Where: The Amazon and the Pantanal
Why: Combining the mighty Amazon and the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, offers excellent wildlife viewing and adventure opportunities and it’s possible to get a good taste of both in two weeks or less.
Rio makes a logical starting point, a good spot to stop before flying to Cuiaba or Campo Grande for the Pantanal where the flat, open terrain offers incredible wildlife viewing, particularly during the drier months of May to October.
The vast Pantanal can be explored by 4×4 jeep, boat or on foot. Arguably the best way to explore, and observe the wildlife undisturbed, however, is
on a Pantanal horse. Among the major attractions is jaguar tracking, with other highlights including memorable, remote ecolodge or fazenda stays and snorkelling in Bonito’s ‘natural aquariums’.
Manaus is the entry point into Brazil’s glorious stretch of the Amazon, gateway to its vast swathes of Amazon rainforest and jungle lodges. From
Manaus, head off to explore the Anavilhanas Archipelago, a gathering of more than 400 islands in the river, and see ‘the meeting of the waters’, where the contrasting black and brown waters of the Negro River and Solimoes River meet but don’t mix.
Those with more time could easily fill weeks with longer upriver boat and canoe trips, guided nature hikes and community visits or stays.
From Manaus, fly back to Rio or another coastal resort for some pre-flight relaxation, or simply continue on your Brazilian odyssey.
HOW TO DO IT
Abercrombie & Kent’s 12-night Brazil’s Wildlife takes in the Amazon and the Pantanal, capped with beach time in Praia do Forte. From £5,945pp.
Pura Aventura promises ‘no roads, no frills, just beautiful hiking punctuated by cooling showers under waterfalls’ on its 11-day Pati Valley Walk, focused on hiking the remote Pati Valley in the Chapada Diamantina mountains. From £2,990pp.
Growth continues at the luxury end, from products such as the 16-cabin MV Premium operated by Amazon Clipper Cruises, to increased demand for tailormade tours from the likes of A&K and Steppes Travel, which feature everything from private yacht charters to stays at Uakari Floating Lodge on the Amazon.
Improved airlift from Europe continues to be a plus, with Norwegian Air set to launch a lowcost service from Gatwick to São Paulo next year, with plans for an additional service to Rio. Back in June, TAP added four more flights a week to São Paulo from itsLisbon hub, and one more apiece to Brasilia and Belo Horizonte. Jaguar, the Pantanal, Brazil
Q&A: LUCY HAYWARD, COMMERCIAL MANAGER FOR THE AMERICAS AT STEPPES TRAVEL
What makes Brazil such an incredible destination?
Being such a big country, as cliched as it may sound, it really does have everything. This diversity means it caters for a wide range of clients and interests, from young couples to families.
Any top tips?
Expect long distances when travelling around the country, and lots of flights — it’s big. Also, be sure to book in advance to secure the best deals and avoid disappointment, especially around holiday times.