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When visiting the Pantanal it's essential to have a guide, as you'll be traversing a remote border region. Before you choose a travel agency, ask questions about the planned route, the kind of vehicle that will be used, and the accommodations. Also ask about the guides, especially about their level of experience and their English-language skills. To avoid being overcharged, compare prices at more than one agency.
You can book longer tours—including river trips in luxurious riverboats (locally known as "hotel-boats") equipped with comfortable air-conditioned cabins. There are several kinds of these boat tours. Some are fishing expeditions on the Paraguay River and its tributaries. Others may combine treks into the wetlands by horseback, 4x4 vehicle, or on foot—whatever it takes to get the best animal sightings. The cost is variable, depending on length, type of accommodation, and equipment. Most tours last four to seven days. If you're pressed for time, there are shorter two-day tours.
Agência AR. This agency is a popular tour option among travelers to the Pantanal. Rua Cel. Pilad Rebuá 1890, Bonito, 79290-000. 67/3255–1008. www.agenciaar.com.br.
Ecoverde Tours. Affable and multilingual Joel Souza pioneered ecological tours of the Pantanal from Cuiabá in the 1980s, and his Ecoverde agency continues to run good-value, high-quality tours. The agency operates out of the simple but friendly Pousada Ecoverde in the city center. Rua Pedro Celestino 391, Centro, Cuiabá, 78005-010. 065/9638–1614 or 065/3624–1386. www.ecoverdetours.com.br.
Impacto Turismo. For tours deeper into the north or south Pantanal, this is a good choice. Rua 7 de Setembro, 1090, Centro, Campo Grande, 79002-130. 67/3325–1333. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.impactotour.com.br.
Pantanal Discovery. Far and away your best choice in Campo Grande, Pantanal Discovery is one of the most experienced tour operators in the southern Pantanal and works regularly with international television companies. Helpful owner Gil and his friendly crew of multilingual guides can arrange transfers and accommodation in Campo Grande and Bonito as well as in the Pantanal itself. . Nacional Hotel, Dom Aquino 610, Campo Grande, 79008-070. 067/9163–3518 or 067/3383–3518. www.gilspantanaldiscovery.com.br.
Pantanal Nature. Dedicated naturalist and fluent English speaker Ailton Lara is the go-to man for international television companies looking to film in the northern Pantanal as well for travelers from around the world. In the dry season, from June to November, the agency also operates a well-equipped jaguar camp, which provides one of the best chances of spotting these stunning animals. Rua Campo Grande 487, Centro, Cuiabá, 78005-320. 065/3322–0203 or 065/9955–2632. www.pantanalnature.com.br.