Day1 - 2
We begin this extraordinary adventure with a welcome reception at National Geographic Society headquarters, followed by dinner at our hotel.
Day2 - 5
Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru
This morning, our private jet takes us to Lima, where we take a local flight to charming Cusco (11,200 feet). Explore the imposing cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, considered by many to be one of the finest combinations of Spanish Renaissance style and legendary Inca stonemasonry. Marvel at the treasures of the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, where we will meet with National Geographic grantee and master weaver Nilda Callanaupa, who works with traditional weavers throughout Peru to preserve the rich textile arts.
Discover the remains of the great fortress Sacsayhuaman overlooking Cusco, where enormous blocks of stone—some weighing more than 200 tons—were used to build the walls. Assembled without the use of mortar, the blocks fit together so tightly that a knife blade cannot be inserted between them.
Then travel on the Hiram Bingham, our privately chartered train, to Machu Picchu, passing through the spectacular Urubamba Valley, known as the Sacred Valley of the Inca. Still clouded in mystery, Machu Picchu was abandoned by the Inca and lost to history until it was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911 and excavated with support from the National Geographic Society. Examine the artfully cut stone altars, temples, foundations, staircases, and terraced gardens that make this one of the world's most extraordinary archaeological treasures.
Hotel Monasterio or Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco (B, L, D daily) | Breakfast Included
Day5 - 6
Easter Island, Chile
Fly to Easter Island, located 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile. Scattered with mysterious, colossal stone statues called moai, the island is an open-air museum of the ruins of a lost culture. The island has been a subject of debate since it was first seen by Europeans on Easter Sunday in 1722. How did its native people first arrive? What transpired over the centuries? What do the tall, brooding statues mean? Learn the hidden stories of the island's wonders with renowned archaeologists, and marvel at the many moai that dot the island's windswept landscape. Along the way, discover the ancient ceremonial centers, volcanic craters, petroglyphs, lava formations, and fascinating clues to the Orongo birdman cult. Then enjoy a splendid performance by the Kari Kari Rapa Nui dance troupe.
| Breakfast Included
Day7 - 8
Cross the International Date Line
From Easter Island we continue our voyage across the Pacific, crossing the international date line. We lose a day en route and arrive in Samoa the following evening.
| Breakfast Included
Day8 - 9
Samoa is one of the few places where pure Polynesian culture remains essentially intact—tribal rituals and hierarchies are little changed from ancient times. This beautiful island world is well known for its hospitality, traditional ceremonies, and distinct communal customs (known as fa'a Samoa, or "the Samoan way"). Enjoy a fia fia—a colorful performance of Samoan dance and song.
Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Resort | Breakfast Included
Day9 - 11
The Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree Rain Forest, Australia
Fly to Cairns and transfer to the charming seaside town of Port Douglas. Explore the Great Barrier Reef, the largest known coral reef in the world and home to an exceptionally rich variety of marine life. Snorkel among rainbow-colored corals with schools of unicornfish, surgeonfish, bumphead parrot fish, and sea turtles.
Or discover the natural wonders of the Daintree, a rain forest that is approximately 90 million years older than the Amazon rain forest. Go on a Dreamtime walk in Mossman Gorge with an aboriginal guide, a member of the Kuku Yalanji, who will share his people's legends and take you to sacred sites.
Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort & Spa | Breakfast Included
Day11 - 13
Fly by private jet to Siem Reap, our base for exploring Angkor, the heart of the ancient Khmer Empire. Delve into the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex, one of humankind's greatest architectural triumphs; and discover the massive towers, carved murals, colonnades, and courtyards that exemplify classic Khmer architecture. At Angkor Thom, explore the Bayon Temple and the Terrace of the Elephants. Then set out on a cruise to nearby floating villages on Tonle Sap lake (water levels permitting), or explore the temple of Ta Prohm, still tangled in the thick roots of banyan trees. In the evening, enjoy a classical Apsara dance performance during dinner at our fine hotel.
Alternative: Instead of Angkor Wat, explore the lost jungle temple of Beng Mea Lea (water levels permitting), among the largest Khmer temples, and the ninth-century Roluous temple complex of Hariharalaya, the first capital of the Khmer Empire, which predates Angkor Wat by some 300 years.
Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor | Breakfast Included
Day13 - 14
Today, fly by private jet to Chengdu, China, where we will see the area's giant pandas at the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. Then enjoy dinner and a night's rest before departing for Tibet.
Shangri-La Chengdu | Breakfast Included
Day14 - 16
Lhasa, Tibet or Xi’an, China
This morning, take a local flight to Lhasa, Tibet's capital, located on one of the world's highest plateaus. Once a "forbidden city," this Himalayan center of Buddhist pilgrimage—with the spectacular Potala Palace dominating its skyline—still retains a mystical atmosphere. Visit the Jokhang Temple, the region’s oldest and most revered; and explore the colorful Tibetan markets, known for their finely crafted ornaments, rugs, religious paintings, and carvings. The next day, venture into Potala Palace, a highlight of our time in Lhasa. The palace, with its hundreds of rooms, lavish decor, and labyrinthine corridors, was once the winter residence of the Dalai Lama and served as the seat of the Tibetan government for more than 300 years. Stop by the nearly 600-year-old Sera Monastery, where we may see monks in the debating courtyard. You may also visit the Tibet Museum or a local nunnery.
St. Regis Lhasa Resort | Breakfast Included
Day16 - 18
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Return to Chengdu by local flight and continue on our private jet to Agra. Discover the iconic Taj Mahal, built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan as a tribute to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A masterpiece of the Mogul empire, the monument soars majestically above the banks of the Yamuna River. Wander the site, admire its form among the reflecting pools and gardens that surround it, and examine its intricate mosaics made of precious stones. In the afternoon, you may explore the imposing sandstone Red Fort of Agra, where Mogul emperors lived in splendor. Or you may choose to venture into Kachhpura, a village in Agra inhabited by the Harijan people, otherwise known as "untouchables." Meet with local families and visit a school. If you wish, rise early to join our National Geographic photographer to capture images of the Taj Mahal at sunrise.
The Oberoi Amarvilás | Breakfast Included
Day18 - 19
Tanzania Fly by private jet to Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to a smaller aircraft for the flight to Serengeti National Park. In the local Maasai language, Serengeti means "extended place"—an appropriate name for this vast wildlife sanctuary, which is one of the most complex and least disturbed ecosystems on Earth. Go deep into the savanna to witness Africa's greatest concentration of wildebeests and zebras, as well as lions, cheetahs, and leopards.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti | Breakfast Included
Day20 - 21
The Lost City of Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan
Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, Petra was settled by the enigmatic Nabataean people in 312 b.c. and became an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt, and the Levant. The Nabataeans disappeared mysteriously, but the nomadic Bedouin civilization remains to this day. Half built, half-carved into rose-red sandstone cliffs, Petra is undoubtedly one of the world’s most impressive architectural achievements.
Step back in time 2,000 years as you stroll this ancient city, and learn why these enigmatic people built their capital in such an inaccessible spot. Enter the Siq, a dramatic opening in the brilliantly hued bedrock; and arrive at the Treasury, Petra’s most exquisite edifice. Discover many other elaborately decorated buildings and tombs chiseled from sheer rock walls, and observe up close the superb blending of Eastern traditions with Hellenistic architecture. On our last evening, gather for a festive Bedouin dinner.
Mövenpick Petra, Jordan | Breakfast Included
Day22 - 23
Fly by private jet to Marrakech where we explore this fabled city, located in an oasis of palm and olive groves, and steeped in ancient Berber tradition. See the Koutoubia Mosque, Ben Youssef Madrasa, and the grand Bahia Palace. Wander through the medina, a jumble of colorful suqs; and stroll the Djemaa el Fna, a lively square where snake charmers, acrobats, and magicians enchant the passsersby. If you wish, immerse yourself in the lush blue-and-green paradise of the Majorelle Garden, a delightful combination of traditional Moroccan architecture, Islamic art and artifacts, rare plants from five continents, and North African birds. On our last evening, celebrate our adventure at a farewell banquet with traditional entertainment.
La Mamounia | Breakfast Included
Marrakech, Morocco/Washington, D.C. Following breakfast, board our private jet and fly to Washington, D.C. Upon arrival, you may connect with your commercial flight home, or, if you wish, we will provide complimentary accommodations at the Hyatt Dulles Airport Hotel for the night. For the January, March, and December departures, which end in Orlando, complimentary accommodations will be provided at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Hotel for one night.
Hyatt Dulles or Hyatt Regency Orlando | Breakfast Included