Where To Stay in the Pantanal: Top 5 Lodges
As Silvina (Latin America Operations Director) recounts the stunning natural sights of the Pantanal, she describes the gorgeous sparkling sunsets over the endless wetlands and the thrill of observing the captivating wildlife of the region. She explains that the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park occupies a 521 square mile (1,350 sq.km) in the southwest region of Brazil but, most of the Pantanal is privately owned.
However, cooperation between ecotourism and landowners in the region (mostly cattle ranchers) has contributed to the sustainable conservation of the environment, promoting the total immersion of tourists into an authentic natural environment. Silvina points out that one of the best ways to explore the Pantanal is just like the locals do: on horseback. Roads are seldom in the vast expanse of marshlands and horses can carry you into areas that would otherwise be unreachable. According to Silvina, an optimum stay in the Pantanal lasts between 4 and 6 days, and a longer stay will increase your chances of spotting exciting wildlife. Silvina clarifies that the best season to visit the Pantanal is from May to October as the water slowly diminishes during this time with October being the best month to visit as the large lakes have turned into smaller ponds or puddles. Although a trip to the Pantanal is guaranteed to take your breath away, Silvina insists that staying in the right lodge can make the entire experience that much better. Here are her selection of the Top 5 lodges of the Pantanal.
#1 Pousada Aguapé
Pousada Aguape is a lovely farm nestled at the edge of the Pantanal, in the suburbs of the gateway town of Aquidauana and has been run by the same family for 150 years. Access to this remote lodge is through a 32 mile (50km) dirt road in good condition that is itself a splendid tour of the surrounding landscape. After a long day of safari tours, horseback rides or fishing in the Pantanal wetlands you can come and dip in the lodge’s pool or stay active by playing beach volleyball at its court. Delicious and plentiful meals are included in your stay and can be enjoyed in the gardens, where you can observe a wealth of wildlife such as toucans, arara and foxes. Visitors are welcome throughout the year in this cozy and immersive farm. Some memorable moments include going birdwatching, as there are over 300 species of birds listed in the area and waking up to the sweet chirp of the very same birds.
#2 Fazenda Baia Grande
This rustic-chic B&B set on a cattle ranch in the savanna area of the Pantanal bursts with wildlife. Located just 0.6 miles (1km) from MS-448, 3 miles (5km) from Rio Miranda and 5.5 miles (9km) from the city of Cachoeirinha; its remote location makes the ranch an ideal place to gaze at exciting Pantanal animals. The cozy rooms feature hardwood floors, ceiling fans and country-style decor, as well as air-conditioning and en suite bathrooms with showers. Mosquito nets are provided. There are furnished patios and hammocks, as well as a range of wildlife activities including piranha fishing, horseback riding and hiking, as well as working with the cowboys on the ranch. Fazenda Baia Grande’s relaxing atmosphere, friendly staff and beautiful surroundings will make you want to extend your stay!
#3 Refugio Ecologico Caiman
The Caiman Ecological Refuge, located on a 53,000 hectare ranch 22 miles (36km) from the small town of Miranda, is a stunning eco-pioneering lodge. Established in 1985 as the first eco-tourism project in the southern region of the Pantanal, the Refúgio Ecológico Caiman Lodge combines the beauty of the surrounding nature and local culture. With caiman, anacondas, American rheas, hyacinth macaws, capybaras, deer, about 40 jaguars and over 350 species of birds in the immediate area of the ranch, the refuge offers direct contact with the Pantanal flora and fauna. The local and multilingual nature guides share their extensive knowledge of the Pantanal wildlife and culture with you while exploring the world’s largest wetland. From canoeing and horseback riding to twilight safaris and bird watching activities, the Caiman Ecological Refuge will help you discover the diversity of the Pantanal’s wildlife while indulging in the luxury of this unique eco-lodge.
#4 Xaeres Lodge
Located in one of the most beautiful geographic regions of the Pantanal, the Abobral Pantanal, Pousada do Xaraés is part of a commercial cattle ranch carrying about 2,000 animals in a total area of 4,200 hectares. In 2001, the estate was purchased by a Portuguese businessmen who totally remodeled the previous infrastructure and amplified it, giving it excellent conditions of both comfort and quality. The lodge now has the capacity to receive 46 guests in its facilities which include an all purpose multimedia event room, dining room, sitting room with fireplace, games area, an area for barbecues, a wood burning stove, swimming pool and, tennis court. The lodge’s 17 apartments are distributed among three buildings, all of which are but a few meters from the Abobral River. From these trees you can hear the marvelous songs of the Pantanal birds or the howl of the monkeys, that approach the banks of the river in the mornings. All the apartments have private bathrooms, air conditioning and a mini-fridge bar and, are fitted out with rustic decorations and a welcoming atmosphere. The Xaeres Lodge’s stunning location and excellent facilities is the ideal place to discover the magical region and wildlife of the Pantanal.
#5 Pantanal Jungle Lodge
Located beside the Miranda River, the Pantanal Jungle Lodge is built on stilts and provides astonishing panoramic views of the surrounding areas. Newly renovated, the lodge has very comfortable and spacious rooms and offers a wide range of different amenities including a hammock area, a pool table, a swimming pool and a well-stocked bar. The lodge also offers special discounts for 6-8 year olds that get 50% off and children younger than 6 may stay at the lodge for free! Make sure you book one of the lodge’s fantastic tour packages that vary in length and in thrilling activities such as piranha fishing over the side of the lodge, boat and car safaris and canoeing! The Pantanal Jungle Lodge and its idyllic setting are the perfect place to experience the intimate relationship the lodge has with its surrounding and, fascinating wildlife.