Pantanal from the air
yellow parrots
Caiman
Marsh deer
Gaucho riding in Pantanal
Armadillo at night
Pantanal purple orchid
Purple Pantanal orchid
White Pantanal orchid
Marc photographing
Pantnanal parrots
Pantanal Coati
Capybara in the water
Storks pantanal
Parrots in a nest
Sunset in the Pantanal
Parrot in the kitchen

Located in central Western Brazil, the Pantanal is a large mosaic of three of the most important ecosystems of South America. At more than 42 million acres, the Pantanal is the largest tropical wetland and one of the most pristine in the world. This region is unique in that it is home to one of the highest diversities and concentrations of fauna on the planet, including the world’s largest jaguars. All of the above makes it one of the best places in the world for wildlife watching, the ultimate game safari in South America.

This is even more impressive considering ninety-five percent of the Pantanal is privately owned and the land is primarily used for cattle ranching and agriculture. Brazil has the largest number of livestock in the world. Since the mid 1970s, cattle breeding has significantly intensified in the Pantanal. Today, the two states of Mato Grosso (North and South), are the biggest producer of cattle with more than 30 million head. Cattle don't compete with the local fauna and become an integral part of the landscape. The Pantaneiro cowboys live mostly off livestock and are proud of their century-old traditions.

Join this ride and experience the best of Pantanal: a South American safari and a working cattle ranch in one! You will ride well mannered, forward going Pantaneiro horses and stay at local Fazendas, intimate ranches that have retained their traditions. A once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the life and work of a true Pantaneiro cowboy.

This ride is sold exclusively by Unicorn Trails.

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Day 1 to 3
After a long journey you will arrive at the fazenda, located in the most untouched region of the Pantanal, with an abundance of wildlife and nature. After settling down, you will meet the horses and your host will match riders with their mounts.

The next 3 nights will be spent on this fazenda (a traditional Pantanal farm) with approximately 16,000 acres and 4,000 head of cattle.Here you will have the opportunity to become a Pantaneiro for a few days participating in the cattle work at the ranch. At different times of the year there are different tasks to be carried out in the daily routine of a Pantaneiro cowboy. For example separating calves, treating cattle, lassoing, rounding up the cattle, cattle drives. Nellore cattle are known for their strong temperament and can be unpredictable so a level of awareness and flexibility is needed at all times. You will spend an average of 6 hours per day in the saddle.
In this time you can also see many of the species of birds and animals that inhabit this region and experience some Pantanal traditions.
At the end of each day, you will need a good rest to keep up with the schedule. Luckily this is made possible with comfortable accommodation and good food.
In the Pantanal, the pace of activities is dictated by nature. All activities are carried out in harmony with nature to achieve long term sustainability.

Day 4
Today is an early start and a full day in the saddle ahead, riding along the banks of Vazante Castelo. We will ride for about 6 hours until we reach the Fly Camp Refuge Primavera, which as the name implies, is wooden bush camp in the middle of Pantanal. Tonight, you will enjoy a unique experience of sleeping in a hammock deep in the Pantanal, in the light of lanterns. The refuge has a comfortable infrastructure with a main hall equipped with insect screens, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen. The hammocks are strung under a fixed roof, but for those who prefer, a mattress can be provided (to be requested on booking).

Day 5
The sounds of animals and birds around the refuge will wake you up. After breakfast, we will depart to Barranco Farm. You will continue to ride along the beautiful landscape of Vazante Castelo. We will enjoy the lush flora of the Pantanal and its incredible and untouched scenery. Today is another great opportunity for bird and wildlife watching.

Arrive at the farm for late lunch. Afternoon boating or canoeing, exploring the Rio Negro. You will get to know its white beaches, where caimans warm themselves up in the sun. Meet the neotropical otters and the giant otters which inhabit its intricate twists and turns. Five different species of kingfishers patrol its margins. Chaco chachalacas scream in duets to draw attention to themselves.

The lack of other boats on this river makes for a private experience. Bathing in the river’s dark waters provides is also possible. During our silent trip down the river, we encounter parrots flying, toucans drinking water, riverbanks covered in holes where rufous-tailed jacamars, swallows and tegus live, capybara families calmly grazing, howler monkeys carrying their infants from branch to branch, and huge groups of white-lipped peccaries hurriedly swimming across the river, and with a little luck and patience, to look into the eyes of the biggest cat of the Americas: the jaguar! As the saying goes, “behind every white-lipped peccary there is a jaguar approaching". Roughly 60% of the sightings in Pantanal are made from boat or canoes in silence.

To bring a perfect end to this great experience, you will spend the next two nights at Barranco farm, another large farm of Pantanal that promotes environmental conservation by supporting a wide variety of research conducted by Brazilian and international Universities. Research is being conducted in geology, entomology, ecology, ethology and includes:

  • Jaguar Research Project - started in 2008 in partnership with the Jaguar Conservation Fund.                                                                                                                  
  • The Giant Anteater research Project - has been conducted by Lydia Möcklinghoff for the past 6 years. 

Day 6 and 7
While riding is available in these 2 days we will probably choose to ride only a few hours each day and concentrate instead on the excellent wildlife viewing from the river.

Boating/canoeing: explore the river from a comfortable boat with swivel seats, perfect for taking pictures on the way. Your hosts use silent electric engines and environmentally friendly Yamaha 15hp 4-stroke gas engines. From the dark waters of Rio Negro, the most pristine river in the Pantanal, you might witness the morning fishing of a giant otter family, the ritual of alligator mating, capybaras and with some luck even jaguars. 

There are only a few places on earth which rival the Pantanal for wildlife photography opportunities, especially from the water. There is always something interesting to photograph, from a tiny little velvet ant or the beautiful hyacinth macaw to a roaring jaguar. Several professional photographers have chosen this particular area for their work.

The Rio Negro river is also home to many species of fish, such as piraputanga, dourado, painted, pacu, piranha and stingray. You should also look out for caimans and many species of birds (there are more than 360 are cataloged in this region).

Day 8
Depending on your flight time, you might still be able to do some activity in the morning before returning to Campo Grande, either riding or a baot trip.

The Ranches you will be riding at and crossing on this trip have more than 50,000 acres and around 20,000 cattle in total.

The itinerary may be changed due to availability on the farms and weather conditions.

 

Transfers

2022: Private transfer in a 4x4 vehicle from meeting point $480 return per person (up to 3 people per car), transfer time approx. 6 hours (available from May to November).
Private flight transfer can also be arranged from Campo Grande Airport for $1500 (up to 5 people), transfer time approx. 50 minutes (available between May to November only).

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

You ride mostly in Pantaneiro horses (first 5 days) and you ride Pantaneiro cross breeds (last 2 days). The Pantaneiro horses are well mannered, forward going, sure footed and very obedient. You ride at a walk, trot and canter. The horses respond to neck reining and are used to a loose rein wherever possible. There are more than 20 riding horses available to choose from.



The riding style is the relaxed Pantaneiro style, similar to western riding and trail riding. Saddles are typical Pantaneiro (same as the Gaucho) saddles with sheep skin on top. They are very comfortable.



You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide and a local guide. Both guides have good knowledge of the local area.


Rider requirements

The ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders. You should be confident on a horse at all paces and to try different styles of riding. The pace is varied to include walk, trot and canter. The terrain on the ride is varied and you should be comfortable riding in open spaces. Riders are not required to help with grooming and saddling.

The maximum weight for this ride is 100kg/15.7stone. There might be an option for one rider weighing up to 110kg to join the ride, this is limited to one person per trip (please enquire).

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The main accommodation on this ride is at traditional working farms (fazendas) with cattle. You will spend 6 nights in double, twin or triple rooms with private bathrooms. 



The night on Day 4 will be spent at Fly Camp Refuge Primavera, a wooden bush camp in the middle of Pantanal. The refuge has a main hall equipped with insect screens, 2 shared bathrooms and a kitchen. You will sleep on hammocks under a fixed roof, a truly unique experience. For those who do not wish to sleep on hammocks, mattresses can be provided with advanced notice (upon booking).




Food on this trail is full-board. Below some examples of what you can expect to be served:



Breakfast - bread, yoghurt, jams, cakes, many types of fruit and other treats are all made at the farm.



Lunch and dinner - typical Brazilian dishes (both regional and national). Beef and some of the vegetables and fruits are produced seasonally at the farms. There is a lot of variety and vegetarian dishes are always included. The piranhas will be used to make a soup for dinner.



Fish from Pantanal, like dourado (gilded catfish) and others are cooked in stews or even deep fried and served with manioc recipes. Porco Monteiro (Wild pig), fried pork casings, rice with Pequi (a local fruit of the Brazilian Savannah), “Chipa” - a type of cheese bread, Sopa Paraguaia (a typical corn pie made with white cheese), are some of the other typical dishes of Pantanal.



Also, at dawn, riders can participate in the cow milking and later try the Milk Caramel (doce de leite). In the morning, riders can see the preparation of “Quebra-Torto”, the local plentiful breakfast of the Pantaneiro cowboys, made of macarrão tropeiro (noodles with beef jerky).



Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brazil.

You can travel to Brazil without a visa as a tourist for up to 90 days; however Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Brazil.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/brazil

Climate Summary

The Pantanal is a tropical climate. Hence, there are only two noticeable seasons – the wet season (October to March) and the dry season (April-September).

The wet season loosely corresponds with summer, so has higher temperatures and humidity.

The dry season is cooler and is generally better for travellers – since the unpaved roads going into the Pantanal are less boggy, wildlife is more visible gathered around rivers and lakes, and there are significantly fewer mosquitos. Most of the rainfall occurs in the months from November to March.

Climate Chart

Health

At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Tap water is heavily treated giving it an unpleasant chemical taste but is safe to drink in most urban areas providing it has been passed through a charcoal filter system; you should check with your hotel/restaurant management before drinking tap water. Tap water in remote areas can be unsafe even if filtered; stick to bottled mineral water, which is available virtually everywhere.

UK health authorities have classified Brazil as having a risk of Zika virus transmission and chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue are present.
Cases of dengue fever have increased, especially in the north, south-east and central-west of Brazil.
You should take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Brazil and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

Brazil is one of the very few countries that do not have a standard mains voltage, but at the same time it has only one official type of socket. In other words, you cannot tell the difference between a 220 V and a 127 V socket. Most states use 127V electricity, but a couple of them are on 220 V. Make sure to check with your hotel or hosts when checking in.

Film and Camera Equipment

We recommend that you bring all required equipment, including batteries with you when you arrive. You should contact your network provider to check mobile phone coverage in South America for your particular phone model. There is no mobile reception at the Fazendas but wifi is available. There will be a chance to charge your electronic devices at the farms.

Packing List

It will be hot during the day and possibly cool in the morning or evenings.

Clothes:
Riding hat, riding boots and chaps
Trousers
Long sleeved and comfortable shirts
T-shirts
Swimming Costume
Cotton socks
Sun hat
Walking shoes and sandals
Sweater or pullover for mornings and evening in winter (dry season July to November)
Light raincoat

Other:
Water bottle
Insect Repellent - we recommend at least 50% DEET
Sunscreen and sunglasses
Torch
Binoculars
Camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt and batteries/chargers

*Medical Travel Insurance is mandatory

Programmes

This is a 8 day/ 7 night programme with 6 days riding available on request between April and November.

Departure Dates

2023: 21 - 28 May, 16 - 23 June, 09-16 July. On request for groups of 4 or more between May and November.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20228d/7n6double pp2,489
20228d/7n6single supplement499
20238d/7n6double pp2,985
20238d/7n6single supplement599
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20228d/7n6double pp2,895
20228d/7n6single supplement579
20238d/7n6double pp3,469
20238d/7n6single supplement695
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20228d/7n6double pp3,099
20228d/7n6single supplement619
20238d/7n6double pp3,715
20238d/7n6single supplement745
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20228d/7n6double pp31,339
20228d/7n6single supplement6,269
20238d/7n6double pp37,585
20238d/7n6single supplement7,519
Other Activities

Wildlife viewing, boating/canoeing, fishing, photography.

Wildlife

Black howler monkeys, water birds, pink spoonbills, several species of herons, jabiru giant storks, macaws, toucans (there are more than 360 species of bird catalogued in this region), pecarry, giant and lesser ant eaters, marsh deer, capybaras, nine-banded armadillo, caiman, jaguar, maned wolf, bush dog, giant otter, coatimundi, Brazilian Tapir, many species of fish (e.g. piraputanga, dourado, painted, pacu, piranha and stingray),

Other Country Information

Around 156,000 British nationals visit Brazil each year.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Campo Grande International Airport (CGR)
Transfer:
2022: $240 each way per person 6hrs, light aircraft also available, details below itinerary.
Flight Guide:
London to Campo Grande from £770 return
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