Celebrating Human Ingenuity: An Exploration of Technology and Creativity by Private Jet

Expedition Details

 

Encounter great feats of creativity and innovation on an expedition that spotlights human ingenuity—past, present, and future. From the startups of Silicon Valley and Barcelona to the pristine beaches of the Seychelles, join scientists, editors, and other thought leaders to discover how new technologies are changing the landscape in conservation, communication, transportation, and economics—and shaping the future of our planet.

Trip Highlights

    • Discover a futuristic fusion of technology and nature at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, and wander among its soaring, solar-powered “supertrees.”
    • Explore Jaipur, India alongside WSJ India Bureau Chief Bill Spindle, and gain insights into Indian society and its economic evolution.
    • Join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala in the Seychelles and discover how satellite imaging and new techniques in habitat restoration are helping protect these pristine islands.
    • Observe Rwanda’s gorillas in the wild, and meet WSJ science writer Robert Lee Holtz and two National Geographic Emerging Explorers to learn about new technologies that are improving the lives of both people and wildlife in Africa.

Itinerary - 19 Days

Days 1 & 2 — Silicon Valley, California

Arrive in San Francisco by early afternoon on an independent flight, and transfer to our hotel for check in. We begin our journey in the technology hub of Silicon Valley, where groundbreaking innovations like the microchip, personal computer, and smartphone were developed. During a panel presentation, examine the region’s diverse tech ecosystem, home to some of the world’s leading companies and a vibrant community of start-ups. At a welcome reception and dinner, meet National Geographic magazine Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg, The Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker, and tech industry thought leaders, along with fellow travelers and staff. Depart for Japan the next day, and lose a day crossing the International Date Line.
Rosewood Sand Hill (D)

Days 3 & 4 — Kyoto or Nara, Japan

After landing in Osaka, we travel to Kyoto, the imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years. The city’s Buddhist temples, colorful shrines, and serene gardens vividly recall the glory of the Japanese empire and have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, Kyoto is also a center of innovation, where companies such as Kyocera and Murata Manufacturing are pushing the frontiers of electronics with the production of microscopic parts for digital gadgets.

Yumiko Ono, The Wall Street Journal’s digital editor for Asia, will join us as we explore Kyoto, sharing her insights on the past, present, and future. Visit the iconic Kinkaku-ji golden pavilion and marvel at the temple’s gold-leaf facade shimmering in its reflecting pond. Inside the temple of Sanjusangendo, admire the 1,001 statues honoring Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. While in Kyoto, we’ll also meet engineer, architect, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Arthur Huang, who turns discarded plastics into everything from Nike Store interiors to sailboats and skyscrapers, converting trash into “high performance materials” via his company, Miniwiz. Learn how Miniwiz has become a global leader in post-consumer recycling technology through innovative architectural projects throughout Asia and elsewhere around the world.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto (B, L, D daily)

Alternative: You may also opt to visit Nara, which served as Japan’s imperial capital for the greater part of the eighth century. Visit the Todai-ji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building; and walk through the Shosoin, a treasure house holding more than 9,000 ancient artifacts from Japan, China, Persia, Korea, and beyond. Before returning to Kyoto, stroll the grounds of the Kasuga Grand Shrine, passing some of its more than 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns.

Days 5 & 6 — Singapore

Cosmopolitan Singapore is a former British colony that has transformed over a half-century into one of the world’s leading financial centers. This island city-state, which boasts impressive skyscrapers, an expansive port, and lush green spaces, has found innovative ways to balance urban development with sustainable ecological conservation. National Geographic Traveler Editor in Chief George Stone and The Wall Street Journal Southeast Asia Bureau Chief Patrick McDowell join us here for a firsthand look at the technologies defining the cities of tomorrow, as well as Singapore’s role in global trade, a critical component of the economic ecosystem. National Geographic explorer, scientist, and best-selling author Jared Diamond also joins us here to share his insights into the development of human societies.

Board a private tram car to experience the extraordinary Gardens by the Bay, a botanical oasis featuring a unique fusion of technology and nature. Built on reclaimed land in the heart of Singapore, this 250-acre park is home to the world’s largest glass greenhouse, thousands of plants, and a grove of solar-powered “supertrees”—vertical structures up to 164 feet tall that capture rainwater and filter exhaust.

This afternoon, choose from several options: Explore this vibrant city-state on your own; visit the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore; or immerse yourself in the tropical setting of the Singapore Zoo.

Next, learn about Singapore’s ambitious Smart Nation program, a data collecting initiative designed to monitor everything from traffic to public health that is being watched by cities globally. Innovation there also focuses on something as basic as water; despite being surrounded by water, Singapore has limited drinking-water resources. Take in panoramic views of the city’s futuristic skyline—including the whimsical creations of the Gardens by the Bay—as we enjoy cocktails at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands Singapore. Then venture into a lively night market to experience the city’s multi-ethnic culture, which blends Chinese, Malay, and Indian traditions.
The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore (B, L, D daily)

Days 7 & 8 — Jaipur, India

Arrive in the “pink city” of Jaipur, named for the distinctive rose color of its buildings. The capital of Rajasthan is the perfect setting to discover how India’s vibrant history has paved the way to the present-day and the future. The Wall Street Journal India Bureau Chief Bill Spindle, who has extensive experience covering India and has worked throughout Asia, joins us here to share firsthand insights into India’s society and its economic evolution.

Begin our exploration at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), where the delicate latticework and honeycombed windows were originally designed to allow women of the royal court to watch life on the streets below. Visit the City Palace, a vast complex incorporating European, Rajput, and Mughal architectural styles, and examine fascinating artwork and artifacts at the palace museum. Then venture inside the Jantar Mantar, an 18th-century royal observatory known for innovations in architecture and instrumentation that were far ahead of its time. See its enormous sculptural astronomical tools, including the world’s largest sundial. Or opt to explore the stunning Amber Fort, a 16th-century complex of well-preserved palaces, temples, and gardens.

At the end of the day, relax at Rambagh Palace, a stunning combination of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture that reflect Rajasthan’s royal heritage. Surrounded by elaborate gardens, the majestic palace was built in 1835 for the queen’s favorite handmaiden, and then transformed into a royal residence in 1925. It remained the home of the last maharaja of Jaipur until the mid-20th century, when it was converted into a hotel. Cap off our visit with a gala dinner accompanied by traditional entertainment.
Rambagh Palace (B, L, D daily)

Days 9 & 10 — The Seychelles

Scattered across the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles archipelago boasts an exceptionally diverse ecosystem with many endemic species. Internationally recognized as a pioneer in conservation, the country has extended protected status to half the land surface area of its 115 islands.

Arrive on the island of Mahe, a palm-fringed paradise of ivory beaches and lush mountains. Here, we dive into ongoing conservation efforts with oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, who led a 2015 expedition to the Seychelles as part of the Society’s Pristine Seas project. Explore how innovations in satellite imaging, habitat restoration, and species reintroduction—as well as a strong commitment to protecting marine ecosystems—have helped to preserve this remote archipelago. Then witness the breathtaking biodiversity of the Seychelles for yourself while snorkeling amid coral reefs teeming with marine life.

The following day, choose from the following excursions: Take a guided tour of Praslin’s Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a World Heritage site where all six of the Seychelles’ native palm species, including the giant coco de mer, can be found. Or travel by boat to La Digue, where granite boulders tower over the blush-pink sands of Anse Source d’Argent—named by National Geographic magazine’s "The 10 Best of Everything" as the world’s best beach. Soak up the island’s colorful fusion of Asian, African, and European heritages, and sample the local creole cuisine.
Banyan Tree Seychelles (B, L, D daily)

Days 11, 12, & 13 — Kigali and Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Our private jet takes us next to Rwanda, a land of rolling green hills; majestic volcanoes; and lush, grassy lowlands. The bamboo forests of the Virunga volcanic mountain range are home to roughly half of the approximately 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild. Upon arrival in the capital of Kigali, travel overland to Volcanoes National Park, where the late Dian Fossey famously studied these majestic animals with support from National Geographic. Here, meet The Wall Street Journal science writer Robert Lee Hotz to discuss creative solutions to some of the social and political challenges confronting our own species.

In Volcanoes National Park, embark on an unforgettable trek with local guides in search of endangered mountain gorillas. These highly social creatures can be found in communities of up to 40 individuals, each led by an older, dominant male known as a silverback for the silver sheen of his fur. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe gorilla families up close in their natural habitat. Visit the Karisoke Research Center, a living tribute to Dian Fossey’s research on mountain gorillas and their threatened ecosystem. Thanks to the center’s conservation program, mountain gorillas are the only great ape species that have increased their numbers after decades of decline due to war, poaching, and habitat loss.

We return to Kigali, where charming boulevards and vibrant markets set the backdrop for a cosmopolitan scene. Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a meaningful tribute to those who perished in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. You will have an opportunity to hear survivors’ stories and learn how the country is reconciling its turbulent past with its bright future through unity and peace. Watch as National Geographic Emerging Explorers Paula Kahumbu and T.H. Culhane demonstrate technologies that are solving problems and bringing hope to the developing world.
Kigali Serena Hotel and Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (B, L, D daily)

Days 14, 15, & 16 — Jerusalem, Israel

Fly to Tel Aviv and continue overland to Jerusalem, a holy city revered by many faiths. Join National Geographic Emerging Explorer Aziz Abu Sarah for a United Nations-commended tour of Jerusalem that combines insights into the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian perspectives of the city. Discuss creative approaches that are helping to bridge long-standing cultural conflicts. Yaroslav Trofimov, columnist and senior correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, also joins us to discuss Israel’s emergence as a world leader in conceiving and producing technology. Explore the forces that are driving innovation and the efforts that are underway to tap new parts of Israel's population to contribute.

Delve into the Old City of Jerusalem, a World Heritage site. Stroll through the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian quarters, passing ancient synagogues, churches, and bustling bazaars. On the Mount of Olives, view the holy site where Jesus is said to have addressed his disciples the night before he was crucified. Visit the Western Wall, the most sacred Jewish site. See the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, where Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended into heaven.

After lunch in the Old City, choose from several options: Opt to spend time at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, home to original artifacts and survivor testimonies; discover the region's rich history and culture at the Israel Museum; or travel with a guide to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity—revered as the birthplace of Jesus.
King David Hotel (B, L, D daily)

Days 17, 18, & 19 — Barcelona, Spain

The Wall Street Journal Europe, Middle East, and Africa Editor Thorold Barker and National Geographic magazine Deputy Editor in Chief Jamie Shreeve greet us in Barcelona, the vibrant and beautiful capital of Catalonia, perched on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Explore the coexistence of Barcelona’s palpable history with its standing as one of the world’s most wired cities. Learn how the city’s technology startup culture is diversifying its economy and offering new paths for its workforce.

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). Or you may choose to discover 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.

On our last evening, 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 demonstrate the popular Catalan tradition of riveting acrobatics. The next morning, transfer to the airport to connect with your commercial flight home.
El Palace Hotel, Barcelona (B, L, D; B)



National Geographic Expeditions and The Wall Street Journal are proud to partner for the first time ever on this extraordinary expedition. For more than 125 years, The Wall Street Journal has been at the forefront of journalism, and National Geographic has investigated the world through exploration, science, and storytelling. Gain a unique perspective on the exciting changes underway in each destination with insights from Journal editors and writers and National Geographic experts who are witnessing these developments firsthand. See how the world is learning from the past to shape our future.

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.

Ken Banks

Ken BanksKen Banks devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world. An Ashoka and PopTech Fellow and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Ken is the founder of kiwanja.net and creator of messaging platform FrontlineSMS. He has lived and worked across the African continent. In late 2015, he was appointed CARE International’s first Entrepreneur in Residence. He is the author of the book The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator. Ken will accompany the entire expedition.

Ken will join the following departure:

Oct 22 - Nov 09, 2017

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Dates

2017
  • Oct 22 - Nov 09, 2017

Expedition Cost

Celebrating Human Ingenuity

$81,950

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 California and from Spain is not included in the expedition cost.

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 these expeditions.

Activity Level

Light/Moderate

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.