Just a few years ago, it was inconceivable that there could be a place where a photographer could reliably photograph wild jaguars in their home habitat, and better yet, in the open along a river bank and in great light. Incredibly, such a place exists in the Pantanal wetland of Brazil. The Visionary Wild group that visited in August 2013 enjoyed multiple jaguar sightings each day, lasting anywhere from five minutes to an hour and a half each, totaling nine individuals patrolling their territories in the area. We discovered a mother and daughter that had not been known to local biologists (so members of our group got to assign the nicknames biologists will use for reference), and we were very fortunate to see one of our favorite cats, nicknamed "Mick Jaguar," stalk and take down a 200-pound, seven-foot-long caiman from a great vantage point just forty meters away! Rivers and channels provide easy access by boat to water's-edge locations frequented by the big cats in the dry season.This is the closest thing to an East African photo safari in the New World.
The Brazilian Pantanal, the world's largest continental wetland, is a luxuriant forest-savannah mosaic in central-western Brazil that is home to the highest density of jaguars in the world. It is also simply the greatest wildlife spectacle of Latin America. In addition to its jaguars, which are far more accessible to photographers here than anywhere else in their range, it harbors the world’s largest parrots (hyacinth macaw), the world’s largest snake (anaconda), the world’s largest otter, and many other species of wildlife, often in astonishingly high densities.
Award-winning nature photographer and film maker Jeff Foott – a Pantanal veteran – looks forward to sharing this expedition with six passionate photographers. The small group size will ensure ample space to maneuver for photography from the boats.
Our floating hotel is anchored right in the middle of the best jaguar action. When compared with other accommodations in the area, this privileged location on the water permits us to spend up to two hours extra time per day with the cats, and at the best times of day for quality of light, comfortable temperatures, and scenic beauty in the Pantanal. We have secured enough space on the "Flotel" for each of the six participants to have a private en-suite room if they wish (double-occupancy clients save $650 per person; single-occupancy rate is $10,150).
Click "read more" below right for the itinerary, photo gallery, and more information...
Why did we choose this location? First and foremost, it is centrally-located to allow fast boat access to Jaguars spotted on any part of the 80 kilometers of river that years of research have proven to be the world's most productive location for photography of wild jaguars.
14 Aug. Thurs: Land late morning in Cuiaba, Brazil, flying in from São Paulo International Airport. Lunch in Cuiabá before driving to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge, across the Transpantaneira highway, photographing as opportunities present themselves along the way. Arrive to SouthWild Pantanal in late afternoon. Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge.
15 Aug. Fri: Early in the morning, after breakfast and a possible visit to the lodge by Toco Toucans, leave the lodge to drive south 80 km (50 miles) to the end of the road at Porto Jofre. Travel upstream 15.5 km (in 30 min) by boat to the SouthWild Jaguar Flotel. Check-in and then go out in Jaguar search boats, with one person per row. Lunch at noon, followed by a break until 2:00 pm, when we head out again in the boats to search for jaguars and giant otters. This afternoon outing will run until sunset. Overnight at SouthWild Jaguar Flotel.
16 Aug. Sat: Morning and afternoon boat outings (a total of 8 h of boat outings during the period between 600 am and 600 pm) in search of Jaguars, giant otters, tapirs, caiman, macaws, and other fauna. Overnight at the SWJF.
17 Aug. Sun: Rinse and repeat
18 Aug. Mon: Rinse and repeat
19 Aug. Tues: Rinse and repeat
20 Aug. Weds: After breakfast, check-out of the flotel and boat in one large transfer boat for the 15.5 km to the river port downstream and board a vehicle for the transfer back up the last 80 km to SouthWild Pantanal Eco-Lodge. Lunch at SouthWild Pantanal, and rest until the afternoon outing starts at 2:30 pm. Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal. SWP has a number of spectacular photo opportunities that are not possible at the Jaguar Flotel. Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal lodge.
21 Aug. Thurs: Two outings at SouthWild Pantanal (one boat ride per day, and also work the two wildlife observation towers and a number of species of habituated large vertebrates such as Marsh Deer, Jabiru Storks, hawks that take fish from the water's surface, Ringed Kingfishers that do the same, and Brown Capuchin monkeys in the forest trails at the lodge. Overnight at SWP lodge.
22 Aug. Fri: Out at 9:00 am (after breakfast) to drive 2.5-3.0 h back to the Cuiabá Airport to catch a flight to São Paulo to then fly home that evening.