Review Pantanal Nature 6 day Jaguar tour
My wife and I (Australian) did the 6 day Jaguar tour in August 2014. Our guide was Marcio Rabuske.
Overall the tour was very well organised and Pantanal Nature did what they said they would do in their brochure about the tour. We were picked up from our hotel in Cuiaba at the arranged time and our guide was always ready before the allocated departure time for each day’s activities. We always felt safe and were well looked after. The food provided was basic but tasty and there was always plenty of it. Bottled water was provided on the houseboat but must be purchased when staying at the Pousada Rio Claro. The sleeping accommodation on the houseboat was very basic and small, but the dining room was adequate for the purpose. Mosquitos can be a little annoying so bug spray is essential. The sleeping accommodation at the Pousada Rio Clarowas superior to the houseboat and the dining room is much larger and enclosed with flywire to keep the mosquitos at bay.
The staff were all very friendly and helpful however most don’t speak English. Our guide, Marcio Rabuske, was very professional and very knowledgeable and spoke English. Marcio has a special interest in birds and was a wealth of knowledge on species identification and the behaviour of individual species.
There was a long drive (250 km) from Cuiaba along the Transpantaneira Road to Porto Jofre on the river’s edge before you are transferred to the houseboat in a small boat. You see a bit of Cuiaba, farming land and then various aspects of the Pantanals along the way. A good portion of this road was gravel (150 km), so the ride was a little bumpy. We stopped a couple of times to observe the wildlife. While on the houseboat we did a morning and afternoon tour in an aluminium boat withour guide and a boat driver. There were multiple small boats on the river all looking for jaguars, so when one was found, news was quickly communicated via UHF radio to other boats so everyone benefits from an observation.
The last two days of our tour were at the Pousada Rio Claro. It was a morning’s boat trip and vehicle ride to get there. There was an afternoon walk through a woodland, a night safari for animals after dinner in the back of a vehicle (your seated and it is safe) and a boat trip on the river the next morning before lunch, before returning to Cuiaba by car.
Will you see a jaguar? Well that cannot be guaranteed because you are observing nature, but we were lucky enough to see 11 during the 4 days that we were on the houseboat. I gather this was far more than is normally seen during this period. In addition,we saw about 80 species of birds, including two species of macaw and two species of toucan. We also saw about 10 species of small mammals, including the two species ofotter, two species of monkeys, Giant Anteater, Agouti, Red-Brocket Deer, foxes and many Capybaras and iguanas.
If you own or can afford a good zoom lens for you camera, then you will get much better photos of the wildlife. Tourists in small boats always stay away from the riverbank to minimise impacting on jaguars and other animals, so you are almost always 20-50m from animals of interest.
Overall, a very enjoyable tour and we saw lots of great wildlife. We would recommend Pantanal Nature tours to others looking for an enjoyable holiday to observe the vast array of fauna in the Pantanals.
Graham and Eileen Thompson
A friend of mine and me did the 6-day jaguar tracking tour with Pantanal Nature and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The arrangements for transport, lodges and food were very well organized and inexpensive. The staff was very hospitable, and the guides had an excellent command of English and were very knowledgeable about every aspect of the Pantanal, whether it was the people who lived there, the manner it which they protect the region, or the names of animals and their behavior. Both driver and guide went to great lengths of showing us as much as possible and put in long days. We did see our jaguar - for which we are still grateful - and a lot of other beautiful animals as well. Having traveled a lot in Latin America, we can not only say that the northern Pantanal is the best area South America to see wildlife, but also that Pantanal Nature offers very good value for your money and does an excellent job as a tour agency in this wetland.
Derk and Wilfried
The Netherlands and United KIngdom
I have used the guiding services from Pantanal Nature for several years now, both with teacher and students groups from the US. He is very knowledgeable about flora and fauna, culture, and communities of the Pantanal. Also, very importantly, he communicates effectively with diverse individuals. Last, he keeps his clients safe, a very important aspect for me, since I bring minors from the US for educational experiences.I am happy to speak with anyone interested in using his services to answer questions or address concerns you may have. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dr. Vannetta Perry
International Education Center of Excellence - New Mexico
We spent 3 nights in the Pantanal on a tour organized by Pantanal Nature. Found the agency in Lonely Planet and it turned out to be one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever taken. our guide Ailton knows everything about everything in the Pantanal - if you asked him about a plant, he had a story about the origins like women used to use it to wash dishes because the leaves are rough. We were also looking at this bird and he pulled out his ipod that had bird calls on it to call the male bird so we could see him. He also does animal calls himself which was an amazing trick to make nimals come out from their hiding spots. We saw caimans, hawks, a jaguar, macaws, and jabirus - which are amazing funny-looking birds, really up close. He spotted monkeys in the trees and even stopped the car so we could see a toucan flying overhead – things we never would have noticed on our own. I felt safe the entire trip. He also speaks English very well so we didn't have any problems. We taught him how to play kings (card game) and hung out in the lodge at night. It was really an incredible experience all around and I definitely recommend taking a tour with him.We had 4 people and we were the only people on the tour that week so he was our own personal guide - compared to other tours we looked at which had up to 20 people on them. It was also surprisingly cheaper than these other tours as well. This operator set up everything we wanted to do and focused on what we wanted to see. I liked watching the caiman so he took us to the river where two caiman swam right up to the boat while a monkey watched us from the tree. You can never see these things anywhere else. If you would like to contact me, I’d be happy to tell you more about our adventures or send pictures. Enjoy the Pantanal! This is the best way to see it!
Cindy White, New York.
J’ai tourné tout récemment, en avril-mai 2010 un documentaire sur le Pantanal et ses environs pour la chaîne franco-allemande Arte qui sera probablement diffusé cet été 2010, dans la collection « Les nouveaux Paradis ».
Ailton Lara a été l’homme multi-tâches de ce tournage qui a duré 18 jours : organisateur du plan de travail et des différentes séquences à tourner dans beaucoup de lieux tels Nobres, Chapada dos Guimaroes, Poconé, Porto Joffre et tout le long de la route Transpantaneira, de jour comme de nuit. Il avait la charge aussi pour chaque séquence de nous trouver un personnage-clef, ce qu'il a assuré à merveille. Il était responsable aussi de toutes les commodités : hôtels, lodges, restauration etc.
Tout reposait sur lui car je n’avais pas repéré les lieux avant de venir tourner ce film.
Il nous a permis de tourner la vie des cow-boys, des pêcheurs traditionnels ou de pêche sportive, et des animaux bien sûr dont c’est la passion de naturaliste, en bateau, à cheval, en voiture, et même en tracteur pour filmer le passage d’un troupeau dans les marais et leur traversée d’une rivière !
Il a débusqué très patiemment bon nombre d’animaux que le plus souvent nous n’avions même pas entendu ou repéré de nous-mêmes, en imitant leur cri ou en les débusquant dans les marais, à pied ou à cheval ! Il ne baisse jamais les bras. Vous voulez un fourmilier, il vous le trouvera, alors qu’ils ne courent pas les marais. Il a su pour chaque personnage ou chaque animal filmé nous communiquer toutes les informations.
Bref, il est devenu le personnage principal du film, autant acteur que guide, nous parlant de son enfance chez les cow-boys, ou expliquant le monde du Pantanal où il est né, nous communiquant aussi toute sa passion.
Très sympathique, habile, disponible et intelligent. Nous l'avons finalement surnommé "Le Jaguar du Pantanal Nord"
Bref grâce à Ailton ce tournage fut un succès : pour le film, pour notre aventure personnelle et pour le plaisir de tous.
J’ai participe à un tour de 4 jours dans le Pantanal avec Ailton Lara, dans la région de Pocone, au départ de Cuiaba. Malgré la saison des pluies et l’invasion de moustiques auxquels notre groupe a dû faire face, je garde un merveilleux souvenir de ce séjour. Je n’attends qu’une chose, c’est de retourner dans le Pantanal avec Ailton pendant la saison sèche pour pouvoir admirer les jaguars.
Ailton est un guide très expérimente, instruit et instructif. Il partage sa passion de la nature et de la faune du Pantanal, et donne l’occasion au groupe d’apprécier pleinement le caractère unique de sa région. Il nous a permis de voir une grande quantité d animaux dans leur habitat naturel. Il établit également un très bon sens de camaraderie dans le groupe. Ailton parle très bien l’anglais et se débrouille en français, mais d autres collègues rencontres en route sont de parfait francophones. De plus, sa compagnie Pantanal Nature est très professionnelle: service irréprochable avant d arriver, avec offre d’aide logistique dans un très court temps, et voix très souriante de Raquele pour gérer toute la partie administrative.
“Ailton and his guides are knowledgeable, friendly, and dedicated. In our time at the Pantanal Jaguar Camp, we saw five jaguars, including a mating pair! The beauty of the Porto Jofre region is incredible, and spending time on the rivers viewing wildlife with Ailton is an experience we’ll never forget.” – Emily and Michael, Boston, MA, USA (2011—second tour with Pantanal Nature/Pantanal Jaguar Camp) http://andtherainforest.blogspot.com/2011/06/jaguars-of-pantanal.html
I recently visited Brazil for a conference and decided to prolong my stay in order to see some of Brazil's natural wonders. Having spent an early part of my childhood in Africa with frequent visits to places such as the Chobe and the Moremi and other parts of the Okavango wetlands, it certainly takes a lot to impress me.
Nonetheless, the five days I spent with Pantanal Nature cruising up and down the rivers in search of that elusive feline, the jaguar, ranks among the best wildlife experiences I've ever had. Fortunately hunting jaguars is illegal in most countries in South America, but this experience is somewhat reminiscent of a hunt - a hunt where you photograph your quarry once it is found. Pantanal Nature operates two, sometimes more, boats when searching for jaguars, and the boatmen communicate via VHF radio, also with boats from nearby lodges. Typically one gets up early in the morning and spends the entire day searching for the cats. There is the disappointment whenever a reported cat walks off into the bushes before you arrive, and sometimes the cats are simply difficult to find even though the whole day is spent searching. But the excitement when one is finally spotted is definitely worth the patience invested!
And the cruising up and down these beautiful stretches of river at relatively high speed is in itself a highly rewarding experience. There is much other wildlife to be seen while looking for the jaguar, and the birds found along the river are just incredible. Howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, capybara and caimans, for instance, are easy to spot.
I was extremely fortunate to have Ailton Lara, the owner, as my guide. Having grown up in the Pantanal he has exceptional knowledge of the region and its fauna and he is also involved with Panthera Corporation, i.e., in reporting and documenting each jaguar sighting he makes when out with tourists. Importantly, he speaks excellent english and knows the names of many of the animals in several languages, including the taxonomical classifications. And with guides like this, your chances of seeing the jaguar are excellent.
I arrived at the end of the season, in mid-november, which is not the best time to see the jaguars. One reason is the heat, which compels the cats to seek shade rather than a lookout on the edge of the river bank, another reason is the vegetation which is quite dense along the rivers at this time. Nonetheless, I got to see three jaguars during my five days' stay! Pantanal Nature, wisely I should say, does not provide a 100% guarantee that you will see the jaguar, but your chances could not be better with guides like these. The statistic, I believe, for the past two years is very near 100%. But those are my words.
At about noon, Labon, the other boatman will come along with the lunch, also top notch (!), and an hour or so is spent in the shade under some big trees resting a bit and enjoying the food.
All the food during my stay, and more water than you need (in cooling bags with ice on the boat) is included in the price. Beers and soft drinks are extra. During my 16 days stay in Brazil (Natal, Cuiaba and Jaguar Camp) the consistently best food I had the pleasure to enjoy was served by Carlos at Pantanal Nature's Jaguar Camp. The restaurant is a far cry from the luxury you would find in a city, but enjoying such excellent food to the sounds of the frogs and the cicadas is definitely something I enjoyed!
In deciding on Pantanal Nature I was initially apprehensive about trustworthiness and so forth, but my experience has been top notch all the way. Raquelle was there to pick me up at the airport as agreed, and the trip from/to Cuiaba to Jaguar Camp was in itself quite enjoyable with swamp deer, paca, rhea and other wildlife seen along the way. Upon leaving Cuiaba, Ailtons wife Vera drove me to the airport and even helped me at the check-in, since few people speak english in Brazil!
Well, this ended up being a lengthy review. But in the decision making stages of my own planning other peoples reviews were very important to me.
The tour itself was fantastic. We got to see what we expected to see and more. The part we enjoyed the most were the three days on the houseboat and the boat excursions morning and afternoon. The accommodations and food on the boat were more than acceptable. Soares, our boat driver, made the outings very interesting by finding wildlife around every turn. However, more than anything else, Fernando (Pantanal Nature Guide) made the trip a success. He is an energetic, knowledgeable and very polite young man. We enjoyed every minute with him.
We are glad we selected Pantanal Nature. Originally we had planned a trip to Brazil and this area with Overseas Adventure Travel, a company we have used in the past to travel to many destinations such as Africa and the Galapagos, very good trips, but the way they include the Pantanal in their trip to this area is a crime. They do everything except visit what is most important to the area, the wildlife along the rivers.
Once again, thank you for everything you did to make our adventure a success.
Peter Coriaco, USA (6D/5N Jaguar Premium Tour) - October 2015
We'd like to simply write a general review to let you know that all aspects of the tour were absolutely impeccable. Accommodation, staff at the hotel, guide, driver, food, everything was great. We have nothing to report! Juan (Pantanal Nature Guide) was amazing, better than anyone could have wished for!
Catherine Truong, Canada (4D/3N Wildlife Tour) - March 2015
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