10 Feb Wild West Adventures in Brazil’s Pantanal
Combining the region’s rich biodiversity with the “Wild West” culture of the local cowboys, eco-lodges offer one of the best opportunities to get the ultimate Pantanal experience. The Barranco Alto Eco-lodge, a small family-run operation located on the banks of the Rio Negro in the Brazilian state Mato Grosso do Sul is such a lodge. A converted authentic Panteneiro farmhouse and one of the oldest in the region, it was acquired by the lodge’s founder, Jorge Schweizer, for conservation and research purposes. While supporting research into environmental conservation continues to be an important priority at Fazenda Barranco Alto, the lodge offers a truly magical Pantanal experience, as well as the hance to see amazing wildlife. Few eco-lodges have quite the diversity of local fauna that Fazenda Barranco Alto has to offer. And because the lodge is located on a working ranch, you have the rare opportunity to live out your “Wild West” dreams and learn a few tricks from the Pantaniero cowboys.
The lodge and its surrounding farm is about as far away from civilization as you can get. The nearest town is over four hours away, and if you try driving in on your own, you will undoubtedly have a rough ride on bumpy and inhospitable roads. If you prefer not to spend your vacation digging land rovers out of the mud, the option of flying in on a private plane might be preferable. Upon arrival, you will find that the cozy Pantaniero lodge with its friendly staff and comfortable rooms await you. Despite its distance from the world at large, the lodge offers all the modern conveniences you could possibly desire, including air-conditioning, Internet, and a full-service restaurant. Additionally, experienced guides fluent in English, German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are available to delight you with their knowledge of the area. Best of all, because the Barranco Alto hosts a limited number of guests, you are guaranteed plenty of pampered personal attention.
Thanks to its relative isolation and unique geography, the Fazenda Barranco Alto is home to an amazingly diverse and colorful assortment of wildlife. Visitors here are treated to such wonderful sights as macaws taking flight, filling the skies with their brilliant multicolored plumage, and capybaras strolling cautiously along the river bank of the Rio Negro. Perhaps the lodge’s most famous and beloved animal inhabitants are its giant river otters. This particular otter family has entertained lodge visitors for years and even served as the inspiration for at least one book. Other animal inhabitants include jaguars, maned wolves, howler monkeys, and caimans. And when it comes to birds, the owners have counted at least 394 bird species! The area also supports a large enough hyacinth macaw population (one of the rarest and most prized birds in the Pantanal) which can be spotted regularly.
The lodge offers a myriad of activities, ensuring that you get the most out of your stay. Canoeing, boating, horse-back riding, hiking, birding, fishing, open-vehicle safaris, swimming, star gazing, cattle wrangling, singing around the camp fire, or simply sun bathing on the beach with the local caiman population – all are readily available. All wildlife tours are accompanied by one of the owners, Marina Schweizer or Lucas Leuzinger, both experts on the local wildlife and ecosystem. The lodge’s friendly staff is there to meet your every need, in terms of exploring, scheduling and simply pampering. The varied activities, unique wildlife, and warm ambiance make the Barranco Alto Eco-lodge the ultimate remote “Wild West” and wildlife adventure for the entire family.