A world-class team of experts will accompany each expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life. Listed below are some of the experts and the departure date(s) they will be joining.
Jan Nijman, a geographer and former member of National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, has traveled across the globe supporting research projects at many of the sites we visit on our journey. He has received multiple grants funding his fieldwork from National Geographic and the National Science Foundation. Jan currently chairs National Geographic’s Global Exploration Fund—Northern Europe, and he also directs the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam. A Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Miami, Jan is the author of four books, as well as more than 80 publications that have appeared in a wide range of international journals. A native of the Netherlands, Jan speaks five languages and has received numerous awards, including the Nystrom Prize, the University of Miami’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Author Don Belt has traveled to 65 countries over the past three decades, working as a writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. Along the way, he has covered the deﬁning issues of our time such as environmental degradation, vanishing cultures, Islam and the West, the eﬀects of global climate change, and the geopolitical trends that are shaping our world. His many major article credits include stories on Bangladesh, Mongolia, Pakistan, Syria, the Jordan River, India's new national highway, Europe's wildlife, forest elephants, Lake Baikal, and Cold War science in the Russian Arctic. As senior editor of National Geographic from 1998 to 2010, Don helped to guide the magazine’s coverage of topics ranging from weapons of mass destruction and the use of terrorism to the legacy of colonialism in the modern Middle East. On assignment, he has lived with Bedouin in Jordan, truckers in India, tribesmen in Pakistan, sailors in Siberia, and flea-bitten fishermen on the west coast of Mexico. Don was chief foreign correspondent for National Geographic magazine from 2006 to 2011, and now serves as an editorial consultant and contributing writer.
Sisse Brimberg has produced more than 25 stories for National Geographic magazine over the last three decades. Her work ranges from documenting the life of fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Anderson to her latest National Geographic project chronicling the Viking culture. Brimberg won first prize for “Picture Story of the Year“ from the National Press Photographers Association for her story on migrant workers. Born in Denmark, Brimberg established and managed her own photo studio in Copenhagen after attending photography school. Her photographs have been exhibited around the world in Germany, Greece, Brazil, Mexico, New York City (International Center for Photography), and Washington, DC (The Newseum).
Jack Daulton is a popular lecturer on the cultural history of non-Western civilizations and has been an expert on trips to more than 50 countries. His research has focused on the art and architecture of Asia and Africa as well as the study of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Jack is also an attorney with a focus on international law relating to the preservation and conservation of the world’s cultural heritage. In a widely reported 1995 federal case, he recovered a thousand-year-old sculpture that had been stolen from a temple in Southeast Asia.
Born and raised in Italy, photojournalist Massimo Bassano has published his work in National Geographic Traveler and on the National Geographic website, as well as in numerous European publications. He regularly teaches National Geographic photography workshops in Tuscany and Venice. His acclaimed photography book The Color of Silence detailed the 12 weeks he spent in a little-known Italian monastery. Massimo has also traveled and photographed extensively in Europe and Africa. Massimo frequently joins photography and other expeditions for National Geographic, and is a favorite with the Society's travelers.
Wade Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Davis is the author of 15 books including The Serpent and the Rainbow (1986), One River (1996), The Wayfinders (2009), and The Sacred Headwaters (2011). His latest book, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest, won the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series produced for the National Geographic Channel. In 2009 he received the Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for his contributions to anthropology and conservation, and he is the 2011 recipient of the Explorers Medal, the highest award given by the Explorers Club.
Anthropologist and linguist David Harrison is a National Geographic Fellow and a co-director of the Society’s Enduring Voices Project, which documents endangered languages and cultures around the world. He has done extensive fieldwork with indigenous communities from Siberia and Mongolia to Peru, India, and Australia. His global research is the subject of the acclaimed documentary film The Linguists, and his work has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, USA Today, and Science.
Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Jay Dickman has worked in photojournalism for more than 35 years, covering topics as diverse as the war in El Salvador, the Olympics, national political conventions, six Super Bowls, the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and Shirley MacLaine. A popular photo instructor and expedition leader, he lived for three months in a Stone Age village in Papua New Guinea and spent a week under the Arctic ice in a nuclear attack sub on assignments for National Geographic magazine. He has also published five books and numerous articles for National Geographic Traveler, LIFE, Condé Nast Traveler, Time, Sports Illustrated, and Forbes.
Chris Rainier specializes in the documentation of indigenous cultures, and is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. A National Geographic Explorer, Chris was a co-founder of the Society’s All Roads Photography Program and is a co-director of the Enduring Voices Project, documenting endangered languages and cultures. He serves as a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine. His life's mission is to document endangered cultures and help empower them to use modern technology to save their ancient traditions through a project he directs called the Last Mile Technology Program. He has conducted expeditions to all seven continents and the North Pole. Chris has won numerous awards for his photography, including the Lowell Thomas Award given by the Explorers Club for his work with endangered cultures. Chris was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society in London.
Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson has explored the development of human culture and the origins of humankind all around the world. Since he discovered the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton known as Lucy in 1974, his work has been covered in National Geographic books, magazines, and films. An accomplished scientist, scholar, and National Geographic grantee, Donald has helped piece together the puzzle of human evolution. He is the founder of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University and the author of the book Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins. Donald's six books include Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, which won the 1981 American Book Award in Science.
National Geographic photographer Michael Melford has produced more than a dozen feature stories for National Geographic magazine and more than 30 for National Geographic Traveler, including eight covers. Some of Michael’s recent assignments have focused on Russia, Israel, and North America’s national parks. He has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three on Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska, for which he spent four months traveling to every corner of the state. When not shooting for National Geographic, Michael enjoys giving seminars and workshops on photography and sharing both his love of nature and his extensive knowledge.
In 2008, paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger—with the help of his curious 9-year-old son—discovered two remarkably well-preserved, two-million-year-old fossils of an adult female and young male, known as Australopithecus sediba, a previously unknown species of ape-like creatures that may have been a direct ancestor of modern humans. This discovery has been hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in history. The fossils reveal what may be one of humanity's oldest ancestors. Lee believes the skeletons found on the Malapa site in South Africa could be the “Rosetta stone that unlocks our understanding of the genus Homo” and may redesign the human family tree. An Eagle Scout, Lee is the Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.