Booking Pantanal Tours

Ecological Expoditions Pantanal Tours

Day
15

Location
Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil

The Pantanal, an area of vast wetlands, the biggest in the world, covering an estimated 54,000 square miles, and stretching from Brazil into parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. In another words, a really really massive swamp! Crammed with thousands of species of animals, a massive variety of plants and many an adventure, the Pantanal was somewhere we wanted to visit, and visit we did!

Booking Pantanal Tours

The only way to see the Pantanal effectively and safely is by booking a guided tour. There are lots of tour companies to choose from, and most offer almost the same packages, 3 or 4 days in the Pantanal, filled with a number of activities including Piranha fishing, horse riding etc. Of course, like with most things, some companies are better than others! The Internet provides a lot of conflicting info on this subject, but hopefully out experiences will prove useful to you if you are ever in the same position.

As always, our first port of call was Google. On this occasion Google turned up a load of Lonely Planet forum posts. Excellent, this should be what we need. A quick but entertaining read through the posts proves otherwise! It is quite obvious that a lot of what is on the forum is fake. In another words competing companies creating false identities and slagging each other off! Not very helpful.

Luck Of The Draw

A few days before, we had been lucky enough to stumble across a great website called Green Toad Bus. Basically we were trying to book a bus online from Sao Paulo to Foz Do Iguacu using the bus companies website. If you have ever tried this you will realise it is impossible. Firstly you need a CPF number, whatever that is, and secondly the websites just don’t seem to work properly. Pretty frustrating when you need to book a bus for the following day!

Green Toad Bus saved us! A many failed attempts at booking a ticket on the companies website. A Google search revealed the Green Toad Bus site. They basically book the bus tickets on your behalf, as well as offer a number of package trips etc. Whats more, the tickets even cost us less than if we were to book them ourselves! Just what we needed and highly recommended.

Funnily enough, Green Toad Bus had an office at the Foz Do Iguacu, we met Val, the nice guy who had got us onto the bus at such short notice, but also sharing the office was Diego, a representative from Ecological Expoditions Pantanal tours. Diego was extremely helpful and honest about the content of the tour and pricing etc. He drew us a nice little map of where we would be going, listed the activities we would be doing, wrote down important contact numbers etc, sorted out accommodation in Campo Grande the night before, and gave us info on onward travel. Really helpful, but the thing I most liked is that at not one point did he try the hard sell, and force the tour upon us. We were allowed to go away and think about it, and after doing a bit of research on the company, we enthusiastically came back the next day to book the four day and three nights tour for R$ 350.

Getting The Facts

From what I have read online, it seems that the problem that most people have been having with all of these Pantanal tour companies is not the tour itself, but the tour being mis-sold by shady agents who like bending the truth a little too much. Fortunately this wasn’t a problem for us as Diego was great, and as you will find out in later posts the tour was amazing, but to avoid this sort of thing its important you ask a lot of questions before handing over any cash.

English Breakfast

Find out what the meals consist of before you arrive and you won't be disappointed when you are not greeted by a full English!

Don’t leave any stone unturned. If they say 3 meals are included, ask what the meals consist of. If you have a clear picture of what you are getting before you leave, you won’t be disappointed when yo get there.

Don’t rely on online reviews. (Did I just shoot myself in the foot? haha) With most reviews online you usually only see the extremes. Either someone really loved a product so thought it was worth writing about, or some one really hated it and were so annoyed the only way they could release their pent up anger was by writing a 500 word rant describing, and probably exaggerating the extent of their terrible experieinces. Finally, like I mentioned before it could just be a another company sneakily trying to sabotage their closest rivals. Talk to the agent, use your judgement to decide whether they are trustworthy or leading you on, ask the right questions, and book a wicked trip. I suppose this applies to a lot of things as well as the Pantanal tours.

Alternatively, you could just book with Diego at the falls and be almost guaranteed a great trip!

 

 

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  • Totally agree about online reviews… usually only people who really love something or really hate it actually tell you about it. If it’s just a good tour and you didn’t have any problems, it goes unstated. It’s great to hear that you didn’t have any problems and it was a great one- can’t wait to hear more about it!

    • Yeah by all means online reviews are good to get an idea but I never rely on them. The tour we got was greta though! Posts will be coming soon, its just taking a while to get all the photos uploaded with this Bolivian internet!

  • Steve

    very useful info regarding booking this tour. Puts things in perspective.
    Very well written. Just about to go on the flickr link at the top of page, to see your loads of photos. Thanks

  • Online reviews are tough. I’ve yet to tackle that for a specific product or tour although I will be doing that soon. I do like to pride myself on objectivity so I feel I can share both the good and bad while trying not to be partial. Honesty is key but keeping the emotion in check is important as well. Now we know the process, look forward to the details!

    • Yep its hard to put it all in perspective especially if you have never done a previous tour or the like to compare it too. The post will be coming soon :p Well actually a couple, there is a lot to write about!

  • Jacqui

    A clear & honest review, its always a good idea to trust your gut feelings too, when meeting tour guides.
    Loved the recent flick photos & can’t wait for further blogs on your travels. keep up the good work!! x

  • I had no idea that you had to be so careful when booking a Panatal tour, good info and glad that you ended up finding a good tour.

    • Yes from what we have heard there are some fairly poor ones. Although I think the worst problem is that they are mis-sold by agents

  • I saw the Green Toad Bus after I had booked a trip from Peru to Bolivia. I thought they offered a good service. I think for long tours doing due diligence and researching operators online is a good start. But if you have more time to stay in the area it is easier to get the best deal price wise because you can haggle =)

    • Well we used them to book one bus ride in Brazil and we are very pleased. I can’t say how good there packages are because we haven’t tried but I’m sure they will be good for people who don’t want any hassle.

  • Yvonne Bates

    Sounds like you are getting on really well. Any chance of photos of you three on horses? Keep up the good work.

  • Good advice, Jozef! I agree about not totally relying on online reviews — they can be a big help in raising red flags, but you have to put the reviews in perspective. I also agree that if you don’t like surprises, make sure you are getting enough details when doing research.

    • Yes I think that is the right way to look at it. Use the reviews to raise any flags, but then follow up with your own research and questions. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting before you pay and you should be fine.

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