Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Cuiaba, the gateway to the Northern Pantanal. The Pantanal, the largest continuous wetland on the planet and declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, is South America's primary wildlife sanctuary. With a total area of approximately 58,000 square miles, the Pantanal marks the heart of the South American continent brings together several diverse regions: the Amazon rainforest, the Catinga, the Brazilian Savannah, the Atlantic Rainforest and the Paraguayan Chaco. This amazing conjunction of ecosystems boats an equally fantastic biodiversity including 698 bird species, 80 mammals, 260 fish species and 50 reptiles.
This morning, upon arrival at the Cuiaba airport, your guide will meet you and you will embark on an adventure to Porto Jofre in the heart of the Pantanal (drive time approx 3.5 hours). Take this afternoon and evening to rest and get ready for the coming days.
Days 2-3: Jaguar Spotting
For the next two mornings, after breakfast depart for an exhilarating boat trip up the Cuiaba River and channels in search of jaguars! This region has the highest jaguar population density in the entire Pantanal. During each outing, we have a 95% chance of seeing Jaguars, especially from mid-June to mid-November. Depending on the weather, lunch will be served each day either out in the field or back at the lodge.
Day 4: Transpantaneira
This morning you depart for the Araras Eco Lodge. The transfer is divided into two stages: the first, on a paved road for 65 miles to Poconé, past farms and across the Brazilian savanna. After a short stop in Poconé, you start the second stage of the transfer entering the beginning of the famous Transpantaneira Park Road (dirt road) built up above the floodplain. The road has more than 127 wooden bridges, fording fields, bays and grazing lands. The Araras Eco Lodge is located about 20 miles down the highway. The second half of the drive doubles as a photo-safari given the numerous amounts of animal and bird species found along this unique highway. The vehicle will make several stops for photos.
Upon arrival at the Araras Eco Lodge, we will be greeted with a welcome drink and shown to our rooms. After dinner, we take part in a star gazing trek, to hear the hypnotic sounds of the Pantanal and take advantage of the glittering night skies uninterrupted by any light pollution.
Days 5-6: Pantanal Exploration
Wake up each morning and discover the marvellous flora and fauna of the Pantanal! With your expert local naturalist guide and by either by truck, horseback, canoe or foot (depending the season) you will be able to interact with and gain deeper understandings of this complex ecosystem. Choose from a wide variety of excursions that speak most to your interests ranging from hiking to horseback riding, photo jeep safaris, canoeing, and more. In the evenings, climb up 82 ft high in the Monkey's Tower to watch the region's unforgettable sunsets.
Day 7: Pantanal - Amazon
Riding early, you have the chance today to do a sunrise walk. You return to the lodge for breakfast and then depart at 7:30AM back to Cuiaba. From Cuiaba, you fly to Alta Floresta (not included). Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and escorted out to the Cristalino Private Natural Heritage Reserve: your home for the next four nights (transfer time approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes).
The Cristalino Jungle Lodge is nestled in the middle of a Private Rainforest Reserve in the Southern Amazon, allowing visitors to completely immerse themselves in this unique ecosystem. The pristine Cristalino River, with clean and beautiful water, lies just in front of the lodge. The lodge's own forest reserve is located just beyond the borders of the Cristalino State Park, an extremely important conservation area covering 456,800 acres. The park is connected to other protected areas forming a huge conservation corridor in the Southern Amazon. The rooms were built in order to promote close contact between the visitors and the surroundings; they have been designed to offer both comfort and a pleasant stay. Sustainable practices are present in the solar heating, gray water treatment system, black-water treatment system and in the roof design to maintain cool room temperatures. This region is recognized as an important area of the Amazon in terms of biodiversity. The exceptional number of species, even for the Amazonian standards, makes this one of the richest places in the Amazon for observing birds, mammals, butterflies, and orchids in a Primary Forest environment. There is also a large variety of endemic species.
Days 8-10: Southern Amazon
Three full days of exploration in the Southern Amazon with your expert naturalist Cristalino guides. Each day offers a choice between easier or more active trail hikes and excursions through the private reserve. Follow jungle trails through pristine forest to observation towers and higher sierras. Paddle through the remote waterways while canoeing and spot wildlife from a different perspective. Take advantage of rising early in the morning and watch as the jungle comes to life through the activity of the various monkey and bird species. Watch for Brown Capuchins, Red Howlers, White-nosed Bearded Sakis, Harpy Eagles, Hawks, Macaws, Hoatzin and more! Enjoy yoga, meditation, and photography workshops to maximize your experience in this stellar environment. All meals are included while at Cristalino Lodge.
Day 11: Amazon - Rio de Janeiro
This morning you depart the Amazon and set off back to Alta Floresta where you catch your flight to Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro is the cultural capital of Brazil. Over nearly 500 years of history, it has been the main hub for the country’s principal cultural exports and home to countless international art exhibitions and musical events. Rio’s architecture offers a stunning variety of churches and buildings dating back to the 16th century, blending with modern designs of the 20th. In southern neighbourhoods along the sea front, the city preserves the memory of names such as Tom Jobim and João Gilberto, who wrote the first chords of the Bossa Nova. Upon arrival in Rio, you will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel on the famous Copacabana beach.
Day 12: Sugar Loaf Mountain & Afternoon at the Beach
Breakfast and departure to visit Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was at the feet of Urca Hill that the city of Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565 by Estácio de Sá. Upon arrival, you have the chance to take an exhilarating ride on the cable-car from Praia Vermelha to Urca Hill (700 ft), a point from which one can see Corcovado, the Rio-Niterói bridge, Guanabara Bay, and its islands with a majestic background of lush, emerald mountains that surround and protect the city. From Ucra Hill you continue on the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain (1,295 ft). From here you have a unique vista of Copacabana and the Santa Cruz Fortress. Time permitting (depending on your flight), enjoy the afternoon as the locals do! At your own leisure visit the beach or explore the city.
Day 13: Christ the Redeemer & Santa Teresa
After breakfast, you head out at 8 AM and travel to Tijuca National Park, stopping at the Chinese Belvedere to take in the postcard-perfect vista of Rio de Janeiro. Tijuca National Park renown as the largest urban forest on earth. Once inside, you follow several of the contouring paths. Watch for tropical animals like monkeys, sloths, and a variety of exotic birds. After your stroll, you take off to the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain. Once you have taken your fair share of photos, you head to the charming district of Santa Teresa with its hilly cobblestoned streets, antique homes and boutique museums.
Day 14: Departure
Enjoy today at your own leisure. Afternoon or evening transfer to the international airport for flight home.