Delve into the worlds of emperors and exiles, Arctic explorers and fossil-finders, and nomads of the desert
and the ice as you circumnavigate the northern hemisphere by private jet. Explore Japan’s exquisite spiritual
architecture amid the gardens and shrines of Kyoto and Nara. Experience nomadic life in Mongolia’s Gobi
and trace Russian history in St. Petersburg and Irkutsk. Then head further north to encounter Norway’s
fjords, Iceland’s wondrous geology, and the glittering glaciers and icebergs of Greenland.
Delve into diverse cultures, from the nomads of the Gobi desert to the Inuits of the Arctic, as you circumnavigate the northern hemisphere by private jet.
Travel with our host, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger, whose two-million-year-old fossil finds have changed our understanding of human origins.
Cruise Lake Baikal, and see masterpieces at St. Petersburg's Hermitage before doors open to the public.
Discover Norway's dramatic fjords by ferry or kayak; witness waterfalls, volcanoes, and geysers in Iceland; and cruise amid the icebergs of Greenland’s spectacular Ilulissat Icefjord.
Itinerary - 22 Days
Days 1 & 2 — Home City/Seattle, Washington
Meet experts, staff, and fellow travelers for a
welcome reception and dinner at our hotel, located in the heart of downtown near Pike Place
Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Space Needle. The next day, depart for Japan, and lose
a day crossing the international date line. Fairmont Olympic Hotel or Four Seasons Hotel Seattle (B, L, D daily)
Days 3, 4, & 5 — Kyoto and Nara, Japan
Land in Osaka and travel to Kyoto, where we’ll visit UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples
and gardens, including Kinkakuji, or the
“Golden Pavilion,” and the wooden temple of Sanjusangendo. Walk beneath the striking torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine to participate in a blessing ceremony, and explore Nijo Castle. In ancient Nara, visit the Todaiji temple, the world’s largest wooden building, and the Kofukuji National Treasure Museum. Stroll among 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns at the Kasuga Grand Shrine. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Kyoto or Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto (B, L, D daily)
Days 6, 7, & 8 — Ulaanbaatar and the Gobi, Mongolia
Our next stop is the land of Genghis
Khan, where one of the world’s last nomadic cultures lives amid the stark beauty of the steppe.
Take a private local flight to the majestic Gobi,
where we’ll spend three nights at a traditional ger (tent) camp, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection. In addition, visit with a nomad
family and experience their way of life firsthand. At the fossil quarries of Bayanzag, also
known as the Flaming Cliffs, hunt for dinosaur fossils with a local paleontologist. Or discover
the stunning landscapes of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Shangri-La Hotel,
Ulaanbaatar and Terelj Hotel or Three Camel Lodge (B, L, D daily)
Days 9 & 10 — Irkutsk and Lake Baikal, Russia
After the Decembrist Revolt in 1825, exiled nobility
settled in Siberia, bringing culture and infrastructure to cities like Irkutsk. Follow in their
footsteps on a walk through the central square, where traditional wooden houses stand out
in bright shades of blue and green—the colors of Siberia. Visit the Church of Our Saviour, the
oldest stone structure in Irkutsk, and wander among the tombs of famous Siberians at the
Znamenskaya cathedral. Delve into the city’s pivotal role in Russian history at the Monument
to Russian Pioneers of Siberia. The next day, cruise Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site
as well as the world’s oldest and deepest lake. Courtyard by Marriott, Irkutsk City Center (B, L, D daily)
Days 11, 12, & 13 — St. Petersburg, Russia
Fly to St. Petersburg, designed by Peter the Great
in the 18th century. At the Catherine Palace, marvel at the Amber Room, then step into the world-renowned State Hermitage Museum before opening hours, and admire the works of Fabergé at its Treasure Galleries. Stroll through the gardens of Peterhof, and tour Peter and Paul Fortress. Attend a performance at one of St. Petersburg’s grand theaters, or cruise the Neva River. Hotel Astoria (B, L, D daily)
Days 14 & 15 — Ålesund, Norway
An island city off Norway’s Atlantic coast, Ålesund is a charming hub of art nouveau architecture and the gateway to some of Norway’s most impressive fjords. Our group will split up to stay in three boutique hotels set in rural hamlets and alpine forests just outside the city. During our stay, you may explore the city, taking in the turrets and towers of its renowned early 20-century architecture, or go on a relaxed cruise through the fjords, past cascading waterfalls and twisting mountain roads. You may also opt to visit a local farm and sample Norwegian foods, or kayak through the fjords, stopping to explore nearby islands.
Sagafjord Hotel, Storfjord Hotel, or Hotel Union Øye (B, L, D daily)
Days 16, 17, & 18 — Reykjavík, Iceland
In Iceland’s vibrant capital of
Reykjavík, explore the Old City and the traditional wooden houses of the Árbær Open Air
Museum. Relax in the geothermic hot springs of the Blue Lagoon, whose warm, mineral-rich
waters have long eased the muscles and raised the spirits of travelers. At Thingvellir,
stand astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic
plates meet. See the geothermal fields of Geysir, home to hot springs, mud pots, and boiling
pools; and feel the mist on your face at the majestic Gullfoss. You’ll also have time to choose
your own adventure, including visiting a geothermal power plant, hiking through a nature
reserve, or snowmobiling on a glacier. Hotel Borg, Reykjavík (B, L, D daily)
Days 19 & 20 — Ilulissat, Greenland
Our next stop is Kangerlussuaq, a town of
about 500 residents in western Greenland founded as a military base during World War II
and now a hub of scientific research. Continue by charter flight north to the remote town
of Ilulissat, which abuts the massive Ilulissat Icefjord, the source of many of the icebergs
in Greenlandic waters. Cruise through the mist among craggy icebergs at the mouth of
the fjord, take an easy walk along the ice fjord, and meet a dogsled team. Or take a longer
guided hike alongside the massive glacier to the Inuit village of Sermermiut, or visit the
brightly colored houses and church of a tiny hunting and fishing settlement.
Arctic Hotel, Ilulissat (B, L, D daily)
Days 21 & 22 — Greenland/Boston, Massachusetts/Home City
Fly to Boston and celebrate with a festive
farewell dinner. The next day, connect with your commercial flight home.
Mandarin Oriental, Boston (D)
A world-class team of experts will accompany this expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life. The expert featured below will be part of the expedition team on this trip.
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.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For
a single room, add $7,950. Transportation
by private Boeing 757 jet and other
conveyance, as noted in the itinerary, is
included in the expedition cost. Airfare to
Seattle and from Boston is not included.
Our specially outfitted Boeing 757 is ideally suited for this extraordinary expedition. Its long-range capabilities and ability to land in smaller airports afford us unmatched flexibility. We set our own schedules, flying direct and avoiding layovers, which allows us the freedom to make the most of our adventures on land. Instead of the standard 233 seats, the jet’s interior has been customized and refitted to accommodate just 75 passengers in two-by-two, VIP-style leather seating.
For your protection, all payments are secured in a bank escrow account. See special terms and conditions for this expedition.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.