Type of horses:
Nature of horses:
Calm, intelligent, hardy, willing
Height of horses:
c. 14hh - 15hh
95kgs / 210 lbs
Typical South American tack, with simple saddles which have sheepskins over the top for comfort, and simple rawhide bridles.
The Pantanal is the largest continuous wetland in the world and is a World Heritage Site. With an area of 140,000 square kilometres in Brazil, the Pantanal also stretches into Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. It was formed between 2 and 5 million years ago as a large sedimentary basin and is now an isolated plain surrounded by several mountainous areas and covers an area roughly a third of the size of France.
The name "Pantanal" loosely translates as 'big swampy place', with the Brazilian word pantano meaning swamp. The Pantanal is an alluvial plain that is so flat that all rainwater just spreads across it - flooding it during the full season and draining away during the dry season.
Over a period of more than 200yrs of occupation by farmers, the Pantanal's biodiversity and landscape have remained virtually unchanged. This untouched and beautiful wilderness comprises open grasslands, vazantes (low lying areas which are seasonally flooded), brejos (swamps), caapoes (small, forested mounds), cordilheiras (larger, forested areas on higher ground) and corixos (bays or permanently flooded areas).
In these many habitats there is a rich flora and exuberant fauna which delights visitors. Those who get the chance to visit this hidden tropical paradise on horseback and experience it's people, wildlife and vegetation, will view the world through different eyes.
The Pantanal goes through three cycles each year:
Rainy/flood season: summer rainfall occurs during Nov - Mar and this causes the flood. During this time most animals search for higher ground such as caapoes and cordilheiras.
Vazante (intermediate season): usually from April-June. The meadows start drying out and the water collects in bays and lakes. Fish, animals and birds gather around the water and this is a great time for riding across the water meadows.
Dry season: The land dries out and the wildlife searches for water - many different species can be seen around the few remaining water pools.
In the Pantanal the weather is hot most of the year. The summer is humid with the rainy season (usually Dec-Mar) and from April-November it rarely rains. There can be cold snaps from June - August but they are short lived.
Since the 19th century the Pantanal has been home to immense cattle ranches, called Fazendas. The Pantanal proved to the the ideal place for breeding and fattening hardy Nelore cattle from India. You need a lot of land to raise cattle if three quarters of it is under water three months of the year! Cattle work is therefore done in stages and can last for days. The cowboys ride Pantaneiro horses which are specially adapted to the unforgiving terrain. It's hooves are impervious to the water and they are resistent to many diseases. The Pantanal remains inaccessible to many modern forms of transportation and so the horse is still the best companion.
Your first few nights are at Fazenda Barra which is located on the banks of the Negro River, in a specially protected area which is rich in wildlife such as Capybara, caimanm howler monkeys, armadillos and giant anteater. The fazenda has proper beds and bathrooms, but you may be required to share a room of up to four people.
You then spend two nights in a refuge where you sleep in hammocks - the accommodation is rustic but there are bathrooms.
Your final nights are at Fazenda BP Pantanal, on the shores of Vazante do Castelo. Here you are hosted by the original land owners who farm more than 14,000 hectares with c. 4,000 cattle. This is the ideal place to experience cattle work in the Pantanal. This fazenda has double/twin rooms with private bathrooms.
As you are in an area with cattle ranches and plenty of river fishing, both beef and fish feature prominently on the menu, along with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. However, vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice.
Breakfast includes cheese, ham, bread, eggs, cake as well as tea, coffee and fruit juice.
Lunch is usually back on the ranches, but there is one day where you have a picnic lunch out on the ride and carry your lunch in your saddlebags.
Dinner may include specialities such as piranha soup (and you may catch the piranha yourselves!) as well as a typical Brazilian barbecue.
Horseback is the best way to explore the marshlands of the Pantanal and so everyone will be expected to ride - there are horses for all abilities.
However, some alternative activities are on offer so that you thoroughly experience this magical place. You will do one boat tour on the Rio Negro to discover the beauty and exuberance of its gallery forest whilst looking for mammals, reptiles and birds.
On at least one occasion you will have the chance to try your hand at piranha fishing - this is also a great chance to view caiman who may try to steal your catch.
On one day you will watch local cowboys working with the cattle, but it is likely that you will also be on horseback during this time, unless they are working within the corral.
Languages: English, Portugese.
Health requirements: General good health
Age limit: 8
Included: Accommodation, all meals, all drinks, riding
Not included: Flights, transfers, insurance
There are no direct flights to Campo Grande from Europe and so you will have to route through one of the main hub cities in Brazil, such as Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.
On arrival at Campo Grande, there are then different options for getting out to the cattle ranches and lodges. You can either fly in a light aircraft, which offers fantastic panoramic views of the Pantanal and takes c. 1 hour, or you can transfer by 4WD vehicle, which takes c. 5 hours on asphalt and sandy tracks.
If choosing to fly then luggage must be packed in small, soft-sided bags and the planes carry up to 5 passengers. If choosing to travel by 4WD then the vehicles carry up to 4 passengers. Prices for different options are per vehicle and not per person - for groups of more than 4 passengers, bear in mind that you will need a second vehicle.
Please contact us for prices as different sized aircraft cost different amounts.
We would recommend using the air transfer going in and the road transfer coming out, so that you experience both options, but the choices are entirely yours.
Please note that road transfers are only available from May to November when the water levels are lower. If you are travelling in the wet season then the only options are to fly.
Airport: Campo Grande
Horseback is the best way to explore the Pantanal, crossing open fields, marshes, ridges, streams and bays whilst encountering a rich variety of lush flora and fauna. The itinerary also includes a boat trip to view the beauty of the gallery forest as well as a chance to fish for piranha and watch the caiman try to steal your catch!You will also have a day to accompany local cowboys and learn about the culture of the people of the Pantanal.
Please note that this itinerary may be altered depending on water levels and local conditions but always with you best interests at heart. There are shorter and longer routes so that riders of different abilities can be accommodated.
After your long journey you arrive at your accommodation in the Rio Negro region, the most well preserved region of the Pantanal with an abundance of wildlife and nature. In the afternoon there is a brief presentation of the weeks programme before you set off on a boat tour on the Rio Negro. This idyllic setting provides an ideal introduction to the Pantanal and is your first opportunity to see some of the fauna which lives here such as the numerous fishlife (piraputanga, pacu, piranha and stingray etc) as well as capybara, caiman, giant otter and some of the more than 360 birds which have been recorded in this area. Return to Fazenda Barra to overnight.
After breakfast you head to the corral to meet the horses - this is done in traditional fashion with all the horses presented in a line.Set out riding through fields, savannah, forests, bays and salt marshes which all serve as a backdrop to the wildlife and birds which you will hopefully see. Lunch is picnic out on the ride before returning to the fazenda for dinner and to overnight.
Riding c. 5 hours
An early start today as you set off to ride to Capao Farm, where you will visit an authentic Pantanal school - the Rio Negro School. After lunch and a rest under some shady trees, you ride along the banks of the Vazante Castelo. As you leave the Rio Negro behind you will notice the landscape changing. Eventually you reach your fly camp refuge Primavera. This is a true refuge in the middle of the Pantanal where you will sleep in hammocks with lanterns providing the light.The refuge has screens to prevent insects, bathrooms and a kitchen, but is otherwise very rustic. For those who prefer not to try the hammocks, it is possible to have a mattress on the floor instead, but this must be booked in advance.
Riding c. 5 hours
Wake to the sounds of the birds in the trees around the refuge. The morning ride allows you to explore the area before returning to the refuge for lunch. After a lunchtime siesta in your hammock you can try your hand at piranha fishing in the afternoon. You can sample the piranha soup from the results of your hard labour at dinner.
Riding c. 3 hours
After an early breakfast you depart for Fazenda BP Pantanal. Ride though the beautiful landscape of Vazente Castelo where you will see lush Pantanal flora and fauna as well as untouched scenery. Ride through open areas surrounded by native forest (cerrado) and along the shores of Vazente. Pause for a terere (a typical drink of mid-west Brazil made with yerba-mate and cold water) at Retiro Sao Luis and then continue riding to your lunch spot in a field. After lunch, continue riding along the Vazente Castelo until reaching the farm where you spend the next couple of days.
Riding c. 6 hours
After breakfast, set off riding into the pastures where herds of Pantaneiro horses are bred. You will have the opportunity to observe the behaviour of the stallion when the ridden horses approach his 'family'. Return to the farm for lunch and a rest. In the afternoon you are driven to a bay for another chance to fish for piranha.
Riding c. 5 hours
An early start today so that you can watch the sunrise from horseback. Your final day of riding is immersed in the authentic culture of the Pantanal as you follow the local cowboys with their daily work amongst the cattle. Depending on the season you may be moving cattle to other parts of the farm, taking care of calves, or watching the cowboys in the corrals.
Riding c. 5 hours
Depending on the weather and your choice of transfer, there may be time for a short morning activity on the ranch before returning to Campo Grande.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||12|
|Ability description:||All abilities can be accommodated but there is no tuition, so we would recommend that you have had some basic riding tuition beforehand and are able to mount, dismount and ride at walk unaided.|
|Type of ride:||Trail ride|
|Total riding time:||7 nights / 6 days (5-6 hours riding per day)|
2017: 23-30 May (special cattle moving ride), 22-29 June, 20-27 August
Other dates can be booked on request from May to June and August to October.
Prices vary depending on the number of people in the group - final numbers will be confirmed to you near to your departure date.
2 riders: £2458 per person
3-4 riders: £2288 per person
5-8 riders: £2166 per person
9-12 riders: £2025 per person
Single supplement: £350
**Please note that transfers are NOT included and are additional cost**