Trip Report Pantanal Photo Tour
Abundant biodiversity in Brazil’s Midwest
After many photo safaris in Africa and India it was clear to us already for quite some time, that we would like to include a tour to the jaguars in Pantanal in our program.
With a lot of effort and even more emails back & forth we chose a suitable local partner. For this we use different criteria, such as impeccable organization, experience in dealing with photographers, references from befriended photographers, etc. In the end we found the right partner and the first impression was more than positive. We travelled to Brazil in July for a research-tour in the Pantanal.
Jennifer & Thomas
Amazing Views Photo & Adventure Tours
Jennifer & Thomas Brühlmann
Amazing Views Photo & Adventure Tours
On the Paraguay River
After a quiet flight from Zurich to Sao Paolo we flew directly to Cuiabá. We spent the first night of our upcoming trip in Cuiabá, a gateway city to Pantanal. The next morning, we were picked up by our guide Ben. He is very experienced in dealing with photographers and knows how to put the photo motives in the best light. He also worked on several productions of BBC and Netflix. As a passionate birder and naturalist, he is of course also a passionate photographer.
The drive for our first accommodation by the Paraguay River takes several hours and leads us along busy main roads until we turn off onto a gravel road. The road is first well maintained and then becomes narrower and narrower. We drive overland and pass only few farms. Already after a few kilometres we discover the first anteater, which is however some hundred meters away from the road. On the drive further we take pictures of the first hyacinth macaws. Our first accommodation is a former farm, which was converted into a small eco-tourism hotel. A little tired from the long travel from Switzerland and the drive from Cuiabá we enjoyed the first nutritious dinner.
The first days on wildlife stalking hide by the river
Next morning, we go on a boat drive before sunrise. Together with Ben and a boat driver we explore a section of the Paraguay River and its wide side arms. We are quickly captivated by the diversity of the animal and bird world. Already during the first hours we marvel at and take pictures of giant otters, capybaras, kingfishers, storks and herons. The first day passes very quickly and we are overwhelmed by the many impressions.
The next day we start again early in the morning. Already after few minutes the first big highlight of the journey is waiting for us. A Jaguar mother and her adolescent offspring are sitting on the shore. The first sighting of a jaguar in the wild is a special experience for us. After a short time, they move on into the dense jungle. We spend the day with more boat rides on the river and discover constantly new things to photograph. Scenically we like it by the Paraguay River very much. In the morning wafts of mist drift over the river and behind every branch of the river you discover new idyllic natural paradises.
aguar on the banks of the Paraguay River in the first morning light
Nikon D500, 500mm f/5.6, 1/400s, f7.1, ISO 1600
Toucans, tapirs and more
Then its time to say goodbye to the Paraguay River. We enjoyed the first days in the Pantanal extraordinarily much. We felt extremely comfortable in the family-run accommodation with the warm-hearted people.
Landscape along the Transpantaneira
Nikon D750, Sigma 24 – 70mm f/2.8, 1/160s, f/8, ISO 100
Drive to the second destination takes several hours. Along the way we stop for lunch at a Brazilian grill restaurant. We reach our accommodation in the early afternoon. This is also located on a former farm area, which has been converted into a private nature reserve. During the two days we spend here, we take again unbelievably many pictures of animals such as a tapirs, toucans, crab foxes and curious capuchin monkeys up close.
Nikon D500, 500mm f/5.6, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 1600
The highlight for us, however, is the early morning spectacle of dozens of herons, scissorbills, terns and caimans. In the waters near the lodge there are many caimans. Every morning before sunrise, countless herons join in, hoping to get something from the fishing caimans’ breakfast. The scenery in the soft back light has something unreal and is incredibly beautiful. A little later we practise taking pictures of the fishing scissorbills. But they are fast, very fast…
Into the kingdom of the jaguars
We also enjoyed the second station very much. Besides the many experiences in nature, the food was also particularly good, especially the homemade ice cream :-).
To process the many impressions and to relax a little, we take a break after the second early morning photo session with the herons and spend the morning with sweet idleness (resp. backup and delete photos).
Great White Egret at dawn
Nikon D500, 500mm f/5.6, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO 1000
During the afternoon we drive to Porto Jofre. Near here is the Meeting of the Waters State Park, also known as the Kingdom of the Jaguars. We arrive in time before sunset and can still take pictures of the Hyacinthine Macaws, which usually gather in the evenings in the beautiful garden of the hotel complex.
Jaguars, jaguars and much more
Next morning we go again early for a boat drive. We have heard a lot about Porto Jofre. It is said to be the easiest place to observe and photograph jaguars. The place has become quite popular. The boats are equipped with radio. This way Jaguar Sightings get around quickly.
From many safaris in Africa and India we are used to cats not being highly active during the day and sleeping a lot. Jaguars, in contrast, are often out and about during the day and are very active. We will never forget the first day in Porto Jofre. We could observe and photograph 9 (!) jaguars at once. We are overwhelmed by the many impressions.
Jaguar at the Meeting of the Waters State Park
Nikon D500, 500mm f/5.6, 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 5000
Good wildlife pictures usually require time. We have therefore planned four full days for boat safaris in Porto Jofre. This was worth it. Already on the second day we could observe a jaguar hunting a caiman. This happens extremely fast and we resp. our cameras were not prepared for it. But the experience was impressive anyway. Soon we got a lot of pictures of the jaguars together and became choosier during the sightings. If there are too many boats on site, we just keep on driving. Then we have the one or other Jaguar sightings all to ourselves. Of course, there is a lot to see and marvel at besides the jaguars. We take pictures of birds in all shapes and colours, giant otters, capybaras, caimans in the best light and much more. We look for nice spots to photograph the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The days goes by way too fast.
With Ben and our boat driver we have excellent companions who make us aware of many birds and animals that we would otherwise had missed. Thanks to Ben’s great experience with photographers and film crews we are often – even with several boats at one sighting – in the best position. The passionate photographer always thinks along with us when it comes to suitable compositions and has many great ideas.
In the evening we are again very tired and shortly after dinner the lights go out.
Sunrise at the meeting of the Waters State Park
Nikon D850, 70-200mm f/4, 1/100s, f/16, ISO 320
Finish at the Transpantaneira
After the eventful days in Porto Jofre we are already on our way to the last destination of the journey. On the way we stop to take pictures of several birds and in the afternoon, we take a last game drive to the farm area in the surroundings of the hotel. This is uneventful, but after the many experiences of the last few days it doesn’t seem too bad to us. We enjoy the drive through the beautiful landscape here and enjoy another beautiful sunset. We decide to spend the early morning of the last day around the hotel. This decision was absolutely right. We take pictures of the rare yellow-breasted macaws and a pair of crab foxes at close range.
Two young Jaguar brothers on the hunt
Nikon D850, 180-400mm f/4, 1/2500s, f/5.6, ISO 640
The research tour to the Pantanal has far exceeded our expectations. We are overwhelmed by the rich biodiversity of the animal and bird world. The remote Pantanal is a paradise for all nature lovers. The encounters with the jaguars were of course a highlight. We were able to photograph them extensively. Tourism and therefore the infrastructure and the training of the staff are not yet as developed in the Pantanal as for example in Botswana and Namibia. However, the people are extremely friendly and very committed, which makes it easy to forget small shortcomings. We returned from Brazil enthusiastically. We are already looking forward to the photo tour next year. The choice of our local partner has also turned out to be spot on. Everything worked out perfectly and our guests can look forward to a fantastic Pantanal photo tour next year.
Jaguar on the prisch
Nikon D850, 180-400 mm f/4, 1/640s, f/4, ISO 640
Join us on a fantastic photo journey to the Pantanal
The Pantanal is a huge seasonal flood plain in the Midwest of Brazil (state of Mato Grosso). It is so rich in species that UNESCO has declared it a Biosphere Reserve. July is an excellent month to visit the Pantanal. During the dry season there is an excellent chance to observe and photograph various animals and birds. Jaguars are of course in focus, but with a little luck you can also photograph anteaters, giant river otters, caimans or macaws.