The vast stretch of sea from Easter Island to French Polynesia has seen the passage of missionaries and mutineers, intrepid explorers and enigmatic cultures. Explore spectacular lagoons and rare, uplifted atolls, and snorkel and dive and pristine reef systems in the “low islands” known as the Tuamotu Archipelago. Soak up the joyous rhythms of traditional music and dancing, meet the descendants of the H.M.S. Bounty mutineers on the Pitcairn Islands, and delve into the mysterious lost culture of Easter Island.
Sail the National Geographic Orion to Easter Island and delve into an intriguing lost culture, examining ancient burial sites and towering moai.
Dive or snorkel the pristine reefs of Fakarava, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and identified as one of the healthiest reef systems in the world
by National Geographic Explorer-in- Residence Enric Sala.
Trace the legend of the ill-fated H.M.S. Bounty on Pitcairn Island, where descendants of its mutineers still live today.
Explore the unusual geology of Henderson Island with our naturalists, and seek out the isle’s four endemic bird species.
Itinerary - 20 Days
Days 1 through 5 — U.S./Santiago, Chile/Easter Island
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Santiago, Chile. Upon arrival, transfer to the Ritz Carlton. This evening, join your staff for a welcome reception. Early the next morning, fly to Easter Island, where we will spend two nights at the Hanga Roa Eco-Resort. Explore volcanic calderas, jagged lava fields, and sweeping grasslands, and discover the island’s colossal moai statues—the astonishing legacy of a long-lost culture. Join archaeologists to examine these statues and discuss their meaning and creation; visit burial sites, quarries, and intricately carved ceremonial altars. (Day 3: L, D; Day 4-5: B, L, D)
Days 6 through 10 — At Sea/Pitcairn Islands
Set sail from Easter Island. On the two-day journey west, listen to informative talks by our experts. Upon arrival in Ducie Island, watch for frigate birds and boobies and snorkel or dive among spectacular reefs. Continue to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Henderson Island, an uplifted atoll that is uninhabited and virtually untouched by humans. On hikes and Zodiac excursions, discover the island’s four endemic bird species, rich flora and fauna, and fascinating geology. Continue to Pitcairn Island, where many of the mutineers of the legendary Bounty made their home in the late 18th century. About 50 of their descendants still live here today. Meet the residents and hear a few words of the unusual Pitkern dialect—a combination of English “sailor speak” and Polynesian phrases. Visit the gravesite of the last surviving Bounty mutineer, John Adams, and see the Bounty’s anchor, which was salvaged in 1957. (B,L,D)
Days 11 & 12 — At Sea/Mangareva, French Polynesia
Spend a day at sea scanning the horizon with our naturalists, or relaxing on deck with a good book. Arrive at Mangareva, the largest of the Gambier Islands, famous for its black pearls. Venture underwater to snorkel or dive, meet islanders to learn about their culture and the missionaries who made their home here, and go on a hike with our naturalists.
Days 13 through 18 — At Sea/Tuamotu Archipelago
We begin our exploration of the “Dangerous Archipelago” in Pukarua, where traditional dancers will greet us. Navigate reefs and islets during a day at sea, and then explore one of the uninhabited atolls such as Tahanea. After a festive welcome with traditional dancers in Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, learn about the island’s pearl industry, and walk its pristine beaches. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift dive. (B,L,D)
Days 19 & 20 — Papeete/Disembark/U.S.
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti, and take a tour of the island before transferring to the airport for your overnight flight home. (Day 19: B, L)
Book by December 31, 2017 and receive complimentary round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles. We'll also cover your bar tab on board and all tips for the crew.
Book More and Save
Save 10% on the expedition cost when you book two or more voyages in the South Pacific aboard the National Geographic Orion. Voyages may be back-to-back or non-consecutive journeys. Please call for details.
Offers are for new bookings only, may not be combined with other offers, and are subject to availability. Please call for details.
Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts — from naturalists to regional specialists — who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes, and local culture. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
National Geographic photographer and naturalist Jeff Mauritzen traveled to Africa, South America, and the Pacific on assignment photographing wildlife for the Society's Animal Encyclopedia. Jeff is also a seasoned and popular photography expert, guiding and lecturing on natural history-focused trips for National Geographic Expeditions. His adventures have immersed him in vivid landscapes on all seven continents and in more than 60 countries around the world. Whether capturing 360-degree panoramas of wildlife along an African savanna or photographing sharks in the Pacific depths, Jeff’s work expresses an unwavering passion, respect, curiosity, and awe for the natural world. An avid traveler and explorer, Jeff has lived in Venezuela and Ireland, as well as at sea aboard seven different ships. His photography is represented by National Geographic Creative and has appeared in more than a dozen National Geographic books and numerous other publications, as well as on the Society's website.
Please note: The August 30th departure spends one less day in Santiago and follows the itinerary shown but in the reverse order. Click on the REV icon above to view the itinerary.
Category 1 Solo
Category 3 Solo
Prices are per person, double occupancy, except those marked solo, which are based on single occupancy.
Airfare to Santiago and return from Papeete, and between Santiago and Easter Island, or vice versa, is not included in the expedition cost. The group flight between Santiago and Easter Island is $950 (subject to change).
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.