Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Pantanal suitable for ecotourism all year around?
Most ecotourists visit the Pantanal during the dry season – May to November. That’s the only time that we offer jaguar tours. Birds and animals are easier to see and mosquitoes almost disappear from sight.
On the other hand, during the rainy season when the flood is full on, the landscape becomes a mesmerizing perfect mirror of the sky and the trees remaining above water.
Where we find high ground, there is plenty of wildlife to see. Just don’t expect to see jaguars. Even Giant River Otters are difficult to find when the Pantanal becomes a realm of waters. For those who seek to enjoy the serenity of nature with hardly anyone else around and for those who fancy horseback riding, splashing their way through a vast and unspoiled landscape, the rainy season is the best time of the year.
How far in advance should I book a tour?
The sooner, the better. Be aware that some of the best lodges and boat-hotels are
frequently booked out one year in advance! Of course, the dry season is the most
requested. We are often able to successfully negotiate last minute bookings but we do not
recommend that you try that.
What is included in the tours?
It depends on the travel arrangements that you’ve made with us. If requested, we can take care of booking internal flights for you. Regardless of the itinerary, your tour will include:
o Three meals per day
o Water, tea, coffee, biscuits, and, sometimes, fruit available all day
o Required transportation
o Arranging outdoor activities such as boat trips, hiking, horseback rides, night safaris, etc.
o An exclusive guide; we do our best to find the most competent tour guide who shares a mother tongue with each of our guests. English is the universal language in this trade
o And our chief of operations is on watch 24/7 to attend to your needs and is always happy to help.
Should I worry about tropical diseases?
It depends where you travel to. In general, the Pantanal is a pretty benign place, almost disease free.
The mosquitoes that transmit dangerous diseases are not found in the Pantanal. However, they can be found in Cuiabá, where our guests arrive. The disease-carrying mosquitoes are a problem associated with the rainy season. The little time that our guests spend in Cuiabá will be in a much more controlled environment where most likely mosquitoes will not be an issue.
The Pantanal is NOT prone to sickness at all. Even our ticks are disease free. That’s quite a relief!
We do not fool around with our guest’s health! Rest assured the risks are greatly minimized. In concert with our efforts to keep you safe, common sense and travel experience will tell you that if you wear long pants, long sleeves and use insect repellent, you will be fine.
Malaria is not present in the Pantanal but you must have a yellow fever vaccine if your itinerary includes Iguazu Falls. While other vaccines are not required you should make sure you are up-to-date. You should consult with your physician or a travel clinic for more information.
Please notice that the websites that show disease occurrence maps in the neotropics are frequently too scary and even inaccurate… It might be also useful to join Internet forums and talk to travelers that have been here recently, getting more health information and practical advice about Brazil.
Most of the lodges & hotels have their own airstrip or there will be one in the vicinity. This affords us the ability to evacuate in a serious medical emergency.
Our Amazonian tour (mainly cruises) are designed not only to experience the best of the jungle flora and fauna but also to avoid areas where there are occurrences of insect transmitted diseases.The company that we contract for our Amazon cruises also own a seaplane – always ready to rescue anyone in need.
If you have any medical conditions or take prescribed drugs please let us know. Obviously, you should always carry your required prescriptions and any useful medical documents. You should also obtain quality travel insurance.
We work hard to ensure that you always travel in a bubble of safety.
When booking a jaguar tour, should I stay at a boat-hotel or a land-based lodge?
Both options have their advantages.
Boat-hotels usually ensure that you’ll be closer to the Meeting of the Waters State Park - teeming with Jaguars! You’ll also be quicker to answer any Jaguar calls on the radio while you’re on board.
On the other hand, staying on the boat-hotels you’ll have little opportunities to stretch your legs. (Maybe not suitable for claustrophobic people…)
Land-based lodges/hotels usually have beautiful gardens full of birds – including flocks of Hyacinth Macaws! You can wander around the grounds and capture amazing images. Hammocks and swimming pools, ideal for relaxation in our hot weather are available in almost every lodge.
By the way, all the lodges& hotels have Wi-Fi connection. Some boast of having amazingly fast satellite broadband internet. However, some boat-hotels don’t have any Internet access at all.
Most of our guests are non-smokers. For those that do smoke, smoking is not allowed indoors. In shared verandas/porches, near screened restaurants or any other communal areas, smoking is heavily frowned upon. The expectations are similar while watching the wildlife when closely surrounded by other ecotourists (mainly on boats).
So, if you’re a smoker, it’s best to take some distance from the other guests, in order to enjoy your cigarettes. While staying on boat-hotels, only the top decks are suitable for that.
Are these tours suitable for all ages?
Yes, absolutely! We have guests of all ages. But most of our guests are adults, mainly seniors.
Families that travel with their children surely are in for a great time in the Pantanal! The lodges provide a lot of fun activities and some of our guides are specialists in environmental education. But please consider that jaguar tours will include spending 8 hours a day on a boat (4 hours in the morning and the rest in the afternoon). When we spot a jaguar standing still (usually sleepy) on a river bank our clients typically request that we spend a long time with boat anchored, under a hot sun…that might not be the ideal situation for children.
Families usually request exclusive tailor-made tours and we are happy to fulfill their wishes.
What should I expect with Brazilian food?
The cooks strive to produce a tasty compromise between local and international cuisine.
They also prioritize locally sourced produce that is in season. The sustainably raised meat – from the Pantanal – and the freshly caught fish are fantastic.
Rice and beans (the most typical food in Brazil), as well as a good variety of fresh salads are a constant presence in every meal. In most of the lodges and boat-hotels that we work with, fruit is usually also available – but sometimes only at breakfast.
All meal restrictions are accommodated. If you have any food restrictions (e.g. allergies, vegetarian, etc.) please let us know in advance, so that we can warn the lodges and provide you with good alternatives. Also, please discuss your dietary requirements with your guides and let them know if you’re not getting the correct food as everyone has different requirements and levels of intolerance.
A big highlight is that the communal dining rooms in Pantanal are built in a way (usually screened-in) that allow you to continue watching wildlife while you eat!
Throughout the day, drinking water (bring a canteen to keep on refilling), tea, coffee, and biscuits are complimentary and available.
All the other drinks are not included, but you’ll find a wide variety of soft drinks and liquor.
What to bring?
Comfortable clothes. The best materials are soft, lightweight, and quick-drying/moisture wicking.During the dry season when humidity levels are low,light cotton clothing is ok as most outings will be on a boat or open safari vehicles. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are required for insect protection. Most people prefer to wear a different outfit every day because the heat. Clothes dry quickly in the Pantanal so you can wash by hand and leave to dry in the room during the outings.
Although it is rare to rain during the dry season, it can happen and you should be prepared with a good rain jacket. From June to August we sometimes get cold fronts in the Pantanal. Then it gets surprisingly chilly, especially on our boat trips. You should also bring some warm clothes. At least bring a windproof jacket.
Comfortable hiking shoes. If your itinerary includes hiking in the forest, it might be a good idea to bring hiking gaiters (mainly to avoid ticks)
A multifunctional bandana could also be quite handy (mainly to protect your face from the strong reflection the sun's rays on water)
Hats with wide brims, for better protection from the sun, are advised; be sure to bring sun glasses, high-factor sunscreen and insect repellent. Also bring a canteen and toiletries.
Are there any laundry facilities or services available?
Every lodge and boat-hotel has laundry services. The prices vary a lot, but usually is a minimum of 5 reais, maximum 10 reais, per item. Small stuff the guests can even wash it by hand.
How about the electric current? What voltage and frequency will I find?
In Brazil, the standard voltage is 127 V (some plugs also provide 220 V) and the frequency is 60 Hz. But it can depend on the region, the city or even the hotel which voltage you will come across. So please check locally if you can use your appliances!
What about tipping?
Tips are not mandatory, of course, but usually expected. If you are generous enough and you feel like the team that attended you have done a good job and are particularly amiable, you should consider the following:
o The boatmen and the guides get their tips directly.
o In the lodges, if there’s a tipping box available, you should use it. If not, the tips for the staff should be given to the manager (ask for an envelope).
o Tipping etiquette tells us that you should show your appreciation (that will help a lot making ends meet), but be discreet about it.