Caiman Ecological Refuge
Southern Pantanal (Pantanal lodges, Brazil)
Caiman is 147 miles west of Campo Grande on the southern edge of the Pantanal, and set within a 53,000 hectare ranch. It is involved in environmental research and conservation, including projects on hyacinth macaws, blue-fronted parrots, and their flagship Onçafari (jaguar) project. Most guests stay at the main lodge where there is a large pool with sun loungers, hammocks, a gym, sauna, small shop, restaurant, bar, a lovely sitting room and outdoor day beds. Both Baiazinha and Cordilheira (smaller lodges available for private groups only) also have lovely pools.
Generally there are two excursions each day (led by English speaking guides) either in specially converted open-backed safari trucks, on foot, or in canoes, and these are arranged locally depending on the season and weather conditions. There are also daily evening activities. Dedicated jaguar tracking programmes and riding can be booked at additional cost.
Accommodation is in the main lodge, Casa Caiman, which has 18 rooms split between two traditional Pantanal houses and has a central position for visiting the ranch. The rooms are separated into three categories: Suite, Superior Suite and Master Suite and the original buildings have been fully refurbished inside and out. The more remote lodges Baiazinha, 6 rooms, and Cordilheira, 5 rooms, which are only available for private rental, are built on stilts and have viewing towers over the savanna. All of the rooms have air-conditioning and private bathrooms.
Easy access by road (about 4 hours from Campo Grande) as it is on the edge of the Pantanal. It is also possible to arrive on a charter plane.
When to go
All year round, but January-March is very humid. During the high season (June - September) guests must stay 3 or 4 nights, arriving on a Thursday or a Sunday.