Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Encounter exotic tropical plants and visit the lab of a National Geographic Grantee at Rio de Janeiro’s incomparable Botanical Garden.
  • Hike among the soaring peaks and turquoise lakes of Patagonia, and experience the natural power of Iguaçu Falls.
  • Witness vibrant cultural traditions from an Argentine tango performance and preparations for Rio’s famed Carnival to a demonstration of traditional Andean weaving.
  • Dine in the otherworldly atrium of Frank Gehry’s Biomuseo near Panama City, and explore the Panama Canal in a private boat.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Journey across Central and South America—from the jungle-shrouded temples of Guatemala to the glacier-carved landscapes of Patagonia—experiencing the wonders of an entire continent in the comfort of a private jet. Stand atop the ancient ruins of the Inca and the Maya, encounter the spray of Iguaçu Falls and the engineering marvels of the Panama Canal, and revel in the delights of vibrant cities such as Cartagena, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires—all in one extraordinary journey.

Day 1: WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.
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Our adventure begins with a reception at National Geographic headquarters, followed by a welcome dinner on the top floor of our historic hotel. Get to know experts, staff, and fellow travelers as you admire breathtaking views of Washington’s iconic monuments lit up at night.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:The Hay-Adams
Days 2-3: CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
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Our first flight by private jet brings us across the Caribbean Sea to the walled port city of Cartagena. On a walking tour, stroll atop the city ramparts and marvel at colorfully painted buildings with flower-draped balconies and vibrant art installations. As an alternative to the walking tour, you may sample Colombia’s rich brews on a coffee tour or visit the historic San Felipe de Barajas Castle—a massive Spanish fortress overlooking the city. Later, learn about the life and work of Colombian author and Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez, or opt to savor the flavors of Cartagena during a culinary experience. Gather for dinner amid elegant colonial-era architecture this evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa
Days 4-6: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
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Arrive in Rio de Janeiro and transfer to our hotel on the world-famous Copacabana Beach. In this legendary metropolis, beaches, lush jungles, and towering granite mountains merge to create one of the most dramatic cityscapes on the planet.

Spend two full days exploring this vibrant and picturesque city. Take in the view from Christ the Redeemer, a 98-foot-tall art deco statue standing watch over Rio; and ride a cable car to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain for a jaw-dropping vista of the city, its beaches, and the surrounding tropical forests. The following day, choose to visit Samba City, where local dance schools create elaborate floats and thousands of costumes for the annual Carnival celebration. Opt to stop in at the lab of a National Geographic Grantee at Rio’s Botanical Garden, a phenomenal landscape begun in 1808 and considered one of the top gardens in the world. This collection of tropical plants from Brazil and around the world includes nearly 1500 types of orchids. In the evening, enjoy dinner at Casa das Canoas.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Belmond Copacabana Palace
Day 7: IGUAÇU FALLS, BRAZIL
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Spanning two countries and nearly two miles, Iguaçu Falls is comprised of 275 cascades set within the Atlantic Forest. Choose from a variety of ways to experience the falls on both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides and venture into the surrounding forests, a biodiversity hotspot that’s home to around 20,000 species of plants, as well as wildlife, including tapirs, giant anteaters, sloths, and howler monkeys.

From the Argentinian side, encounter the powerful cascades of the famed Devil’s Throat or visit the Brazilian Parque das Aves, home to nearly 150 distinct avian species.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Belmond Hotel das Cataratas
Days 8-10: PATAGONIA AND TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK, CHILE
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Continue by private jet to Punta Arenas, Chile, and catch a charter flight to Puerto Natales, located outside Torres del Paine National Park. Patagonia is a land apart, beguilingly untamed and spectacularly pristine. Enjoy two days to discover its glacially sculpted landscapes, from soaring granite spires to turquoise lakes and sweeping grasslands. The park is home to an array of fascinating creatures, including eagles, condors, foxes, guanacos, and nandu—an indigenous rhea.

During our time in Patagonia, you may tailor your exploration to your interests, choosing hikes and other excursions that suit your pace. Discover Grey Lake and its incredible incandescent ice sculptures, see the staggering Paine massif, and hike through beech forests along the shore of Blue Lagoon. Photograph wildlife and sweeping landscapes near the northern limits of the park, and enjoy delicious meals as the sun sets over the mountains.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Singular Patagonia
Days 11-13: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
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Fly to Buenos Aires and transfer to our hotel in the Recoleta district. Spend the following morning on a walking tour of this stylish neighborhood. Visit Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place for beloved first lady Eva “Evita” Perón and many of the country’s political and cultural icons. Stroll across Plaza de Mayo and see the opulent Casa Rosada, the presidential palace where Eva Perón addressed adoring crowds from her balcony. Explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, including whimsical La Boca and Puerto Madero, a onetime port now known for its creative use of repurposed warehouses and docks. This afternoon, choose from a variety of activities. Step in time to a tango lesson, pedal between the street murals of Buenos Aires on an art-themed bike tour, go behind the scenes at the renowned Colón Theater, or visit a silversmith’s workshop.

On our final day here, head outside the city to a family-owned estancia, a traditional ranch that spans some 200 acres. Get immersed in gaucho culture during a horseback riding show, barbecue lunch, and polo demonstration.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Alvear Palace Hotel
Days 14-16: CUSCO AND MACHU PICCHU, LAKE TITICACA, OR AMAZON RAINFOREST, PERU
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Upon arrival in Lima, fly by local charter to Cusco or opt to set out by local air on one of two alternate excursions. Fly to the World Heritage–listed city of Cusco (11,200 feet), the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Meet with National Geographic Grantee and master Andean weaver Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, who works with traditional weavers throughout Peru to preserve her country’s rich heritage of textile arts. Travel through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Inca on a privately chartered train, and arrive at Machu Picchu (8,000 feet). Explore the iconic citadel, excavated with support from the National Geographic Society, and discover the ingenuity behind the site’s design and use.

Alternative: Take a local commercial flight to Lake Titicaca (12,500 feet), the world’s highest commercially navigable lake. Our base here is a superb lakefront hotel perched on a secluded peninsula. Cruise to the floating Uros Islands, made entirely of reeds, and visit Taquile Island. Go hiking or biking between the quaint villages of the altiplano, or spot birds along the lakeshore with an expert guide.

Alternative Accommodations: Titilaka Lodge and Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel

Alternative: Take a local commercial flight to Puerto Maldonado and head to the Amazon rainforest and travel by motorized canoe to Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, a stunning jungle lodge set on the banks of the Madre de Dios River. Join lodge naturalists to explore this incredible ecosystem by foot and dugout canoe, seeking out caimans, river otters, numerous monkey species, diverse birdlife, and much more. We’ll also go on a canopy walk through the treetops and take a nocturnal tour of the forest.

Alternative Accommodations: Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica and Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
Days 17-18: PANAMA CITY AND PANAMA CANAL, PANAMA
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Land in Panama City in the early evening and transfer to the wildly colorful Biomuseo, Frank Gehry’s only architectural work in Latin America. Browse exhibitions highlighting Panama’s incredible biodiversity and its impact on the ecology of the planet at large. Sit down to a private dinner in the museum’s extraordinary atrium.

Spend the following morning at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, watching for a kaleidoscope of tropical birds, sloths, coatis, and more. Stroll forest trails, and, if you wish, climb the observation tower—partially made from recycled materials—for a chance to glimpse toucans in the treetops. Then board a private boat to cruise a portion of the Panama Canal and hear about the fascinating locks system that made the canal a historic feat of engineering. Alternatively, venture into the rainforest to an indigenous Embera village. Spend time with the villagers to learn about their timeless traditions and everyday life.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo
Days 19-21: TIKAL AND ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
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Fly by private jet to Flores, the gateway to Tikal—one of the largest cities in the Classic Maya world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, towering pyramid temples poke out of the misty jungle canopy, a testament to the grandeur of this ceremonial center at its heyday more than a thousand years ago. Delve into the world of the ancient Maya as you explore these ancient ruins, including the Temple of the Great Jaguar and the Temple of the Masks.

In the late afternoon, fly to Guatemala City and transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Antigua. Enjoy two full days to get to know this beautiful city ringed by volcanic peaks. On a walking tour through the cobblestoned streets of the historic center, learn about the city’s colonial history and admire colorful baroque architecture. Choose to visit a coffee farm for a tour and a tasting, set out on a hike to the top of Pacaya volcano, or try your hand at traditional Guatemalan recipes during a cooking class. Gather for a special farewell dinner on our final evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Porta Hotel Antigua
Day 22: MIAMI, FLORIDA, U.S.
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Following breakfast, fly to Miami, where you’ll connect with your commercial flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast