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Central and South America by Private Jet
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21 days

from $116,049 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($78,945 USD)

Prices are per person, based on twin share occupancy. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange. The expedition price will be finalised at time of booking.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

Ultimate trip_detail hint icon

Ultimate expeditions feature sweeping, themed itineraries that cover great distances using a specially configured private jet. These itineraries are fully planned and comprise private performances, special access to sites, and visits with local experts. Services include travel by private jet, a team of National Geographic experts, local guides, a dedicated flight staff and expedition manager, world-class meals and accommodations, and ground transportation.

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Expedition Overview

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Soar above the Guatemalan jungle in a helicopter, touching down in the Maya city of El Mirador to explore the active dig site of National Geographic grantee Richard Hansen.
  • Choose to stay at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set on the banks of the Madre de Dios River, and explore the Peruvian Amazon on a variety of excursions.
  • By special permission, go on a walking safari in the tropical forests of Panama’s Barro Colorado Nature Monument, site of a National Geographic-supported wildlife-tracking study.
  • Witness vibrant cultural traditions, from an Argentine tango performance to a Peruvian Paso horse exhibition and rehearsals for Rio’s famed Carnival.
Itinerary

Journey across Central and South America—from the lush, tropical jungles of Guatemala to the granite, glacier-carved landscapes of Patagonia—traveling in the comfort of a private jet. Stand atop ancient Maya and Inca ruins, witness the spectacular spray of Iguaçu Falls and the engineering marvels of the Panama Canal, and revel in the delights of colorful and vibrant cities such as Cartagena, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires—all in one extraordinary journey.

Day 1: Washington, D.C.

We begin this extraordinary adventure with a reception at National Geographic headquarters, followed by a welcome dinner on the rooftop of our historic hotel. Get to know experts, staff, and fellow travelers as you take in breathtaking views of the White House and the Washington Monument.

Days 2-3: Tikal and El Mirador, 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. Tour these ancient ruins and wander among iconic monuments, including the Temple of the Great Jaguar and the Temple of the Masks.

Archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Richard Hansen accompanies the flight from Washington, D.C. to Guatemala to give an onboard talk about his Mirador Basin Project. During your stay, opt to board a helicopter and fly deep into the jungle to the massive preclassic Maya metropolis of El Mirador—one of the largest Maya cities ever discovered. Join an archaeologist from Richard’s excavation team for a guided tour, enjoying rare access to this active dig site where researchers are uncovering the city’s elaborate architecture, carvings, and royal burial chambers.

As an alternative to El Mirador, you may instead choose to visit the pyramids and temples at Yaxhá, the world’s third largest known Maya site, and the Maya archaeological site of Topoxté, situated on an island in Yaxhá Lake.

Days 4-6: Panama City and the Panama Canal, Panama

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Land in Panama City and visit the historic quarter of Casco Viejo, a walled outpost built on a peninsula in the early 1670s after Captain Morgan and his pirates had sacked the city. Now a World Heritage site, the district is packed with colonial gems and carefully restored homes. Explore the ruins of Panamá Viejo, the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Then embark on a curated walking tour through Casco Viejo, viewing the Presidential Palace, Plaza Bolívar, and the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral. Then head to the multicolored Biomuseo, the only building designed by Frank Gehry in Latin America, and peruse its exhibits highlighting Panama’s incredible biodiversity and its impact on the ecology of the planet at large. Enjoy a private dinner in the museum’s atrium.

The following morning, enjoy a specially arranged visit to Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. Scientists have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island since 1946, studying the 115 mammals found here. The island is also the site of a National Geographic–supported study that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. We’ll have the opportunity to meet project researchers and learn about their work.

On our final day in Panama, visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center to encounter a kaleidoscope of tropical birds. Then board a private boat and cruise a portion of the Panama Canal—one of the world’s great engineering feats—and learn about its fascinating locks system.

Days 7-9: Cusco and Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, or Amazon Rainforest, Peru

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Upon arrival in Lima, set out by local air on one of three 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. The next morning, travel to Machu Picchu (8,000 feet) on our privately chartered train, which passes through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Inca. Explore the iconic citadel, excavated with support from the National Geographic Society. Discover the ingenuity behind the site’s design and use.

Alternative: If you have previously visited Machu Picchu, you may instead choose to explore Lake Titicaca (12,500 feet), the world’s highest commercially navigable lake. Our base here is a stunning 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 Accommodation: Titilaka and Belmond Miralfores Park

Alternative: Head to the Amazon rain forest and travel by motorized canoe to Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set on the banks of the Madre de Dios River. Join naturalists to explore this incredible ecosystem by foot and dugout canoe, seeking out caimans, river otters, 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 Accommodation: Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción and Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel

Days 10-11: 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 iconic metropolis, beaches, lush jungles, and towering granite mountains merge to create one of the most dramatic cityscapes on the planet.

Discover this vibrant city in a variety of ways. Stroll Ipanema Beach and perhaps watch a game of altinho futebol on the sand; or visit Samba City, where Carnival performers practice their acts in preparation for the famed annual celebration. Take in jaw-dropping views from Christ the Redeemer, a 98-foot-tall art deco statue standing watch over Rio; or ride to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain in a cable car, and look out over the surrounding beaches, skyline, and tropical forests. The following day, visit the lab of a National Geographic grantee at the Botanical Garden, replete with a variety of species of Brazil’s flora and fauna, including 600 types of orchids. Later, set out to experience Rio’s lively restaurants.

Days 12-14: 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 three days to discover the glacially sculpted landscapes of these rugged wilds, 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 stay, tailor your exploration to your interests, choosing from a variety of optional hiking and horseback riding excursions. 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.

Days 15-17: Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Fly to Buenos Aires and transfer to our hotel in the Recoleta district. Take a walking tour of this stylish neighborhood, including a visit to the Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place for Eva “Evita” Perón and many of the country’s most notable political and cultural icons.

Spend the following morning discovering the highlights of Buenos Aires. Enjoy a city tour of the historic center that includes Plaza de Mayo and the opulent Casa Rosada—the presidential palace with the balcony where beloved first lady Eva Perón addressed adoring crowds. Explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, including multihued La Boca and Puerto Madero, a onetime port area now known for its creative use of repurposed warehouses and docks. This afternoon, choose from a variety of excursions. Step in time to a tango lesson, pedal between the hidden street murals of Buenos Aires on an art-themed bike tour, go behind the scenes at the renowned Colón Theater, or enjoy an opportunity to visit the workshop of an expert silversmith.

On our final day, head outside the city to the family-owned Estancia El Rosario de Areco, which spans some 200 acres. Glimpse the gaucho lifestyle during a horseback riding show, barbecue lunch, and polo demonstration.

Day 18: Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

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Comprised of 275 cascades and spanning nearly two miles, Iguaçu Falls is one of the world’s most dramatic aquatic displays. The thundering white water is surrounded by the lush jungles of the Atlantic Forest—home to around 20,000 species of plants, as well as thousands of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. As you explore this natural wonder, keep an eye out for tapirs, giant anteaters, sloths, and howler monkeys.

We’ll view this majestic World Heritage site from unique angles along the nature paths that wind across our hotel grounds. Then choose from a variety of ways to experience the falls and the surrounding area. Embark on a thrilling Zodiac ride that goes behind the falls; join a naturalist guide to explore the Macuco jungle; encounter the powerful cascades of the famed Devil’s Throat; or visit the nearby Parque das Aves, home to nearly 150 distinct avian species.

Days 19-20: Cartagena, Colombia

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Cross the Equator en route to Colombia, and land in the Caribbean port city of Cartagena. Surrounded by the most extensive fortifications in all of South America and brimming with stunning colonial architecture, this vibrant city was declared a World Heritage site in 1984. Ride a horse-drawn carriage through Cartagena’s cobbled colonial center, once an important gateway to South America, a target of buccaneers, and a refuge for explorers. On a walking tour, stroll atop the city walls and marvel at multihued buildings with flower-draped balconies and vibrant art installations. Peruse the Museum of Modern Art, and enjoy a private visit to the home of sculptor Eladio Gil Zambrana to discover rooms brimming with his work. As an alternative to the walking tour, you may sample Colombia’s rich brews on a city coffee tour. 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. This evening, gather for a farewell dinner in a private colonial-era home.

Day 21: Miami, Florida, U.S.

Following breakfast, fly to Miami, where you’ll connect with your commercial flight home.

What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light\/moderate; travelers should be in good health; comfortable climbing stairs and walking or standing for extended periods; and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to historic or cultural sites, or nature walks, with options for more physical activities such as hiking and biking. A signed medical form from your doctor will be required for participation in certain activities, such as visiting high-altitude areas like Cusco (11,200 feet) and Lake Titicaca (12,500) in Peru. Alternative destinations or activities can be arranged if necessary. Any physical condition requiring special attention, diet, or treatment should be reported when booking so accommodations can be made.

Accommodations
We stay in world-class or best available hotels throughout the expedition.

Expedition Team
A top-notch team of experts will accompany this expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life.

About the Jet

Well suited for this incredible journey, a Boeing 757 provides unparalleled flexibility with its long-range capabilities and ability to land in smaller airports. Flying direct and avoiding layovers, we are able to maximize our time in each destination while delivering a superior travel experience. Instead of the standard 233 seats, the jet’s interior has been customized to accommodate just 75 passengers in two-by-two, VIP-style leather seating. You’ll enjoy excellent access to experts and staff, who provide informative briefings and lectures throughout the expedition.

The VIP-configured Boeing 757 private jet provides:

• 75 passenger seats in a customized 2x2 configuration, instead of the standard 233 seats.
• Comfortable VIP-style leather seating with adjustable leg and headrests and a 45-degree recline.
• One of the highest crew-to-traveler ratios in the industry — 1 to 7.
• Roomy cabin with plenty of legroom and convenient storage for personal items.
• Plush, sleek interior design.
• A seasoned and specially-trained flight crew — including three pilots, an expedition chef, a catering officer, multiple flight attendants, an engineer, and a dedicated luggage handler.
• A dedicated expedition physician who accompanies the group on the jet and on land.
• In-seat power outlets and storage space for laptops, digital cameras, and other personal devices.

ACCOMMODATIONS
1 /10

The Hay-Adams - Washington, D.C.

Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, this iconic luxury hotel first opened its doors in 1928 and has since hosted many famous guests including Amelia Earhart, Sinclair Lewis, and President Barack Obama. Offering spectacular views of the White House, St. John’s Church, and Lafayette Park, the Hay-Adams is known for its impeccable guest service and exceptional comfort. Rooms are furnished with timeless décor combined with modern technology, and the hotel’s restaurant is known as one of the premier fine-dining establishments in the city.

2 /10

Hotel Camino Real Tikal - Guatamala

Perched on the shores of Lake Petén within northern Guatemala’s Petén Jungle, the Hotel Camino Real Tikal offers a comfortable base for exploring the Maya city of Tikal. Each guest room features a private balcony with lake views, in-room climate controls, a flat-screen television, electronic safe, mini-bar, 24-hour complimentary internet access, and an en suite bathroom hairdryer. The hotel is home to three restaurants, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, “temascal” saunas, and on-site shops. Guests are invited to use the hotel kayaks to explore the neighboring lake.

3 /10

American Trade Hotel - Panama City

Located in the heart of Panama City's historic quarter, the World Heritage-listed Casco Viejo, American Trade Hotel is a boutique property that combines old-world elegance and modern design. Guest accommodations offer contemporary comforts, such as waterfall showers and complimentary Wi-Fi; and dining and entertainment options include an elegant restaurant, lobby bar, coffee café, jazz club, and rooftop pool.

4 /10

Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion - Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Nestled on 2,000 private acres of rain forest near the Tambopata National Reserve, Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World built on a former cocoa and rubber plantation. Its elevated cabañas are designed to embrace the surrounding jungle, with screens instead of walls, so that you can watch birds or monkeys from the comfort of your room. Each cabaña also features a private balcony outfitted with hammock and chairs to enjoy the scenery.

5 /10

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas - Cusco, Peru

Situated in a plaza behind Cusco’s main square, the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas is set within a restored 17th-century palace and convent, with spectacular décor that incorporates original Inca stonework. This historic property is one of the city’s most exclusives hotels, offering private butler service, a heated outdoor pool, a spa featuring Andean-inspired treatments, and a Peruvian restaurant helmed by one of Cusco’s leading chefs. Its inviting suites and rooms, tranquil terraces, and cloistered courtyards provide the ultimate urban retreat.

6 /10

Belmond Copacabana Palace - Brazil

The oceanfront Belmond Copacabana Palace is among Rio's most iconic hotels, having hosted celebrities such as Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, and Tom Cruise. This art deco stunner overlooks bustling Copacabana Beach, but specializes in seclusion and relaxation, with its leafy swimming pool and the full-service spa with steam room and sauna. Three elegant restaurants are situated around the pool, including the Michelin-starred pan-Asian MEE. Rooms and suites are light and airy and feature thoughtful touches like period furniture and original artwork.

7 /10

Explora Patagonia - Chile

Found in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, Explora Patagonia sits on the shores of stunning Lake Pehoé and offers spectacular mountain views. The luxuriously appointed facilities include a spa, boutique, and stables; and expert guides are on hand to lead over 40 unique excursions into the surrounding wilds. Guest rooms offer a cozy place to unwind after the day's adventure, and each has a panoramic window exposing views of the Patagonian landscape.

8 /10

Alvear Palace Hotel - Argentina

Built in 1932 to accommodate European visitors to Buenos Aires, the Alvear Palace Hotel elegantly embodies the city's nickname, the “Paris of South America.” Old-world opulence meets modern French in this grand dame of the Recoleta district, home to ritzy restaurants and amenities like a wellness area and spa, fitness room, and an indoor rooftop pool and accompanying bar. Guest rooms are appointed with Louis XV period furniture and spacious bathrooms that hold plush towels, robes, and toiletries.

9 /10

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas - Brazil

The only hotel located within the borders of Brazil’s Iguaçu National Park, Belmond Hotel das Cataratas offers exclusive after-hours access to the nature paths surrounding the falls. But the pastel-pink colonial heritage hotel is an attraction unto itself, with a stunning swimming pool, tropical gardens that harbor orchids and howler monkeys, and a grill and restaurant that dish up Brazilian barbecue and other local specialties. Rooms and suites exude old-world elegance and are adorned with artisanal fabrics and locally commissioned artwork.

10 /10

Charleston Santa Teresa - Colombia

Housed within a renovated convent, the Charleston Santa Teresa sits at the heart of Cartagena's World Heritage-listed historic center. Each guest room blends traditional Colombian design with modern amenities, including cable television and a marble en suite bathroom. Dining options include a grand and airy restaurant, as well as an outdoor terrace serving up casual fare. The on-site spa offers eastern- and Caribbean-inspired treatments.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Feb 4-24, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $116,049 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $127,655 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

2020 departure: The expedition cost includes transportation by private Boeing 757 jet and other conveyance, as noted in the itinerary. Airfare to Washington, D.C. and return from Miami, Florida is not included in the expedition cost. For your protection, all payments are protected by a surety bond. Please click here to view the Operator-Participant Contract and Terms and Conditions for this departure.

  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Transportation by private jet and other conveyance, as noted in the itinerary
  • Deluxe or best available accommodations as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals, from dinner on the first night to breakfast on the final morning
  • Daily activities, excursions, options, and special events as indicated in the itinerary; enrichment program, including lectures by a team of experts.
  • All beverages, including liquor, aboard the private jet and during special events and cocktail parties; house wine and beer at lunches and dinners
  • $50,000 medical evacuation insurance for covered reasons and services of an expedition physician
  • Gratuities
  • Commercial airfare to the departure city, and return from the final destination
  • Trip cancellation insurance or other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, and beverages not listed above

PLEASE NOTE

William Saturno
Educator Archaeologist
"

Archaeologist William Saturno is a National Geographic Explorer specializing in early civilizations. He has received numerous grants from the Society to support his ongoing excavations of ancient Maya murals in Guatemala. His breakthrough discovery at San Bartolo of the oldest intact Maya murals yet found became the focus of the National Geographic magazine articles "The Sistine Chapel of the Early Maya" in December 2003 and "The Dawn of Maya Gods and Kings" in January 2006. The June 2012 issue described his recent unearthing of murals at Xultún. Outside of Mesoamerica, Bill has conducted archaeological research in the American Southwest, Bolivia, Cambodia, and most recently on the North Coast of Peru. He has taught university courses that encompass major archeological and historical sites all over the world.

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  • Feb 4-24, 2020
David Silverberg
Geographer Geologist Conservationist
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David Scott Silverberg is a geographer working on conservation projects spanning six continents. His mix of exploration, research, and digital photo-video storytelling has been popular with National Geographic travelers for many years. A fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Asia Society, David was the executive science director at Earthwatch Institute, set up and managed Boston University environmental field research programs in British Columbia and eastern Africa, and was a founding White House staff member for AmeriCorps. David has worked in more than 100 countries, manages the Environmental Learning Institute, and teaches at several international universities.

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  • Feb 4-24, 2020
Nevada Wier
Photographer
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Nevada Wier is a multiple award-winning photographer specializing in documenting the remote corners and cultures of the world. Nevada’s journeys have taken her to many of the planet’s deserts, mountains, and urban jungles, and more than 100 countries across the globe, from Colombia to Mongolia and Iceland to India. Her work has appeared in National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines, as well as Geo, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, Smithsonian, and numerous other publications. Nevada is a well-known keynote speaker and workshop instructor, and her images are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection. She has also been featured in television productions such as National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Through the Lens. Wier is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and a member of the Society of Women Geographers.

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  • Feb 4-24, 2020