Brazil - Pantanal Explorer

Brazil - Pantanal Explorer

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 11 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Travel with us and discover the incredibly rich biodiversity of the Pantanal region of Brazil. On this intimate tour with a maximum group size of only 10, we will explore in depth this wetland environment through land and water based excursions staying in two different areas of the Northern Pantanal.  After leaving Cuiabá, our first destination is the Pousada do Rio Mutum, an attractive eco-lodge boasting a lovely setting with a high focus on sustainability. Here we will enjoy walks, canoeing and horse-riding (all suitable for beginners) as well as exploring by jeep. The second half of the trip is where we turn our attention to searching for the magnificent Jaguar, as we navigate the winding shimmering channels from our comfortable expedition boat. This is a wildlife adventure not to be missed. 

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●○○○| History ●●○○○| Wildlife ●●●●●

Tour Pace


Tour Highlights                                                                                                           

  • Exploring two different sections of the Northern Pantanal region
  • Excellent chances of seeing the majestic Jaguar
  • Observe amazing biodiversity at a leisurely pace
  • Wildlife excursions will be both land based and water based

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels/lodges and comfortable cabins on the boat
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Minimum 2. Maximum 10
Start Point: Cuiabá
End Point: Cuiabá
Transport: Van for transfers, open safari truck and boats for excursions
Country Visited: Brazil

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. You will be accompanied by a local guide from Day 2 to Day 10 of the tour. Airport transfers may not be operated by a guide but by driver only. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.


Day 1 – Arrive Cuiabá

On arrival at Cuiabá airport you will be transferred to the hotel with the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight Deville Prime Cuiabá or similar – No meals or guided services.

Day 2 – Cuiabá – Pousada do Rio Mutum (approx. Driving time is 2.5 hours)

This morning you will meet your local guide and after breakfast, transfer through the Pantanal region by car to Pousada do Rio Mutum, passing through the small town of Santo Antonio do Leverger and the villages of Porto de Fora, and Mimoso. On the way to the lodge, we will look out for birds, small animals, and taking note of the landscape, and the typical buildings of the inhabitants of the Pantanal.  Following arrival at the lodge, enjoy a welcome drink, followed by check-in, lunch and a lecture as an introduction to the Pantanal region, with presentation of cartographic maps and satellite images. Later, take a short walk to observe the various species of birds and other animals that inhabit the private area of the lodge. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure and this evening a tasty piranha broth will be served followed by typical dishes from the region (BLD)

Pousada do Rio Mutum Lodge

This Pousada is situated in one of the most beautiful regions of the Pantanal swamp region, 140 kilometres from Cuiaba (a 2.5-hour drive, partly via a dirt track). It consists of 22 fully air-conditioned chalets, each with a spacious bedroom, private bathroom and veranda which looks out on to a woodland park home to a huge variety of wildlife, flora and fauna. The Pousada has a restaurant that serves a varied regional buffet as well as a bar, swimming pool and souvenir shop. For the offered excursions there are jeeps for going on safari, and canoes and motorboats for trips out along the river. The Pousada even runs a trip through the woodland on horseback.

Sustainability at Pousada do Rio Mutum Lodge 

Sustainability is a key focus. Guests are encouraged to minimise their use of water, reuse towels, and sort their litter into the separate bins provided by the Pousada to reduce their impact on the environment. As well as this, the Pousada has a modern ecological sewage treatment system and solar powered water heating facilities; Rio Mutum is also investing in the construction of the Associação Comunitária Cuiabá-Mirim, a local community centre which aims to offer courses and activities that will facilitate greater cultural and intellectual development in the area, and promote an exchange of experiences between locals and visitors.


The Pantanal straddles the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia and is the world's largest wetland region. Its plains and low scrubby forests are home to over 1000 species of bird and 300 different mammals, including tapirs, anteaters, Jabiru storks and the striking Hyacinth macaw. Concentrating on the incredibly rich northern Pantanal, we divide our time between an eco-friendly lodge and also aboard an expedition vessel, journeying deep into the Pantanal in search of the jaguar, the most elusive in the Americas. These solitary predators, as well as being formidable opponents on land, are strong swimmers and are known to frequent the waterways we will explore.

Day 3 – Pantanal exploration

After breakfast, enjoy an ecological walk, the duration will be approximately 3 hours, to explore the unique nature, passing through wooded areas, forests and open fields in search of birds, mammals, reptiles, plants and other components of the Pantanal ecosystem. Return for lunch. This afternoon take a boat ride on the Mutum River, a duration of approximately 3 hours. In these winding waterways, besides the vegetation, we hope to observe giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) rays (lymma Taeniura) and schools of small fish. In addition we will be looking out for the many possible bird species on the banks. Return to the lodge for dinner.  After dinner, we head out night spotlighting by jeep or boat, for approximately 2 hours, exploring the surroundings in search of nocturnal creatures thriving in this wetland environment.

Note - the walk is of an easy grade but you must be well protected against the sun and heat. Please wear a wide brimmed hat and light loose clothes. The pace will be very leisurely as you will be stopping frequently when observing flora and fauna.

Day 4 – Pantanal Exploration

After breakfast, take a boat ride, a duration of approximately 3 hours, visiting a fishing village on the banks of Rio Cuiabá. This village named Cuiabá Mirim is a lovely spot marked by its simplicity and the spontaneity of its inhabitants. It is possible to interact with the native people, who exist by way of fishing and subsistence agriculture, and to appreciate their customs and peaceful coexistence with their immediate environment. This afternoon, enjoy a land safari by jeep to a village named Capoeirinha, around 15 km's from the lodge. This activity will last approximately 3 hours. During  this time our focus will be to search for one of the bird species most threatened with extinction in the Pantanal: the hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus). By late afternoon, we return hoping to spot mammals and other animals on the way. Return to the lodge for dinner (BLD)

Day 5 - Pantanal Exploration

An early start at 4:30 a.m. for a magical sunrise experience. We take to the waterways for some leisurely and very easy paddling (that can be enjoyed by all abilities) in canoes for about 1.5 hours in order to appreciate the dazzling spectacle of the awakening of nature in the Pantanal. Return to the lodge for breakfast. After breakfast for those that wish there will be a horseback riding tour (this is beginner level and no experience necessary), duration of up to 3 hours, to a typical farm on the border of Sia Mariana Bay. This path is excellent for observing local flora and fauna throughout the year. Return to the lodge for lunch and then this afternoon enjoy a 3 hour cruise down the Mutum River up to the Sia Mariana bay (8 km extension in the North/South direction). During this time, we will explore the banks of the bay and the channel connecting both the Sia Mariana bay and Chacororé bay. Throughout the year, one can observe different species of birds, reptiles and other animals. Stop for sunset and piranha fishing*. On the way back to the lodge look out for nocturnal species as we spotlight in search for animals. (BLD)

* The piranha fishing occurs in the months of February to September. In the period from October 1 to January 31, it is prohibited to fish in rivers, lakes and bays of Mato Grosso, because it is the period of breeding fish (Piracema).

Note: For clients that do not wish to horse ride alternative activities can be arranged such as ecological walk. 

Day 6 – Pousada do Rio Mutum – Porto Jofre (Approx. driving time 4.5 hours)

After breakfast, check out and then transfer by boat to Porto Cercado (approx. 3 h) with a photo stop at Ninhal Porto da Fazenda, home to the nests of over 1000 birds of different species (great white egrets, jabiru storks, American wood storks, cocoi herons, etc.). We then transfer by air-conditioned vehicle to Porto Jofre (approx. 4.5 h, 40 km paved road + 147 km unpaved road), stopping for lunch along the way. Later we board our home for the next 4 nights, to begin the next part of this enthralling wildlife adventure. This evening, the boat will navigate up the Cuiabá River for approx. 1.5 hours to reach the location where the first jaguar spotting opportunities of this trip will take place. Overnight on board (BLD)

Days 7 to 9 – Pantanal Exploration by boat

For the next 3 days you will enjoy two boat tours (before and after lunch, respectively) in search of the legendary jaguar and other magnificent species such as giant river otters, caimans, and capybaras, on the rivers Cuiabá, Piquiri, Três Irmãos and also some of the smaller creeks. All meals are served on the boat. Overnight on board. (BLD)

Note – the boat excursions are usually from 7 – 11 am and from 2 pm – 6 pm so a total of 8 hours per day.

Rio Mutum expedition boat

The simple but comfortable expedition boat by Rio Mutum is anchored in a strategic area of Porto Jofre, a primary place to spot jaguars and other species of animals that inhabit the Pantanal. The boat offers just 8 double cabins with single box beds, air conditioning, TV and private bathroom. The restaurant serves regional food and the panoramic deck is the best area for a barbecue.  The tours for wildlife spotting are done every day in speed boats with 90 HP engines and capacity for 9 passengers each.

Day 10 – Porto Jofre – Cuiabá (Approx. driving time is 5 hours) 

After breakfast, check out and transfer back to Cuiabá via Poconé, an overall journey time of around 5 hours. On arrival the rest of the day is at leisure with no excursions arranged. Overnight Deville Prime Cuiabá or similar (B)

Day 11 – Departure

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight (B)

Please note that onward extensions can be arranged throughout Brazil to places such as Amazonas region, Iguazu Falls, or city breaks to Rio de Janeiro. Please contact us for details.

Tour Inclusions /Exclusions


Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation as per the itinerary
Accompanying local naturalist guide 
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary


International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Any personal expenses