Southern Pantanal & Bonito

The Southern portion of this unique biome


The numbers are impressive: 93 reptile species, 122 mammal species, around 300 species of fish, over 600 bird and 1032 butterfly species have been registered in the Pantanal so far, according to the WWF. In the heart of South America, the largest tropical wetland on Earth may not be as famous as the neighboring ecosystem to the north, the Amazon, but the absence of hills and big trees allows for the spotting of many more animal species throughout its area.

You will find birds everywhere. Heading south, the expedition leaves the flooding area on a drive to Bonito. This small town was christened after the crystalline waters of its rivers and waterfalls. But there is an even greater attraction for wildlife admirers: the Macaw Sinkhole (Buraco das Araras), an astonishing natural observatory where you can photograph red-and-green macaws from above while they take flight.

This is only possible because the macaws use the sandstone walls for roosting and nesting. And our observation point is located at the top of one side of this huge hole in the ground. There’s probably no other place in the world where a photographer can capture such beautiful red macaws in action and with those photogenic brown walls in the background. It’s simply amazing – and the best way to wrap up an immersive experience in this veritable Garden of Eden for wildlife lovers.

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Southern Pantanal and the fascinating natural areas of Bonito
  • Intensive viewing and photography – Up Close And Personal – Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Pampas Deer, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Green-Winged Macaw, Yellow Armadillo, Nine-banded Armadillo, Nanday Parakeet, Toco Toucan, Marsh Deer, Jabiru Stork, American Wood-Stork 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
  • Custom designed itinerary
  • Comfortable safari accommodation, most locations equipped with wifi
  • 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 - Campo Grande - Aquidauana (-, -, D)

Arrival in Campo grande, the state capital of Mato Grosso do Sul. Reception and transfer to Aguapé lodge. We will drive approximately 3:30h. Close to the lodge there are great chances to photograph the most iconic animal of this region and our main target there, the Giant Anteater.

DAY 2 - Aquidauana (B, L, D)

Early breakfast. Today we start the activities with a boat ride on the Aquidauana river, a very pleasant ride enjoining the riverine landscape and its fauna looking for Howler Monkeys, Neotropical and Giant Otters, Shore Birds and more. After lunch you can choose for a horseback ride feeling the pantaneiro lifestyle through the ranch.

DAY 3 - Aquidauana - Bonito (B, L, D)

In the morning we will drive around 3 hours until Bonito region. Lunch will be served at Rio da Prata. Later visit the famous Buraco das Araras, a sandstone sinkhole where the Red-and-Green Macaws stay all day long flying around and inside providing great photographic opportunities! In the end of the day we will drive for 45 min to the town of Bonito for dinner and overnight. Key species of the day: Red-and-Green Macaw, Lineated Woodpecker, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Amazonian Motmot, Peach-Fronted Parakeet.

DAYS 4, 5 - Bonito (B, L, D)

We will dedicate these two days to the following activities around Bonito:

Mysterious Lagoon
The lagoon called Lagoa Misteriosa (Mysterious Lagoon) is located around 52km away from Bonito. Its landscape is formed by a vertical rock wall. When the sunshine comes into the cave we have the stunning view of the transparent water. We start the tour walking in a trail to the lookout, from where it is possible to contemplate all the beauty of the tree vegetation that covers the 75 meters deep doline, and see the Mysterious Lagoon. From this point a 185 steps takes us near the water for our last briefing and preparation to swim. When we start the flotation, the view of the two blue chasms that form the bottom of the lagoon is impressive. The vertical rocky walls, the fallen trunks, the deposits of white sand, the antlers with golden leaves, the little fishes that shine with the beams of light, transform the Mysterious Lagoon into a unique environment. The lagoon is open for general public from May until September. Between October and April, surface algae are formed up to 15 meters deep, accessible only to professional divers.

São Miguel Caves
While the visitor waits for the moment of the tour into the São Miguel Caves, it is possible to observe several birds such as: Guaxes, Surucuá, Sanhaços, Canindé Macaws and more. Inside the caves we have the possibility to walk on a suspension bridge in the middle of the cerrado with a view of the treetops with stops at a viewpoint for bird watching. As a dry cavity, the visitor has the advantage of walking alongside the formations of speleothems such as Stalactites, Stalagmites, Travertines, sculpted by nature for millions of years. And so make the most of this intimate contact with true works of art from nature.

Sucuri River or Prata River flotation
This amazing tour begins with a 400 meters walk in the riparian forest where you can enjoy the natural beauty of the trees, orchids and bromeliads and see (with some luck) several species of mammals such as: Coati, Capuchin Monkey, Peccary, Cotia, Anteater, Cateto, among others, as well as observing the different species of birds who inhabit the place, and appreciate beautiful lookout points. Still on the trail, meet other springs, be astonished by the wonderful transparent blue, and let the boat that leads to the training deck from there, let the current of the river take you, and have the feeling of being inside an aquarium, where the fish, the volume and the transparency of this river make your trip unforgettable. When you are ready with snorkel gear and special diving suit, it is time to swim among aquatic plants and several shoals such as Piraputangas (brycon microlepis), Golden Dorado and Curimbas (Prochilodus lineatus. The water is incredibly clear and allows you to see several meters away because of its limestone composition of the region’s rocks.

Natural Aquarium
Floating tour in the Natural Aquarium and done on the Baía Bonita river. Before the start of the visit, you will be able to visit the attractive swimming pool and the logo. After, interpreting a 400m interpretive trumpet, killing the riparian bush and attaching it to the main source of the river. There are about 800m of floating until or found in the Formoso and Formosinho rivers, and, not the Formoso river, it is a stop to use the zip line. During or during a boat from Apoom Accompany or Group On Float.

DAY 6 - Bonito - Campo Grande - Departure (B, L, -)

Today we will visit again the Buraco das Araras looking for new photo opportunities of the macaws. After lunch, drive to the airport in Campo Grande. Departure to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and connections.

Quick Facts

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

Contact Us

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