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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.
Delve into the intriguing lost culture of Easter Island, and examine ancient burial sites and towering moai with an archaeologist.
Dive or snorkel the stunning reefs of Fakarava, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and the Pitcairn Islands, identified as one of most unspoiled 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 and wildlife of Henderson Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and look for endemic bird species.
Itinerary - 18 Days
Days 1 through 4 — U.S./Santiago, Chile/Easter Island
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Santiago, Chile. Then fly to Easter Island, where we will spend two nights in a hotel. 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 2: L,D; Day 3-4: B,L,D)
Days 5 through 9 — 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 10 & 11 — 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 12 through 17 — 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)
Day 18 — Papeete/Disembark/U.S.
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti, and take a tour of the island before transferring to the airport for your flight home. (B)
Book by March 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.
Award-winning travel and editorial photographer Susan Seubert has photographed more than 20 feature stories for National Geographic Traveler since joining the magazine as a contributor in 2004. Her subjects range from Canada to the Caribbean and Texas to Thailand. Her work has been recognized by the department of journalism at Columbia University with an Alfred Eisenstadt Award and most recently by the North American Travel Journalists Association for excellence in photography. In addition to being widely published and exhibited, she also lectures regularly about her work at such institutions as Harvard University and the Portland Art Museum. Based in Portland, Oregon and Maui, Hawaii, Susan travels throughout the world shooting a variety of subjects and specializes in capturing a sense of place through her wide-ranging imagery. Susan's in-depth knowledge of digital technologies and her multimedia skills keep her at the cutting edge of visual storytelling. Born and raised in Indiana, she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and she hasn't set down her camera since. When not on assignment, she divides her time between Portland, Oregon and Maui.