The turbulent wake past an axisymmetric body is investigated with time-resolved stereoscopic particle image velocimetry (PIV) at a Reynolds number ReD = 6.7 × 104 based on the object diameter. The azimuthal organization of the near-wake is studied at different locations downstream of the trailing edge. The time-averaged velocity field features a circular shear layer bounding a region of recirculating flow. Inspection of instantaneous PIV snapshots reveals azimuthal meandering of the reverse flow region with a significant radial offset with respect to the time-averaged position. The backflow meandering appears as the major contribution to the nearwake dynamics in proximity of the base, whereas closer to the rear-stagnation point, the shear layer fluctuations become important. For x/D ≤ 0.75, the time-history and probability distributions of the backflow centroid position allow to identify this motion with an irregular precession about the model symmetry axis occurring at time scales in the order of 103 D/U∞ or higher. The first two modes obtained by snapshot proper orthogonal decomposition of the velocity fluctuations can be related to an antisymmetric mode of azimuthal wave-number m = 1 reflecting a radial displacement of the separated flow region, while the third and fourth proper orthogonal decomposition modes are identified with a second mode pair m = 2 and are representing wake ovalization. Close to the base, a third axisymmetric mode m = 0 is identified, corresponding to a streamwise pulsation of the reverse flow region. Based on the analysis of the spatial eigen-functions and frequency spectra of the time-coefficients, it is concluded that the anti-symmetric mode m = 1 is associated with the backflow instability in the very-low frequency range StD = 10−4/10−3 close to separation, whereas more downstream it reflects the fluctuations related to the shear layer development.