Brazil’s Pantanal

This item appears on page 34 of the December 2011 issue.
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My husband, Ed, and I and our daughter, Allison, and son-in-law, Tim, took the tour “Pantanal Expedition” with International Expeditions (Helena, AL; 800/234-9620).

Our 10-day trip, July 15-24, 2011, cost $6,673 per person (after an early-booking discount of $250 and a repeat-customer discount of $100), including three internal flights and all tips except those to the main guide.

The top number of participants on an International Expeditions tour is 16; we had 13. Our main guide was Fred Tavares, who studied the biology and primates of Brazil and is a great photographer. In three places we also had a local guide.

After a day and a half in Rio and two days at Iguaçu Falls, our group flew to Cuiaba, gateway to the Pantanal. From there, it was about a three-hour drive to our lodge, passing through wetlands with lots of birds, including roseate spoonbills, herons, hawks and kingfishers, and animals, such as caimans, agoutis and capybaras. We got out of the bus and walked about a mile to better see the wildlife.

Aranas Eco Lodge has 19 rooms. I wouldn’t call it a luxury lodge, but it was comfortable enough and had air-conditioning and ceiling fans. Breakfast and lunch were served outside under a thatched roof near a swimming pool that wasn’t really large enough for much swimming. In a large tree, beautiful hyacinth macaws nested.

A lot of the area is flooded from January to March, drying out from April to July. Our visit was in mid-July; it was not too hot and we saw no mosquitoes.

In a swampy area close to the lodge were many capybaras and caimans. Supposedly, caimans are not dangerous, but we were advised not to wander at night without a flashlight.

Activities at the site included walks, horseback riding and canoeing. We took a motorboat trip and looked for giant river otters. We also climbed up one of two 82-foot towers near the lodge to be at eye level with the nest of a jabiru stork and two chicks.

On our last afternoon, a rare giant anteater came quite close to the lodge. Exciting! We also saw a yellow armadillo, black howler monkeys, brown capuchin monkeys, a crab-eating fox, a Brazilian tapir, marsh deer and gray brocket deer. Our daughter listed 63 birds that she saw, and our guide listed more than that.

NELL McCOMBS
Ventura, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Ed, and I and our daughter, Allison, and son-in-law, Tim, took the tour “Pantanal Expedition” with International Expeditions (Helena, AL; 800/234-9620).

Our 10-day trip, July 15-24, 2011, cost $6,673 per person (after an early-booking discount of $250 and a repeat-customer discount of $100), including three internal flights and all tips except those to the main guide.

The top number of participants on an International Expeditions tour is 16; we had 13. Our main guide was Fred Tavares, who studied the biology and primates of Brazil and is a great photographer. In three places we also had a local guide.

After a day and a half in Rio and two days at Iguaçu Falls, our group flew to Cuiaba, gateway to the Pantanal. From there, it was about a three-hour drive to our lodge, passing through wetlands with lots of birds, including roseate spoonbills, herons, hawks and kingfishers, and animals, such as caimans, agoutis and capybaras. We got out of the bus and walked about a mile to better see the wildlife.

Aranas Eco Lodge has 19 rooms. I wouldn’t call it a luxury lodge, but it was comfortable enough and had air-conditioning and ceiling fans. Breakfast and lunch were served outside under a thatched roof near a swimming pool that wasn’t really large enough for much swimming. In a large tree, beautiful hyacinth macaws nested.

A lot of the area is flooded from January to March, drying out from April to July. Our visit was in mid-July; it was not too hot and we saw no mosquitoes.

In a swampy area close to the lodge were many capybaras and caimans. Supposedly, caimans are not dangerous, but we were advised not to wander at night without a flashlight.

Activities at the site included walks, horseback riding and canoeing. We took a motorboat trip and looked for giant river otters. We also climbed up one of two 82-foot towers near the lodge to be at eye level with the nest of a jabiru stork and two chicks.

On our last afternoon, a rare giant anteater came quite close to the lodge. Exciting! We also saw a yellow armadillo, black howler monkeys, brown capuchin monkeys, a crab-eating fox, a Brazilian tapir, marsh deer and gray brocket deer. Our daughter listed 63 birds that she saw, and our guide listed more than that.

NELL McCOMBS
Ventura, CA