Our photography here will mainly be from motorized speed boats, thereby improving our chances of getting close to the action and capturing some unique images of the area’s iconic wildlife. We will explore this verdant and diverse corner of Brazil searching for the most highly prized target for our lenses, the mighty Jaguar! Pantanal Jaguars are the largest form of this, the world’s 3rd biggest cat (they are up to 50% heavier than those of the Amazon or Central America, with large males reaching 350 pounds or 155 kilos) and kilo for kilo they are the most powerful of the big cats, capable of killing a full grown Tapir!
Other mammals, including Brazilian Tapir, Coatimundi, Giant River Otter, the porcine White-lipped Peccary and possibly Giant Anteater can all be observed in this photographic heaven. The bird photography here is also unrivalled and includes species such as the brightly coloured Hyacinth Macaw, the stately Jabiru (the tallest flying bird in South and Central America), and various additional specials such as Greater Rhea, the impressive Great Rufous Woodcreeper, stunning Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Bare-faced Curassow and the delightful Helmeted Manakin.
Your journey has been hand crafted to provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime experience; this wildlife photographic expedition cannot come more highly recommended!
Your tour in detail…
Day 1, 12th August: Cuiaba to Rio Claro via Transpantaneira Road.
When you arrive at Cuiabá airport, the capital of Mato Grosso state, you will meet our local guide and then transfer directly to the Pantanal. After driving for about one and a half hours on paved road, you will encounter the Transpantaneira Highway, a dirt road that transects the northern portion of the Pantanal. The roadside water ditches attract all sorts of birds and mammals for easy wildlife sightings, making this a great way to start your safari. On the drive to the lodge you may already see such species as the giant Jabiru Stork, beautiful Roseate Spoonbill, Rufescent Tiger Heron, several species of egrets, Plumbeous and Buff-necked Ibises, Southern Screamer, Savanna and Roadside Hawks, Scarlet-headed Blackbird and many others. Other creatures might include Capybara, Marsh Deer and Caymans.
Overnight Pousada Rio Claro or Similar (L,D)
Day 2, 13th August: The Rio Claro area.
Here we have a full day to explore the forests and savannas of the Rio Claro area, which is an extension of the Pixain River. This river is one of the most renowned in the northern Pantanal among both birders and photographers alike. The Rio Claro is a narrow river surrounded by gallery forest and, simply put, is a bird’s paradise. On the boat drives along its quiet waters we will be looking for (and photographing) Great and Snowy Egrets, Cocoy, Striated and Agamy Herons, Sungrebe, Sunbittern and all five species of South American Kingfishers. A special “assignment” for us here is to photograph the attractive Black-collared Hawks that fly down from their perches along the river to catch fish on the water surface. At the lodge’s bird feeders we might find Red-crested and Yellow-billed Cardinals, Shiny and Giant Cowbirds, Saffron Finch, Grey-crested Cachalote, Black-hooded Parakeet, Red-necked Aracari and perhaps even a lovely Toco Toucan! Other birds we could find on the surrounding trails include Helmeted Manakin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Barred and Great Antshrikes, Mato Grosso Antbird, Rusty-backed Antwren, and Great Potoo.
Overnight Pousada Rio Claro or Similar (B, L, D)
Day 3, 14th August: Rio Claro to Pantanal.
After an early breakfast and checkout, we will drive further into the Pantanal. This journey deep into the northern Pantanal – a huge, gently sloped basin that seasonally inundates with water runoff from the surrounding upland areas of the Planalto highlands – will provide amazing wildlife and photographic opportunities. There should be plenty of wildlife along the road, as we have to drive all the way to the end of the Transpantaneira Road to a place called Porto Jofre in order to get to our hotel, where we should arrive by noon. After lunch we will then embark on a boat excursion, and once we get onto the river, the hunt begins: this is the area with the greatest concentration of Jaguars in the world!
Overnight House Boat (B, L, D)
Days 4 to 6, 15th to 17th August: Pantanal.
Over the next 3 full days we will have the amazing opportunity to search for our main photographic subject, the mighty Jaguar, with a series of early morning and late afternoon boat rides. Pantanal Jaguars are the largest form of this, the world’s 3rd biggest cat (they are up to 50% heavier than those of the Amazon or Central America, with large males reaching 350 pounds (or 155 kg!) and kilo for kilo they are the most powerful of all the big cats, capable of killing a full grown Tapir. Although Jaguar sightings are not guaranteed, this region offers the very best chances for finding these powerful and elusive cats. Our outings will always be during the day, when we will cruise along the rivers looking for any Jaguars that may have come to the river banks in search of food, water, or just a cool breeze. We also have the fabulous opportunity for intimate encounters with family groups of Giant River Otters. These otters are 70 pound (30 kg), 7 foot (2m) long top predators that live in family groups of 4-13 hyperactive animals, which are delightful to photograph and observe. In most parts of their range they are very shy and hard to see, as they are still recovering from the brutal fur trade of the last century. Other wildlife we should encounter include Black Howler Monkeys, which may be seen in the treetops along the water’s edge or heard roaring from up to a mile away, entertaining groups of Capuchin Monkeys, sounders of shy White-lipped and Collared Peccaries, huge Brazilian Tapirs (South America’s biggest land mammal), hundreds of Capybara, the smaller Neotropical River Otter and, if we are very fortunate, perhaps even Puma and other smaller cat species. Furthermore, the bird photographic opportunities in the region are excellent and some of the species we should encounter and photograph include the cute American Pygmy Kingfisher, fish-catching Black-collared Hawks and countless waterbirds.
Overnight House Boat (B, L, D)
Day 7, 18th August: Porto Jofre to Pousada Piuval.
Today we have a long drive back on the Transpantaneira Road to our next lodge, but we also have the option to spend the morning on the river, depending on our photographic requirements. This evening we will be based at Pousada Piuval, our home for the next two nights. This property is a working cattle ranch with over 15,000 acres of forest; swamps, savannas and natural pasture, and is one of the best places for birds and mammals in the northern Pantanal. During the drive we might see Bare-faced Curasow, Green and Bare-faced Ibis, and the strange looking Limpkin. This place is also home to one of the photographic highlights of our trip: the Hyacinth Macaw, the largest parrot in the world!
Overnight Pousada Piuval or Similar (B, L, D)
Day 8, 19th August: Pousada Piuval.
The lodge here affords us chances to find other birds and animals that we might not have seen or photographed previously on the tour. Most of our time will be spent driving or walking the lodge surroundings and the access road in search of species that might include Great Rufous, Cream-colored and Pale-crested Woodpeckers, Red-billed Scythebill, Blue-fronted Parrot, and Yellow-chevroned and Peach-fronted Parakeets. As we drive through the surrounding plains we might come across the threatened Chestnut-bellied Guan, smart looking Red-throated Piping Guans, elegant Red-legged Seriemas, and Greater Rheas – South America’s version of Africa’s Ostrich. Mammals common in this area include Azara’s Agouty, and both Black Howler and Capuchin Monkeys.
Overnight Pousada Piuval or Similar (B, L, D)
Day 9, 20th August: Pousada Piuval and drive to Serra das Araras (Harpy Eagle site).
This morning we drive for approximately 4 hours to the Serra das Araras, a narrow peninsula situated between cerrado (savannah-like) and Amazon rainforest vegetation. This site is known to have the most accessible Harpy Eagle nest and we have a good chance to find this most spectacular rarity. The lodge where we will be staying is also superb, and is just a quick 15 minute drive from the nest site. Overnight Serra das Araras or Similar (B,L,D) Day 10, 21st August: Harpy Eagle site Even if the Harpy Eagles are not sitting on their nest, our chances of seeing an adult Harpy Eagle are good due to the resident couple using this area as its territory throughout the entire year. Also, the fledged juvenile Harpy will probably be hanging around the nest tree, making for good photo opportunities as well. Birding around the nest is also excellent, and here we should experience some great Amazonian rainforest species including Black-tailed, White-tailed and Collared Trogons, Striolated Puffbird, and the delightful little Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, among many, many others. Overnight Serra das Araras or Similar (B,L,D) Day 11, 22nd August: Serra das Araras to Cuiaba Airport Depending on our flight schedule, we might still do some final photography in the morning before checkout. Thereafter we will drive back to Cuiabá Airport in order to catch our international flights home. (B,L)
Tour cost includes:
•Fulltime professional local guiding services;
•All ground transportation (in comfortable and roomy vehicle with air-conditioning);
•All accommodation as stated in the itinerary (or other similar places depending on availability);
•6 hours of river boat excursion at Pousada Rio Claro;
•4 days of Jaguar searching by boat;
•Hands – on photographic tutoring by an award winning ORYX leader Dale Morris; and
• All meals as stated on the itinerary.
•All international and domestic flights;
•Excess baggage charges;
•Insurance for tour cancellation,
•Medical or curtailment in arrangements; and
•Any personal items and optional additional excursions.
• Rates are based upon group tariffs; if the tour does not have sufficient registration (a minimum of 6 paying participants) a small party supplement will have to be charged. Furthermore, these costs are subject to major foreign exchange fluctuations and unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result. Lastly, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary at short or no notice due to unforeseen circumstances; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as close to the original program as possible.
• Due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates, we now quote our tours in 4 currencies. The tour price is however fixed only in the currency printed in bold (Brazilian Real), and the actual cost in the other currency listed will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing (usually 3 months before the tour.) Approximate flight and single supplement rates have been converted to US$ but are also subject to exchange rate movements.
• These costs are subject to major foreign exchange fluctuations and unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result. Furthermore, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary due to unforeseen circumstances.
• The lodges and itinerary might still change due to room availability or to best fill the group’s needs. During the tour, the daily itinerary might change according to the weather, the group’s needs or due to unexpected circumstances.
For a detailed itinerary of this tour, please contact the ORYX office.
Due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates, we now quote our tours in 4 currencies. The tour price is however fixed only in the currency printed in bold (Brazilian Real), and the actual cost in the other currency listed will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing (usually 3 months before the tour.) Approximate flight and single supplement rates have been converted to US$ but are also subject to exchange rate movements.
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