Pantanal accommodations are divided into roughly three types: pousadas, which include all meals and range from simple to top-end; fazendas, which are ranch-style hotels that usually have horses and often boats for use; and pesqueiros, which cater for anglers and usually have boats and fishing gear for rent.
If you have doubts about roughing it on the budget tours, it is better to spend a bit more money for basic comforts – a bed, running water and some hope of avoiding a million mosquito bites. It rarely costs much more and the investment is worth it for a good night's sleep.
If you travel independently, you can rent a car and book a stay at various Pantanal lodges. Transportation is almost never included in the room rates and can take a sizable chunk out of your budget if you don't have your own wheels. From Cuiabá, transfers in and out may require any combination of 4WD, boat, horseback and plane, depending on the season.
For this reason, many travelers go in under the services of a tour operator. Transportation in and out is then included and they often have access to more remote lodges.