Brazil’s Amazon & Pantanal
- Look for nocturnal wildlife in the Amazon jungle on a night safari by boat
- Track and monitor golden lion tamarins with scientists in the Atlantic Forest
- Ride horseback through the Pantanal
- Stroll along the beach at Ipanema
This expedition was specially crafted to involve students in ongoing conservation efforts with researchers in the field. More »
Itinerary 19 Days
When it comes to natural resources, Brazil is full of superlatives. It is home to the largest rain forest in the world, one of the largest wetlands, the greatest number of species, and nearly 5,000 miles of coast. Delve into three distinct biodiversity hotspots: the Amazon rain forest, the Pantanal floodplains, and the Atlantic Forest. Encounter an incredible array of species as you explore by horseback, boat, and foot, learning the successes of and challenges to conservation efforts here. Then join scientists to work on the preservation of the golden lion tamarin in the jungles north of Rio.
The Amazon Rain Forest and Manaus6 days. Arrive in Manaus for a day of orientation and acclimatization. Meet a scientist working on a National Geographic-funded project tracking the effects of forest fragmentation and get introduced to conservation efforts in the Amazon rain forest. Then travel by bus and boat to a lodge deep in the jungle. Blanketing more than half of Brazil, the Amazon rain forest produces about 20% of the world’s oxygen, and is home to one in five of the world’s bird species. We’ll spend our time experiencing the forest’s biodiversity firsthand as we explore by foot and by boat. Glide along waterways on the lookout for sloths and capuchin monkeys lounging on branches, pink dolphins swimming by, and scarlet macaws or toucans in the canopy. Try your hand at piranha fishing and capture images of the large, electricblue morpho butterfly. Examine myriad plant species, from delicate orchids to soaring kapok trees, and learn how the flora of the rain forest responds to a changing environment. Set off in a motorboat at night in search of the Amazon caiman, a relative of the alligator.
Pantanal and Bonito6 days. Travel to Campo Grande and take a short bus ride to our lodge in the Pantanal wetlands. Known as the “Serengeti of South America,” the Pantanal is an excellent place for spotting wildlife including the giant river otter, hyacinth macaws, capybaras, and much more. Venture into this pristine wilderness on foot and on horseback, keeping an eye out for the elusive jaguar. Travel to nearby Bonito to explore the rivers that seasonally flood the Pantanal. Snorkel with colorful fish in crystal-clear waters. Cap off our stay in the Pantanal with a steamy hike followed by a refreshing swim beneath a waterfall.
Rio de Janeiro and the Atlantic Forest
6 days. During an interlude in legendary Rio de Janeiro, photograph the city and its island-scattered bay from the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue or the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. Then hit the beach at Ipanema, and with luck, catch a spontaneous performance of the Brazilian martial art capoeira.
Stretching along the entire southeastern coast of Brazil, the Atlantic Forest is home to tens of thousands of plant and animal species—as well as about 70% of the country’s human population. Due to development along the coast, the habitat is fragmented and highly threatened, and some 250 native species here have gone extinct. One of its most famous endemic species, the golden lion tamarin, was recently brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the work of award-winning conservationist and National Geographic grantee Denise Rambaldi.
Our base in the Atlantic is the Golden Lion Tamarin Association’s headquarters, where we’ll work alongside Denise and Brazilian conservationists on environmental service and education projects. Rise at dawn and set out into the forest with radio telemetry equipment to locate golden lion tamarin groups. Observe these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, and meet with scientists to learn about efforts to reconnect the region’s fragmented forests. Contribute to the reforestation efforts by planting trees, and monitor the growth of the new forest corridors by measuring tree growth.