SouthWild Pantanal Lodge Activities
With over 80 species of the 400 birds of the Pantanal weighing more than a pound (454 grams), the Pantanal boasts the longest list of large birds in the world and is one of the birdiest locations on the planet. SouthWild Pantanal is the ecolodge that is favored by serious PhD ornithologists as the top birding lodge in the entire Pantanal. Sitting on 1,538 hectares (3,780 acres) of seasonally-flooded savannas and bird-rich gallery forest on the banks of the intimate Pixaim River, lies 66 km down the Transpantaneira Road, which itself is the only long transect that penetrates the very heart of this great, UK-sized wetland. From our transfer vehicles, boats on the river, and in walks in our gallery forest and surrounding the lodge, you can enjoy excellent views of iconic, spectacular South American birds such as Toco Toucan, Hyacinth Macaw, Jabiru Stork, five different species of kingfishers, Orange- backed Troupial, Great Potoo, large numbers of egrets, seven species of herons, four species of ibises, hawks that gracefully snatch fish from the water's surface, snail kites and many other species. Fully 180 of the 400 birds species in the Pantanal floodplain, sensu strictu, are easily visible from cars and boats without having to dig them out of closed brush or forest.
One of our two special wildlife observation towers is strategically located at 16 metres from an 11-metre-high Jabiru Stork nest, allowing eye-level shots of these, the tallest flying birds in Latin America.
Turning to other classes of large vertebrates, SWP also features scores of habituated Capybaras (55-kilo guinea pigs) as well as Marsh Deer, Brazilian Tapirs, three species of monkeys, Giant River Otters, Crab-eating Foxes, Coatimundis, Ocelots, hundreds of Paraguayan Caimans, and quite often even Jaguars.
Our 10 very calm, experienced horses are ideal for exploration of otherwise-inaccessible fields, marshes, and forests in a radius of 10 km or more from the lodge. The normal duration of rides is 2 hours, but longer rides and even overnight horse expeditions to other ranches can be arranged upon request. We offer hard hats for extra riding safety.
The Giant Otter is one of the most exciting and endangered animals of the Americas, with a global population of about 5,000. The world’s only completely tame group of these 2-metre-long, 70-pound “river wolves” lives in the 60 meter-wide, 12 km-long Pixaim River, which lies a mere 30 meters from the lodge. Our boat drivers report that individual otters in this 11-member group have lived there for more than a decade. Now, the entire group is very tame, allowing observation and photography from only 2-10 meters. Our afternoon boat outings normally include close-range observation of these powerful, playful top predators, which we have observed chasing Jaguars and eating Anacondas. Everywhere else in the world, Giant Otters are impossible to view at such incredibly close range.
SouthWild Pantanal Eco Lodge is visited by a greater number of serious birders than any other lodge in the entire Pantanal. On the internet, birding trip reports for the Pantanal usually include PWC (under the name of our ranch, Fazenda Santa Tereza). Birders love our scientifically-designed trail system through the Pantanal’s most easily-accessible gallery or riverine forest, a bird-rich habitat that represents only 2% of the Pantanal. Furthermore, we offer a complete lodge bird list (340 species) compiled by a leading Pantanal bird guide and a Ph.D. ornithologist (one of the lodge owners). Our location allows easy day trips to the Campo de Jofre area 60 km south on the Transpantaneira, a must for listers/tickers. These enormous wading birds fly next to our boat and land on the banks of the river to pose in ideal, golden afternoon light, framed by lush tropical vegetation. The river also boasts Agami Herons, very tame Black-collared Hawks, Sunbitterns, Sungrebes, Bare-faced Curassows, and a profusion of other water and forest birds.
Trails and Tapirs.
Five kilometres of well designed trails crisscross riverine forest and drier cerrado, allowing for excellent opportunities to search for rare Pantanal birds as well for troops of Brown Capuchin Monkeys, Black and Gold Howler Monkeys, and Silvery Marmosets (energetic, squirrel-sized monkeys). We also now offer the single best location in the world to see the normally very elusive, 250-kilo (600-pound) Brazilian Tapir, the largest land animal in South America. We began to guarantee tapirs in late 2006 after we perfected a system for locating and observing them at 10-20 meters from viewing platforms within a five minute walk of the lodge. In December 2006, this system allowed us to view eight tapirs in less than 30 minutes.
Towers that move with fruiting, flowering, and nesting.
The only way to view and photograph from close range all three monkeys and the long list of fruit-eating or nectar-drinking birds is to place convenient, metal observation towers within a few metres of the active fruiting or flowering trees. We are the first and only lodge in all the Pantanal to offer towers that move with the fruit and the flowers. We also normally offer daytime viewing and photo opportunities of a Great Potoo at 7 meters or less in excellent light at eye level with a background of vegetation instead of sky, which allows you to see and to photograph the bird’s complicated feather pattern. Finally, we place towers topped with hides within just a few metres of one or more Jabiru nests and nests of other spectacular birds. These nest observation towers allow unique observation angles that are ideal for still photos and video. Our unmatched expertise with towers comes from 28 years of building, moving, and guying 25-45 meter-tall metal towers in the Amazon rainforest for dozens of TV crews and photographers from the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and many other international producers.
Night spotlighting outings (in raised, open cars or small trucks) are offered (on an optional, but included, basis) on any and all nights in the Pantanal. Note that these spotlighting outings might not be totally private, as our open observation trucks normally are available for any and all guests staying at our lodge. The trucks always are spacious enough to ensure excellent wildlife viewing for all.
We are the only lodge in the Pantanal with a resident bird guide who knows all the birds by their English names along with their songs and calls. He has mapped or “staked out” singing males of species of special interest and is well trained in using tape/Ipod playback to boost lists of visiting birders. His services are available for a modest additional charge.
This is the only lodge in the Pantanal offering the guyed photo-hide towers as well as terrestrial hides/blinds near special wildlife concentrations. These towers and hides will be moved every 1-2 weeks or months as activity changes to allow the finest photo-ops and viewing of birds and mammals in fruiting or flowering trees or at their nests or fishing sites. SWP also is the only location in the entire Pantanal that offers special, twin-hull photo catamarans with customized photo blinds located on a stable platform. These floating blinds are designed for photographers with long lenses on tripods who wish to sneak up silently on caimans, capybaras, and birds along the banks of the river. We silently propel these floating, 2-3 person photo catamarans with paddles wielded by our specially trained staff or with electric trolling motors.
Families and Children
SouthWild Pantanal Lodge is ideal for families. There is no malaria or leishmaniasis in the Pantanal, so kids can play safely outdoors at our pool or on the grounds. There also is no Lyme Disease and no Poison Ivy, which makes the Pantanal safer and less problematical than much of the U.S.A and Europe. Three of the owner/hosts at SPL are English-speaking children of 16, 13, and 13 years of age, so you can be sure that there will be plenty of kid-friendly activities.