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Welcome to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge

Of all the 50 lodges in the UK-sized Pantanal, one stands out as offering the most outstanding photo ops of more species of spectacular wildlife: the air-conditioned, 15-room SouthWild Pantanal Lodge (SWP). All professional wildlife photographers know this, particularly since 2017, when one of our guaranteed Ocelots was broadcast live worldwide by Nat Geo on their blockbuster, 2-h special called “Earth Live”.
SWP is located 2.5 km off the Transpantaneira Road, on the forested banks of the wildlife-rich Pixaim River. With air-conditioned rooms and accessible riverine forest, SWP offers the Pantanal’s best value for serious birders, naturalists, and photographers. Boat outings there feature the world’s most diverse assemblage of tame, wild kingsfishers (all five South American species), hawks, caimans, Capybaras, Agami Herons, Jabiru Storks, and even Jaguars. During the dry season, relaxed Jaguars are photographed along the riverbank. The world’s finest photo op for Toco Toucans is on a chest-high branch only 8 meters from the lodge (the first photo and two photos on the third line of a Google search for that toucan turns up photos from that branch). The world’s only close-up, eye-level viewing of a Jabiru Stork nest is at SWP. But la piece de resistance is the world’s only guaranteed viewing of wild Ocelots at close range on natural vines in good light.  SWP also offers horse riding, walks on scientifically-designed forest trails, research lectures, mammal spotlighting, star chart for study of the spectacular night sky, and, on request, cattle drives and Brazilian barbecues.
The lodge consists of one large, fully-screened living room/dining room with many overhead fans, outdoor sitting areas, and a library on Brazilian nature. Each of our fifteen screened guest rooms has a private, hot-shower bathroom, overhead fans, air-conditioning and one queen or two twin beds. The whole lodge has WIFI. To eliminate plastic bottle waste, the lodge offers (and was the first in the entire Pantanal to offer) complimentary, chilled drinking water dispensed in unlimited amounts from dedicated water coolers.
The SouthWild Pantanal Lodge is constantly improving both the quantity and quality of the amazing wildlife sightings.  Surprisingly, SWP is now entering it’s 14th year as the only lodge in the world with a properly-designed observation tower at a Jabiru Stork nest. The 12-meter-high viewing platform is accessed by a user-friendly spiral staircase. The top of the tower is slightly above the level of the nest, which is only 16 meters away. Our specially-trained naturalists have habituated these storks for years so that the birds now completely ignore guests and carry out all their most intimate nesting behavior in full view.

Highlights

Ocelots

Only 400-meters from the lodge, enjoy the world’s only guaranteed Ocelots, visible on 80% of evenings on natural vines in full light at 5-9 meters from guests.

Private Boat Outings

Low-speed boat outings on the 60-m-wide, wildlife-rich Pixaim River, famous for its abudance of tame birds, caimans, Capybaras, Giant Otters, and even Jaguars.

Scientific trails in forest

Unique, 4-km-long network of scientific trails, offering full access to all corners of tall, monkey-rich, bird-rich gallery forest, the rarest. most species-rich habitat in the Pantanal. Birds galore!

Jabiru Stork festival

”Design-your-shot” photo ops with two pairs of the world’s most cooperative Jabiru Storks, who pose and fly exactly where you want.

Two Observation Towers

Two easy-walk-up towers, one near the Jabiru nest and other in gallery forest on riverbank. Unique birding from spectacular high angle.

Jaguars in Private

Every six days, a habituated, wild Jaguar appears in daytime, hunting and relaxing on riverbank, amazing guests.

A Tale of Two Towers

The Agami Herson, one of the world’s most extravagant wading birds, is normally so timid and reclusive that it remains essentially invisible, lurking and fishing in deep shadows inside flooded forest near lake margins. Our expert boat drivers and naturalist guides have spent 25 years carefully observing the Agamis and mapping their favorite haunts in the dark, watery understory along the Rio Pixaim. As a result, our Agamis have become remarkably habituated to quiet boats of guests admiring them from only 4-8 meters.

The Phantom of the Flooded Forest

Our towers offer outstanding birding opportunities. The Jabiru tower has low-rise stairs spiraling up to a 12-meter-high platform, and 2-4 guests at a time can watch and photograph the nearby nest from only 16 meters. Our team specifically habituated these huge storks, the tallest flying birds of Latin America, so that they ignore the oohs and ahhs of our transfixed guests. Our river-edge tower in gallery forest, on the other hand, offers stunning views of canopy birds, as well as of flocks of 300 Blue-fronted Amazon Parrots and 100 Snail Kites in certain seasons. Capuchin and howler monkeys also are visible near this tower of nature power.

SouthWild Pantanal Lodge Accommodations

All SouthWild lodges strive to offer well-designed, relaxing accommodation in the best natural locations, guaranteeing not just creatures but also creature comforts. Although we try to offer attractive decoration, our emphasis is much more on offering lodging near the best wildlife along with highly-functional rooms that feature large work tables, comfortable, adjustable office chairs, and accessible electric plugs. We would rather invest in research into more and better methods of wildlife viewing and conservation than to blow our budgets on what we consider to be unnecessary amounts of “Safari-chic”, meaning decidedly-attractive but over-the-top decoration that includes old, leather-bound editions of National Geographic precisely positioned on polished butler trays on top of mahogany coffee tables set on oriental rugs. Tropical South America is the most biologically-diverse place on Earth and was never part of the British Empire. There is no “great white hunter” sport hunting tradition in the Amazon or Pantanal like there was in many parts of the former British colonies of East Africa. The ecotourism industries of East and Southern Africa are direct outgrowths of the colonial tradition of sport hunting. There is no need to copy that style in Brazil.
Rather, we think it is distinctly more modern and important to emphasize the scientific approach to understanding and responsibly showcasing the wildlife wonders of the Pantanal and Amazon. Therefore, we emphasize a more spacious, information-oriented, scientific approach to comfort in the tropical nature of Brazil.
Accordingly, SouthWild Pantanal’s rooms all are notably comfortable and cool, featuring functional work spaces rather than useless coffee tables covered with antique bric-a-brac.

Features:

✓ 15 guest rooms with 24-h power, split air-conditioning, and large, overhead fan, & hair dryers;
✓ Small swimming pool with deck, to cool off after taking a bit of vitamin-D-producing sun;
✓ Wi-Fi available in every guest room and in common areas;
✓ Unlike fancy African lodges, each guest room has spacious work table, adjustable office chair, and multiple plugs. These features are popular with professional photographers and serious amateurs;
✓ Amazing bird-feeding going on at 5-10 meters from the lodge (including the best Toco Toucan ops);
✓ Dining room with floor-to-ceiling screen on three sides with views of colorful birds, trees, forest, and the nearby river;
✓ Two bird observation towers (one at the Jabiru nest at 150 m from the lodge and the other 900 m from lodge in gallery forest;
✓ The world’s only high-probability, fully-lit location for viewing and photographing wild Ocelots in nature;
✓ For the last 15 years, Great Potoo roosting on trees within 400 m of the lodge;
✓ Four kilometers of scientifically-designed wildlife trails in gallery forest, which is the most bird-rich, monkey-rich Pantanal habitat;
✓ Jaguars visible on average every 6 days on the river within 10 min boat ride;
✓ Boat rides on the river, which is full of habituated, wild kingfishers and hawks;
✓ Horse rides through wild Pantanal.

When to visit SouthWild Pantanal Lodge

SouthWild Pantanal is best visited from May through December, with each month offering different advantages. Our very favorite months are June, July, and November, as they are cooler and the air is very clean, free of haze, which can interfere with photography if you are more than 50 m from a Jaguar, for instance. In August, it starts to heat up more, and September and October are the hottest of the year and also are the months that have highest probability of dry-season fires, which produce smoky haze that impedes photography.
Each year between 20 July and 1 September, a famous concentration of thousands of herons, storks, caimans, and Capybaras occurs at the km 17 bridges of the Transpantaneira. The average peak date for that spectacle is 12 August. The peak lasts about one week and in a given year, it can shift backwards or forwards by two weeks due to differences in the exact timing of the big rains of the previous December through March.
The mass flowering of the yellow ”cambará” trees occurs in late June through early July, while the even more famous flowering of the bright pink ”trumpet trees” (Tabebuia rosea) typically occurs over a period of 10-15 days in early-to-mid August. The former blooms well in eight of 10 years, while the latter only in 4 or 5 of 10 years, so it is always a bit of a roll of the dice if you are reserving space to try to coincide with the flowering of the pink trumpet trees. Ocelot are good all year, but Jaguars are best at SWP in the months of June through November.
Seasonality:
Green, low season: 10 January thru 31st March
Shoulder season: 1April thru 14 June and 1 November thru 9 January
High season: 15 June thru 31 Jul and 1 September thru 31 October
Super-Peak season: 1 thru 31 August
Our spacious dining room at SWP features floor-to-ceiling screening on three sides, thereby offering unimpeded views of the surrounging trees and fields as well as the Pixaim River, thus providing daytime viewing of many birds, including Buff-necked Ibises, Toco Toucans, and Bare-faced Currasows, and such mammals as Capybaras, Crab-eating Foxes, Marsh Deer, Giant Otters, Tapirs, and even an occasional Giant Anteater or Jaguar. The three enormous meals are all buffet-style and each meal incorporates a number of vegetarian and vegan options as well as traditional meat dishes. Cooling in the restaurant is provided by an array of overhead fans.
After having winnowed through dozens of cooks in the last 20 years, SWP now features what we believe to be the most talented local chefs, who produce meals that often are more delicious than we have eaten in the best restaurants of the city of Cuiaba and far outstrip the quality of seasoning and preparation of any competing lodges on the Transpantaneira Road.
The lodge is located only 30 meters from the 70-m-wide Pixaim River, which stops flowing between June and December and therefore is more like a lake in that season than a true river. Caimans bask in the sun and hide under the overhanging vegetation along the riverbank and are attacked regularly by Jaguars. There are 5-6 different Jaguars that we see along the river within a 15-minute boat ride of the lodge.
Our small pool is just large enough to swim laps if you are so inclined, but in general it is more suited to a cooling dip in the heat of the day. The nighttime temperatures in June through 20 August are quite cool, and therefore the pool water will be quite cool, even brisk. From 20 August to 1 November, however, the Pantanal is so very warm that the pool reaches 28 degrees C or more, which is relaxing for long dips.

SouthWild Pantanal Lodge Activities

At least 95% of our guests are wildlife fanatics, and more than 60% are serious photographers as well. Accordingly, we have a series of activities that cater to those interests. Our most popular activities by far are the 2-h-long morning and late afternoon boat rides on the 70-m-wide Pixaim River and the Ocelot Experience in the early evening. The photo ops of tame kingfishers and hawks are nothing short of epic.
The next most popular activities are 1) watching and photographing the abundant songbirds, hummingbirds, and even Toco Toucans at natural-looking feeding spots within only 10 meters of the lodge and 2) watching and photographing two pairs of absurdly-relaxed, amazingly-cooperative Jabiru storks. One pair of storks not only allows you to photograph them in their nest from only 16 m and also flies and poses wherever you want.
The second pair is good at posing, also, but are based 1,300 m upstream from the lodge.
Serious birders adore SWP, as we have the most birder-friendly, most scientifically-designed trail network found in any tall gallery forest in the entire Pantanal. Gallery forest is the rarest and most species-rich habitat in the Pantanal, representing only 2% of the UK-sized wetland.
There are three parallel trails running for 900 meters through the forest, with the trails separated by 100-150 meters. Five connector trails allow easy walking from one of the long trails to the other. All the trails are marked with numbered tags. The resultant four kilometers of birding (and monkeying) trails allow you find and see all singing male birds on territory as well as all the troops of the three species of diurnal monkeys in our forest.