My boyfriend and I went to Pantanal with WildPantanal (wildpantanal dot com) on a 5D/4N wildlife tour. Contact with them was easy and straightforward, we sent the payment in two deposits via bank transfer, and itinerary was as follows:
- Day 1: pick up at Cuiabá airport at 8h30, then a drive to Piuval lodge on a van with AC (about 1h30 I think). A 1h walk on the woods near the lodge. Rest and lunch at noon. At 3pm another walk in the woods around lodge (about 2h). Rest and dinner at 7pm. At 8pm night safari for about 1h.
- Day 2: early morning walk from 5-6:30am, then breakfast and horse ride from 8-10am. Rest and lunch. Transfer to Pouso Alegre lodge. Walk in the area around the lodge. Dinner and night safari for about 1h30.
- Day 3: early morning walk from 5-6:30am, then breakfast and another walk. Lunch, rest and transfer to Rio Claro lodge. We drove past the lodge and kept going along the Transpantaneira to spot animals crossing the road and got lucky: tapir, greater anteater, jaguarundi. Then back to the lodge for dinner. No night safari on this day.
- Day 4: early morning walk from 5-6:30am, then breakfast and another walk. Lunch, rest, and a 2h boat ride along Rio Claro. Back to the hotel, dinner and night safari - no luck today, we saw only a racoon.
- Day 5: we were pretty tired so we skipped the morning walk, had breakfast and another boat ride (we had the option to go on another horse ride but chose the boat). Lunch, rest. Then at about 3pm we drove back to our hotel in Cuiabá.
Piuval lodge was by far the most tourist friendly. They had a swimming pool, hammocks outside each room, afternoon snacks and coffee, a recreation area with foosball tables, volleyball field, and a nice view of the open fields. Pouso Alegre was a lot simpler, basically the rooms and restaurant but I found the food was better. A group of about 8 blue macaws was always there so we had the chance to really observe them. The night safari was also by far the best one, when we saw 5 tapirs, 2 lesser anteaters and a racoon. Finally Rio Claro was also more touristy, and the boat rides were quite nice.
Altogether we saw a great deal of animals: howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, a tiny monkey (name?), foxes, deer, peccaries, agoutis, tapirs, greater and lesser anteater, racoon, giant otters and a jaguarundi puma. We saw a number of parrots: the blue macaw, monk parakeet, black hooded parakeet, and at least 2 other species I can’t name. There were lots of Jabiru and Spoonbills and obviously caiman. We saw some toco toucans and a araçari. Many smaller birds, many of which were quite colorful like the Poroaria capitata and Icterus croconotus. We saw some woodcreepers and woodpeckers too, lots of birds of prey. We didn’t see any jaguars, but we saw fresh tracks around Piuval lodge.
We were very happy with WP. The program was as advertised. Our guide Jon was excellent at spotting animals and being born in the Pantanal he knows the area and the animals and their habits. He was also able to tell us a lot about how tourism has evolved around the area. He was a careful driver and was always careful not to strain us too much - the heat is unforgiving. Only on a couple of days where we had cloudy skies did we venture outside by ourselves after lunch before returning for the afternoon activity. They don’t have as many reviews as other companies that people mention here, but they have very competitive prices and their website gave us a good impression, so we decided to take a chance and were very happy with them.