Photographing jaguars is truly a unique experience and very different from photographing Africa’s big cats. In comparison, jaguars are quite active during the day. During many of our jaguar photography tours, we have seen many different behaviors during the day.
Although the northern Pantanal has the highest density of jaguars in the world, we recommend patience and dedication. Searching for jaguars is not easy because jaguars blend into the environment. An experienced guide is very important to increase the rate of success on finding jaguars and photographing jaguars. We discovered early on that boating remains the optimal way to approach jaguars due to its quiet nature.
The key to succes on the river and what makes a tour successful is the experienced guide and boat driver. Understanding the jaguar and anticipating its behavior is key. Occasionally, we observe that another operator’s boat will set off without a strategy and miss opportunities for photography. Our guides scan the surroundings for possible scenarios to place the boat in the best possible spot to get the perfect photo shot.
Besides understanding behavior, patience is the second factor of a successful strategy to get the best images. Many operators stay only a short while at a jaguar sighting or leave when another sighting is called over the radio. Occasionally, we go to another sighting but in most instances we decide to wait for by a single jaguar we spotted in the brush. All boats are gone to look for other jaguars or go back to the lodge for lunch, but we end up with action shots by simply waiting. Our experience proves that patience pays off.
What is the best time of year for jaguar photography in the Pantanal?
From June until November is the best time to photograph jaguars in the northern Pantanal. From the middle of May to early June is the start of the dry season. The water level drops significantly and the temperatures during the day are hot (30C-43C). The low water level and high temperatures attract jaguars to the rivers to drink, cool off and hunt the wildlife gathered there.
What is the best month to photograph jaguars in the Pantanal?
From June until mid-November are all very good months for jaguar photography. Each month shows a slightly different facet to the experience. The month of June is early in the season, which means there are very few boats on the river. In June, many jaguars return to the prime hunting grounds when the water level is getting low again. Also in June, there is an abundance of caiman, and the chance of seeing jaguars hunt caiman in the open is much higher compared to other months.
September, October and early november stand out to expert guides because like in June, the Pantanal is less crowded with tourists. Since these months are late in the season, visitors may experience interesting and different weather situations and have a more private experience around jaguar sightings.
A typical day, photographing jaguars
We stay at a lodge located at Porte Jofre, which wildlife experts agree forms the best spot in the world to start our search for jaguars.
- 7 AM: We depart by boat from our lodge on the Cuiabá River towards the Three Brothers River in magnificent Meeting of the Waters State Park to search for jaguars. Often, we leave earlier to experience an inspiring sunrise.
- 12 PM: We enjoy a picnic style lunch on the boat, because returning to the lodge for lunch requires spending precious travel time. We may even spot a jaguar enjoying his own lunch in his prime habitat. After lunch, we hunt once more for the jungle cat in the perfect setting.
- 5:30 – 6:00 PM: We return to the lodge to refresh ourselves after a exciting day in the wild.
- 7:30 PM: Dinner is served at the lodge.
- 8:30 PM: We relax or review images to select the best ones. Our lodge provides plenty of electric outlets for all devices and for charging batteries. Afterwards, it’s off to bed to rest up for another day of splendid views.
Important when booking a Jaguar Photography tour
- What is the number of participants in a group? We cater to our clients’ individual needs to fit the tour to the person.
- Does the group have photographers, or will I be the only one? Other photographers along may offer valuable advice. We make sure that our tours provide ample support for whatever level of expertise our clients have. The most satisfying shot may come from an amateur photographer as well as a professional.
- What boats are used? For instance, will they be low profile for exciting low angle shots? Comfort means a canopy for sun protection and generous space for my camera gear and room for me to move around.
- Does the jaguar photography tour include an effective daily program? Lunch hours back at the lodge involve travel time and possible movement of the animals away from the river. Lunch aboard the boat, by comparison, means more chances for a marvelous photo shot. There is satisfaction in taking lunch in jaguar territory to possibly observe jaguars taking their lunch, too.
- Will I have an experienced guide with a track record for guiding photography trips and positioning the boat for the perfect shot?
- Will a local company using local guides supply the best information? Tourism remains vital to communities and by hiring locally, we offer support to the region. The most current and important information comes from our local guides from our local company. We pride ourselves on our reputation because our future depends on it.
Find out about our jaguar safaris: read more