Brazilian Amazon and Pantanal

A perfect display of nature.


Experience a unique journey of discovery into Brazil’s wild and fantastic biodiversity. The Amazon forest is a thick, green carpet of giant trees splayed between the waters of nine South American countries and it stands in contrast, on this tour especially designed for wildlife photographers, to the Pantanal, the world’s largest floodplain and the best place on Earth to photograph jaguars.

The selected area for this true immersive experience in distinct landscapes is Mato Grosso state, a transitional region between the Amazon Rainforest, home to one third of all the planet’s species, and the Pantanal, a vast wetland that lives at the mercy of waters heavily populated with animal-life. For photographers visiting during the suggested dry season, from May to October, this itinerary offers the opportunity to get great wildlife shots in a variety of fascinating sceneries.

The vegetation concentrated around the muddy Rio Teles Pires and the beautiful clear black waters of Rio Cristalino is packed with endemic bird species attracted by fruit-bearing trees. As these rivers are small and slow compared to their Amazonian counterparts to the north, there are more opportunities to photograph fauna here. Scarlet, blue and yellow macaws, curl-crested and red-necked araçaris, toucans, woodpeckers, tanagers and, with luck, the majestic harpy eagle are just a few of the species that wildlife lovers can view from the two galvanized steel towers standing 50 meters high, each with three observation platforms.

The surprisingly comfortable structure for our group located in a private reserve that borders Cristalino State Park is also perfect for early-bird travelers looking to get great shots in the very first light of day. As the towers’ highest platforms are situated above the treetops, tripods and cameras with lenses from 400mm to 600mm to watch and photograph birds and animals from an eye-level perspective. Don’t be surprised if spider monkeys, howlers and saki monkeys show up at that same level.

One of the advantages of this SouthQuest tour is the chance to be in the company of a top-notch team of bird and animal watching specialists led by Ricardo Casarin, one of the best natural history guides in Brazil.

As the expedition moves from one ecosystem to the other, it’s amazing to see how much more accessible animal-watching is in the open wetlands of the Pantanal, with its sparse trees, compared with the enclosed green spaces of the Amazon jungle. In addition to the immense variety of birds, caimans and capybaras seen in the Cristalino region, larger animals such as tapirs, giant otters and neotropical otters can be spotted during the road trip across Transpantaneira Park Road and the boat rides in the vicinity of Porto Jofre, where three rivers– the Cuiabá, Três Irmãos and Coricho Negro– converge. And there’s one highly-coveted target that can show up anytime to crown this intense journey of biodiversity: the onça-pintada, the fascinating jaguar of the Americas.

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy your stay at Cristalino Lodge, a perfect place for birders, nature photographers and natural history lovers due to an incredible biodiversity
  • Visit the two 50 meters towers in the Cristalino Lodge’s area, having an incredible experience to be above the forest canopy, watching the birds in flight such as: Scarlet Macaw, Curl-Crested Aracari, Red-Necked Woodpecker, a variety of Tanagers visiting the trees around and the endemic White-Wiskered Spider Monkey, plus the other species around
  • Explore a place that harbors some of the wildest, least impacted habitats in the Amazon and the world
  • Intensive viewing and photography in Northern Pantanal – Up Close And Personal – Jaguars, Giant Otters, Caiman, Macaws, Tapirs, Storks, and a wide variety of birds and other wildlife
  • Early morning and late afternoon photo shoots to take advantage of the best light, watching and waiting for wildlife in just the right setting
  • Count on assistance from SouthQuest’s naturalist guides who have vast experience with the local wildlife and photography excursions
  • Optional hands-on photography assistance by Brazilian NatGeo photographers

Suggested itinerary

DAY 1 - Alta Floresta - Cristalino Lodge (-, -, D)

Upon arrival from São Paulo and connections, we will welcome you at the airport of Alta Floresta. After 1 hour driving, we reach the edge of the Teles Pires river, where there will be a boat waiting for us. From this moment we start our immersion through the Amazon Rainforest enjoying the cozy structure of the Cristalino Lodge. Southern Amazon is recognized worldwide as one of the most important, in terms of biodiversity. Out of the original area of 700 hectares, just 2 hectares were used for the construction of the infrastructure that is today the sustainable hotel. Cristalino is the name of the Amazon river whose dark waters run for 114 miles from its source in the state of Pará to its mouth in Mato Grosso, where the Cristalino Lodge is located. The Portuguese word cristalino means “crystalline” or “crystal clear”, which is a perfect description of this pure, well preserved river, despite the dark color of the water – caused by the tannin released from decaying leaves and the pink granite rock formations that provide some stunning landscapes.

DAYS 2 and 3 - Cristalino Lodge (B, L, D)

During our stay we will enjoy some memorable experiences within this wonderful setting, with guided trips into the forest and along the river. The daily activities include walking the forest trails accompanied by experienced guides, birding and visiting local conservation projects. Boating and canoeing, plus enjoying the beautiful sunrises and sunsets from the vantage point of one of the 50 meters observation towers are among the outstanding memories of the guests. From above the forest canopy, we can watch the birds in flight such as: scarlet macaw, curl-crested aracari, red-necked woodpecker, a variety of tanagers visiting the trees and the endemic white-wiskered spider monkey, plus the other species around. Others might prefer to relax on the floating deck built over the River Cristalino or take a nap in a hammock. The Cristalino experience is for birders, nature photographers and natural history lovers. The day-by-day consist in early morning breakfast, activity, lunch at the lodge, afternoon activity and dinner at the lodge.

DAY 4 - Cristalino Lodge - Alta Floresta - Cuiabá (B, L, -)

In our last morning at Cristalino, we can enjoy one of the outings the lodge offer before the transfer back until to meet our driver on the edge of the river. Later, we will have lunch in Alta Floresta and then fly to Cuiabá. Transfer to the hotel in town and overnight.

DAY 5 - Cuiabá - Porto Jofre (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we depart for Porto Jofre (5 hours driving), our base for the next days. We can make a few stops along the way to photograph the wildlife. Porto Jofre is the end of the Transpantaneira park road and the edge of the Cuiabá river. This is the home of the largest cat of the Americas, the mighty Jaguar. After check-in, we will star the activities with a half day boat trip looking for the local wildlife.

DAY 6, 7, 8 - Porto Jofre (B, L, D)

Full days dedicated to navigate through the Cuiabá river and its tributaries in search of the Jaguars and the riverine fauna. Here you will spend some time on a skiff with an experienced local naturalist, who will wind you through a maze of waterways, deep into jaguar territory for very dependable sightings, positioning the boat for the best angle to afford you fantastic viewing and photo opportunities. Although the focus of this tour is on Jaguars, you will also see and photograph some rare and iconic species, such as Giant River Otter, Neotropical Otter, Tapir, Yellow-Billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Herons, Anaconda and much more!

DAY 9 - Porto Jofre - Poconé (B, L, D)

Today we will drive back on the Transpantaneira road to a new lodge which is a cozy place settled inside a deciduous forest just beside a “corixo” and Pantanal Chanel, where we’ll be surrounded by loats of birds! Key species: Woodpeckers, Woodcrepers, Parrots and Parakeets, Agami Heron and Marmosets.

DAY 10 - Poconé - Cuiabá - Departure (B, -, -)

Early morning check-out and drive back straight to the airport in Cuiabá. Here we can take the flight back to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and connections.

Quick Facts

  • Amazon and Northern Pantanal, Brazil
  • May to October
  • Nature Photography
  • Birdwatching
  • Natural History
  • Individuals & Groups
  • All physical levels

Contact Us

If you want to book this tour, customize the itinerary or take any questions, please fill out the form below and our team will get in touch with you as soon as possible.