Life-changing Tour of the Pantanal.
Dear Trip Advisor, Rizardo Silva took me on a 7 day/6 night tour of the Pantanal. In short, this trip was a life-changing experience and I couldn’t have asked for more from a guide. If you’re looking for someone to give you an incredible experience of this hidden gem of Brazil, Rizardo Silva is your guy — and even if he’s not personally available, he’s so well connected that he will likely be able to find someone who’s great for your tour. For those who appreciate detail, I’ll explain the whole process below as I know I would have liked it while I was researching tours!
As I was doing my research on Trip advisor from the US, I contacted the top 10 Pantanal tour guide companies. Most of them responded within a few days and I compared them based on availability, level of expertise, price, and responsiveness. There are cheaper, shorter tours available but no one was as responsive and approachable as Rizardo Silva. He answered my questions such as whether anti-malaria medication is necessary for the Pantanal (it’s not), a convenient place to stay near the airport, and provided a clear itinerary for our trip. Silva is well networked in the area, and knows the owners of the lodges as well as guides in the area, which makes him a valuable expert. He also knows where to position the car so that you can get great photos.
Rizardo Silva picked me up from the hotel lobby and we picked up some water on our way to the first lodge. He was very friendly and spoke English perfectly, which was good considering it was just going to be us for 7 days! I had an endless supply of questions about the Pantanal and Brazil in general, and he answered all of them thoroughly and enthusiastically. It was very clear that he loves this area and being a guide.
During the next seven days, Rizardo Silva was an excellent guide on all fronts. He clearly communicated the plan for each day, was punctual, and we shared three meals a day together at the lodges. We went on boat tours, day and night safaris in his car, hikes through the jungle, and horseback riding. He knows pretty much every species that lives in the Pantanal. Without him, I wouldn’t have seen 5% of the animals that crossed our paths — he has the eyes of a hawk. This was particularly valuable as December is typically a low season for seeing wildlife. I nevertheless got my fill of animals and plant life.
On top of all that, Rizardo Silva is just a great person. There are few people you can spend a week with and still like, and he’s got a unique blend of traits that make him one of those rare people. He also took care of all logistics and made the trip completely easy and relaxing for me.
At the end of the trip, we added a day-trip to an area north of Cuiabá where we went on hikes, saw waterfalls, and had lunch with a view of the geodesic center of South America. He was also kind enough to take me to a shopping center at the end where I could do laundry and buy a few supplies before my next adventure, which is to the Amazon.
Changing my life.
So why was this trip life-changing? Silva teaches by example how to really see and hear and experience nature to a new level. To be able to do that despite not knowing Portuguese, deep in the backcountry and jungles of Brazil, and feel perfectly peaceful and at ease, is something I don’t think many people accomplish even on tropical resort islands. I felt grounded and connected with the planet in a way I can’t explain but which was the exact reason I came to Brazil. Every day was packed perfectly with the right balance of activity and time to relax, reflect, or just nap.
I hope you get a chance to see the Pantanal with Rizardo Silva or one of his guides. It just might change you forever.
By: Sophytlee. Los Angeles, California.