Piuval Lodge is located in the center of a 17,000-acre, working cattle ranch that lies surprisingly-close to Cuiabá, yet offers a spectacular, widlife-rich introduction to the Pantanal. In 2021, the lodge amazed everyone by suddenly and unexpectedly announcing that they had 4-6 very tame, wild Jaguars visible on many days and evenings within 100-2000 meters of the lodge. On some evenings, the lodge even had Jaguars photographed from their open safari trucks, in the lights of the lodge, within 100 m of the lodge, and not even late. We have some ideas about how this miracle of tame, visible Jaguars might have happened at Piuval, but for now, it is important just to protect and to enjoy them.
The lodge has 20 perfectly-comfortable, air-conditioned guest rooms with en suite facilities, and 11 newer, larger, better appointed suites. The large dining room is also fully air-conditioned whenever it is too warm to enjoy meals with just ambient outside air.
Through 2020, the lodge also was quite good for Giant Anteaters, but it seems that in 2021, the ubiquitous presence of the newly-tame Jaguars scared the anteaters into hiding.
The pool and lounge and bar by the pool are notably fine, as are the grounds around the lodge. Hyacinth Macaws are common in the palm trees on the lodge grounds, making Piuval the first and closest site in the world from a major airport, namely Cuiabá, that offers views of this, the world’s largest and most spectacular parrot species.
In years of normal amounts of rainfall, this property is famous for its motorboat wildlife outings on a large lake located only 2 km from the lodge, but from August to January, that lake always is too shallow for this boating fun.
Piuval Lodge is good to visit in any month of the year, however the best months for the widest range of activities without too many mosquitoes are May, June, and July. From August through January, the 1,000-acre lake owned by Piuval is too shallow for motorboat outings, but from December to April or May, the mosquitoes often are rather thick, though fortunately they carry absolutely no malaria, no dengue, no zika, no nothing. Additionally, in many but not all years, there is a rather large waterbird breeding colony on a couple of forest islands on the edge of that large lake, and the best months to see that colony are April, May, and June.
Whatever you do, try to avoid Piuval during Brazilian national holidays, as it can become quite packed with enthusiastic, noisy, partying Brazilian families and friends. One final consideration is that the entire month of July is a school holiday in all of Brazil, and so Brazilian families with children visit Piuval in significant numbers for that entire month.
All in all, this means that May and June are the absolute best months to visit Piuval, though if the Jaguars continue to be visible there and if they are visible year-round, then any month is worth a visit to see those big cats.
One final consideration regarding the best months to visit Piuval. The lodge is named, in fact, after the property’s abundant, tall specimens of Pink Trumpet Tree, or “piuval” in Pantanal Portuguese. Those exceptionally-colorful, photogenic trees bloom in August in most years, and some guests love to photograph Hyacinth Macaws and other birds in those spectacular trees.
There’s never a bad time to visit Sable Alley (really). There’s something different in every season but, most importantly, the wildlife is out-of-this-world excellent all year round. Resident hippo splash in the inland pools, elephant and buffalo herds are hard to miss, and you’re never more than a few whiskers away from a lion pride.From May onwards the Okavango Delta floods. Seasonal channels emerge, perfect for paddling around on a mokoro canoe safari – you might just have to share them with a few antelope. In June to September, the Delta floods really get going, and the heightened water levels mean mokoro and motorboat safaris are possible all day, every day.
December to March brings the summer rains. The grasses grow, and on a single game drive you might not see as many animals; but every rain cloud has a silver lining, and there’s a good chance of encountering big cats stalking their prey, the thick bushes allowing them to hunt undetected. And don’t let the thought of rain put you off – downpours are short and sporadic, and a good, waterproof jacket will see you through pretty much anything the weather throws at you.
Green season: 10th January to 31st March
Shoulder season: 1st April to 14th June; 1st November 9th January
High season: 15th June to 31st July; 1st September to 31st October
Peak season: 1st – 31st August