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Brazil - South America's 'Big Five'!

Tour Code: BRA04

A 17-day tour of Brazil focusing on South America's 'Big Five' - Brazilian Tapir, Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf, Giant River Otter and Jaguar - and other wildlife, visiting the stunning Parnaíba Headwaters National Park and the world famous wetlands of the Pantanal.

17 days from £6495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £5995 SRS: £800


This unique tour focuses on South America's five most iconic mammals and our quest to find them takes us to two of Brazil’s most stunning wildernesses: the remote dry tropical forests of Paranaiba Headwaters National Park and the world famous wetlands of the Pantanal. We begin with a drive west through grasslands from Barreiras de Bahia to the 1.7 million-acre Paranaiba Headwaters National Park, where our main quarry will be the Maned Wolf. After five days in this outstanding park, home to Bearded Capuchin Monkeys (famed for their nutcracking abilities!) and Hyacinth Macaws among a wealth of other wildlife, we transfer to the Pantanal where we'll spend seven days exploring this superb wetland by day and night on land and by boat looking for Brazilian Tapirs, Giant River Otters, Giant Anteaters and, of course, Jaguars!
  • A 2-centre holiday in search of South American's most iconic mammals
  • The ‘Big Five’ are: Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Giant River Otter, Maned Wolf & Brazilian Tapir
  • Watch Maned Wolf in Paranaiba Headwaters National Park
  • Photograph the world's largest parrot, the Hyacinth Macaw
  • Witness the unique behaviour of the 'Nutcracker Monkeys'
  • Night drives to look for Brazilian Tapir
  • Giant Anteaters wondering the open grasslands of the Pantanal
  • 4 nights staying on a floating hotel (flotel) in the Heart of the Pantanal's Jaguar Zone
  • Watch Giant River Otters, Capybaras, Caimens & much more in the Pantanal
  • Look for Jaguars by boat from our ideally situated ‘flotel’ base
  • Led by expert wildlife guides

      Food

      All included in the price, except for breakfast and lunch on Day 2.

      Accommodation

      Simple but comfortable lodges; all rooms with private facilities.

Jaguar (Dani Free)

Jaguar (Dani Free)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2 Arrive Sao Paulo; fly Barreiras de Bahia via Salvador; drive to SouthWild Wolf Camps

Day 3/6 SouthWild Wolf Camps ('Cliffs' and 'Valley')

Day 7 Fly Cuiaba via Brasilia

Day 8/10 Wildlife excursions from Pouso Alerge Lodge

Day 11/14 Wildlife excursions from Jaguar Flotel, Pantanal

Day 15 Transfer to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge

Day 16 Drive Cuiaba; fly London via São Paulo

Day 17 Arrive London

Day 18 Fly London

Naturetrek has a great tradition of pioneering ground-breaking wildlife tours featuring some of the most sought-after mammals on the planet. Now, building on the success of our ‘Brazil — Just Jaguars!’ tour, we are delighted to unveil our latest venture, a quest for South America’s ‘Big Five’. This unique new tour is dedicated to the pursuit of the most iconic mammals in tropical South America, namely Brazilian Tapir, Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf, Giant River Otter and, of course, the Jaguar. Our unique itinerary includes two of Brazil’s most stunning wilderness areas: the dry tropical forests of the little-known Parnaíba Headwaters National Park and the world-renowned wetlands of the Pantanal.  

Our tour begins with an international flight to Sao Paulo, from where we take a domestic flight to Barreiras de Bahia (via Salvador). From there a 4-hour drive takes us to the 1.7 million-acre Parnaíba Headwaters National Park. Driving through a landscape of sweeping grasslands, untouched forest and imposing red sandstone cliffs, we arrive at the rustic Wolf Cliffs Camp, on the edge of the national park, our base for the next two nights. The endangered Maned Wolf is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful canids in the world and, standing over 3 feet at the shoulder, it is also the tallest. After years of continued protection by our hosts, several pairs of Maned Wolves have become habituated to humans and now present us with a superb opportunity to view them in their natural habitat as they pass close to the camp in the early mornings and late afternoons in search of wild fruits, birds and rodents. Whilst the Wolves will be the principal target during our time in and around this amazing national park, we will also spend two days at the Wolf Valley Camp, which is regarded as one of the best places in the world to photograph the world’s largest parrot, the Hyacinth Macaw. With time to explore the surrounding valleys, and with a little luck, we also hope to encounter one of the unique troupes of ‘Nutcracker Monkeys’ (Bearded Capuchin Monkeys) and witness their extraordinary habit of using igneous rocks to crack open palm nuts. 

After five days exploring this outstanding park and the surrounding areas, we move on to enjoy the second half of the tour which focuses on the world famous wetlands of the Pantanal. Consolidating the experiences of our previous Pantanal holidays, and years of running our highly successful ‘Brazil — Just Jaguars!’ tours, we will spend seven days exploring this biodiversity hotspot. Our first three nights in the Pantanal will be spent in a rustic lodge in an exceptional area for wildlife where we have our best chance of encountering the continent’s largest land mammal, the Brazilian Tapir. Shy and elusive by day, under the cover of darkness Brazilian Tapirs emerge from the depths of the forest to undertake their nightly routine. With luck, we have an excellent chance of encountering a Tapir on a night drive, possibly wallowing in the mud of a roadside pool or feasting on the fruiting trees around the lodge. With a mosaic of habitats to explore, we can expect to see an enormous array of birds and mammals. However, it is the open grasslands that hold most promise, for this is the realm of the Giant Anteater. Measuring up to 250cm from snout to tail, this most iconic of South American mammals conjures up both feelings of awe and amusement in equal measure.  

Next, we drive south through the Pantanal in our custom-built safari vehicle and, on reaching the end of the Transpantaneira Road, we take to the water and cruise upriver into the heart of the ‘Jaguar Zone’ where we stay for four nights on the Jaguar Flotel, a floating hotel located near the mouth of the Tres Irmãos River. Though simple in its design, there can be no question that the flotel is in the best location in the world for viewing the Pantanal’s top predators, the Giant River Otter and the magnificent Jaguar. With three full days to explore the seemingly endless network of river channels, our targets are clear, and we will optimise our search times, venturing out first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon in small radio-equipped search boats.  

Giant River Otters are fierce predators and highly mobile, frequently hunting in family groups of up to eight individuals. Highly sociable by nature, they are the most vocal of the otter species which makes our task of finding them a little easier. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for South America’s largest cat, the Jaguar. Largely solitary, Jaguars are opportunistic and voracious predators, preying on anything from Caimans to Capybara. Though primarily forest animals, they have a fondness for resting up on river banks, where they seek relief from the heat of the day and scan for potential prey. The Pantanal subspecies is the largest and heaviest of the Jaguars and, with its stunning rosette-marked coat, this supreme predator will be at the top of our wish list.  

After four nights on the flotel and, with luck, sightings to last a lifetime, we retrace our steps along the Transpantaneira back to the intimate South Wild Pantanal Lodge where we will stay for one night, prior to our flight home the following day.

 


 

Jaguar (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otters (Stephen Woodham)Maned Wolf (Stephen Woodham)Maned Wolf (Stephen Woodham)Jaguar (Stephen Woodham)Jaguar (Stephen Woodham)Amazon Kingfisher (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otters (Stephen Woodham)Black Collared Hawk (Stephen Woodham)Maned Wolf (Stephen Woodham)Black Crowned Night Heron (Stephen Woodham)Yacare Caiman (Stephen Woodham)Black Patched Metalmark Butterfly (Stephen Woodham)Black Skimmers (Stephen Woodham)Black Throated Trogon (Stephen Woodham)Burrowing Owl (Stephen Woodham)Campo Troupial (Stephen Woodham)Capped Heron (Stephen Woodham)Capybara (Stephen Woodham)Chestnut Eared Aracari (Stephen Woodham)Chestnut Eared Aracari (Stephen Woodham)Crab-eating Fox (Stephen Woodham)Crimson Crested Woodpecker (Stephen Woodham)Crimson Crested Woodpecker (Stephen Woodham)Curl Crested Jay (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Great Black Hawk (Stephen Woodham)Bearded Capuchin Monkey (Stephen Woodham)Bearded Capuchin Monkey (Stephen Woodham)Bearded Capuchin Monkey (Stephen Woodham)Great Horned Owl (Stephen Woodham)White Woodpecker (Stephen Woodham)Great Potoo (Stephen Woodham)Great Rufous Woodcreeper (Stephen Woodham)Hyacinth Macaw (Stephen Woodham)Jabiru (Stephen Woodham)Jaguar (Stephen Woodham)Laurentia Emperor Butterfly (Stephen Woodham)Linda Emperor Butterfly (Stephen Woodham)Periander Swordtail Butterfly (Stephen Woodham)Piuva tree Blossom (Stephen Woodham)Red Capped Cardinal (Stephen Woodham)Ringed Kingfisher (Stephen Woodham)Rufescent Tiger Heron (Stephen Woodham)Rufous Tailed Jacamar (Stephen Woodham)Silver Beaked Tanager (Stephen Woodham)Silver-studded Ruby-eye (Stephen Woodham)Snail Kite (Stephen Woodham)South American Coati (Stephen Woodham)Southern Crested Caracara (Stephen Woodham)Sunrise over cliffs (Stephen Woodham)Toco Toucan (Stephen Woodham)Tropical Screech Owl (Stephen Woodham)Yacare Caiman (Stephen Woodham)Agathina Emperor (Stephen Woodham)Giant River OtterGiant River OtterManed Wolf (Barbara Evans)Maned Wolf (Barbara Evans)Three Banded Armadillo (Barbara Evans)
R.R.
USA
I was very impressed by how well the trip was organised to allow us to see so many different animal and bird species at each location. And our guide Fiorella was so, so very good in spotting them! She was also very accommodating if we wanted to stop and take more photos. For me, to see such an array of animals, including the Big Five, and also the incredible amount of birdlife every single day we were there was fantastic. I felt like I was on the set of a documentary about Brazil's wildlife from the moment we pulled into the first Wolf Camp until we left for Cuiaba. All the locations were ideal for wildlife viewing. The accommodations were also very good and appropriate for the specific areas.
S.S.
Hampshire
Fiorella was the best leader I have ever had. She was very patient, knowledgeable and a lovely person. We had the most amazing experience observing the Maned Wolf in daylight, approaching him in the open countryside.
B.E.
Hampshire
I believe Naturetrek offer the very best wildlife experiences possible. On this particular trip we were privileged to see Maned Wolf in daylight in the wild which was truly amazing. We also had excellent sightings of a pair of mating Tapir, Ocelot, Giant Anteater and Jaguar chasing a Capybara. This was apart from all the wonderful birds, reptiles and other mammals.
K.G.
Merseyside
Fiorella Caleni was excellent, one of the best tour leaders I have ever travelled with, a star. I think of this trip as almost three trips rolled into one and it worked superbly, the three centres were used to see the different animals of course, but it almost for me anyway meant that you started a new trip each time you moved location. Fiorella worked so hard to ensure that all of the group got the most out of the trip, I know I certainly did. I enjoyed all the accommodation - a variety of styles worked for me. I would rate this trip very highly, I loved Brazil and would certainly consider returning at some time in the future.
P.G.
North Yorkshire
Alyson did a tremendous job. He was good humoured, knowledgeable and coped well with the challenges of the itinerary and a particularly varied group. Alyson's experience was evident when he moved the truck or boat in anticipation of where a tapir or jaguar would emerge or move to. Highlights were a female jaguar with cubs, otters (of course), armadillos, anteaters, ocelot, a distant view of jaguarondi plus the concentration of birds when first entering the Transpantaneira.
A.G.
North Yorkshire
Alyson did a very good job as a guide and leader. His sightings and insight were brilliant and he is a really nice guy with a good sense of humour and attitude. I didn't expect to see so many jaguar, that was great as were the sunrise and sunset tours. We saw so many animals, it was a really good trip.
V.K.
Nottinghamshire
The UK and local guides were both excellent; they ensured that everyone was happy and comfortable and that we had everything we needed and that we were satisfied with all aspects of the trip. They were very knowledgeable and professional whilst being fun and friendly.
J.C
Copenhagen
We had plenty of time in the heart of the Pantanal (based at the Jaguar flotel) and at the Wolf camps plus at Pouso Alegre lodge. The Southwild accommodation was excellent in the sense that there was plenty of wildlife to look at. I enjoyed the time based at the flotel - there was so much wildlife around and the boat trips were fantastic. Rafael is an excellent guide - he is very knowledgeable, he has a great sense of humour and he worked very hard to make everybody happy. I really enjoyed the tour - I had very high expectations and I certainly wasn't disappointed as to the amount of wildlife that we saw. Accommodation and meals were perfect. The Pantanal is one of the most extraordinary places I have visited. I loved this tour and will certainly travel with Naturetrek again.
D.T.
Devon
Alyson Melo was excellent on all scores: Knowledgeable on the wildlife (not just able to name what we saw) and on Brazil in general. Utterly professional, conscientious and worked his socks off for us all. Also a very pleasant person, with whom it was delightful to chat. Could not have been better. The whole trip gave excellent opportunities to see a range of wildlife including but also additional to the 'target species'. For us it was the certainty of seeing far more than the 'target species' which made this trip attractive. In fact, we saw all 'target species' except Giant Anteater which was purely bad luck as other groups saw Giant Anteaters on the same days and in the same areas where we looked.
D.R.
Oxfordshire
Alyson was amazing with a wealth of knowledge, terrific spotting skills and a talent for understanding everyone's expectations. He worked over and above the call of duty going out of his way to make sure we saw all there was to see.
M.P.
Cambridgeshire
I think the success of this tour was down to Jose being such a brilliant leader in every area. He knew so much about all of the wildlife and culture of Brazil. Nothing was too much trouble, he did his best to make sure that we saw as much as possible and the wildlife performed very well.
J.D.
Greater London
The itinerary delivered everything and more! We were even rounded up from our rooms, when a Jaguar was spotted on the the river at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge. We couldn't have asked for a better ending, to what had already been an amazing adventure.
S.E.
London
The trip leader Jose Antonio Padilla Reyes was excellent; enthusiastic, wide knowledge of fauna and flora, especially birds... If he thought a bird he had only caught a glimpse of was still around, he would call it back by playing its own song so we could all have a chance of seeing it, with anything when he did not know the answer, he always took the trouble to find out, nothing was ever too much trouble, sense of humour, pleasant personality, good english, quickly got to know everyone and assessed our knowledge and capabilities. The itinerary, the choice of locations and our target and having Jose with us for the whole trip made it an exceptionally good holiday.
R.H.
South Yorkshire
Firstly, I want to say how brilliant Rafael is. His knowledge of mammals, birds, reptiles and plants is excellent, as is his knowledge of the areas we went to. He seems to have great relationships with the owners, managers and staff at the various places, too, which I'm sure gives his guests an advantage. He was also very diplomatic with the group, and I noticed how he made sure he spent time chatting with everyone. Lourival and his family were amazing. Nothing was too much trouble. The food (especially the puddings!) and accommodation were good, but seeing the wolves, macaws, marmosets and so many birds was fantastic. The two camps were lovely to stay in, and the scenery at the 'Cliff' camp was stunning. I loved it there. I'm so glad I upgraded to a suite - it was HUGE and very comfortable. We saw Jaguars! We saw them lurking in the undergrowth, and we saw them strolling along the river bank, seemingly oblivious to the boats following them, and to the onlooking photographers. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. And the Giant Otters, playing and fishing, were fascinating. And the hundreds of capybara - the babies are so cute! And all the birds. Our boat-driver, Alan, was superb. Very good at manoeuvring to give us all the best views, and an excellent Jaguar-spotter.
M.P.
Cambridgeshire
It was wonderful. I think it was so successful due to Jose Antonio. He is the best leader I have had in the 25 years that I have been doing these wildlife trips. He knew so much about everything. He did not just show the birds and mammals but gave detailed information about their behaviour, habitat etc. Nothing was too much trouble and he has excellent people skills as well. He was always making sure that everything was ok and trying to get us to see as much as possible. The food and accommodation at all of the lodges was excellent. The group were all lovely. We all got on well and helped one another when necessary.
H.T.
Hampshire
We had wonderful sightings of all the 'Big Five' (though Brazilian Tapir were particularly hard to get) and several of the 'Little Five' (Lesser Anteater, Ocelot, Tree Porcupine, Armadillo) and lots of birds too. Our guide, Jose, could not be faulted - he really was terrific and had a great sense of humour, as well as first-class knowledge of the birds and animals we encountered. It really was a great holiday and one to be long remembered. The staff at the Wolf Camps were particularly helpful and Antonia's cooking was great!
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Thu 3rd August 2017 - Sat 19th August 2017

FULL

£6795

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: More info

Land only cost: £6295 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tue 15th August 2017 - Thu 31st August 2017

FULL

£6495

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: More info

Land only cost: £5995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tue 26th June 2018 - Thu 12th July 2018

YES

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: More info

Land only cost: £6500 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Fri 3rd August 2018 - Sun 19th August 2018

FULL

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: More info

Land only cost: £6500 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Wed 15th August 2018 - Fri 31st August 2018

1

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: More info

Land only cost: £6500 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Brazil

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Tour Reviews

I was very impressed by how well the trip was organised to allow us to see so many different animal and bird species at each location. And our guide Fiorella was so, so very good in spotting them! She was also very accommodating if we wanted to stop and take more photos. For me, to see such an array of animals, including the Big Five, and also the incredible amount of birdlife every single day we were there was fantastic. I felt like I was on the set of a documentary about Brazil's wildlife from the moment we pulled into the first Wolf Camp until we left for Cuiaba. All the locations were ideal for wildlife viewing. The accommodations were also very good and appropriate for the specific areas.
R.R., USA