Set off on the ultimate wildlife adventure with top National Geographic experts and encounter an incredible array of the world's legendary creatures. As we explore Rwanda, Borneo, India, Madagascar, and more, our zoologists, naturalists, and conservationists share their insights on endangered animals, and on the research and fieldwork underway to help ensure their survival for generations to come.
Depart the U.S. independently on an overnight flight to Cape Town. Here, the sheer slopes of Table Mountain rise above vineyards, charming colonial neighborhoods, and exotic gardens. Transfer to our hotel and gather for a welcome reception and dinner. The next day, choose from several options. Take a cruise to encounter great white sharks in their natural habitat; observe them from on deck or get an unparalleled view from the safety of an underwater cage. Or travel by helicopter to the Cape of Good Hope, the southwesternmost point of Africa. Drive back through the stunning Cape Peninsula, stopping to see African penguins at Boulders Beach. A third option takes you to Robben Island, the UNESCO World Heritage site where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Visit the museum, meet a former prisoner, and see the site’s marine life before gathering for dinner back at your hotel. During our stay, we’ll meet with conservation biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Steve Boyes, who will talk about his work protecting endangered birds through the National Geographic-funded Cape Parrot Project.
One&Only, Cape Town
The bamboo forests of the Virunga volcanic mountain range are home to roughly half of the approximately 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild. Venture into Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in search of these fascinating giants, studied by the late Dian Fossey with support from National Geographic, and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe gorilla families up close. In the capital city of Kigali, meet primatologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Elizabeth Lonsdorf, vice president for education and outreach for the International Primatological Society. Then visit the Kigali Memorial Centre, a moving tribute to those who perished in the genocide of 1994. Hear survivors’ stories and learn how Rwandans are working to create an environment for unity and healing.
Kigali Serena Hotel and Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (A limited number of accommodation upgrades are available near Volcanoes National Park at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and Virunga Lodge.)
Alternatives: Instead of gorilla tracking, explore Nyungwe National Park in search of chimpanzees; or take a helicopter ride over the Virunga volcanoes to visit the Akilah Institute for Women, an inspiring vocational training and leadership program.
Kigali Serena Hotel and Nyungwe Forest Lodge; or Kigali Serena Hotel only
Arrive in Gan and take a short boat ride to the tiny island of Villingili, and then settle into your private overwater bungalow in this quintessential island paradise. Explore the dazzling underwater world, where more than 2,000 sea species thrive. Take a cruise with marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence
Sylvia Earle, who will discuss her efforts to restore the health of the oceans through marine protected areas. Look for for spinner dolphins pirouetting across the water’s surface and go snorkeling among the reefs. Certified divers may join Sylvia on a deep-water dive. Be on the lookout for some of the largest sea turtle species in the world, which often bask in the sunshine in the shallows. Or choose to hop on a bicycle and enjoy the beautiful island scenery.
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa
Fly by private jet to Borneo, where, more than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin’s associate Alfred Russel Wallace observed curious variations in a staggering number of animals. Learn about the island’s unique wildlife from field biologist and National Geographic photojournalist Tim Laman, who landed his first National Geographic magazine assignment working in the rain forests of Borneo. Our base for exploration is Sandakan, on the Malaysian portion of the island. At the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the Kabili-Sepilok Nature Reserve, come face-to-face with orangutans, a name that means “person of the forest” in the local Malay language. Next, set off in search of another endangered primate, the proboscis monkey, on one of the following excursions: Glide along the Kinabatangan River through the mangroves of the Abai Forest Reserve, home to macaques, rainbow-colored butterflies, and many species of birds. Or travel to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, a private sanctuary located within a mangrove forest. Later, stroll along a canopy walkway some 80 feet above the forest floor at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, spotting numerous bird species soaring overhead and flying squirrels sailing between the trees.
Four Points Sheraton, Sandakan
Land in Jaipur and spend two full days on unforgettable game drives in some of India’s top wildlife parks. Travel through the former hunting grounds of the maharajas of Jaipur in Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park, or discover Kanha National Park’s bamboo forests and grassy plains—the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Both of these parks were created to preserve the native habitat of the majestic Bengal tiger, and though these cats are notoriously difficult to spot, our expert naturalists will lead us deep into the bush in hopes of catching a glimpse of these elusive creatures, as well as leopards, wild boars, sloth bears, sambar deer, and much more. Train your binoculars on some of the 200 native species of birds, and discover a myriad of unusual plants and trees. Learn about efforts across India to protect its remarkable species, from striped hyenas and porcupines to rare swamp deer. Meet with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Sandesh Kadur, a wildlife filmmaker, to hear how his films and photographs have spread awareness worldwide of India’s wild places and the need to preserve them.
Aman-i-Khás or Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore National Park; or Banjaar Tola, Kanha National Park
Our next stop is Madagascar, an island cut off for millennia from the African mainland where 80 to 90 percent of the species are endemic—including its celebrated lemurs. Primatologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Mireya Mayor meets us in the lively capital of Antananarivo to discuss her discovery of a new species of mouse lemur and her work to protect wild habitats on the island. Spend two days in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (also called Périnet), a wet montane forest that is home to 14 different species of lemurs. Track indris, the largest living lemur species, whose haunting calls echo through the treetops; and spot numerous orchid varieties and native bird species including vangas, rollers, and couas. During nocturnal and early morning walks, encounter tiny chameleons and frogs and perhaps brown mouse lemurs and greater dwarf lemurs.
Alternatively, take a local flight to Montagne d’Ambre National Park on the northern tip of the island, home to seven species of lemur, including Sanford’s brown lemur and the striking crowned lemur. Hike easy trails through lush forest to waterfalls and crater lakes, keeping an eye out for colorful birdlife and reptiles such as stump-tailed chameleons and leaf-tailed geckos.
Carlton Madagascar, Antananarivo; and Andasibe Hotel or Vakona Forest Lodge, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park or Le Domaine de Fontenay Hotel or Litchi Tree, Montagne d’Ambre National Park
Return to South Africa to cap off the adventure with an unforgettable safari. Our private jet arrives in Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, where we transfer to smaller aircraft and fly to the exclusive Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, considered by many to be one of the best places in the world to see leopards up close. Meet with wildlife biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Luke Dollar, who has done extensive research on African predators and currently manages the Society’s Big Cats Initiative. Steve Boyes also rejoins us here to discuss his efforts to end the wild-caught bird trade and restore forest habitats in Africa. Embark on morning and late-afternoon game drives in open vehicles, exploring open grasslands and dense riverine bush for a chance to see the “Big Five” (leopards, lions, African elephants, Cape buffaloes, and rhinoceroses), as well as giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, zebras, and hundreds of bird species.
Singita Boulders Lodge; Singita Ebony Lodge; Londolozi, Sabi Sand Game Reserve; or Rattray’s on MalaMala
Fly by local charter to Johannesburg, and gather for a festive farewell dinner. The following day transfer to the airport to connect to your overnight commercial flight home.
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff