Explore the plains, mountains and rivers of the vast Pantanal wetlands and gain a privileged insight into the conservation efforts at work to save two of Latin America's most iconic creatures. Stay at two remote lodges deep in the Pantanal and spend time with leading conservationists Arnaud Desbiez, as he tracks and studies giant armadillo, and Mario Haberfeld on the trail of wild jaguar.
The vast floodplains of the Pantanal are the best place to view wildlife in South America, they provide refuge to over 650 species of bird including the scarlet and blue macaw as well as capybara, giant anteater and giant river otter.
Travel overland from Campo Grande to Baia das Pedras
You will be met at the airport by your private guide who will accompany the group for the next four days. Travel overland from Campo Grande airport to Baia das Pedras in the Pantanal. A distance of approximately 185 miles which should take between five and six hours, dependent on weather conditions.
Arrive at Baia das Pedras
On arrival at Baia das Pedras settle into your accommodation and after some time to rest, maybe embark on an evening activity. All activities are included during your stay at Baia das Pedras. Canoeing in search of caiman and birdlife, hiking trails, night drives, photography safaris, traditional storytelling and horse-riding. The owners of the lodge raise Pantaneiro horses as well as cattle and a stay here is a great chance to learn more about the culture and life of the cowboy - observe them or even join them, lassoing and herding the cattle.
The Pantanal, or wetlands of Mato Grosso, is one of nature's last frontiers, the world's largest animal reserve, and home to more than 600 different species of birds and 230 varieties of fish. It is made up of a huge lowland plain that is entirely overgrown by lush vegetation and covered with flowers that bloom during the rainy season from December to April.
The Pantanal features many rivers and crystalline lakes, as it used to be a vast inland sea, and rare species of birds and other animals seek shelter along their shores and cluster around the diminishing pools during the dry season from May to November.
During your three days at Baia das Pedras, as well as the chance to embark on a range of activities within the Pantanal, also spend time with Arnaud Desbiez and the team at Project Giant Armadillo. The group will be welcome to join them as they go about their daily research and study of the animals, setting camera traps and monitoring data. Over the three days the aim will be to see a giant armadillo in the wild and if lucky witness a capture and release, offering a wonderful opportunity to see one of these incredible animals close up. During the capture procedure measurements are taken and the animal is fitted with a transmitter, enabling the team to monitor the individual for an extended period of time. As well as the giant armadillo, the team also monitor and track tapir and anteater. A member of the team will be present during meals to answer any questions about the project and a presentation will also be made to the group about the conservation programme.
Take part in any of the activities on offer and spend time with the team at Project Giant Armadillo
Travel overland to Caiman Lodge, approximately 155 miles which will take three to five hours.
Arrive at Caiman Ecolodge
On arrival at Caiman Ecolodge settle into your accommodation and maybe embark on an afternoon or evening activity. Walking tours, canoeing, night safaris, 4wd safaris and photographic tours are all available with the expert naturalist guides at the lodge. The flora and fauna of these wetlands is beautiful and diverse. Animals include capybara, caiman, deer, iguanas, possums, anacondas, incredible amounts of birds, raptors and of course the elusive jaguar.
Three day Oncafari jaguar experience
Over the next three days the group will become part of the Oncafari Jaguar Habituation Team, searching for jaguar and getting involved in daily research and activities. During the three days, time will be spent searching for jaguar as well as for clues that will point the team in the right direction of the cats, who typically get more mobile once the sun sets. Check previously set camera traps, look for tracks, search for fresh jaguar kills and check satellite data for the collared jaguar. There may be the chance to experience tracking on foot with expert African trained trackers and experience all the technological features available to the team. Once a sign of the animal is found the team will attempt to locate the animal in order to further the habituation process and our group will be part of this amazing experience. Depending on circumstances the group will set out again at sunset or just after dinner to see the jaguars during their most active part of the day. The group will also be given a full presentation on the project's work and objectives. This three-day experience will dramatically increase the chances of spotting jaguar. Spend around three hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and three hours at night in search of jaguar as well as other Pantanal wildlife. There will be time at leisure after lunch each day.
Activities and research with the Oncafari team.
Today before departure there will be time to embark on one of the lodge activities should you wish.
Travel from Caiman Lodge to Campo Grande airport
A distance of approximately 145 miles which should have a journey time of approximately four hours.
The Pantanal is one of the most magical landscapes in the world and your time here will be spent in the company of expert naturalists and leading conservationists who know the area and wildlife of these wetlands intimately. Both the giant armadillo and the jaguar are endangered species and the people you will spend time with are passionate about conserving them. This trip offers a wonderful chance to be involved in some pioneering conservation work and the chance to see these elusive animals in the wild.
During your stay at Baia das Pedras you will have the chance to spend time with the conservation team from Project Giant Armadillo. A team of five spend a few weeks a month at Baia das Pedras, during which they track and monitor giant armadillo as well as tapir and anteater. Vulnerable to extinction, there is little known about the giant armadillo. Having conducted research in the Pantanal since 2002, conservation biologist Arnauld Desbiez set up the Giant Armadillo Project in 2010 in order to find out more about them and conserve their diminishing numbers. Covered in a type of flexible armour, they are nocturnal animals that nest in burrows.
The group will have the chance to join Arnaud and his team as they set camera traps, record data and monitor the resident population. Hopefully, the group will be lucky enough to observe a giant armadillo in the wild and get involved in the capture and release of an individual – a wonderful opportunity to see this beautiful but notoriously shy creature up close.
Located on a 53,000-hectare ranch in the middle of the Pantanal, Caiman Lodge opened its doors in 1987, as the first ecotourism project of its kind. Ecotourism is an important conservation tool which provides a valuable source of income for landowners and local communities.
Over three days here the group will join the Oncafari Jaguar team, to work on a conservation project that is unique in South America. Working in conjunction with Caiman lodge the project promotes ecotourism in the Pantanal, a vital conservation tool, providing an important source of income for landowners and local communities. The wild jaguars in the region have been habituated to the sight of vehicles, meaning they no longer see them as a threat. The results of the habituation process have been phenomenally successful with sightings of wild jaguar having dramatically increased each year. Back in 2013 there were 171 jaguar sightings and just three years later in 2016 a staggering 538 were seen. These increased sightings have enabled the team to monitor the cats and learn more about their behaviour, habits and personalities. The jaguars remain fully wild but are used to the sight of the vehicles so are relaxed, allowing visitors the chance for some truly privileged interaction.
The accommodation is located deep in the southern Pantanal, perfectly placed to explore the scenery and wildlife of these vast wetlands. Baia das Pedras is a charming, remote eco-lodge with just five guest rooms, a traditional farm that is simple in style but offers a wonderfully welcoming and intimate atmosphere. Caiman Ecolodge is a cattle ranch with two separate lodges, the group will stay in Baiazinha, located next to a lagoon with six extremely comfortable guestrooms as well as its own swimming pool and restaurant.
The Pantanal is an adventure playground for outdoor activities. For those who wish to embark on activities, most of which are included during your stay, choose from canoeing, hiking, horse-riding, walking tours and cycling.
Baia das Pedras still breeds cattle and Pantaneiro horses and guests are welcome to join the cowboys as they work the land, rounding up the cattle and showing off their lassoing prowess.
As well as jaguar and armadillo, you can typically expect to see giant anteater, giant river otter, tapir, capybara and spectacled caiman as well as primates such as capuchin and howler monkey. Birdlife in the Pantanal is plentiful and varied and includes endangered species such as the hyacinth macaw as well as toucan, heron and migratory birds of prey such as osprey.
Wildlife is unpredictable so it is of course never a given, however, the chances of seeing a jaguar during your stay at Caiman Lodge are extremely high. In data collected by the team over the past years, October has been a key month for jaguar sightings with numbers increasing year on year. Your days spent there will be in the company of the Oncafari guides and Mario Haberfeld, founder of the project. If there is ever a good chance to see jaguar in the wild, it is here.
Many of the wildlife excursions will be done by 4wd so suitable for all abilities. During your time in the Pantanal there will also be time to partake in alternative more strenuous activities should you wish.
Definitely. Due to the remoteness of this tour, the accommodation in both locations is in small lodges with few rooms, therefore, we have to cap our single supplement to a maximum of three places. However, if you are willing to share, we will do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same gender
October falls right at the end of the dry season but before the rains and flooding of the wet season, which generally begin in December and January. Humidity is normally lower during this period and as a result, the mosquitos and bugs are far fewer. Hot and dry but still very green, this is a great time to see an abundance of wildlife, in particular jaguar.
Absolutely. Brazil is a vast country with vibrant cities, fabulous beaches and iconic waterfalls. A stay in the Pantanal works particularly well with a visit to the Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Departing on 3rd October 2018
Group size: Min 4 / Max 9
Tour expert: Dr Arnaud Desbiez, Mario Haberfeld
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