Located in central-western Brazil, the Pantanal is a UK-sized mosaic of seasonally-flooded savannahs and tropical forests that features the finest wildlife viewing in Latin America.

This area harbors a world-record 82 species of large birds, thousands of which can be seen during a 1-h drive on the raised Transpantaneira Road, the only all-year route that penetrates the heart of this enormous wildland.

At the end of the Transpantaneira Road winds a labyrinth of rivers on which our specially-trained trackers and boatmen showed Jaguars to our guests 1,200 times on 900 days with guests between 2005 and 2010. No other location in the world can offer so many Jaguars per day. Many of the big cats are so accustomed to humans watching them from small boats that they allow guests to observe their private lives for hours from close range. Furthermore, in 2010, 100% of our guests saw Giant Otters, often from very short distances and for extended periods. Finally, more than 90% of our guests also saw Brazilian Tapirs, often during the day.

At 150,000 square kilometers (the size of England and Wales), the Pantanal is the world's largest freshwater wetland.

Located just south of the Amazon Basin, it drains water from the upper reaches of the Paraguay River Basin. The Cuiabá River flows into the Paraguay River, which then later joins the Paraná River to form the Rio da la Plata, which enters the Atlantic Ocean much further south at the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires.

About 85% of the Pantanal lies in Brazil, 10% in Bolivia, and 5% in Paraguay. There are only three jetports in the Pantanal—Cuiabá, Campo Grande, and Corumbá.


In Jaguar viewing, as in real estate, location is everything. We have spent eight years now refining and perfecting the location of our Jaguar Experience, and now we have by far the best and definitive location for the SouthWild Jaguar Experience—the floating hotel called SouthWild Jaguar Flotel. We anchor this floating, mobile hotel 15.5 km up the Cuiabá River from the end of the Transpantaneira Road.

In July 2005, our special research teams began systematic boat surveys of the rivers upstream from Porto Jofre, as all informants at that time told us that the Tres Irmãos River, Cuiabá River near the Tres Irmãos, and the last 30 km of the Piquirí River represented the best location in the entire Pantanal to find habituated Jaguars relaxing and hunting on the riverbanks. They were correct. Since then, we have shown Jaguars to over 2,000 visitors and have amassed over 3,200 hours of direct observation of wild Jaguars on these rivers.

Jaguar Camp Comparison Map

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Each year, we tested different locations to establish our seasonal research and tourism base. In 2005 and 2006, it was on the lower Piquirí River, three kilometers above the confluence with the Cuiabá River. In 2007, our camp was based nine kilometers up the Tres Irmãos River. In 2008 and 2009, it was based two kilometers up the Tres Irmãos River. In 2010, it was based on ships anchored either at the mouth of the Tres Irmãos OR two kilometers below the mouth of the Tres Irmãos. In December 2010 and June 2011, we tried camping in a heavily-forested location 13 km up the Piquirí from its confluence with the Cuiabá River. Finally, from July through November 2011, we decided that the best location and method of keeping guests safe while in the middle of the world's highest density of Jaguars was to use our new floating hotel and to anchor it near the mouth of the Three Brothers River. It is this last location that is the site of the 2013 "SouthWild Jaguar Experience", based at the unique SouthWild Jaguar Flotel.

Why did we choose this last location? First and foremost, it is centrally-located to allow fast boat access to Jaguars spotted on any part of the 80 kilometers of river (160 kilometers of riverbank!) that our eight years of research and tourism operations have proven to be the world's most productive location for sightings of habituated Jaguars. Our 8 years of research and surveys have shown that river sections further upstream or downstream from these 80 kilometers of rivers have proven to be considerably less productive for Jaguars and Giant Otters.

As an update now in December 2012, SouthWild now offer a new map of the Jaguar Zone (BELOW), based on our 8 years of research on habitat use by Jaguars of the north-central Pantanal. This new map, like the last one, shows the location of the SouthWild Jaguar Flotel, namely 2.4 km (2,400 metres) downstream by river from the mouth of the Three Brother River. The new map shows the extension of river channels that yielded 93% of the 3,200 Jaguar sightings with guests that we have logged since July 2005, when we started the organized Jaguar tourism in this zone.

Each year since 2005, the Jaguars have become more and more abundant and more and more habituated and easier to observe. In 2006 and 2007, we had to navigate many more kilometers of river per day in order to find Jaguars for our guests. In 2012, however, we found that we almost never needed to leave the river channels shown on the "93%" map.

It is critical that when you are planning your visit to see Jaguars that you ask and understand exactly where your lodge is located, for there is no other lodge located inside the 93% Jaguar zone...the SouthWild Jaguar Flotel is the only one. If you stay at the flotel, you can go back to the flotel quickly to use the bathroom or to lunch and nap, and you are always very close to the Jaguars, so your commute is very brief. You also can get up 15 minutes before sunrise and be out on the water at sunrise or minutes afterwards. Your commuting time from the flotel to good Jaguar locations is ..... zero seconds, as in fact Jaguars live around the flotel and sometimes even appear on the riverbank 10 m from the dining room, even in broad daylight. In practice, this means you get either several hours more sleep per day, gain the early and late hour sun for your photography without any commuting to or fro, and can also lunch and nap right in the middle of the Jaguars, not in a lodge outside the Jaguar Zone. The Flotel is in the middle of the Jaguar Zone. The next closest hotel to the Jaguar Zone is located entirely outside the zone and is made of cement and brick houses that were erected in a large clearing that was produced by using bulldozers to clear and destroy the previously-luxuriant, wildlife-rich gallery forest, which used to harbor Jaguars. The Flotel has not cut a single tree and does not interfere in the slightest with the riverbank forest lifestyle or movements of the Jaguars of this globally-unique "Jaguar Zone".

As proof that there is no substitute for sleeping in the middle of the Jaguars, in 2012, BBC Natural History Unit film crews spent 9 weeks lodged at the Flotel in order to film mostly Jaguars, but also Giant Otters. Prior to choosing the Flotel, the BBC research division analyzed the different lodging options and decided that the Flotel was by far the best location


Jaguar Camp Comparison Map

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