Pantanal Photo Raptour

Pantanal Photo Raptour

A Photography Tour to the Brazilian Pantanal with Dario Podesta

Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) finalist in 2015 and again 2016 Dario Podesta leads this photographic expedition to the Brazilian Pantanal, arguably the best place in the world to see and photographs wild Jaguars in their natural environment. But the Pantanal is a great venue to target other large South American mammals and all sorts of birds as well, raptors included! Dario has co-led this tour in 2016 and is now familiar with all the locations we will visit in 2017. Furthermore, he has fine-tuned our itinerary personally to make sure that we visit the right locations at the right time of the day to ensure the best photographic conditions.

All images captured during the 2016 edition of the Pantanal Photo Raptour.

Wildlife In Focus

This tour has been optimized to maximize the quality and quantity of photo ops. We will photograph mammals and birds, with an emphasis on raptors, in their natural habitat. In addition to the charismatic alligators which abound in the area, we can expect encounters with both capuchin and red howler monkeys, red brocket deer, giant anteaters, giant river otters, capybara, jabiru, hyacinth macaws and large numbers of species of herons. But our main and most challenging target will be the elusive Jaguar (Panthera onca), to whom we will dedicate most of our time in the field.

Multiple Locations & Expert Guidance

We will visit the legendary Transpantaneira road from end to end, where we will visit two fazendas (ranches) selected for the many photographic opportunities they offer. But the main course of the trip is the two whole days plus one morning in the Cuiaba River and its tributaries in the core of the jaguars’ activity area. From our comfortable base in Porto Jofre we will take two daily rides in our speed boat driven by a local expert. Photography coach Dario Podesta, will be always available to help us make the most of the fauna, light conditions and our photographic equipment.

Some Pantanal Specialties


Jaguar (Panthera onca), Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), Marsh Deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya), Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla), Capybara (Hydrochaerus hydrochaeris).


Bare-faced Curassow (Crax fasciolata), Jabiru (Mycteria jabiru), Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis), Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis), Crane Hawk (Geranospiza caerulescens), Great Black Hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga), Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis).


Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Green Iguana (Iguana iguana).

Dario Podesta

Dario Podesta, by Kevin Zaouali
Photo by Kevin Zaouali


Dario Podesta is a biologist who has dedicated to wildlife photography for 20 years now. He has photographed many areas of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Antarctica.

His photos have been published in more than 80 books, magazines and calendars. He has participated in numerous photography exhibitions and has been a jury in several photography wildlife contests. He has been awarded more than 10 prizes and international distinctions.

Dario was twice a finalist in the acknowledged Wildlife Photographer of the Year photography contest sponsored by the British Museum of Natural History, in the categories People's Choice (2015) and Mammals (2016).

Dario is the current Photography Editor of Vida Silvestre Magazine, of Fundacion Vida Silvestre Argentina, the local partner of the World Wildlife Fund.

With his work Dario intends to offer an artistic view of nature. Dario’s ultimate goal is to raise people’s awareness of the importance of preserving our natural patrimony for future generations.

Recommended Photo Equipment 

  • 2 DSLR camera bodies. At least one of them with a high burst rate (6 fps or more). At least one of them with good high ISO performance
  • At least one telephoto lens (400–600 mm or 300 mm with TCs)
  • Medium focal lenght zoom lens (70–400 mm)
  • Wide angle zoom lens (16 to 135 mm)
  • Macro lens
  • Polarizer filter for the wide angle lens
  • TTL Flash Unit
  • Tripod or monopod
  • Several spare camera batteries and memory cards
  • Laptop computer and external drive for backups
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight

Have Questions for Dario?

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1

Morning arrival in Cuiaba (If you prefer to arrive the day before contact us to help you arrange the extra night at the hotel in Cuiaba). 12 pm: lunch. 1 pm: departure towards Rio Claro stopping at bridges and other interesting points to photograph wildlife. 6 pm: arrival in Pousada Rio Claro. 7 m: dinner. Overnight in Pousada Rio Claro.

Day 2

6 am: boat ride in the Rio Claro river where we expect to find Black-collared Hawk, kingfishers, herons and many other birds. Stop at a watchtower to photograph passing birds and the surrounding landscape. 9.30 am: breakfast back at the pousada. Photograph a variety of birds in the lodge's surroundings including Chestnut-bellied Guan and Bare-faced Curassow, and several species of passerines. 12 pm: lunch. 1 pm: siesta time. 3 pm: afternoon boat ride. 7 pm: dinner. 8 pm: Night drive on the Transpantaneira to target nocturnal mammals. Overnight in Pousada Rio Claro.

Day 3

6 am: breakfast and check-out. Photograph wildlife along the Transpantaneira, stopping at different bridges. We should encounter many Savanna and Roadside Hawks, and Snail Kites, and around bridges, will keep an eye out for Boat-billed and Capped Herons, and Jabirus. 12 pm: arrival in Jaguar Ecological Reserve, where we will have lunch. In the afternoon, we will target Hyacinth Macaws in the reserve. 5.30 pm: head for Porto Jofre, stopping at strategical points. After arriving in our accommodations in Porto Jofre and eating dinner, we will go to bed.

Days 4-5

5.30 am: breakfast. 6 am: boat ride targeting Jaguars, Brazilian Tapir, Giant River Otters and other animals. We expect to encounter Black, Turkey, and Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, and Great Black Hawk several times a day. 12 pm: lunch at the hotel. 1 pm: siesta time. 2.30 pm: afternoon boat ride looking for jaguars and other wildlife. 6 pm: back at the hotel. 7 pm. Dinner. Overnight in Porto Jofre.

Day 6

5:30 am: breakfast. 6 am, one last boat trip to see jaguars! 12 pm: lunch at the hotel. 1 pm: head back to Cuiaba. 8 pm: arrival in Cuiaba. Check-in and dinner. Spend night in Cuiaba.

Day 7

Farewell and catch flights back home... or to Punta Arenas, in southern Chile, to continue on the Torres del Paine Photo Raptour to target Andean Condors and Pumas!


Need to know

Tour dates & availability

2018 Dates TBA | 5 PLACES

Booking closes on

1 August

Group size limits

3-5 Participants

All-inclusive Tour Price

US$ 3.900

Single Supplement


Trip cancelations

Full refund before 31 July | $500 Cancellation Fee applies

No refund available after 1 August

Country entry requirements

Valid passport and visa required for US citizens




Good to Very Good

Weather & Clothing

Hot and humid | Bring a brimed hat (with a strap!), sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellent


Yellow fever present

Tour Map

Pantanal photo-tour map
Click on the map to see more details

Recommended Books

Endrigo, E., M.A.C. Pivatto, and G. Bernardon. 2012. Guia Fotográfico: Aves Do Pantanal. Aves & Fotos Editora, São Paulo.

Gwynne, J.A., R.S. Ridgely, G. Tudor, and M. Argel. 2010. Wildlife Conservation Society’s Birds of Brazil. The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Lowen, J. 2010. Pantanal Wildlife. A Visitors’ Guide to Brazil’s Great Wetland. Bradt Travel Guides Ltd, Bucks, UK.

Pearson, D.L., and L. Beletsky. 2010. Travelers’ Wildlife Guides. Brazil: Amazon & Pantanal. Interlink Publishing Books, Northampton.


Raptours, L.L.C. reserves the right to alter this itinerary as necessary, or to cancel the tour prior to departure, with full refund to participants.

Raptours, L.L.C. or its agents may decline to accept or retain any person as a member of this tour at any time.

No smoking will be permitted while with the group, either when indoors or in the field.

Travel medical insurance is strongly recommended.

All passengers will be required to sign a hard copy of the Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk form upon meeting with the tour leader in Punta Arenas.

No participants will be allowed in the group without a signed copy of the Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk form.

Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk Form
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