Pantanal Wildlife Safari, Brazil
Ride Andes has teamed up with ‘Fazendas’ in the Pantanal and a very professional company in Sao Paulo to bring you this itinerary. The trip has been developed specifically for those who are looking for a great riding experience in Pantanal (accompanying non riders welcome –a lot of alternative activities). It is a totally customized ride, providing a unique experience: Pantanal’s vegetation, wildlife and culture. This is the only trip offering the opportunity of journeying on between 3 lodgings, riding through very diverse zones of the Pantanal.
On every tour we have seen the tapir (South America’s largest mammal), on all but one tour we have watched a jaguar, the giant anteater has been sighted close up on several days of every tour, the magnificent hyacinth macaw is a common sight here as are close up viewing of toucans and several other species of macaws, parrots… the cute capybaras abound as do the coati and the list goes on and on!
Riders have greatly enjoyed the cattle work at the first ‘fazenda’ we stay at, alongside the skilled local horsemen.
For NON RIDERS, a host of other activities on offer – including bird watching with a specialist guide and sport fishing.
Day 1: Guests will be met off their flights at Campo Grande airport and driven to the hotel for overnight. A modern hotel with gardens, terraces and a large outside swimming pool, a bar and restaurant.
Day 2: A fascinating drive along tarmaca roads that soon turn into sand tracks as we go deep into the Pantanal ranch area, we already start spotting the local wildlife, buffalo and also the cowhands at work with their mules & horses. Arrival at the Fazenda for lunch, welcomed by the family. A short presentation of the area and general information before the first outing: once everyone is settled on their horse, a circuit ride in the surroundings to get the first impressions of the Pantanal´s amazing biodiversity – the route is usually packed with animals (capybara, marsh deer…) and riders often get their first disconcerting ride through caiman-filled waters.
Day 3 & 4: There are many great rides and activities available at the Fazenda, - we will head off horse riding (the best way to explore the landscapes of the Pantanal as we head out in various directions from the ranch house, including usually one or two rides with the cowhands working the cattle - we have great fun ‘helping’ the cowhands ). For those not wanting to ride, or wanting to take a break from riding then hiking/bird watching, 4WD vehicle, canoe tours (dependent on season), night safaris (for all) and also cattle ranching – where you can be part of an authentic cultural activity from Pantanal. You will find plenty of wildlife and nature on exclusive trails, and all tours and activities are supported by experienced native guides.
Day 5: After an early breakfast we ride off with sunrise. A day-long, varied pace ride. We will travel along the fantastic landscape of Vazante do Castelo, where we can enjoy the exuberant Pantanal fauna and flora and the amazing and unspoiled scenery. We will then ride through an open landscape, surrounded by native forests (‘cerrado’), along the shores of the Vazante. This is a great opportunity for bird watching. A break for lunch at Retiro São Luís where a vehicle will be waiting with the lunch. We will continue riding in the afternoon along the Vazante do Castelo, until we arrive at the outpost hidden in the shade of a shady woodland. A beautiful and untouched area, where we will spend the night in the bushland (sleeping in hammocks in a well-constructed, thatched building).
Day 6: Early morning departure after breakfast, riding off to the ‘Recanto’ on the edge of the river. We will enjoy the sunrise while riding and as we continue our ride notice the changes in vegetation – the landscape changing as we approach the region of Rio Negro. A long morning ride, with a stop for a snack and a short rest during the trip. We will arrive for lunch at the Fazenda. After a siesta or a stroll around the gardens & along the riverbank, an afternoon boat trip on the Negro River, stopping at the beautiful beaches where we can swim, and enjoy some sport fishing and rest amongst paradise-like scenery.
Day 7: The adorable owner’s philosophy is: excellent hospitality, customized attendance and great food. Many tour options and activities are available where you will find amazing wildlife on the verdant trails and waterways. The morning starts with getting comfortable with new horses then a morning and afternoon ride are planned – circuit rides in two different areas around the main house. We encounter many medicinal plants and the local guide will explain their preparation and use. As well as the riding, options include: hiking, motorboat excursions, canoeing, nature…observation, photographic safaris, bird watching, fishing (piranhas and other species), or other river activities. All tours have been carefully designed and are supported by experienced native guides.
Day 8: We will try to fit in one more tour early in the morning, but it will be an early start – riding or walking, final opportunity to spot more of the many mammals and birds that inhabit the area (guests will normally be able to choose to ride or walk, two groups possible). Or a bit of a ‘lie-in’ listening to the chatter of the birds in the surrounding trees. Departure from the Recanto to Campo Grande, in time for outward flights.
"Pantanal! What and where? Never heard about such place until we checked Ride Andes website last summer. What a wonderful ride for riding nature-lovers, in the middle (literally!) of South America. Thank you Sally, for organizing this special ride, you have wrapped a splendid package. Our local guide, born in the saddle, knew everything about flora and fauna in the Pantanal. We felt very welcome - nice people, good food and wine, cool rooms for warm nights.
Cattle-work is very challenging in Pantanal area as fazendas are enormous in size. We got a chance to 'help' with two cattle-rides, it was a great fun, though we did not manage to find the cows on the second ride.
We all loved the hammock-night between two fazendas. Amazing place!
Horses? Sally and the local guide made a good job matching horses and riders. My husband doesn't have a very long riding experience, but he managed so well with those Pantanera horses. Horses are surefooted (armadillo holes!) and brave (caimans!) and well behaved.
Pantanal is not Africa. In Africa great flocks of animals can be seen quite easily, they live in that way. Many brazilian animals living in the Pantanal live alone, not so easy to find them… Thanks to our guide’s knowledge and good eyes we sighted sixteen different species of animals, some of them very rare, and over a hundred birds. Capybaras (like a giant guinea-pig with tall legs) and caimans can be seen in big ‘flocks’, we'll never forget those caiman filled lagoons and ponds.
Brazil and Pantanal is very far from where we live. But it surely was worth of travelling there, highly recommended."
Eva & Rainer, Finland. October 2017.