Pantanal’s Big Five


August 3 - 20, 2019
Cost: $11,625
Leader: Zapa Zaparoli
Group Size: 10
Days: 18

Safari Overview

Seek South America’s “Big Five” including jaguars in Brazil’s Pantanal via boat, bus, and safari vehicles. Travel to both the north and south Pantanal regions where marshes, lakes, and streams provide diverse ecosystems that foster superb wildlife encounters of South America’s Big Five: jaguar, giant anteater, giant otter, ocelot, and South American tapir. Travel down the famous “Transpantaneira Highway” to Porto Jofre where day tours on the Cuiabá River afford numerous opportunities to see jaguars, giant otters, and others not easily seen by land. While in the southern Pantanal, stay at Caiman Lodge, a top wildlife destination in Brazil, and also a sure bet for giant anteaters and ocelots. Find a plethora of beautiful birds, such as the hyacinth macaw, to photograph and enjoy. The Pantanal Conservation Complex is a UNESCO world heritage site and biosphere reserve of spectacular beauty.

• Cruise rivers in a comfortable riverboat for many wildlife encounters, including the elusive jaguar.
• Night drives to find nocturnal animals such as the ocelot, giant anteater, and South American tapir.
• Jabiru and hyacinth macaws up close and personal along the Transpantaneira highway.
• World-class Caiman Lodge with gourmet food, top-rated accommodations, and plenty of wildlife.

We are working on details for this safari. Please contact us if you would like more information.

Itinerary Updated: October 2017


Our Trip Leaders

Zapa Zaparoli

Cassiano "Zapa" Zaparoli has been leading wildlife tours throughout Brazil and especially the Pantanal for many years since finishing university. He has a deep love of the wildlife of his home country, Brazil, and calls the Pantanal “the best wildlife destination in South America.” A photographer with an eye for composition, he enjoys traveling throughout South America photographing wildlife. Finding the rare mammals of the Pantanal takes great patience, knowledge, and experience - Zapa has these qualities.


Tour the north and south Pantanal via boat, bus, and safari vehicles to seek South America’s “Big Five” including Jaguars.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $11,625
Single Supplement $2,850

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second July 1, 2018 $1,000
Final February 1, 2019 Remaining balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.


Not Included


The Pantanal can be very hot, from 90 to 100+ °F (32 to 38+°C), especially during midday and afternoons. Stormy, windy weather from the south can make boating on the rivers very chilly (30°F colder than normal, so in the 60s °F (~15-20 °C)), so plan to layer clothes to be prepared for these drastically changing conditions!

Fitness Level

Most wildlife viewing is done from small boats and vehicles. Walks to search for wildlife are generally less than an hour over relatively flat trails or along the gravel roads.


All airfare, including internal flights, is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight ticketing agent is included in the Trip Materials we will send after we receive your reservation; she can help you arrange your flights. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later.


When is the best time to go to the Pantanal?

We tour the Pantanal in August and September during the dry season after the waters that flooded the Pantanal receded, forcing the wildlife to concentrate around leftover ponds. Fields are now dry enabling us to hike and drive safari-style through them to look for wildlife. It is also warmer (but not too hot for us yet) during these months and the coolness of the river entices Jaguars to the riverbanks to cool off. August and September are also good months to see plentiful birds.

Am I guaranteed to see the Pantanal’s “Big Five” - Jaguar, Giant Anteater Giant Otter, Ocelot, and South American Tapir?

We cannot guarantee that we will see all of the “big five” Pantanal mammals. Wildlife is wild and does its own thing. But to meet this goal, we spend the maximum time possible in the field to greatly increase our chance of seeing the Big Five and lots more.

Why do you spend so much time on rivers in the Pantanal?

During days near the Cuiabá and other rivers, we spend a lot of time in boats since that is the best way to see Jaguar and other wildlife. Wildlife is accustomed to tourist boats and feels safe around them generally allowing us to approach close. The boats have limited space, but you will have room near your feet and on your lap for your daypack and camera gear. The boat seats are comfortable with back rests. We usually go out early in the morning, return for lunch, and go out in the afternoon again, perhaps returning late.

Should I worry about seasickness on rivers in the Pantanal?

The rivers in this region are calm and we have never had problems with anyone getting seasick.


All lodges have private baths and air conditioning. The eco-lodges follow the Brazilian custom of placing used toilet paper into the provided receptacle to avoid plumbing problems.



Travel will be by mini-bus, boat, and commercial air. The mini-bus is air-conditioned. Some remote roads in the Pantanal can be unpaved, dusty, and bumpy. Some of the drives between regions are long, between one and five hours, but most of these are on paved, modern roads. The boats are comfortable and easy to board and unload.


  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.