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Comparable in size to Portugal, the Pantanal is the largest wetlands of the Americas. It’s a low lying plain which floods annually after the rains. The terrain can be difficult to cross and so horses are the best way to explore the Pantanal.
Much of the area is made up of cattle ranches, but the Pantanal is really best know for its rich variety of flora and fauna. This part of Brazil is home to over 650 bird species including green kingfisher, surucua trogon, roseate spoonbill, hyacinth macaw, toucan, black-hooded parakeet, tiger heron and jabiru stork. Mammals in evidence include capybara, armadillo, banded anteater, monkey and tapir. Puma and jaguar are extremely elusive, although as you ride through the higher forested areas you may see paw prints to remind you of their presence.
In addition to exploring this landscape on horseback you also have the opportunity of a boat trip and the chance to help the local cowboys (Pantaneiros) with their cattle work. The culture of the cowboy dominates this frontier land and horses are an indispensable part of daily life.
During the dry season, July to October, it is easier to get around. At this time the wildlife and birds are gathered around the few remaining waterholes. However riding through the flooded meadows in the wet season is a special experience. Summer rainfall between November and March causes the flood and at this time the animals search for the higher areas. From April to June the meadows start drying and the water collects in the bays and lakes.
For this ride you should be confident at walk, trot and canter and open to a different way of riding.
You ride in a traditional Pantaneiro saddles with sheepskin covers. The riding is Western-style with an informal position and relaxed rein contact.
Due to the terrain and the cowboy culture of slow riding when working cattle, much of the riding is at a walk with occasional canters.
Beginner and novice riders can be accepted only as part of private groups.
On this ride you spend five nights at two different fazendas and one night at a refugio. The rooms are simple and typical of the area.
The first fazenda, Barra Mansa, lies on the banks of the Negro River in the rural area of Aquidauana. At Barra Mansa there are five guest rooms each with air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.
Your next night is at refugio Primavera where the beds are hammocks. Screens are there to protect you from the insects and there is a kitchen and bathroom. If you have an aversion to sleeping in a hammock, mattresses are available, but we do need prior notice.
For your final three nights you stay at Fazenda Baia das Pedras in the heart of the Pantanal. There are three triple rooms and two double rooms, all with air conditioning and private bathrooms. There is a hammock area for relaxing as well as a terrace dining room and lounge area.
Set departures are listed below but additional dates may be possible from May to October for groups of two or more. Please ask for further details.
INCLUDES Accommodation; full board; drinks; riding.
SMALL GROUP SUPPLEMENTS apply which depend on the total number of people booked:
2 riders in group: $1,037.50
3-4 riders in group: $600.00
5-6 riders in group: $337.50
7-8 riders in group: $200.00
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $555.56. No single supplement if willing to share.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Tips; additional non-riding activities.
NEAREST AIRPORT Campo Grande. Reached by internal flight from Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities.
TRANSFERS From Campo Grande by road or light aircraft are at an extra cost. There are three options. Most guests prefer to transfer one way by air and one way by vehicle (although travelling by road is usually only possible between May and November).
Option 1 - by 4WD from Campo Grande to the Pantanal which takes about 6 hours. One way cost is $415.79 per vehicle (for up to 3 guests).
Option 2 - by road from Campo Grande to Aquidauana (1.5 hours) then by air (30 minutes) to the Pantanal. One way cost is $884.21 for a vehicle & plane taking 2 guests or $1,063.16 for a vehicle & plane for up to 4 guests. Option 3 - by air from Campo Grande to the Pantanal (1 hour). One way is $1,294.74 per plane (up to 4 guests) or $1,157.89 per plane (up to 2 guests).
The meeting point is Campo Grande airport.
We can arrange light aircraft flights (c. 1 hour) or road transfers (c. 6 hours). Alternatively, you could do a combination of road transfers and light aircraft flights by transferring by road from Campo Grande to Aquidauana and then a short 30 minute flight to the first fazenda.
The most popular option is to fly from Campo Grande to the start of the ride and take a road transfer back to Campo Grande at the end of the ride:
In order to take the light aircraft from Campo Grande to Barra Mansa lodge, your arrival flight should land at Campo Grande airport by 14:00 or before.
In order to take the road transfer back to Campo Grande at the end of the ride, your onward flight should depart after 14:00.
The Pantanal is in the State of Mato Gross do Sul, in the central west of Brazil.
Weather patterns in the Pantanal are changeable, but the normal pattern is that heavier rain begins in November. Expect flooded areas from December through to March. Between July and October the land is drier, but depending on the flood levels some water may still be around.
More than met my expectations. Pre-holiday info was fine. The Agua Pe & Pique fazendas were quite spectacular, expecially if you like to combine wildlife watching with riding. Horses are definitely a way of life over there and not just a luxury. The owners & staff are very gracious and welcoming.
Desmond ,SuffolkOverall rating: 5/5
On horseback you can enjoy all that the Pantanal has to offer, view animal and bird life, and experience wading through the water.
Expect to ride out early in the day when mammals and birds are at their most active.