Creatures and creature comforts.
Our Jaguar boating searches are a biologist’s tour de force.
Pixaim River, Pantanal, Brazil.
Photography: Mario Friedlander. Jaguars of Brazil’s Pantanal.
Season: June to mid-November. Jaguar action is the same throughout this period. The coolest Jaguar-rich months are June, July and November; the hottest are September through mid-October.
No air tickets are included, nor do we sell any. We recommend booking the intra-tour flights through your international carrier, Expedia or OneTravel. If you need an overnight in Cuiabá before the tour, we suggest booking your accommodations through priceline or similar hotel-reservation websites.
Please land in Cuiabá no later than 12:30 pm; the group will leave no later than 2:00 pm. If your flight is delayed, you will have to pay for a separate, private transfer without a guide, and most likely your driver will speak only Portuguese. Please do not schedule a departure flight from Cuiabá for earlier than 11:00 am. Later arrivals or earlier departures will require separate transfers at additional cost.
The return from SouthWild Pantanal Lodge is at 6:30 am, which is ideal for flights leaving Cuiabá at or after 11:00 am. Guests with later flights are welcome to relax in our air-conditioned office and use WiFi. The office is only a 6-minute walk or 3-minute drive from the airport.
Flight arrival and departure times are flexible for our private tours, which include private transfers throughout. However, the earlier you arrive on the first day, the more time you will have for wildlife sightings along the Transpantaneira Road and at the SouthWild Pantanal Lodge. If you arrive in Cuiabá the night before, you can begin the Jaguar Extreme at 8 am.
Baggage allowances for flights within Brazil are 5 kg (11 lbs) for carry-on and 23 kg (50 lbs) for checked bags. For carry-ons, the sum of the dimensions (length, width, height) can’t be more than 115 cm (45 in). For details, see the relevant pages on the airlines’ websites: GOL Airlines TAM Airlines Azul Airlines. Dr. Munn, our scientific advisor, has flown on hundreds of domestic flights in Brazil, and has never experienced a problem with his checked baggage. We don’t believe that any guest has ever had checked-in baggage stolen or permanently lost; we do believe the risk to be the same or less than in the U.S.
Based on his extensive experience, our scientific advisor, Dr. Charles A. Munn, offers the following advice:
“GOL and Azul are stricter about carry-on baggage than is TAM. If one puts 10 to 20 kilos of camera gear into a large, photo backpack, such as made by Lowepro, Tenba or similar, then as long as it is not more than 24 cm (10 in) thick, it should fit in all the overhead compartments even on Azul, which uses Embraer 190 and Embraer 195 jets, which have fairly small overheads. GOL uses only Boeing 737 jets, and their overheads are large, so your photo backpack can be more than 12 inches thick and still fit.
The problem comes when checking in for the flight. On most Brazilian flights, you are allowed to take only 5 kilos (11 lbs) of carry-on, but GOL is the strictest about making you put your carry-on luggage on the scale at check-in. If you have even as little as 6 or 7 kilos of carry-on, and GOL weighs it, you might be forced to check and pay for overweight to check one of what presumably are two pieces of carry-on.
What I always do on GOL flights when I have two carry-ons and one weighs 5 kilos already and the other is a small roll-on case or photo backpack weighing 10 to 20 kilos, is that I pay 20 dollars to one of the official baggage handlers in the São Paulo airport (GRU) to hold my heavy check-in bag far away from the eyes of the check-in people, and I check in with only my one small, 5-kilo carry-on. Then, after I have my boarding pass, I recover my heavy carry-on from the baggage handler, take it through security, to the gate and onto the jet. After you have checked in and leave the check-in desk to go through security, no one from the airline seems to care or notice if you show up at the gate and board the plane with a heavy carry-on that was not with you at all when you checked in 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes earlier.
Note that in the hundreds of times I have flown on domestic flights in Brazil, flying out of 15 or 20 different airports, only in Barreiras airport (BRA) did airline employees notice that my previously non-existent, roll-on suitcase had appeared and was with me before I boarded at the gate. They took that heavy carry-on away from me and checked it into the baggage compartment, and charged me overweight. The only airlines that fly to BRA are Passaredo and Azul. That’s the way to go. If you have too much camera equipment to fit in one large photo backpack, I recommend using a Pelican or similar case to check-in some major items of camera equipment, and pay the overweight fee.”
It is important to note that a visa may be required. Check the Entrance Visas in Brazil document issued by Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations to see if a visa is required for residents of your country. If you see a “1” in the VITUR (Tourism) column, you will need to apply for a visa at the nearest Brazilian Consulate. Requirements and costs vary by country. For those traveling on a U.S. passport, a visa is required at a cost is $160 per person. On your visa application, please use the following address for your destination in Brazil:
General Manager: Charles Munn
Hotel Fazenda Santa Tereza
Travessa da Liberdade, 70
Bairro Jardim Aeroporto
Varzea Grande (city), Mato Grosso (State), and CEP 78100-380 (CEP is postal code), Brasil
Tel: +55 65 3682 3175
If you require a visa service, we can recommend Marvin Rivera of A Briggs Passport & Visa Expeditors, especially if time is a concern.
It is important to note that tipping is entirely voluntary and the amount given, if any, is at your discretion. However, because some guests ask for guidance, we suggest $10 per person per day for your guide and $10 per person per day for the staff. Tips in Brazilian Reais are recommended.
For example, on the Jaguar Extreme expedition (4 nights in the Jaguar Flotel and 2 nights in the SouthWild Pantanal Lodge), you might consider the following amounts for good service:
$40 per person (160 Brazilian Reais) for the staff at the Jaguar Flotel (boat driver, kitchen staff and housekeepers), which can be given to your guide at the end of your stay at the Flotel, indicating that the tip is for the staff.
$20 per person (80 Brazilian Reais) for the staff at the SouthWild Pantanal Lodge (kitchen staff and housekeepers) and $60 per person (240 Brazilian Reais) for the guide. You can give the tip to your guide on your last night at the SouthWild Pantanal Lodge, indicating how much is for the staff.
The total would, thus, be $120 per person (480 Brazilian Reais). However, there is no magic number. It could be more or less depending on how you rate the excellence of the service that you received.
How much cash to bring
If you are a non-drinker, we reommmend that you bring $120 per person (240 Brazilian Reais) for tips to your guide, boat driver, kitchen staff and housekeepers as advised above. If you are a drinker, you may want bring up to an additional $300 per person (600 Brazilian Reais) for alcoholic beverages and bar tips.
While the SouthWild Pantanal Lodge and the Jaguar Flotel can accept dollars, to get the best rate, we recommend exchanging dollars with the official, uniformed baggage porters at the São Paulo airport. Most of them are found in the arrivals area, just as you depart customs. Their exchange rate is 8 to 13% better than the money-changing windows and banks at the airport. For greatest convenience, request bills of 20 Reais or higher. Unfortunately, they change only Euros and U.S. Dollars.
Speak up!We don’t want your experience to be diminished in any way. Don’t hesitate to speak up if anything isn’t as you wish. If your guide can’t solve the problem, please contact Arcana Mundi as soon as possible. Later on, it may be too late.
Supplementary tour documents
Your primary tour documents – your day-by-day itinerary and insurance confirmation – will be sent to you directly by email. Links to your supplementary tour documents appear below:
Packing list & travel tips
Common Pantanal bird species
Mammals of the Pantanal
“Dreaming of that next epic wildlife adventure? Here are your go-to guys.”
–Condé Nast Traveller
Arcana Mundi Expeditions
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