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South America's Big Cats

Tour Code: BRA06

A 16-day holiday in search of South America's iconic big cats, the Jaguar and the Puma, as well as other wildlife, amongst the stunning scenery of the Pantanal in Brazil and the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

16 days from £7495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £6995 SRS: £1395

This tour has been designed specially to optimise the chances of seeing South America’s two top predators - the Puma and the Jaguar. First we will be based for four days in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, where we will search for Pumas in the company of local guides. Our goal is to find this beautiful cat, and photograph it, against the stunning mountainous backdrop of Torres del Paine. We will also enjoy the area’s other wildlife as we search for Pumas, which includes Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk and Guanaco. Next we swap the dramatic temperate landscapes of Chile for the tropical heat of Brazil’s famous wetland, the Pantanal, which offers the most spectacular wildlife-watching in South America. We will stay for four nights at the Jaguar ‘Flotel’ in the heart of the Jaguar Zone, making morning and afternoon boat safaris in search of the continent’s apex land predator. This tour is timed to coincide with the best viewing seasons, and offers the best chance anywhere of seeing the continent’s two iconic big cats.

  • Tour to Chile & Brazil in search of South America’s two top cat predators
  • Look for Pumas in Torres del Paine National Park with expert local guides
  • Andean Condors, Darwin’s Rheas & Magellanic Woodpecker, Torres del Paine
  • Large herds of Guanacos, South Andean Deer & two species of fox, Chile
  • 4-night stay at the Jaguar Flotel in the heart of the Pantanal’s ‘Jaguar Zone’
  • Morning & afternoon boat safaris along the Cuiaba River, Pantanal, to look for Jaguars
  • Greater Rhea, Toco Toucan, Jabiru Stork & Plumbeous Ibis, Pantanal
  • Capybara, Black Howler Monkey, marmosets & capuchins in Pantanal
  • Led by expert local guides throughout


All included in the price, except for meals taken in transit and dinner on Day 8.


Basic but comfortable lodges with private facilities. New 'suite' accommodation on the Flotel.

Jaguar (John Erskine)

Jaguar (John Erskine)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Punta Arenas

Day 2 Punta Arenas

Day 3/6 Torres del Paine National Park

Day 7 Punta Arenas

Day 8 Fly São Paulo

Day 9 Fly Cuiabá and transfer to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge.

Day 10/13 Boat safaris from Jaguar Flotel, the Pantanal.

Day 14 SouthWild Pantanal Lodge

Day 15 Fly London, via São Paulo

Day 16 Arrive London

While it has long been possible to see big cats in Africa and India, it is only very recently that their South American relatives, the Jaguar and Puma, have been on any naturalist’s horizon. The Jaguar is the strongman of South America’s cats: powerful, muscular, and almost equivalent in stature to the Lion. The Puma, by contrast, is more Leopard-like: sleek, agile and elegant. The two species occur side by side in many habitats across a huge area of South and Central America but both are famously elusive. In recent years, however, Jaguars have become relatively easy to see in Brazil’s phenomenal Pantanal region (by far the best place on Earth to look for them), while Pumas have regularly been seen in the fabulously beautiful Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile — increasingly well known as the best place to see this even more elusive cat.

This exciting new Naturetrek tour combines visits to both of these wonderful regions, in each of which we work with local experts who have been watching the cats for years and who understand better than anyone their movements and use of local habitat. Thus, for the first time, we offer you the chance to see both species — Jaguar and Puma — on a single tour.

We begin in Santiago, capital of Chile, and from there we fly south to Punta Arenas, our gateway to the fabulous Torres del Paine National Park. While Pumas will be the main focus of the four days and nights we spend here, there are many other charismatic creatures to see including plentiful Andean Condors, large herds of Guanacos, two species of fox, South Andean Deer and Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk. Among the special birds to be found in this remote and beautiful park are Cinereous Harriers, Darwin’s Rheas and the magnificent Magellanic Woodpecker. While searching for Pumas we will work with guides who have more than 25 years’ experience with these enigmatic and beautiful cats. We will search by day and night, guided by their local knowledge and the latest information, giving us the best chance anywhere on Earth of seeing a Puma in the wild.

From the dramatic temperate beauty of southern Chile we move to the tropical heat of Brazil’s justly famous wetland, the Pantanal. In addition to its healthy population of the largest Jaguars in existence, this region offers the most spectacular wildlife-watching on the continent, especially in October as the dry season draws to its close and animals concentrate around remaining water. Greater Rheas, Toco Toucans, Jabiru Storks, Cocoi Herons and Plumbeous Ibis are all common here, and both Capybaras and Yacare Caimans crowd around every waterhole. On forest islands it is common to see Black-tailed (Silvery) Marmosets, Black Howler Monkeys and Brown (Tufted) Capuchins, and even the spectacular Hyacinth Macaw is easily seen. Other animals which are often seen here include Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Marsh Deer, Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Racoon, Brazilian Tapir and the hugely charismatic Giant Otter.

Our main aim though is to see the powerful, enigmatic Jaguar. To give ourselves the best chance, we stay four nights at the Jaguar Flotel, a floating hotel in the heart of what is widely regarded as the best place in the world for seeing this magnificent feline. During our stay, we will take morning and afternoon boat safaris to explore the Cuiabá, Three Brothers and Piquiri rivers, carefully scanning the dense forest and floating vegetation along them for signs of South America’s apex land predator. Our movements will be guided by the latest news from expert local guides and, in addition to having excellent chances of encountering Jaguars, we will be surrounded by the breathtaking variety of all the other wildlife of the region.

This new tour represents your best chance anywhere of seeing South America’s two great cats, accompanied by a host of South America’s other charismatic wildlife and all to a backdrop of two utterly different, but equally beautiful, landscapes. 

Puma (Dani Free)Puma (Dani Free)Guanaco (Dani Free)Puma (Dani Free)Torres del Paine, ChilePuma & Guanaco, Torres Del PainePuma, Torres Del Paine (Helen Pinchin)The group walking alongside Lake Pehoe, Torres Del Paine (Helen Pinchin)Puma, Torres Del Paine (Helen Pinchin)Puma, Torres Del Paine (Helen Pinchin)South American Grey Fox (Dani Free)Torres del Paine (Dani Free)Puma, Torres Del PaineChilean Guemal, Torres Del Paine (Helen Pinchin)Torres del Paine (Danie Free)Andean Condor (Dani Free)Bearded Capuchin Monkey (Stephen Woodham)Chestnut Eared AracariCinereous Harrier (female)Cinereous Harrier (male)JaguarJaguar (Stephen Woodham)Jaguar (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otter (Stephen Woodham)Crimson Crested Woodpecker (Stephen Woodham)Crab Eating Fox (Stephen Woodham)Giant River Otters (Stephen Woodham)Jabiru (Stephen Woodham)Toco ToucanAustral Parakeet, Torres Del PaineHairy Armadillo, Torres Del PaineCapybara (Helen Pinchin)Capybara (Helen Pinchin)Giant River Otter (Helen Pinchin)Giant River Otter (Helen Pinchin)Toco Toucan (Helen Pinchin)Yacare Caiman (Helen Pinchin)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Hyacinth Macaw (Helen Pinchin)JaguarJaguar (Helen Pinchin)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Sunset in the Pantanal (Helen Pinchin)Southern Crested Caracara, Torres Del Paine (Helen Pinchin)Capybara (Sue Edwards)Crab-eating Fox (Sue Edwards)Giant River Otter (Helen Pinchin)Giant River Otter (Helen Pinchin)Hyacinth Macaw (Sue Edwards)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Jaguar (Helen Pinchin)Juvenile Jabiru Stalks, South America's Big Cats (Sue Edwards)Ocelot (Sue Edwards)Yacare Camain (Helen Pinchin)
Mr & Mrs T
We feel we were very privileged and lucky to be able to take this special holiday. To experience the nature, scenery and climate of two such different areas was magic. We had always wanted to visit Torres Del Paine National Park so it was a dream realised. We had visited the Pantanal before but never stayed in a flotel or had such wonderful riverboat excursion - all those Jaguars!!
Mr & Mrs G
For us, the success of the tour depended on the strengths of the tour leader as well as on the skills of the local guides. We found that our expectations were met, if not exceeded in this regard. The expertise fo the local guide Jose Sandoval in Torres del Paine was instrumental in finding as many Pumas as we did. And we must say that the entire experience would not have had the quality that it did without the presence of Nick Acheson.
The flights down to Punta Arenas worked well and got the travelling there over in one day. Jose (the Puma tracker) was excellent finding so many Pumas for us and I would recommend using him again. He clearly cared for the Pumas and seemed to have an uncanny power at finding them. Jaguar viewing in the Pantanal was also excellent - so we saw far more Pumas and Jaguars than we could have reasonably expected to see - with good sightings of both species of cats. Nick led the tour exceptionally well and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of birds as well as a talent for conveying his knowledge.
I really enjoyed the beauty of Patagonia and the sightings of the big cats in both Chile and Brazil were very good.
What a tremendous, amazing trip! I feel so very lucky to have been part of it. This is an unfair comment in many ways because I have to acknowledge that we were exceptionally lucky, but the game viewing was superb- Pumas everyday we looked for them, ditto Jaguars. The location of our accommodation put us in the heart of the action and this was particularly evident in the Pantanal at the Flotel. Hard to see how the holiday could be improved upon.
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Sat 13th October 2018 - Sun 28th October 2018



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Brazil

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Tour Reviews

We feel we were very privileged and lucky to be able to take this special holiday. To experience the nature, scenery and climate of two such different areas was magic. We had always wanted to visit Torres Del Paine National Park so it was a dream realised. We had visited the Pantanal before but never stayed in a flotel or had such wonderful riverboat excursion - all those Jaguars!!
Mr & Mrs T, Warwickshire