Join us for an extraordinary private jet expedition celebrating the past, present, and future of exploration at National Geographic. Eleven of today's most accomplished explorers join us in spectacular places to share insights into their groundbreaking research and fieldwork. Encounter wildlife in Palau and Rwanda, step back in time in Oman and Laos, and get immersed in enchanting cultures in Bhutan and Botswana’s Kalahari Desert on the adventure of a lifetime.
Depart the U.S. independently on an overnight flight to London.
Begin this extraordinary adventure with a welcome reception and dinner at our hotel.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane (D)
Our private jet takes us to the Sultanate of Oman, a crossroads of cultures where some 1,200 years ago traders sailed a maritime silk route from the Arabian Peninsula to China in wooden ships laden with riches. In the capital city, Muscat, meet archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Fred Hiebert. Fred curated an exhibition on these ancient treasure ships for which the sailing dhow Jewel of Muscat was re-created—with support from National Geographic—and sailed to Singapore in 2010. Later, explore Muscat’s magnificent museums and vibrant suq, and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Gulf of Oman. Or venture into the Nizwa region, an early site of Islam in Oman, and discover its remarkable treasures. In the evening, enjoy an “Arabian Nights” dinner with traditional entertainment.
Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Muscat (B, L, D Daily)
Fly by private jet to Kathmandu, Nepal, and visit the medieval city of Bhaktapur, once a royal capital whose stunning pagodas, palaces, and squares still captivate today. The next morning, take a local flight to Bhutan, the last remaining Buddhist kingdom of the Himalaya. Explore with anthropologist and Explorer-in-Residence Johan Reinhard, who will share his insights on the legendary world of Tibetan Buddhism and his work with remote Himalayan tribes.
Arrive in Paro, situated deep in a valley dotted with hilltop Buddhist monasteries and brightly decorated fortresses, or dzongs. Venture into the great Paro Dzong, one of the oldest in the country and still home to a monastic community of 200. At the Choeding Temple, witness a Buddhist prayer ceremony. Then, enjoy an alfresco lunch accompanied by traditional dancing. In Thimphu, visit the National Memorial Chorten, the Textile Museum, and Dechen Phodrang Monastery. Or, weather permitting, you may choose to set out on a vigorous hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched some 10,000 feet above sea level.
Dwarika’s Hotel, Kathmandu; Zhiwa Ling Hotel or Uma by COMO, Paro (B, L, D Daily)
Fly by local charter from Paro, Bhutan
to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where we reconnect with our private jet for the flight
to Palau. Explore Palau’s spectacular Rock Islands, composed of hundreds of
mushroom-shaped islets overgrown with native trees and plants. Meet with
marine biologist, Emmy Award–winning filmmaker, and vice president of National Geographic Mission Programs Greg Marshall, whose Crittercam and other remote-imaging systems make it possible to see the world through the eyes of its wildlife. Dive or snorkel among the Rock Islands’ “floating gardens” and encounter an incredible spectrum of marine life. Then venture to Jellyfish Lake and swim with a unique species of jellyfish that have lost their stinging ability due to an absence of natural predators.
Palau Pacific Resort, Koror Island (B, L, D Daily)
Fly by private jet to Vientiane, Laos, then take a local flight to Luang Prabang, a gorgeous town nestled in a dramatic mountain setting at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Due to its splendor and historical significance, as well as its intricate Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture, UNESCO has designated the entire town a World Heritage site. Introducing you to the cultural riches of this enchanting city will be anthropologist and Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis.
Explore the Royal Palace, built for King Sisavang Vong in the early 20th century. This beautiful estate now houses the Royal Palace Museum, which features the golden Phra Bang Buddha statue, for which the town is named. Visit the area’s most revered temples, including Wat Xieng Thong, layered with gold leaf and an elaborate mosaic depicting the fabled Tree of Life. Cruise the Mekong River to the cave temples of Pak Ou, home to thousands of lacquered and gilded Buddha figures. Then walk along Luang Prabang’s charming boulevards and browse the central market where members of the local hill tribes offer their fine wares.
Before departing Laos, you may witness the ancient tradition of almsgiving. Departing their temples to the sound of drums, saffron-robed monks walk single file through the city to receive food that they will eat that day.
La Résidence Phou Vao or Amantaka, Luang Prabang (B, L, D Daily)
Fly over the Indian Ocean to the island paradise of the Maldives. Meet pioneering oceanographer and Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, a global marine conservation initiative aimed at restoring health and productivity to the oceans. Discuss with Sylvia the unique ecosystem of the Maldives’ coral islands and her work in identifying Hope Spots—vibrant places that are critical to the health of the ocean and merit special protection. Then head into the water with Sylvia to swim and snorkel in turquoise lagoons teeming with hundreds of fish species
and other marine life such as manta rays and sea turtles.
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa (B, L, D Daily)
Land in Maun, Botswana, and transfer by local charter to Selinda Reserve, whose floodplains and savannas offer incredible wildlife viewing and bird-watching. Here, we’ll meet Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert,* the award-winning filmmakers and conservationists who established National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program to protect endangered felines around the world. Embark on game drives to spot lions, hippos, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, cape buffalo, and elephants. Learn how the local community has become involved in the effort to conserve wildlife.
Selinda Tented Camp (B, L, D Daily)
*Dereck and Beverly Joubert are hoping to join the expedition in Botswana, and will confirm their participation once their schedule is finalized.
Transfer by local charter to the Kalahari Desert, a semi-arid, sandy savanna covering thousands of square miles and dotted with the shimmering, moon-like expanses of ancient salt pans. This land is home to the San Bushmen, members of one of the longest surviving cultures in the world. Discuss their ancient legacy with geneticist, anthropologist, and Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells, and learn about the San’s link to mankind’s earliest ancestors. Go trekking with local Bushmen, enjoy game drives, and gather for a dinner under the desert stars.
Jack’s Camp, Tau Pan Camp, or Kalahari Plains Camp (B, L, D Daily)
Embark on a thrilling trek through bamboo forests in search of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, which the late Dian Fossey famously studied with support from National Geographic. Learn about these endangered creatures from primatologist and Emerging Explorer Mireya Mayor, whose work with Africa’s lowland gorilla population has helped to unravel their mysteries and guide important conservation measures. Or you may choose to take a helicopter ride over the Virunga volcanoes, and visit the Akilah Institute for Women, an inspiring vocational training and leadership program. Meet in Kigali with National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Louise Leakey to discuss her family’s historic fossil finds.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge or Kigali Serena Hotel (B, L, D Daily)
We land in Barcelona, the vibrant and beautiful capital of Catalonia, perched on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Marvel at the city’s architectural gems, including Antoni Gaudí’s iconic masterpiece, the Sagrada Família church, which rests on the ancient Roman city of Barcino. Delve into the life and works of Gaudí on a tour of his masterpieces, including the famous garden complex of Parc Güell and Casa Milà (La Pedrera). Stroll amid old and new casas and art galleries lining the Passeig de Gràcia.
Or, you may choose to explore the city’s epicurean delights with a chef who will introduce you to the celebrated Mercat de la Boqueria and the region’s finest olive oils, chocolates, nuts, and other products. Enjoy a gala farewell dinner to celebrate our epic expedition. During dinner we’ll be treated to a special performance by local castellers, who will show us a popular Catalan tradition of riveting acrobatics.
El Palace Hotel, Barcelona (B, L, D Daily)
Return by private jet to London, and connect to your commercial flight home.
A world-class team of National Geographic explorers will accompany this special 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 historic expedition.
Geneticist, anthropologist, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells has analyzed the DNA of hundreds of thousands of people living in isolated tribes around the world. He leads the Genographic Project, a multi-year endeavor to chart the journey of our early ancestors as they populated the planet. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University under the tutelage of distinguished evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin; conducted post-doctoral training at Stanford University’s School of Medicine with famed geneticist Dr. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza; and was head of the population genetics research group at Oxford University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. Spencer has written three books, including The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. Spencer will accompany the entire expedition.
Spencer will join the following departure:
Feb 15 - Mar 10, 2015
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $8,950. Transportation by private Boeing 757 jet and other conveyance, as noted in the itinerary, is included in the expedition cost. Airfare to/from London is not included in the expedition cost.
For your protection, all payments are secured in a bank escrow account. See special terms and conditions for this expedition.
Fly by Private Jet: 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 gives 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 74 passengers in two-by-two, VIP-style leather seating.