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Brazil is so blessed with diverse landscapes, culture and wildlife that is has something for everyone, especially the discerning traveller in search of jaguar

The largest country in South America, Brazil is so blessed with incredible diversity, variety, colour and charm that is has something to offer virtually every kind of visitor.

Beach lovers will be spoilt for choice; architecture connoisseurs will appreciate the intact colonial towns; hikers can walk for many scenic miles with barely another soul in sight; and for natural history enthusiasts, the Pantanal and Amazon Basin make Brazil one of the planet’s mandatory wildlife destinations. Reef & Rainforest pioneered jaguar watching to Brazil in 2004: prior to that, seeing a jaguar was virtually impossible in the wild but now the third largest cat can be reliably spotted at certain locations in the Pantanal.

The sheer abundance of flora and fauna to be found in Brazil’s great wilderness regions is beyond comparison with practically any other destination on Earth. Coupled with a good infrastructure, high quality accommodation and a welcoming population, Brazil has become one of our clients’ most popular destinations, and deservedly so.

Highlights

What To See

Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park

Consisting of one main island and a few small islets far out in the Atlantic Ocean, exclusive Fernando de Noronha is regarded by Brazilians as the perfect island destination. Its limited accommodation, high prices and status as a marine national park have conspired to keep it uncrowded and largely unspoilt. The best diving in all Brazil is found here, as well as many beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife including turtles and dolphins (our director dived with dolphins on his last trip there – the only time he has done that). Volkswagen buggies can be hired for independent exploration and to visit some fabulous beaches and boat trips can be taken for dolphin-watching and reaching various isolated beaches not accessible by road.

Pernambuco

A small coastal state in the northeast, Pernambuco’s capital Recife is a modern city overlooked by the well-preserved colonial town of Olinda. It makes a pleasant stop-off before flying out to one of the most desirable offshore locations in the whole of Brazil: the island of Fernando de Noronha. Brazilians regard the island as the epitome of marine chic: there is a high daily tourist tax, top end accommodation and limited flights and hotel beds, all of which conspire to keep visitor numbers low and the environment unspoilt.

The Marau Peninsula

The Marau Peninsula, south of Salvador de Bahia, is sandwiched between Camamu Bay (Brazil’s third largest) and the Atlantic Ocean. This wild, unspoilt, beautiful peninsula offers vast beaches, small patches of Atlantic rainforest and crystal clear rock pools with good snorkelling. The leeward bay is dotted with small islands, local fishing villages and serene, palm-fringed beaches. It’s an excellent spot to escape the crowds and enjoy a natural seaside experience.

Praia do Rosa

Blessed with over a mile of beach and a laid back atmosphere, Praia do Rosa is one of the best places in Brazil for whale watching. Between the months of July and November dozens of southern right whales come here to breed and can be seen from the shore or on special boat trips. Further south, the colonial town of Laguna is home to a remarkable symbiotic spectacle wherein wild dolphins help herd fish into local fishermen’s nets in return for feeding on some of the catch. Laguna was where the Italian unifier, Garibaldi, met and lived with his Brazillian wife for many years, and today one can visit their house which has been kept as a small museum.

Serra do Mar Natural Reserve

Situated almost halfway between Rio and Sao Paulo, Serra do Mar is one of the last major Mata Atlantica tracts remaining, covering a large area of rainforested hills and palm-fringed beaches. The pretty colonial seaside town of Paraty is nearby and easily visited.

Minas Gerais

The southern state of Minas Gerais contains some extraordinary natural history treats, including the best chance of seeing the maned wolf in South America and the continent’s largest primate, the muriqui monkey. It also boasts Ouro Preto, a beautifully preserved colonial town and popular visitor attraction.

Caratinga

Near the eponymous town in Minas Gerais is the Caratinga Biological Station. The private reserve is a research centre for primates and home to a species of woolly spider monkey called the muriqui; the largest primate in South America. Three other rare primates can also be found here: brown capuchin, brown howler monkey and buffy-headed marmoset. In addition, the area boasts a wide variety of endemic birds and easily spotted mammals such as the brown-throated three-toed sloth. It is an important location for New World primate enthusiasts.

Northern Pantanal

From Cuiaba, capital of Mato Grosso state, the Transpantaneira Highway penetrates through the top third of the Pantanal south to the Cuiaba River border with Mato Grosso do Sul state. Apart from containing all the species for which the Pantanal wetlands are famed, this is the area with the highest chance of seeing jaguar in the whole of South America (jaguar watching tours in the Pantanal were first pioneered by Reef & Rainforest Tours over a decade ago). It also contains the only official nature reserve in the region, the Mato Grosso Pantanal National Park, accessed from the Rio Paraguay and requiring special permission to visit.

Southern Pantanal

Accessed from Corumba and Campo Grande in Mato Grosso do Sul state, the southern Pantanal has an extensive river system including the Miranda, Aquidauana and Negro Rivers (tributaries of the Rio Paraguay) and a vast interior of cattle ranches extending to hundreds of thousands of acres each. Compared to the north, the south remains wetter for longer and the animals migrate out of the area during the wet season. Visiting this area should reveal the full panoply of Pantanal wildlife, including the best chances of seeing giant anteaters and armadillo, as well as rhea, giant otter, puma and jaguar.

Bonito and Jardim

Found to the south of the Pantanal, the busy Bonito area is famous for its lively town, clear springs, limestone caves and snorkelling in limpid rivers full of fish. A little further south, Jardim, a sleepier town, is a bit closer to the sites of interest for the serious naturalist. Those attractions include plentiful giant anteater, white-lipped peccary, toco toucan and tapir, and two major spectacles: the Hole of the Macaws and the Rio da Prata (Silver River). The former consists of 100 or so red-and-green macaws in a 120m-deep limestone sinkhole, and the latter involves snorkelling above thousands of fish in a crystal-clear river: truly unique wildlife experiences.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio needs no introduction, being one of the world’s great cities and a popular tourist destination since the 1950s. Most will have heard of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Christ’s statue on Corcovado and the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain. Less well-known would be the restored colonial districts, the Botanical Gardens and Tijuca National Park on the re-forested slopes above Rio.

Amazonia

Brazil contains the vast majority of the forest and rivers of Amazonia. The sheer scale of the Amazon basin is truly awesome, yet good wildlife viewing is only found in a few choice locations. Around Manaus and in many other parts of Amazonia, it is very difficult to spot wildlife satisfactorily, often due to hunting or human encroachment. But further afield, in the south and west, natural history lovers can fully experience the thrill of spotting the startling white uakari monkey, flocks of macaws, the powerful harpy eagle or a shy Brazillian tapir in the depths of the seemingly impenetrable rainforest.

Best Time To Visit Brazil

Being so large, Brazil has many climatic zones despite being classified overall as tropical. The south can be really quite cool, while in Amazonia it is hot and humid almost continuously. The heaviest rains fall at different times in each region: November to March in the Southeast, December to March in the Centre West, January to April in the North, and April to August on the Northeast coast. The Pantanal is best seen in the dry season, July to October – best to avoid rainy February. The Amazon’s wettest season is from December to May, the driest month being October.

Brazil Travel

Getting There

Flight Time

Approximately 11½ hours

Time Zone

GMT -3

Language

Klingon

Population

LOADS

Featured

Wildlife Holidays

Accommodation

Featured Places To Stay

Caiman Ecological Refuge

A 5,600 hectare private reserve which supports a variety of research and managem...

Fazenda Barranco Alto

Excursions include game drives, boat trips on the Rio Negro, horse riding, hikes...

SouthWild Jaguar Flotel and Suites

Offers one of the best chances of observing jaguars anywhere in the world...

Uakari Lodge

Located in the remote Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve, this community-r...

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Destination Map

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Brazil: -14.235004, -51.925280

Your Very Own

Brazil Specialist

Ian Loyd

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding travel to Brazil, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

We really enjoyed every aspect [of the Jaguar Research Centre]… highlights included jaguar attacking giant otters near the camp (we have a couple of photos of this amazing behaviour!). Harpy eagle chick at Hotel Amazonica and adult at Cristalino. Total of 6 jaguar sightings. Total of nearly 300 spp. Birds including 5 spp. Macaws. Seeing an as yet undescribed species of poison dart frog.

Prof M H - Devon