ISTOCKPHOTO.COMCassiano Zaparoli / Refugio CaimanWithin the vast territory of Brazil lie two of the Earth's remaining wildernesses, the Amazon basin and the wetlands of the Pantanal. Nature and wildlife lovers are attracted to these areas from all over the world, since not only is the quality of viewing and the beauty of the landscapes so great, but both areas are easily accessible by road and air and combine effortlessly with each other and with other highlights in Brazil.A few decades ago these areas were virtually impenetrable. Nowadays of course, parts of Amazônia are being infiltrated by developers, and the wildlife of the Pantanal has to share its territory with the cattle roaming the vast fazendas. Happily however, the visitor can still enjoy a wilderness experience, and the lodges where you stay are sensitive to the preservation of the environment. Here we offer you suggestions of how to visit both regions. The wildlife theatre of the PantanalIf viewing wildlife is your main priority, head forthe Pantanal, covered by marshy grassland cut through by rivers, creeks and lagoons, leaving the birds and animals exposed to view. You might observe flocks of parakeets, rosy spoonbills, macaws, ibis and giant storks (right). In the dry season (Jun?Sep) scores of caiman laze on the river beaches. You might also be lucky enough to spot a jaguar or puma. a rare treat.In the rainy months (Jan-Feb) wildlife such as armadillo, capybara, and anteaters congregate together on islands above the flooded savannah. The lodges we have chosen, some of which are on working cattle ranches, all offer comfortable clean accommodation in small scale, rustic-style buildings at one with the natural environment. The level of facilities varies, but there will alwaysbe cool verandahs with sofas or hammocks. Brazilian buffet meals are piled high with fresh food, and, depending on the property, there are daily excursions on foot, by canoe, on horse-back, by bike or open-sided truck; mostly setting off early morning and late afternoon. In the northern sector of the Pantanal, accessible from Cuiabá, we like the Pousada Rio Mutum, with accommodation in chalets arranged along a tree-shaded river, and Pousada das Araras.Wilderness stays and expeditions84 Brazil Refúgio Ecológico Caiman was just a superb place, even when we got bogged down for 1½ hours it was managed well and the compensation T-shirts were excellent! LT, Clevedon
Cassiano Zaparoli / Refugio CaimanISTOCKPHOTO.COMCASSIANO ZAPAROLIIguaçú FallsBOLIVIAPARAGUAYSalvador.Campo GrandePANTANALBRAZIL..Rio de JaneiroCuiabá..Morro de São PauloPantanal adventure and the north east 17 days, 14 nightsRio de Janeiro 3 nights, Iguaçú Falls 2n, Pantanal 3n, Salvador 3n, Morro de São Paulo (standard) or Praia do Forte (superior) 3n.Day 1 Overnight departure to Rio from the UK. Days 2-4 At leisure in Rio de Janeiro, with excursions by jeep to Corcovado Mountain (Christ the Redeemer's statue) and the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Days 5&6 Fly to Foz do Iguaçú and explore Iguaçú Falls, with an excursion to the Argentinean side. Days 7-9 Fly to Cuiabá (or Campo Grande) and continue by road to your Pantanal lodge. There will be a variety of excursions (all included), departing morning and evening, for you to enjoy wildlife observation. At the lodge itself you can while away your time in a hammock or lazing around the pool. Days 10-12 Fly to Salvador da Bahía (p82), guided tour of this atmospheric colonial city with an intoxicating blend of Portuguese and African (slave) cultures. Days 13-15 Head for Morro de São Paulo (p82), a small beach/village community reached by ferry or light aircraft. There are four beaches, the busiest with live music and restaurants, the most distant natural and palm-fringed. (Superior?Praia do Forte Eco-resort, see p82). Day 16 Transfer to Salvador airport and fly to the UK arriving day 17. Prices from £2,794pp (standard) and £4,093pp (superior) based on two sharing, excluding transatlantic flights. Regular departures from the UK 020 8747 8315 / journeylatinamerica.co.uk bookings, consultant advice and additional information 85 refugio caiman For many years one of our favourite lodges, the Refúgio Caiman in the southern Pantanal (access is via Campo Grande) continues to offer a superlative experience. It's the best-appointed of all the lodges in the region, with private facilities and air-conditioning, and has a well-structured programme of excursions of all types. You could be canoeing down a creek shaded by tropical trees laden with blossom, monkeys swinging playfully from branch to branch and parakeets squawking overhead. Your ride across a dusty trail could be interrupted by the progress of a giant anaconda or bulky anteater; your night safari illuminated by the moon and stars of an unpolluted night sky. There are friendly guides, a sociable atmosphere and you can cool off at midday in the pool. Below Dusk is an optimum time to view wildlife in the Pantanal.