Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Soak up the spirit of four of South America’s most vibrant cities—Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • Seek out one of the world’s largest and most spectacular marine mammals—the southern right whale—in the waters of UNESCO World Heritage–listed Península Valdés, its annual breeding grounds off Argentina’s eastern coast.
  • Joined by an onboard musicologist, feel the pulse of Brazil’s legendary rhythms at a percussion workshop and enjoy a variety of private musical performances.
  • Delve into the history of the transatlantic slave trade, and experience traditional gaucho culture at a splendid estancia.



Trace the southeastern coast of South America aboard the National Geographic Explorer on a thrilling voyage spanning Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Venture from the wilds of the Atlantic Forest to the sweeping plains of the pampas, and from the world-famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro to secluded shores frequented by humpback whales. Venture out on daily excursions to spot tropical birds, three-toed sloths, sea turtles, and other incredible wildlife in their native habitats. Along the way, delve into the region’s fascinating history with our team of experts, and experience an exuberant array of cultural and musical traditions.

This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.


Days 1-2: U.S./Salvador, Brazil

Depart on an overnight flight to Salvador, the original capital of Brazil and site of one of the New World’s first slave markets. Today, Salvador is the capital of the state of Bahia, known for its samba music and spirited culture. Check in to our hotel in the historic center. Later, enjoy a performance by local musicians and meet your fellow travelers at a welcome dinner.

Meals Included:Day 2 (Dinner)
Accommodations:Fera Palace Hotel

Before embarking our ship in the late afternoon, choose from a variety of activities. Set out on a tour of the Pelourinho district, part of Salvador’s UNESCO World Heritage–designated city center, where you can stroll narrow streets lined with colorful houses and baroque palaces. Alternatively, choose to hear local music, discover a sea turtle preservation site, or visit a children’s outreach center.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

National Geographic Explorer for the entire voyage.


Explore Ilhéus, once known as Brazil’s cacao capital, and see its iconic Cathedral of St. Sebastian. Visit a sanctuary for three-toed sloths; and enjoy lunch at a fazenda, or plantation, where cacao has been grown since the 1800s. Or opt to go on a bird-watching hike in the Atlantic Forest, watching for hummingbirds, blue-crowned parakeets, and the spectacular green-headed tanager. Tonight, gather together for a lively performance of Brazilian music.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

As we sail south along the Brazilian coast, discover the spectacular Abrolhos Archipelago, famous for the humpback whales who come here to breed and give birth. Scan the waters for whales and their calves, as well as masked boobies and red-billed tropicbirds. During a day at sea, attend talks by our team of experts and photographers, and learn about the wonders that await in the days ahead.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily

Spend two days exploring fun-loving Rio de Janeiro, designated a World Heritage site for its dazzling mountains-to-sea vistas. Ascend to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue for panoramic views over the city and its island-speckled bay. Visit the nearby golden lion tamarin reserve, or seek out tropical birds in the Tijuca Forest and Botanical Garden. Experience a favela, or shantytown, and meet people working to improve conditions in the community.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily

Trace the mountainous Costa Verde to charming Parati, once a key player in the Brazilian gold rush. Take to its cobbled lanes on a walking tour past whitewashed cottages and colonial buildings; or, opt to hike a section of the Caminho do Ouro, the “gold trail” built by slaves to transport the precious metal from the mines to the coast. Explore the nearby forest and waterfalls, and enjoy an afternoon of swimming and kayaking.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Visit the tiny island of Anchieta, once home to a notorious penal colony for political prisoners. Explore the ruins of the prison complex, and hear stories of the island’s past from locals. Relax on its beautiful beaches or go on a guided bird-watching walk. Back on board our ship this afternoon, enjoy a special musical performance by an acclaimed Brazilian musician.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Choose to ride aboard the Serra Verde Express train—one of the world’s most spectacular rail journeys which winds down steep mountains, across 30 bridges, and through 13 tunnels to the tropical lowlands. Or opt to set off on a hiking adventure through the lush Atlantic Forest to a beautiful waterfall and natural pool.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12: At Sea

Enjoy the ship’s amenities as we sail farther south. Unwind with a massage in the spa, visit the fitness center, or head to the ship’s open bridge to learn about navigation. Enjoy talks with our experts, deepening your understanding of the region and gaining insights on South America’s contemporary issues and natural history.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Arrive at the edge of the pampas, the vast lowlands that stretch to Patagonia. Opt to explore the wetlands, aflutter in bird life, and keep an eye out for capybaras and caiman. Or stroll the colonial town of Pelotas, known for its immense charqueadas, or cattle ranches.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After a relaxing day at sea, arrive in Montevideo—Uruguay’s vibrant capital city—and discover its elegant mix of architectural styles ranging from Spanish colonial to art deco. Or opt to join a bird-watching excursion in nearby wetlands. Later, travel outside the city to a family-owned estancia, or ranch. Here, vintage vehicles take us to the Río de la Plata, or River of Silver, where we enjoy a traditional asado barbecue lunch accompanied by gaucho music and dancing.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily

In spectacular Buenos Aires, set out on a tour of the city’s beaux arts architecture; the bohemian neighborhoods of La Boca and San Telmo; and the pink balcony immortalized by Argentina’s iconic first lady, Eva Perón.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following a day at sea, we dock in the port city of Bahía Blanca. Venture into the hills on a guided hike and discover the flora and fauna of the Argentinean pampas.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Day 19: At Sea

As our expedition winds down, enjoy time at leisure onboard our ship. Share photos with fellow travelers and our National Geographic photographer, take in views from the rooftop observation deck, or soak in one of its outdoor infinity hot tubs.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Spend two days discovering the coastal wonderland of Península Valdés, a World Heritage–designated marine sanctuary and one of the world’s most important breeding ground for southern right whales. Walk on secluded beaches frequented by southern elephant seals, nesting Magellanic penguins, and frolicking sea lions. Scan the shores for orcas, which are known to beach themselves here to hunt for prey. During walks and hikes, keep an eye out for terrestrial wildlife such as the guanaco, armadillo, and rhea—a distant relative of the ostrich.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily

Disembark in Puerto Madryn the following morning, and fly by charter aircraft to Buenos Aires to connect with your overnight flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch Daily