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In July of this year my wife and I joined a small group trip (8 participants) to Brazil visiting Emas National Park and The Southern Pantanal. The trip had originally been scheduled for 2021 but was cancelled due to covid and then had to be delayed for a further 12 months when several participants dropped out. This was our second trip to Brazil having first visited the Northern Pantanal in 2012, in fact that trip was our first real wildlife tour and subsequently had a massive impact on our lives.


JAGUAR. subadult male. Cuiaba River. August 2012. This our first jaguar sighting was followed by 11 other individual jaguar sightings including cubs.

@Whyone?'s recent excellent trip report 'Northern Pantanal in search of Jaguars (July 2023)' certainly brought back some very happy memories.

It was inevitable that at some stage we would return to Brazil, so when this tour further south than our first visit was advertised we jumped at the chance as we like to visit a different location on each of our trips. We were particularly keen to observe Jaguar away from the northern circuit and an unbaited Maned Wolf sighting. Another target would be the Pampas Cat which which is apparently seen frequently in Emas N.P.

Briefly our itinerary was as follows:

Flights: Newcastle to Heathrow, Heathrow to Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo to Rio Grande

Accommodation: 6 nights Emas N. P.   Pousada do Gloria, rustic but comfortable, very clean, good food. The lodge is situated just inside the park. Our guide was Ana Luzia, wife of the park director, she runs the pousada and is heavily involved in all park activities including monitoring  the movements of its mammals. Hence the quality of guiding was excellent. We had a free run in the park day or night.

1 night Campo Grande as we moved between Emas N.P. and the Southern Pantanal. Hotel Mohave, very comfortable. 3 nights Pousada Agape, north of Aquidauana. A working cattle ranch, good accommodation and food. Ranch guide and driver excellent certainly knew where to look! 3 nights San Fransisco Fazenda also a working mainly cattle ranch, which proved to be rather disappointing. Accommodation good, food, guiding and general wildlife experience could have been significantly better. Total 13 nights in Brazil.



Until recently Emas N.P. was not visited by many wildlife tourists although it has become more popular in recent years possibly due in part to its reputation for producing good Pampas Cat sightings. The park staff were optimistic that under Brazil's new president Lula da Silva things would improve having suffered badly from neglect under the rule of Bolsonaro. 

The park is a 6 hour drive north of Campo Grande. The park covers approximately 132,000 hectares and consists of grassland and cerrado with narrow strips of gallery forest edging several small streams and the Jacuba River. The park is surrounded by industrial farming both cattle and crops, the main crop we saw appeared to be maize. The lodge was situated very close to the park boundary, the farming activities appeared to go on day and night. The unpaved road close to the lodge was extremely busy with huge wagons laden with grain, roadkills were inevitable and we saw several including Maned Wolf. During our time in the park we enjoyed 66 hours of game drives, both day and night. Long night drives were a feature of this trip. Despite this commitment we did not locate a Pampas Cat, unfortunately our best efforts were not rewarded and this was one species that got away. During our time in the park we appeared to be the only visitors and visited most of the park's different habitats. It was a wonderful experience and I would certainly recommend a visit to those enthusiasts looking for some species, both birds and mammals that are more commonly found in southern Brazil.


Extensive farming surrounds the park (eastern boundary), it was felt that as harvesting was taking place during our visit it would give us a better chance of predators as the huge rodent population would be more exposed and to some degree that was the case. This huge maize field that went on for several miles is harvested three times a year.


A typical track in the park, the tracks are extensive and well maintained. Near the southern boundary.


Typical grassland habitat, termite mounds are a feature of the park. Central area.


The Jacuba River provides some forest cover.


Several BARN OWLS were seen regularly at night including this one with it's catch near our lodge.

Reptiles were well represented.


A breeding pair presumably, BLACK AND WHITE TEGU, these lizards are big.


CROSSED PIT VIPER. Highly venomous. This species is responsible for a significant number of snakebite incidents in Brazil.


BURROWING OWLS were very common in the park, everybodies favourite. Some were seen nesting in Campo Grande in the middle of a busy roundabout.

Emas N.P. was great for birding.






This parrot is actually siting on 3 eggs. The very simple nest is on top of a storm damaged palm.


WHITE-TAILED HAWK. (Light morph).


As above in flight.

One of our main target species was the Maned Wolf, a totally wild sighting, no baiting, a practice we both dislike immensely and would never knowingly have anything to do with or support.


MANED WOLF. Sighting #1, in all we saw 8 individuals, most well. Usually late evening or early morning. This was taken on our second night in the park around 20.30.


The same 'wolf' showing it's long thin legs. I have seen this species described as 'a fox on stilts' which seems apt. They are a true candid but not a wolf.


20 minutes later further down the track, MANED WOLF #2 appeared briefly, this one was more nervous and moved on quickly. Generally however we found them to be quite inquisitive and we enjoyed good sightings without appearing to cause them any stress.

Back to the birds.




COMMON POTOO, not so common.




They were seen in couples using termite mounds as nest sites. This was a very common species.


GREATER RHEA. Again very common.


You can never see too many macaws, the early evening shift at Emas involved lots of macaws flying overhead to their roosts usually in pairs, a wonderful experience.

More mammals.


PAMPAS DEER, buck. Quite common in the park but nervous.


PAMPAS DEER, young males.


WHITE-LIPPED PECCARY. A small group were seen close to the track during a night drive. Very nervous not common.


BRAZILIAN LOWLAND TAPIR. Reasonably common usually at dusk.


The same animal crossed the track just as the sun was setting which made for an interesting shot.


YELLOW ARMADILLO. (6-BANDED). Very common, we did not see any 9-Banded here. 


This large hole was dug by a GIANT ARMADILLO, unfortunately it stayed underground during our visit, scale is hard to judge but it was a big hole. Two days after we left the GA was photographed above ground.


PAURAQUE. Very common, SCISSOR-TAILED NIGHTJARS were also seen regularly, a very impressive bird. The 'hardcore' birders in the group got very excited with several good sightings of the WHITE-WINGED NIGHTJAR.


Late one afternoon a large mammal was spotted heading towards us down the track, we stopped. This was MANED WOLF #6, it was our only sighting during relatively good light. It approached the vehicle until it veered off about 5 metres in front of us.


They are truly amazing animals.




The Maned Wolf decides to leave the track and head into some long grass. This is a male, he scented several times coming down the track, he is also probably looking for a female as it was the breeding season.

The following morning at 05.00 we got off to a good start almost immediately close to the lodge.




This one was very curious and stayed around our vehicle for several minutes. Grass removed.


As above with grass. Facially they are very fox like.

On our last morning we again went out early and the field that was being harvested when we arrived proved to be quite productive. At about 06.30 another Maned Wolf was spotted hunting in the stubble.




We watched as the Maned Wolf caught and ate 5 large rodents.  


This is possibly my favourite Maned Wolf image, it was taken just as the sun was coming up.


Also hunting in the stubble was a CRAB-EATING FOX, of which we had seen many during our time in Emas N.P. we also saw 2 HOARY FOXES which are quite rare and nervous. So for Candids the park was great.

As we drove away from the park back to Campo Grande a RED BROCKET DEER was also spotted amongst the stubble.


Note the farming machinery in the background.

So we really enjoyed our time in Emas N.P. despite not seeing a Pampas Cat, Ana our excellent guide could not believe we had not had a sighting considering the amount of time we spent in the field. Next time!

We had spore of both Jaguar and Puma during our stay in the park and interestingly 3 months before we arrived Ana had observed a black (melanistic) Jaguar close to camp.

Other mammals which I haven't mentioned which we saw were Giant Anteater (from distance), Striped Hog-nosed Skunk (common) and Lesser Grison (from distance).

It struck me when I got home that if you really want to enjoy an unbaited Maned Wolf sighting then Emas is possibly the best place to go, however I recently read a 3 day trip report to Emas, which yielded 2 very poor sightings (from a long distance) and like us no Pampas Cats.

Emas N.P. has a quite low visible mammal density, you need to be very patient. It is quite cold in the mornings and at night at this time of year which is their winter, we actually wore gloves.


Next: The Southern Pantanal

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Emas NP really delivered for you, shame about the Pampas cat. So many Maned Wolves, they look like they are on stilts! Tapirs, macaws and reptiles what wonderfully diverse sightings.


Who was the tour operator please?

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Great sightings and photos John, sorry you missed the Pampas cat. Still looks absolutely amazing!

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Miss Biscuit

The maned wolves are beautiful. I also liked that one when the sun was coming up. The closeup one in the daylight is also stunning. 

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@TreepolWise Birding, a small UK based operator, we have used them several times, they are excellent. They have clients from all over the world. They are running a trip next year, same itinerary, I believe they still have a couple of vacancies. Although they started out as a specialist birding company, they have diversified into mammal trips also with a particularly emphasis on rare cats. All trips are small group trips and they include some very interesting locations. 

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Wow you did really well at Emas--so many Maned Wolves, fantastic! We almost went on our last Brazil trip, but decided it was too far from Cuiaba. Next time we must go.

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Great shots of the maned wolf. I need to put Emas on my list!


Looking forward to more. 

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Thanks @johnweirthey have a very interesting program. Maybe sometime in the future.

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Some really nice shots of the maned wolves. I've been window shopping a similar holiday so I'm looking forward to the rest of this. My probably incorrect understanding was that you need to go to the northern Pantanal to have a decent chance of seeing jaguars so I'm interested to see how you got on in the south.

Edited by Csaba
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POUSADA AGUAPE (PART 1).  Having driven back to Campo Grande and spent a night in a good hotel we headed out to Pousada Agape, the journey took around 3 hours, after the town of Aquidauana we left the main tarmac road onto an unpaved, but well graded track which took us to Pousada Aquape. This part of the journey took an hour and was very interesting. This area is cattle ranching country on a huge scale.  We stopped briefly to photograph some birds, which then produced for me one of the best sightings of the trip.


MAGUARI STORK.  We had not seen this species during our trip to the northern Pantanal in 2012. No sooner had I taken this image than our attention was drawn to a mammal which was moving around in the large field on the opposite side of the track. It was well out so the group sat on a fence and waited until it came into camera reach. It was well worth waiting for.


SOUTHERN TAMANDUA. We were expecting with luck to see this mammal, but not as well as this. My understanding of the species was that they are mainly nocturnal and spend much of their time foraging arboreally. This individual was in pristine condition, was perfectly healthy and appeared to be feeding well. We saw two others during the day, both on the ground and one at night in some bushes. This sighting last for 40 minutes and all members of the group got great images, it was still feeding happily in the field when we left.

Normally I don't include multiple images of the same animal in a trip report but this sighting was very special. A truly remarkable and wonderful mammal.


We kept downwind of it at all times, here It was beginning to detect that we were about. They have poor eyesight but an excellent sense of smell.


It spent its time foraging in the short grass presumably searching for termites, every so ofter it stopped to remove them from its's snout. Note the size of the claws.


More attention to the snout.






What an amazing species, one of my all time favourite sightings.

We arrived at the pousada around lunch time and then did an afternoon and evening drive. The pousada is a working cattle ranch, most of the drives are conducted in and around the huge areas of cattle pasture which are amazingly rich in wildlife, particularly birds. There are isolated areas of forest and wetland also, a very different habitat to the northern Pantanal. We did three drives a day and our driver was excellent, he was one of the ranch hands and knew where to find things! The pousada was very comfortable and the buffet food was excellent. It was clearly popular with Brazilian families, we were the only foreign visitors at the time of our stay. It was fully booked and provided lots of varied wildlife activities, including catering for serious wildlife enthusiasts. My wife went out very early one morning on horseback and saw lots of the local wildlife. They have numerous bird feeding stations which attract lots of species of birds and have several habituated Yellow Armadillos which hang around the lodge. The Hyacinth Macaw numbers were far in excess of any we saw in the Northern Pantanal. If Anteaters are your thing this is definitely the location for you.


A few images taken around the pousada (all species were recorded also in more natural settings):


This was the first HYACINTH MACAW we saw on arrival at the pousada, then around the corner on the feeders.




One of the resident YELLOW ARMADILLO (6-banded).


BLACK-HOODED PARAKEET. Very Common in the area and around the pousada.


TOCO TOUCAN. Also very common.


BLUE-AND-YELLOW MACAW, not as common here as in Emas N.P.


On the first afternoon drive we came across a Giant Anteater as we drove through one of the huge areas of pasture, once again we got downwind and spent about 20 minutes taking images. Although we had observed one in Emas N. P. this was our first closeup sighting of this once again remarkable species.






They really are remarkable mammals.


Head on.


Eventually it sensed we were about and headed for an area of woodland. We saw several in and around woodland habitat.

Later in the afternoon we spotted in a field another Giant Anteater. Once inside the field we located two more Giant Anteaters and another Southern Tamandua, as I said earlier this is Anteater Central.







As we drove back to the pousada for our evening meal we noticed at distance a Brocket Deer.


From distance a BROWN or GREY BROCKET DEER. This was the only one we saw on the trip. Red tend to be more common generally in the Pantanal area, and the two species can be difficult to distinguish between. Ear size helps, large Grey, smaller Red. 


Next: More surprises at Agape.

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I’ve been looking for a photographer’s perspective on Aguape. It seems to be the best spot for giant anteaters and southern tamandua in all of the Pantanal. I’m anxious to hear your perspective!

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@MishMashAs hopefully you can see from the images we enjoyed some outstanding sightings of both Tamandua and the Giant Anteater, we saw neither in 2012 in the northern Pantanal. We saw at least 8 Giant Anteaters and 2 Tamandua well. I think you would be very unlucky not to see a GA on a 3 night stay. Possibly Tamandua maybe less reliable. Other mammals proved to be more difficult as you will see from my next posting. Generally I found it good for photography, plenty of species particularly birds around the pousada and extended area. I personally prefer to see all wildlife in a natural setting,  so all species seen around the lodge were also seen well away from the pousada. I hope this helps, the Aguape Pousada is well worth a visit.

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