against yellow fever, and carry the corresponding certificate. In April 2013, the World Health Organisation Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation concluded that a single primary dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and lifelong protection against yellow fever disease, and that a booster dose is not needed.
You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.
Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the Brazilian consulate.
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:
ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.html
This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.
APIS - many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.