Pantanal Photographic Tour 26 July - 3 August 2015
There are a few places in the world where the wildlife is so abundant that it keeps you awake at night. The Pantanal is one of these places. Known for many years as a bird lovers paradise the region has now developed into a wildlife photographer’s paradise of abundant birdlife, languid rivers, amazing mammals, caiman and of course, the enigmatic but now very attainable, jaguar. If it is not the noise of the birds in the morning that awake you, it will surely be the thought of the jaguars prowling around the jungle and river course that you will be searching for.
The last few years has seen an increase in jaguar numbers to the point that it is now quite common to see a number in one afternoon’s drive. Coupled with the amazing birdlife and other mammals the Pantanal offers photographers unlimited photographic opportunities. Macaws and toucans are heard and seen in many locations along the road enabling you to capture excellent images of them. Additionally, in some locations, the caimans literally cover the road, blocking our path and in others you can creep right up to the Capybaras for intimate portrait images. Other species such as giant anteaters and armadillo’s ensure that your shutters will be in continuous mode whilst you will be in constant amazement at the uniqueness of the species you will have to photograph.
For most photographers and visitors to the Pantanal, the jaguar is the iconic species of the region and you will spend four nights on the Cuiaba River, in the best location and in the best season, searching for them. This is a fitting end to your Pantanal safari as the location could not be a better one. The jaguar is the undisputed master of the river and jungle and on this tour you will be visiting both in equal measure.
This photographic expedition, is co-organised by Iconic Images International, Australia and C4 Images & Safaris, South Africa.
As there is accommodation for a maximum of twelve (12) clients on the tour, registrations will be accepted strictly in the order they were received.
The tour leader is my very good friend and professional photographer, Shem Compion.
Unfortunately, I have an unavoidable clash of commitments at this time in 2015 – see Iconic Namibia 2015 and Iconic BBC Wildlife Photography with Greg du Toit 2015.
Therefore, sadly I will not be accompanying Shem and his fellow guides, but I can assure you, you will be in very capable hands.
This Pantanal tour will be run to exactly the same high standards I use on all Iconic Images photographic safaris and tours.
Shem is the founder and owner of C4 Images and Safaris. He uses his deep knowledge of travel in Africa, its wildlife and the optimum photographic locations to deliver to you the best photographic tour experience you will ever likely have. A self-taught wildlife photographer, Shem quickly established himself as one of the top wildlife photographers in South Africa. His work is regularly published worldwide in magazines, calendars and books. In 2010, he supplied all 72 images to the extremely popular Africa Geographic calendar. He is the author of five books and has two new books in preparation.
André grew up in the African bush with literally his binoculars in one hand and his camera in the other. An avid birdwatcher, he was given his first SLR in 1990. His passion for “birding” transformed into bird photography to the extent he is now recognised as one of the top bird photographers in Southern Africa. In 2004 he c0-founded C4 Images and Safaris with Shem.
Paul Donahue – Local Pantanal Specialist Guide.
On your travels through the Pantanal you will have local specialist Paul Donahue as your local guide. Paul is a US-based ornithologist who first visited the Pantanal fifteen years ago. He became obsessed with the neotropics and visits it and the Amazon every year. Paul has now become a leading authority on the birds of the Pantanal as well as the jaguars. He has personally collected data of all the known jaguars in the national parks and compiled the information into one of the most comprehensive research data bases available. There are fewer people in the Pantanal who know its animals and birds as well. He will continually share his intimate knowledge and experience of the flora and fauna of this unique region, with you. His presence will greatly enrich your visit and help you experience the region in ways not available to many photographers.
Day 1: CUIABÁ: Arrival at Cuiabá Airport. Your tour starts upon your arrival in Cuiaba.
A C4 Images and Safaris representative who will meet you on arrival and transfer by road to your hotel, the Hotel Hits Pantanal.
Dinner is included on the first evening.
Day 2: PANTANAL – Pouso Alegre Ranch
After breakfast you will transfer by road from Cuiaba and head south along the Transpantaneira highway, with several stops in route for shooting wildlife such as spectacled caimans, capybaras, Chaco chachalacas, scarlet-headed blackbirds, capped herons, etc. arriving around lunchtime at Pouso Alegre, a cattle ranch located inside the Pantanal, which thanks to its environmental protection policies is also a wildlife paradise. Here you can expect to see and photograph an excellent variety of birdlife. Also expect to see lots of caiman and capybaras along the sides of the road leading to the ranch.
Day 3: PANTANAL: Pouso Alegre Ranch
You will spend a full day exploring the savannahs, wetlands and forests. You will navigate Claro River where you can expect to photograph spectacled caimans, white-lipped peccaries, red-collared hawks, Amazon kingfishers, wattled jacanas, and many other species. Spectacled and broad-nosed caimans, yellow anacondas, capybaras and marsh deer frequent the ponds and flooded areas, and the savannahs and forests are the habitat of the giant anteater, greater rheas, coatis and several black-and golden howler monkeys. Very close to the lodge two pairs of tame hyacinth macaws are nesting, the largest parrots on Earth. These birds move in and out of the lodge gardens throughout the day so you should enjoy decent photo opportunities with them. You will have access to blind/hide exclusively located on the property that has a very active pond in front of it. Brazilian tapirs, red brocket and marsh deer, white-lipped peccaries and other mammals visit it. This is a fantastic way to get really close to these animals and photograph them from the unusually low perspective the hide/blind offers.
Note: Pouso Alegre was a working cattle ranch but has been converted entirely to tourism. You will be accommodated in comfortable en-suite rooms that are part of the ranch. These rooms are very new, built in 2014. You can expect a typical ranch feel to Pouso Alegre whilst being accommodated in comfortable surrounds.
Day 4: PIXAIM RIVER TRIP – St Teresa Lodge
This morning your road transfer will be along the Transpantaneira highway to your next accommodation along the Pixaim River – St Teresa Lodge. From here you will take a boat trip to photograph fishing black-collared and great black hawks, jabirus, ringed kingfishers and families of giant river otters that have been habituated. A walk along the trails will allow you to get close images of howler monkeys. You will stay in the St Teresa Lodge right on the river. Bird feeders and Caimans ensure there is a host of life and activity around the lodge all day.
Day 5: PORTO JOFRE
Taco toucans and chestnut-eared aracaris, together with colourful tanagers, visit the lodge’s feeders at breakfast time before your departure southwards. Here you should be able to get intimate portrait images of these iconic species before we continue the trip towards Cuiabá River with stops in route for photographing marsh deer, caimans, white-necked herons, Cerrado macaws, Amazon parrots, roseate spoonbills and other species. Arrive at Porto Jofre, where you will transfer into a small boat and cruise up the river to the Floating Hotel (Flotel) where you will stay for your next 4 nights. In the afternoon you will take your first boat trip in search of the elusive and endangered jaguar, as well as other wildlife.
Days 6, 7 & 8: CUIABÁ RIVER – Flotel
Based in your floating lodge, each day you will navigate the Cuiabá River and its tributaries at Parque Estadual Encontro das Aguas (Meeting of the Waters State Park), where jaguars live and hunt spectacled caimans, capybaras, tapirs, anacondas and other preys along the riverbanks during the dry season. The Pantanal jaguar subspecies is the largest one in the Americas, and its population has been growing in the region due to its increased protection. You will have available excellent local boatmen and guides to help you find the jaguars.
You will depart in a motorboat very early in the morning and also after 3:30 pm in search of these spectacular felines that usually hunt caimans and mammals (without being afraid of photographers). In addition to the jaguars, you will also focus in other wildlife such as Brazilian tapirs, capybaras (the World’s Largent rodents), broad-nosed and spectacled caimans, Chaco chachalacas, giant river otters, collared peccaries, anhingas, giant sloths, howler monkeys, ospreys, black-collared hawks and red-breasted toucans, among many other species. This area is a fantastic location to spend the last 4 days of your safari and you should expect to find a number of jaguars here.
Day 9: TRANSFER FROM PORTO JOFRE TO CUIABÁ
After breakfast you will return by charter flight to Cuiabá (a Cessna Caravan airplane) that will take you on a panoramic flight over the Pantanal ecosystems to Cuiabá Airport for connection with international flights to home or to other destinations. This is a fitting way to end the tour as seeing the Pantanal from the air is a marvel of winding rivers and floodplains.
When you arrive at Cuiaba airport this will be the end of the photo tour.
Inclusions & Exclusions
What is included:
- Accommodation in all the locations listed.
- Private transfers and transportation in air-conditioned vehicles.
- Private boat trips for the group with only 3 photographers per boat.
- All meals
- Entrance fee to Transpantaneira.
- English-speaking naturalist guide at all locations.
- Continuous assistance/tuition with your photography.
What is not included:
- International flights to/from Brazil.
- Travel and cancellation insurance.
- Airport taxes, if applicable.
- Travel visas.
- Personal expenses such as private purchases during the tour.
Costs & Terms of Payment
US$7,190.00 per person – sharing.
US$7,950.00 per person – unshared room. All requests for unshared rooms must be clearly indicated at the time of registration.
Terms of Payment
1. A non-refundable holding deposit of 30% per person, together with a completed Registration Form.
2. The balance is payable eight (8) weeks before departure, i.e. on or before Friday 29 May 2015.
Please note, all payments are to be made directly to C4 Images & Safaris when you register.
How To Register
To simplify and expedite the registration process, registration for this photographic tour will be made directly to C4 Images & Safaris.
To register, please click the REGISTRATION FORM button in the sidebar, download the PDF, complete all sections of the form and follow the instructions for return of the form and payment of the initial deposit, directly to C4 Images & Safaris.
Pantanal Hits Hotel
This hotel is not far from the city of Cuiabá and Marechal Rondon Airport. It features spacious accommodation with free Wi-Fi, plus a large pool, sauna and gym. The 4-star rooms at Hits Pantanal Hotel provide air conditioning, TV and minibar. For guests convenience, room service and a 24-hour front desk are available.
A daily tropical buffet breakfast is served, including a variety of fruits and local specialities. The restaurant offers regional and international dishes, while snacks and drinks can be ordered from the bar.
Hits Pantanal is located 200 metres from Várzea Grande´s Marechal Rondon Airport and 5 km from the city of Cuiabá. The beautiful Chapada dos Guimarães National Park is 73 km away. Airport shuttle services and free on-site parking are available.
Pouso Alegre Ranch Hotel
A wild traditional cattle ranch of 9,000 hectare. The location is very pleasant in spacious buildings with just 20 rooms and a panoramic veranda looking onto the savannah from where a constant breeze blows.
It is surrounded by palm trees that provide food and shelter to many Hyacinth Macaws.
The most versatile form of exploring the Pantanal is on horseback, which makes it easier to cross the forests and the flooded areas.
Well-known dishes plus delicious local specialties are served.
All twenty spacious rooms are fitted with private shower/bath and toilet; twelve rooms have air conditioning the remainder have ceiling fans.
Swarms of macaws are frequently found in immediate proximity of the Fazenda, in the oil palms. Around mid-day they retire to the palms to evade the heat during which there will be excellent opportunities of viewing and photographing photograph these magnificent photogenic birds.
Other species of animals, e.g. toco toucan, rhea, jabiru, noses, anteaters, water pigs, otters and great collections of caymans are seen frequently. This Fazenda is “must visit” location one for nature lovers and wildlife photographers.
The ranch hotel is in one of most beautiful locations in the Pantanal whilst accommodation are meals are simple yet very acceptable.
St Teresa Lodge
This lodge has ten double-occupancy rooms with air conditioning and private, hot-shower bathrooms. The largest rooms easily accommodate up to four single beds, which is ideal for families. The large, screened dining room and lounge features a full bar and specializing in caipirinhas, the Brazilian national cocktail. Three meals are included per day. The lodge offers laundry service, and free drinking water. Upon request, guides are available in German, English or Portuguese.
The activities offered by the hotel ensure a continuous interaction with Pantanal fauna and flora in different situations and environments: trekking, motorboat ride, horseback ride, fishing and bicycle.
This unique hotel has specially trained jaguar guides/boat drivers as well as a team of English speaking wildlife guides. The Transpantanal Flotel, which is anchored 2.5 kilometres downstream from the mouth of the Three Brothers River, permits you to be in the middle of the jaguars territory that in recent times has produced an average of two jaguar sightings per day.
In 2011 and 2012, all guests who spent three nights/four days in this location saw and photographed both jaguars and giant otters. Built in 2010, the Flotel is an air-conditioned, floating hotel with ten double-occupancy rooms with air conditioning, en suite bathrooms, flush toilets and never-ending, hot showers. The Flotel’s large, air-conditioned dining room/lounge has picture windows that look out over the wild Pantanal on the mighty Cuiabá River.
Additionally, guests can relax in hammocks, sunbathe, or enjoy breakfast, lunch, or after-dinner drinks on the Flotel’s expansive, partially roofed top deck. Generators provide electrical power to the Flotel and a “night time” generator is located on a separate craft downstream, thus eliminating noise for guests.