Pantanal question for a friend

So a friend of mine is going with his gf to Brazil, and is looking to spend a few nights in the Pantanal. They’re not huge wildlife enthusiasts like me, but they will definitely enjoy seeing the “big game” stuff, as long as they have a somewhat luxurious place to relax at the end of the evening.

I myself have only been to Northern Pantanal, but when we looked together at Jaguar Ecolodge, he said his girlfriend wouldn’t like staying there. So I was thinking:

What lodge would be the “best bet” for seeing Jaguars, Giant Anteaters and hopefully Tapirs and Otters over a 3-4 nights stay, that also has a nice feel to it?

For some reason I had thought Caiman Ecolodge was a good place, but I don’t see any reports from there on this site. And regarding Fazenda Barranco Alto – I saw at least a couple of reports that didn’t see jaguars while staying there.

I have some other palces I was thinking (Araras Lodge or Pouso Alegre in N. Pantanal) but anyaway – I will let you answer instead of making this a multiple choice question.

He’s going in End of Sept/Beginning of Oct.
Thanks in advance!!


  • Jason Waine

    Not sure just how picky the gf is but they might look at The Jaguar Flotel or
    Pouso Alegre

  • William Vanderpoel

    My brothers and I went to Brazil last late September including Cristalino Lodge in the Southern Amazonian Basin which was remarkable and the Northern Pantanal. We stayed at Pousada Piuval in the northern segment of the Transpantaneira Park Road which was awesome, good mammal sightings including 3 monkey species, Giant Anteater (only 1 and had to work hard to see it), Southern Tamandua, Tayra, 3 deer species, agouti, Crab-eating Fox and Raccoon. This is a working ranch which is nice, but not elaborate. They offered night drives which was critical.

    Then we continued to the southern-end of the Transpantaneira Road and stayed at the Hotel Porto Jofre which was well located for the boat trips but pretty basic accommodations, but we saw 8 different Jaguar and several groups of Giant River Otters along with good birding activity.

    We also stayed at the Southwild Lodge which was good, but if time is limited I would suggest the Pousada Piuval for more activities and overall mammal opportunities.

    Good luck, but if they are looking for higher-end ecolodges, the Pantanal might seem pretty basic.

  • kittykat23uk

    If they only have 3-4 nights and jaguar is the priority then they need to be looking at Porto Jofre for the best bet. I can’t comment on Southwild except to say that my guide wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole but if they are after luxury then they may wish to look at those options.

    Both times I have been to north pantanal I have hired Julio Monteiro of pantanal trackers.

    The lodges we stayed in include hotel pantanal north (porto jofre hotel) . It has a pool and clean but sparse rooms. Not luxe though.

    We also stayed a night at Piuval and Rio claro on our first trip. Both lodges were good and make good stop off points for the journey down to PJ.

    The last time I visited (last year) we had a night at pouso alegre in both directions – good for anteater and tapir we even got nine-banded armadillo there.

    We also stayed at pousada porto jofre and that was fine. It has a pool which we didn’t have time to use. It’s a bit more basic than hotel pantanal north.

    Trip report :’s-biggest-beasts/?tab=comments#comment-264124

    • Mattia from Italy

      Southwild and Jaguar Flotel are creations of the very controversial US businessman Mr. Charles Munn. Your guide was right, Kittykat, I would never stay in those places too.

      In the Pantanal I stayed at Porto Jofre Hotel, very nice place with Hyacint Macaws in the gardens and boat trips to see Jaguars (10 different individuals in two days) and Giant River Otters, and in other simple but clean Pousadas with Giant Anteaters and Tapir. I reccommend them, but it’s not luxury.

      Sadly too many people think that African safaris with 5-star lodges and close-prolonged views of big charismatic mammals are the norm even in the rest of the world…

  • Miles Foster

    I cannot speak for anteaters but as far as jaguars go I must concur with Jason and William, at least as far as the Flotel and Southwild are concerned. I recommended them when a similar question came up a while back but got a very sniffy response for my pains. My wife, Ingrid, and I visited the Pantanal in 2011 and stayed at Finca Santa Teresa on the Pixaim river and the Flotel, which were both run by Southwild. We were made very aware that the organisation had acquired a controversial reputation at the time and that some of the guides from other operators were distinctly biased, which appeared to be based entirely on rumour, jealousy and professional rivalry and was, as far as we could see, entirely unjustified. The guides at SouthWild were excellent (ours was Benedito de Freitas), and highly conscientious. The Flotel was ideally positioned and we had fantastic sightings (jaguars every day except one, when it rained), and all in all a very good time. I would certainly suggest your friend considers them. Jason is right that the Flotel is a bit basic but we found it fine for our purposes and, as William suggests, food and accommodation in the area is likely to be basic. At any rate, Mariana Valqui was in charge at Sta. Teresa and looked after us very well. We can also recommend Cristalino. (I tried to post this earlier without luck, so I hope it doesn’t appear twice!)

  • Cheryl Antonucci

    Hi Tomer
    About 8-9 years ago my parents wanted to visit the Pantanel and organized a stay at the Caimen Ecolodge. They like wildlife, but their idea of camping would be staying at a Holiday Inn, so they wanted to stay someplace nice. I invited myself along on this trip and was rewarded with my first ever Jaguar sighting. We saw one easily on the side of a river bank on an optional boat tour ( I think it was fifty dollars extra back then per person). Obviously it’s not a guarantee, but my sighting was just as good as the ones I’ve had later in life in more well known hotspots listed above. Plus, we saw a lot of wildlife every day ( including the giant anteater), the rooms were decent, the staff actually acted excited to look for and see things, and the food was great. It’s where I would easily tell a non hard core wildlife person to stay if they want to go to the Panatanl. However, make sure you do the whole “ it’s not a zoo disclaimer” that people LOVE to say.

  • John Vanderpoel

    Porto Jofre, a settlement on the Cuiabá River, at the end of the Transpanteneria Highway, is the only sure place to see Jaguar. That time of the year you are pretty much guaranteed to see multiple jaguars. Each day they’ll go out in boats twice (morning & afternoon). The boats are in communication with each other.

    I would combine this with Posada Piuval, where there is an excellent chance for Giant Anteater.

  • Ben Balmford


    Currently in Brazil, and just left the Pantanal. Piuval is nice but no chance for Jaguar. We saw Azaras night monkey and tapir there (plus both brockets) would recommend but probably only for one night. Southwild is fantastic, cannot recommend them highly enough – very professional. Plus great wildlife with Tapir and Ocelot observatories, although there may well be lots of photographers. For Porte Jofre, stay away from Porte Jofre Camping, aka Nico’s. We went to hotel Porte Jofre briefly – didn’t stay there, but staff kind. Whatever they do, very much don’t go near Jardes Gomes (Cuiaba Pantanal Tours). Will write a trip report for the whole thing asap.

  • Matt Miller

    It’s been a number of years since we went, but I’ll echo the recommendation for staying in Porto Jofre for jaguars. The boat tours have gotten really reliable. We actually spent one night at the Hotel Porto Jofre and then camped out for several nights…obviously not an option for your friend.

    The lodges/ranches along the Transpanteneira will offer good chances at seeing other species. We did not stay at Araras Lodge but walked around there one day and saw a lot of wildlife, including giant anteater.

    Like another commenter on this thread, we went with Julinho Monteiro who is a great guide and one of the first to reliably see jaguars.

    There is wildlife constantly in sight; it is one of the great natural areas of the world in my opinion. That said, I often see the “general tourist” (not naturalists or dedicated wildlife watchers) complain about the “lack of wildlife” in the Pantanal. Much of what you will see is birds, caimans, smaller mammals, etc. It is NOT the Serengeti with big mammals around every curve. You have to spend time looking to see the big stuff and even then it’s not a guarantee. I loved it and we spent 9 days there. We saw 5 jaguars, tapirs, a giant anteater, giant otters and much more. But it is definitely best for someone really into nature.

  • tomeslice

    Thanks so much for everyone’s comments!
    I will pass them on to my friend and his girlfriend.


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