The world’s largest wetland extends some 180,000 sq km across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. However, over 90% of the Pantanal is privately owned land, with cattle farming dominating a region home to the Americas’ greatest concentration of wildlife. The two aren’t always easy bedfellows; however one working cattle ranch does things differently. Owned by conservationist Roberto Klabin, Caiman combines ecotourism and conservation alongside traditional cattle farming.
If you love African safaris and have bemoaned the lack of similar experiences in Latin America then this is definitely the place for you. Caiman offers three different luxurious lodges to stay in, each with its own restaurant, pool, guides and excursions, and each with wildlife literally on its doorstep. Our favourite is Baiazinha with six rooms overlooking a large lake, and a real feeling of being away from it all.
Explore the lagoons, pastures and tracks of the ranch by safari jeep. Go in search of jaguars (there’s a 99% chance of seeing them), giant anteaters and the hundreds of birds, which call the Pantanal home. If you’re lucky you may even get to see a tapir or maned wolf.
Nature walks and canoe trips are also available. Book a private excursion with the Onçafari team for a unique experience. This jaguar research project, co-founded by former racing driver Mario Haberfeld, has shown that jaguars can coexist with livestock and be habituated to tourists, and, in doing so can bring economic benefit, create jobs, and save ecosystems.
Book a morning with the Hyacinth Macaw project too, to learn more about these vulnerable birds. In fact, make sure you spend several days here, and book as much as you can!
How to book: From £584 per room; full board and guide. caiman.com.br/
Getting there: Caiman Estancia is a four-hour drive from the nearest airport at Campo Grande. Book through a travel specialist such as Audley Travel (audleytravel.com) who offer itineraries that include a private excursion with Onçafari and the Hyacinth Macaw project.
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