Trip reference number: ITN-BRA023
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
Search for the elusive jaguar on this Brazil holiday which takes you deep into the vast freshwater flood plains of the Pantanal.
Start in the quintessentially Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, with its dramatic backdrop and unique natural bay. Admire the gentle sweep of Copacabana Beach alive with colour. No trip to this wonderful city would be complete without a visit to Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain or a breathtaking cable car journey to Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Head west to the majestic Iguazu falls, an iconic natural wonder with its 275 separate waterfalls. Be mesmerised by the thunderous roar as gallons of water tumble over the rocks into the Parana River.
The Pantanal is one of the most diverse wildlife preserves on the planet. Its vast wetlands are a rich ecosystem and the Meeting of the Waters State park at the end of the Transpantaneira Park Road is a superb place for spotting jaguars. An estimated 60 individuals live in this area amidst a range of abundant flora and fauna. Your jaguar spotting boat trips are complemented by a different lodge with a host of excursions such as horseback riding, bird-watching, trekking in pristine forest, canoeing and truck photo-safaris. From the tree top look outs, admire the seemingly endless landscape.
Day 1 Depart the UK for your daytime flight to Rio de Janeiro arriving in the early evening. The magical city of Rio de Janeiro is the perfect start for your Brazil holiday with the gentle curve of Copacabana Beach and the backdrop of rocky mountains showcasing one of the most beautiful natural bays in the world. Settle into your hotel with a cold caipirinha watching the world go by as you settle into the relaxed city vibe.
Day 2 Open top jeep is the perfect way to see Rio de Janeiro. Ride along the wonderful Avenida Atlantica admiring the glistening sand of Copacabana Beach and the deep blue sea studded with rocky islands. For fantastic vistas of the bay visit Corcovado Mountain and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue which often towers above the clouds. The urban forest of Tijuca is a welcome relief from the heat of the city with its mild climate and interesting array of wildlife such as the quatis, a Brazilian type of raccoon. Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) is accessed via cable car for a spectacular end to your day.
Day 3 Escape the beach scene for historic Rio de Janeiro. The vibrant neighbourhood of Santa Teresa is awash with colonial and 19th century buildings set in leafy cobbled streets. The world famous Selaron steps in Lapa is a multi coloured work of art by Chilean born artist. The renovation of steps outside his home was his ‘tribute to the Brazilian people’. Aside from Copacabana Beach take time to visit Ipanema and Leblon beaches and on Sunday visit the famous Ipanema hippy market.
Day 4 The border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay is home to spectacular natural wonder of Iguazu Falls. Consisting of 275 separate waterfalls the staggering 80 metre high semicircular falls produce vast sprays of water and deafening roars as the colossal volume of water tumbles over the edge and pummels into the rocks. Situated within the Atlantic rainforest on the Argentine side of the falls, the Loi Suites offer an immersion into the wildlife of the region and sounds of the forest.
Day 5 Spend the day with your guide exploring the Argentine side of these majestic falls. A series of walkways at various levels allow for a full appreciation of the multiple facades of Iguazu as you stand just metres from the frenzied spray. The Devil’s Throat is the perfect place to experience the full force of the tumbling water. In the Atlantic rainforest you can spot tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys and ocelots. As the sun drops, reflect on a truly memorable day.
Day 6 From the airport drive along the scenic Transpantaneira Park Road which is a wildlife spotting tour in itself. As you drive along the highway watch out for monkeys, capybaras and numerous bird species. It takes around 2-3 hours to arrive at Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge with time to settle in before a late afternoon hike. Discover the wildlife around the lodge, before arriving to the Mirante da Garça, a 12 m / 39.5 ft. high observation tower for fantastic views of the sunset. After dinner, on clear nights, join a star gazing excursion accompanied by the sounds of wildlife.
Day 7 Your guide will suggest different ways to experience the vast plains of the Pantanal. A popular option is a 2-3 hour horse ride through the fields, woods and flood lands spotting the diverse range wildlife such as tapirs, giant anteaters and marsh deer along with the colourful hyacinth macaw, an iconic bird of this region. Learn about the ecosystem of the world’s largest freshwater flood plain and the unique characteristics which make the area so special and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage area.
Day 8 Dawn hike to see and feel the awakening of nature as the sun rises. After breakfast in the warm Brazilian sun continue the drive along the Transpantaneira Park Road further into the Pantanal to Pousada Porto Jofre . This region between Cuiaba and the Piquiri River holds the Meeting of the Waters State Park, where a wide population of jaguars live (around 60 individuals). The region offers exceptional jaguar spotting possibilities, among abundant flora and fauna.
Day 9 The best way to view jaguars is by boat, cruising at low speed along the river, searching under tree shadows or on empty beaches. Each day includes two boat trips, departing in early morning, returning to the lodge for lunch and then another taking you searching until sundown. As you meander along the waterways you may spot other rare wildlife such as ocelots or giant river otters.
Day 11 After your days of wildlife submersion, take the approximately 6 hour journey along the Transpantaneira Park Road north, returning to the city of Cuiaba. Although you are returning to the city there remains plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities so keep your binoculars to hand. Arrival to Cuiaba in the afternoon and fly to Rio de Janeiro.
Day 12 Transfer to Rio airport for your direct flight to the UK.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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