Southern Pantanal Part 1 - Photography by Leighton

Dates: August 6-13 2019

Cost $8785.00


 Facts

- Gateway city: Campo Grande (airport code CGR)

- Duration: 8D/7N

- Minimum group: 2 people

- Maximum group: 5 people



OVERVIEW

Our program will explore a region of Midwest Brazil that still retain much of its original characteristics. The Bonito area offers the ideal conditions for thrilling experiences such as snorkeling with large schools of fish or diving with large anacondas: crystal clear-rivers with several meters of visibility, preserved environments and an excellent infrastructure to ensure you a great program. The region interconnects directly with the Pantanal wetland through their waterways, thus providing many other opportunities of encounters with other wildlife. Leading the expedition will be specialized guides who know the region well and, together with local staff, will be a valuable and pleasant companion to help you increase your photo and video opportunities.


DETAILED ITINERARY

DAY 01 August 6

CAMPO GRANDE to BONITO Arrival in Campo Grande Airport (CGR). Land transfer to Bonito (approx. 4h00 travel time). Lunch (not included) on the way. We recommend clients to book a flight that arrives in Campo Grande no later than 02:00PM, as this drive takes approximately 4 hours and we avoid traveling at night. Arrival in the afternoon and check-in at Pousada Olho d’Agua, one of the first lodges established in Bonito when the city was just becoming known for its natural wonders. With cozy chalets located among native and exotic trees, the Pousada offers facilities such as a swimming pool, reading room, restaurant, Wi-Fi Internet and a forested area where it is possible to take morning walks. Meeting with local staff to discuss program. Dinner (included) and overnight at the hotel.


DAYS 02 – 07 (August 7-12)

ANACONDA EXPEDITION

Breakfast (included) at Pousada Olho d’Agua, meeting with local staff and drive towards the Formoso River marshes. Board on boat with local staff in the Formoso River, where we will be incessantly searching for anacondas and other interesting wildlife such as caimans. This activity includes scuba diving in waters up to 4-5 meters deep. Whenever the communication network permits, we will be in constant contact with other suppliers that work at other rivers where anacondas may be found. If one appears at any location, we may immediately drive to the place attempting to photograph/film the scene. Lunch (included): snack on-the-go available on the boat, land vehicle or at the river bank with sandwiches, granola bars, fruits, juices and mineral water. Back to Pousada Olho d’Agua by the afternoon. Dinner in town or at hotel (included).


DAY 08 August 13

DEPARTURE

Breakfast (included) at Pousada Olho d’Agua, check-out and land transfer to Campo Grande Airport in time for your Continuing flight to next destination.


To avoid a very early departure from your hotel or a night drive, we recommend you to book a flight departing not earlier than 2:00 PM.


Included

- Campo Grande > Bonito Land transfer IN/OUT

- Bonito to activities transfers

- 7nights at Pousada Olho d’Agua single occupancy, breakfast included

- Meals as described in the itinerary above

- 6 days anaconda expedition

- Tour guides English speaking

- Location fees, federal taxes and additional staff (drivers, boatmen, local guides, etc)

- Scuba gear for the dives in Bonito (01 S80 air tank per person/day, BCD, regulator and weight belt)

- Donation to the Anaconda Research Project.

Excluded

- Airfare

- Drinks

- Insurance

- Tips

- Laundry service and personal extras


Booking Terms and Conditions

First payment of $3514.00 US is by due Nov. 13 2018 (40%)

Second payment $5271.00 US due April 8, 2019


Extra Cost and Refund Policy

Last-minute changes in the program due to the clients’ necessities or personal requests will depend upon services availability and may represent extra costs. Refunds for cancellation will follow the policies adopted by each supplier and cancellation fees may apply. Photography by Leighton will always be happy to reimburse everything possible to our clients, passing on only the regular fees adopted by our suppliers and operational expenses that we had when putting together your program.


Operator's Reimbursement Policy

In case of cancellation of the program (in part or total) by the operator due to proven serious unforeseen events (such as: diseases, health or serious personal issues with local staff members and/or our partners/suppliers, severe political crisis/chaos, strikes, severe weather adversities, changes in local laws/rules/policies or any other emergencies), the refund will be limited to the amount paid for the part of the program under our responsibility. We will not assume costs related to plane tickets, hotel bookings and any other services or part of the itinerary, which have not been contracted directly with our company.


 Finding Wildlife

The animals that we will besearching for are living freely in theirnatural environment, they are notkept under captive/controlledconditions. The only exception refersto feeding, as some might beattracted with small amounts offood or water supplied by local people. Therefore, even though wewill do our best endeavors to findand photograph these animals inplaces where the odds of closeencounters are much higher than inmost parts of the world, we cannotguarantee the success of findingthem or providing good photographic conditions. There will be no refunds if the animals expected to be seen/photographed during a given expedition are not found. The search for wildlife adds more excitement to our adventures, since each sighting means an unforgettable encounter with the region’s nature.


Sustainable Practices

Our team has the full autonomy to interrupt or cancel a given program if we understand that the safety of the persons involved or the environment (animals, plants, landscape, local people) are being jeopardized by any means. The disrespect to local laws and regulations regarding environmentally sustainable practices, as well as safety instructions from the local staff, may lead to immediate interruption of the trip and cancellation of the program with no rights for refunds whatsoever. For the purpose of establishing limits on what is doable regarding interactions with local wildlife, we will assume what is stated in Brazilian Federal Law 9605/98: “To kill, pursue, hunt, catch, use specimens of wild animals, whether native or on migratory routes, without the appropriate permission, license or authorization from the competent authority or in breach of the acquired permission, license or authorization: detention of six months to one year, and fine.”



FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the chances of finding and photographing an anaconda during the expedition?

We have updated records from the past two seasons (2016 and 2017). On 22 days of searching, we had a total of 23 individual encounters on 14 of these days and no success on 08 days. On the most successful day we had 03 individual encounters. In 2017 the total encounters per expedition for each particular group with our clients ranged from 04 to 07 individuals (keeping in mind that sometimes we may have come across the same individual more than once on different days).


How exclusive is this expedition?

The optimal anaconda season covers a very limited me of the year and we operate small groups, keeping an interval of some days between them to ensure the best chances for all participants. We care a lot about our clients' time and money and we know this is a pretty expensive activity, so we make all efforts to ensure a good encounter. No more than 16-20 people are able to participate in our anaconda expeditions each year.


What is the best season to find Anacondas?

About five years ago, the answer would be straightforward: August and September. But in more recent years we've been noticing a change in the encounter patterns, probably due to changes in the weather. The season 2017 confirmed to us that there isn't a predictable anaconda season anymore. Specifically, at first we had an initial feeling that the anaconda natural cycle was anticipated in comparison with previous years, since we had first reports of breeding balls as early as late June. But they went on as late as early October! In general, we felt that this year in late September the weather was way too hot, which isn't too good for anacondas and also not good for us humans. Also, we must take into account the risk of strong rainfall that can make the water murky and also block the access to certain areas. Keeping all of this in mind, we decided that we will only be offering anaconda expeditions from early August until the first days of September – unless clients want to come in different seasons at their own risk, knowing that the chances of encounters get significantly low. We care a lot about our clients' time and money and we know this is a pretty expensive activity, so we are very honest and clear to ensure you satisfying results at the end.


In case of an encounter, how do you organize things so that everyone in the group has a good chance with the snake?

Along the years we have tried different systems. Nowadays we prefer to arrange it in such a way that, on each encounter, one person in the group has the priority to get closer and take photos during a given amount of me (e.g. 3 to 5 minutes) before moving away and making room for the next person. Each me we reorganize the order, so that the first person on the first encounter will be last in line for the next encounter and so on. It’s important to keep in mind that we are dealing with a type of wildlife interaction that is very different, for example, from ocean operations to dive with sharks, where these animals are attracted with food and relatively many of them remain around for a significant amount of me, thus providing everyone in the group with a good chance to interact.


How is the schedule on a usual day of searching for anacondas?

We usually leave the hotel in the morning by car/van and stay out all day searching by boat. We may visit different locations where there are reported sightings, but the main spot is at approximately a 40-minute drive plus 40 minutes by boat. Since we may explore different areas, these figures may change accordingly. Anacondas are a type of animal, which do not follow the pattern of most wildlife, who are usually active in the early morning and late afternoon. Here they tend to be found on the riverbanks starting around 10-11 AM and then in the middle of the afternoon around 2-3 PM – of course this is just a ballpark figure as with any wild animals. So, the departure time is not very early in the morning.


What are the diving conditions?

Keeping in mind that we do not necessarily stick to the same part of the river, here is some info regarding temperature and other details on the main stretch that we usually explore: the average visibility is 10-15 meters (which of course can be less in case of strong rains on the previous days), the average water temperature is 20-21°C, the maximum depth is 6 meters at isolated spots, the average depth in most of the river is 2-3 meters and there is a quite strong current at most of the spots. Most of the river bottom is composed of fine sediments which can easily make the water murky – at the spots with more current this sediment can go away quickly, but in some parts there is no strong current and it will stay suspended for a long me. In the Pantanal we should expect the water to be much warmer, usually with less current and a lower visibility.


How safe is it to dive with the Anaconda?

We have been running anaconda expeditions on a regular basis since 2008. During all these years, we never had any situation that we felt safety was being jeopardized. In our way of seeing things, as long as we respect the snakes (by not touching, grabbing or cornering them, for example), things go very well. That's a key point in wildlife photography and a rule of thumb in all of our expeditions – not only with anacondas. Also, strange as it may seem, anacondas are quite docile and tolerant. Their feeding strategy is to stay very well hidden on the wait for a prey to come by (a capybara, a caiman, a bird). Upon searching we usually find them basking in the sun on the riverbanks. In such occasion, normally the snake is not hungry or looking for food (otherwise it wouldn't be showing o at the banks). So their reaction would be to escape rather than to attack - again, as long as we respect it. Also, in case we see that the snake is giving signs of being annoyed (movements such as opening the mouth or bending the neck in an "S" shape are important indicatives), we cancel the shoot immediately and let it follow its way.


WHAT ABOUT DISEASES OR OTHER HEALTH ISSUES THAT I NEED TO BE AWARE OF AND PREPARED FOR?

A: Only yellow fever vaccine is recommended (but not required) for the Pantanal region. For more details regarding health information for travelers to Brazil, please visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/brazil. This is a region with occurrence of Dengue Fever, but it is mainly an issue in the rainy season (December-March). The main prophylaxis is wearing insect repellent at all times. It is essentially a disease transmitted by a mosquito which only lives in urban areas, so we don't expect to be bitten by it while in the woods. As to dangerous creatures, there may be poisonous snakes in the surrounding areas, but our activities do not include walking on grounds where they might be (we usually hop off from the car at the bridge and board the boats from there). No water borne diseases or aquatic parasites (nothing like leeches or such, for example). Besides the anaconda, the only two other animals that could represent a potential risk are caimans and freshwater stingrays. Both are quite uncommon at this location and the caiman species – Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman – is one of the most tolerant and less aggressive of all. There is a significant risk of getting ticks/chiggers at the places where we step down from the car, including the tick species that may carry the Lyme’s disease bacteria, as they are typical of the dry season. However, there are absolutely no reported cases of this disease in the region of Bonito. Another (reduced) risk of parasites are larvae of bot flies, but it is not frequent and the consequences are not severe. You should please bring along your own medicine in case you have specific needs (such as allergies or other restrictions), since specific medication is hard to find in the remote locations that we will be visiting.


GOT IT, BUT WHAT IF...?

A: Bonito has a local hospital with basic health services, which is between 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours away by car from most the spots where we usually go looking for anacondas. For more serious issues (to be evaluated at local hospital), the victim must be taken to Campo Grande (3.5 hours driving or 50 minutes by plane, but there is no plane available full time in the city – it must come from elsewhere). Daniel is qualified in first aid and aquatic rescue. It is very important to highlight that, as long as the team respects our instructions regarding what can and cannot be done with the anaconda, the risk of attacks or any other accidents is extremely low (no reported cases up to the present).


More Information...

Travel insurance - Although we will include a basic health assistance plan in your program, we strongly recommend purchasing a comprehensive travel and health insurance plan at your own discretion, according to your specific needs.


Excess luggage -Baggage fees are usually expensive in Brazil. As of July 2018, there is no checked baggage allowance on domestic flights and each company is adopting a different price policy per piece or per kilogram. Carry-on luggage is limited to 10 kilograms per passenger. So, we recommend participants to pack as light as possible and will be glad to suggest the most suitable equipment for each situation in the itinerary. Paying for your checked luggage in advance is usually cheaper than proceeding with this payment directly at the airport. 


Visa - Brazil’s visa policies usually follow a principle of reciprocity with your country of origin’s policies. Please check if you need a visa to entry in Brazil.


Packaging suggestions - What you should bring along: light weight pants (convertibles come in quite handy), t-shirts, one long sleeved shirt (for protect on against mosquitoes), shorts, bathing suit, extra socks and underwear, good hiking boots or tennis shoes, sandals/ flip- flops to use during relaxing periods, windbreaker/jacket, rain gear (both for personal use and to protect equipment), a cap/hat, sun glasses and any personal medication. Heavier clothing for cold weather is recommended especially from June to September. Also very useful are a flashlight, sunscreen, insect repellent, binoculars, camera with extra batteries and memory cards, and a reusable water bottle. Your guide will bring along basic guidebooks with information about the region to be visited.


Issues with commercial flights- In the event of itinerary changes due to cancelled or delayed commercial flights, the cost coverage is limited to those legally provided by the air company in charge. However, we will always make all efforts to rearrange your program according to suppliers’ availabilities. Also, there may be additional costs for new transfer and hotel arrangements, shall the commercial flight delay cause the need for new hotel, transfer, tour, guiding and other service arrangements.


Airport transfers-Unless when specified, the price for the program includes one single land vehicle to transfer the participants from and to the airport at pre-established times and days, according to the program. If participants come in different flights, the first to arrive will wait for the remaining members of the group to follow on with the transfer. If any participant wishes to take an extra transfer to avoid waiting at the airport, this will be charged extra and must be requested in advance, as last- minute transfer arrangements nay not be possible. Therefore, we recommend that all participants book the same inbound and outbound flights, according to our recommendation of best flight times.


Health/Vaccinations- Vaccinations: only yellow fever vaccine is recommended (but not required) for the Pantanal. For more details regarding health information for travelers to Brazil, please visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/brazil. Please bring along your own medicine in case of you having specific needs (such as allergies or other restrictions), since specific medication is hard to find in the remote locations that we will be visiting.


Meals and dietary restrictions- We always try our best to offer special differentiated meals in case of dietary restrictions, but this may not be fully possible in more remote locations. Please let us know about your specific needs so we can try to serve you properly.


Specific for divers - For expeditions that include diving, we recommend bringing neoprene dive gloves for protection, as some of the areas that you’ll dive in are covered with sharp-edged leaves. Also, don’t forget to bring your original dive credentials/certificates and keep them with you at all times, since it will be required for some of the activities in the program. It is not enough to have your certificate’s number, because online checking is not possible in most places.


Diving gear restrictions - The use of certain diving equipment (e.g. ns, scuba gear, lead belts) is restricted or forbidden in some of the destinations, please check prior to planning your shoots and what to pack for the trip.


Electricity - Standard voltage is 127V / 60 Hz. Brazil uses Type N, three-pin plugs (compatible with 2-pin Type C). It's recommended that you bring your own AC plug adapters and extension cords for local outlets.


Time zone - Bonito and the Pantanal are 1 hour behind Brazil’s official time of Brasília, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.


Tipping - Tips for local staff and guides are not included, participants should feel free to provide additional gratuity at their discretion if they feel especially pleased with the services provided by a given individual. Local people here (such as native guides) will be very happy with gifts/souvenirs such as mini flashlights, pocket knives, caps, t-shirts, chocolate, etc. Having some of these low cost gifts with you may help opening doors and make people happy to work and help you get better wildlife opportunities. At restaurants, it is usual to leave a 10% tip for waiters – sometimes this is already included in your bill.


All photos provided by Daniel De Granville


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