Cuiabá is full of tour operators that can organize trips and offer excursions into the northern Pantanal as well as to the nearby Chapada dos Guimarães. For the Pantanal, operators offer different itineraries that include transportation to a fazenda lodge combined with guided excursions into the wetlands. Tour operators usually work with specific lodges, but in terms of the itineraries there is flexibility to customize depending on your budget, interests, and the amount of time available. Prices vary widely, but generally begin at around R$200 a day per person, including all food, lodgings, transportation, guide, and excursion costs. An average price is around R$300.
Pantanal Explorer (Av. Governador Ponce de Arruda 670, Várzea Grande, tel. 065/3682-2800, www.pantanalexplorer.com.br) is a highly recommended operator that offers a range of interesting Pantanal excursions led by bilingual guides that include canoe and horseback riding excursions as well as hiking. It also offers trips to the Chapada dos Guimarães, the Cerrado, and the southern portion of the Amazon rainforest.
Anaconda Turismo (Av. Isaac Póvoas, tel. 65/3028-5990, www.anacondapantanal.com.br) is a travel agency that also works with a wide array of fazenda lodges and pousadas in the Pantanal. It sells packages to the Chapada das Guimarães and Bonito (in Mato Grosso do Sul), organizes fishing trips to the Pantanal, and also offers individual and group city tours of Cuiabá.
Aside from running the Pousada Ecoverde, Joel Souza, a friendly and impressively multilingual local wildlife ecologist, operates Ecoverde Tours (tel. 65/3624-1386, www.ecoverdetours.com), another highly regarded outfit with an office at the pousada as well as at Avenida Getúlio Vargas 155-A.
Avian aficionados should check out the bird-watching excursions offered by Boute Expeditions (tel. 65/3686-2231, www.boute-expeditions.com), whose knowledgeable guides are all professional birders.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition