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Sacred Places: An Exploration of Faith and Culture by Private Jet

    • Trip Style: Expedition
    • Trip Type: Private Jet

Expedition Details


Follow in the footsteps of monks, pilgrims, prophets, and kings as we explore the spiritual heritage and architectural masterpieces of hallowed sites around the world. Encounter diverse cultural treasures, from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to Japan’s Shinto shrines and the Buddhist monasteries of Myanmar. In India, visit the holiest of Sikh temples and witness Hindu rituals along the banks of the Ganges. Discover Jerusalem’s sacred sites, venture into Ethiopia’s rock-hewn churches, and experience a dramatic mix of modernity and tradition in futuristic Dubai.

Trip Highlights

    • Discover wonders both ancient and modern, from the desert fortress of Masada to the soaring skyscrapers of Dubai.
    • Glide past fishing skiffs and floating gardens on Myanmar’s Inle Lake, and explore Bagan’s incredible temple complex.
    • Mingle with Sikh pilgrims at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and visit the Buddhist monuments of Sarnath.
    • Experience the serenity of Kyoto’s Zen gardens and the rich spiritual history of Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches.

Itinerary - 20 Days

Days 1 & 2 — Rome, Italy, and Vatican City

Meet experts, staff, and fellow travelers during a welcome reception and dinner. Marvel at the Eternal City’s ancient landmarks, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon—an influential pagan temple in Rome consecrated as a Christian church. Visit Vatican City—the heart of the Roman Catholic Church—and explore the intersection of art, culture, and religion at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The St. Regis Rome (D)

Days 3, 4, & 5 — Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel

Fly by private jet to Tel Aviv and continue overland to Jerusalem, a city that holds a rich spiritual meaning to many faiths. We will visit a number of holy sites in the Old City and learn about their significance to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Visit the Temple Mount, capped by the gleaming cupola of the Dome of the Rock, where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended into heaven; wander through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, according to tradition, houses the tomb of Jesus; and face the Western Wall, one of the most sacred Jewish sites, and touch its ancient stones. The next day, head into the desert to tour a fortress perched dramatically atop a plateau. King Herod built this impressive fortification, known as Masada, to be the stronghold of his people.
King David Hotel (D)

Days 6, 7, & 8 — Amritsar and Varanasi, India

Fly to Amritsar, the spiritual center of the Sikh religion. Explore the exquisite Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine. Then fly to the holy city of Varanasi and watch Hindu pilgrims as they gather at their most sacred site along the banks of the Ganges River; visit the nearby ruins of Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his first sermon; and join pilgrims in an aarti, the ritual lighting of a ghee candle. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Ganges, then gather for dinner in illuminated gardens where Brahmin singers chant Vedic hymns.
Hyatt Amritsar and The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi (D)

Days 9 & 10 — Kyoto and Nara, Japan

Japan’s imperial capital for nearly 1,000 years, Kyoto brims with UNESCO World Heritage sites and quaint streets lined with traditional shops, theaters, and teahouses. Visit the wooden temple of Sanjusangendo, the Kinkaku-ji golden pavilion, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Gather for a traditional Japanese feast. Then fly to the ancient city of Nara, home to the Todai-ji temple—the world’s largest wooden building—and stroll along an enchanting path to the Kasuga Grand Shrine, lined with 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto (D)

Days 11 through 14 — Yangon (Rangoon), Bagan, and Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)

Our visit begins at Shwedagon Pagoda, a dazzling structure that has dominated Yangon’s skyline for more than a thousand years. Next, take a private local flight to the ancient capital of Bagan and explore its extraordinary plain, dotted with thousands of temples, stupas, and monasteries. Then fly to remote Inle Lake, home to floating gardens, stilt houses and markets of the Intha people. Learn about their traditional weaving and blacksmithing methods, watch fishermen poling their skiffs with one leg, and visit the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery.
Sule Shangri-La Yangon, Aureum Palace Hotel, and Aureum Resort & Spa (D)

Days 15 & 16 — Addis Ababa and Lalibela, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is home to evidence of some of the earliest humans and an array of archaeological treasures. It is also a complex society composed of diverse religions and distinct tribal cultures. This evening, arrive by private jet in Addis Ababa. The next morning, travel by local air to the northern town of Lalibela, an important pilgrimage center of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest Christian sects in the world. At this fascinating World Heritage site, stroll among 11 breathtaking subterranean churches that were carved out of bedrock in the 13th century.
Sheraton Addis (D)

Days 17 & 18 — Dubai, United Arab Emirates

With a futuristic skyline that looms over the Arabian Desert, cosmopolitan Dubai is a modern temple of commercialism that stands in contrast to its profound Islamic traditions. Visit the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and take in the spectacular panorama of this new-age city from the 125th floor. Opt for a helicopter tour to get a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape, including landmarks like Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai Creek, and the manmade Palm Islands. Then travel in 4x4 vehicles into the desert for a special royal dinner, accompanied by cocktails and traditional entertainment. As an alternative, drive to Abu Dhabi and enjoy a visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques.
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach (D)

Days 19 & 20 — Rome, Italy/Home City

Return by private jet to Rome and celebrate our adventure with a farewell dinner. The next day, transfer to the airport for your commercial flight home.
The St. Regis Rome (D)

National Geographic Expert

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.

Wade Davis

Wade  DavisNational Geographic Explorer and University of British Columbia Professor Wade Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and a Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Wade is the author of 260 scientific and popular articles and 19 books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, One River, The Wayfinders, and The Sacred Headwaters. His 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.

Wade will join the following departure:

Apr 29 - May 18, 2017



  • Apr 29 - May 18, 2017

Expedition Cost



Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $8,250. Transportation by private Boeing 757 jet and other conveyance, as noted in the itinerary, is included in the expedition cost.

Airfare to and from Rome 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.