Yes, it looks like we are going to visit the Pantanal, although it was a bit of a struggle to find a good tour guide at a reasonable price. We’ve got a reservation with the Jaguar Eco Reserve for a 4 night/5 day visit including boat trips, fishing for piranhas, walking and maybe spotting those big cats if we’re lucky… I’m really excited! Coincidentally there was an article in the Independent on Saturday on Brazilian eco tourism which mentions Eduardo, who we’ve been corresponding with by email.

It’s not been easy to sort this out. First off we contacted Julinho of Pantanal Trackers who gets great reviews everywhere online. But unfortunately he was fully booked for August – obviously his reputation goes before him. He put us in contact with his cousin, who was also busy when we were hoping to be there. He put us in contact with someone else, who was also busy, at which point we gave up on that line of enquiry. We had also been in contact with Pantanal Nature who also get good reviews online. They had an offer, but it seemed a bit expensive even if we opted for camping. Last night we found that Eduardo offered transport and activities alongside accommodation and food, so we sent him an email, not expecting a quick response (it says they try to respond within a week!) but he got straight back with a good price of 500 USD per night for the family, all inclusive. So we’ve reserved it. Now we need to buy ourselves some flights from Rio and then on to Salvador….

Where to go in Brazil?

Our round-the-world tickets take us to Brazil, into Rio and out of São Paulo three weeks later. Unlike Australia (where we are taking 3 internal flights) there is no Brazilian airline in the OneWorld alliance, so any flights within Brazil will have to be bought in addition.

Having looked at various options, it seems that GOL is the best airline for cheap fares. The alternatives (TAM, Azul, WebJet, OceanAir and Trip) all seem to be more expensive. To search all of them at once, try, as I found that the flight search site I usually use (Kayak) only picks up flights from TAM. Alternatively, if you go straight to the GOL site and choose “buscar por preço” (search by price) it will show you the costs of flying on different dates, which can vary massively. Note that you also seem to get shown more days if you use the site in Portuguese than when you switch to English.

Brazil is a big country – roughly the same size as the continental USA. So we’re not expecting to see all of it. But it would be good to see more than just the area around the big cities in the south east. So some of the options we are considering are the following:

Salvador: The historic african heart of Brazil with some amazing beaches along the coast.

The Pantanal: The world’s biggest wetland, almost the size of the UK and home to jaguars and alligators.

Iguaçu Falls: One of the world’s biggest waterfalls on the border with Argentina and Paraguay.

We don’t want to miss out on seeing things, but we also don’t want to burn ourselves out. Decisions. Decisions.