Discover the wonders of Central and South America during an unforgettable 21-day private jet expedition with National Geographic. From the tropical jungles of Guatemala to the awe-inspiring glacier-carved landscapes of Patagonia, see this corner of the world alongside renowned National Geographic experts. During your expedition, marvel at the ancient Maya and Inca ruins, feel the spray coming off the famous Iguaçu Falls and soak up the atmosphere in cities such as Cartagena, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires.

Trip highlights

Journey by helicopter and fly above the Guatemalan jungle, touching down in the Maya city of El Mirador where you will discover the active dig site of National Geographic grantee Richard Hansen.

Stay at Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World which is situated on the banks of the Madre de Dios River, and explore the Peruvian Amazon.

By special permission, enjoy a walking safari in the tropical forests of Panama’s Barro Colorado Nature Monument, site of a National Geographic-supported wildlife-tracking study.

Itinerary - 22 Days

Day 1 Miami, Florida

Arrive in Miami and meet experts, staff, and fellow travellers at our hotel for a welcome dinner. Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Days 2 & 3 Tikal and Lake Petén, Guatemala

Journey by private jet to Flores a gateway into the Maya ruins of Tikal—a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore ancient ruins and climb the iconic moments including the Temple of the Great Jaguar and the Temple of the Masks. Alternatively, visit the Maya ruins at Yaxjá, visit the vibrant town centre of Flore’s or relax within the stunning surroundings of the lakefront hotel.
Enjoy a magnificent gala dinner where National Geographic grantee, grantee Richard Hansen, director of the Mirador Basin Project will be present.
Fly deep into the jungle to the pre-classic Maya metropolis of El Mirador via helicopter where Dr. Hansen will guide us through his dig site, where researchers are uncovering the city’s elaborate architecture, intricate carvings, and royal burial chambers. Return to our hotel for an evening cruise along Lake Petén.
Camino Real Tikal (B,L,D daily)

Days 4, 5, & 6 Panama City and the Panama Canal, Panama

Fly to Panama City and visit the charming centre of Vasco Viejo. At the Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Biodiversity, explore the wealth of exhibits that highlight the impact of the Panamanian isthmus on the planet’s biodiversity.
Set sail along the Gatún Lake to Barro Colorado Island for a special visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute where ground-breaking research has been taking place. Barro Colorado is also the site of a National Geographic-supported project that tracks wildlife using wireless technology. Later, discover the ancient Spanish fort of San Lorenzo, a World Heritage site. On our last morning in Panama, board a private boat for a partial transit of the Panama Canal, followed by a birding tour. American Trade Hotel or similar (B,L,D daily)

Days 7, 8, & 9 Cusco and Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, or Trujillo, Peru

Arrive in Lima and choose one of three local air excursions.
Fly to the magnificent, World Heritage-listed Cusco for a tour that includes the festive Plaza de Armas and the imposing Sacsayhuamán fortress perched above the city. Then travel by train to majestic Machu Picchu.
Alternatively, journey to the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest commercially navigable lake. 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.
Or, head to northern Peru to explore the temples of Trujillo and Chiclayo, which harbour some of the richest burial chambers in the Americas. See the Royal Tombs of the Sipan Museum, enjoy a Paso horse exhibition, and explore the archaeological complex of El Brujo. Belmond Palacio Nazarenas/Titilaka/Libertador Trujillo (B,L,D daily)

Days 10 & 11 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Upon arrival in Rio, transfer to the hotel which is situated on the famous Copacabana Beach. Enjoy a walking tour which will allow you to explore colonial Rio where you will explore mosaic sidewalk that lines Ipanema beach; get a taste for the city’s famed Carnival festivities during a visit to Samba City; or see Maracanã Stadium, one of soccer’s most famous venues.
Take in spectacular views of Guanabara Bay from the city’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, or ride a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. In the evenings, set out on your own to experience Rio’s legendary nightlife. Belmond Copacabana Palace (B,L,D daily)

Days 12, 13, & 14 Patagonia, Chile

Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, where we’ll transfer by charter flight to Puerto Natales—gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. Settle into the spectacular Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World which is set on the shores of Lago Sarmiento.
During our stay, choose from a variety of ways to explore the surrounding glacier-carved landscapes, including hiking, biking, and horseback-riding excursions. See the staggering horns of the Paine massif, witness thundering waterfalls, and glide amid incandescent icebergs en route to the base of Grey glacier.
National Geographic guests of the lodge are also invited to take an exclusive architecture tour of the property for an inside look at its award-winning design. Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa (B,L,D daily)

Days 15, 16, & 17 Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fly to Buenos Aires and transfer to our hotel in the stylish Recoleta district. Head outside the city to Estancia Carabassa and get a glimpse into the gaucho lifestyle during a horseback show and barbecue lunch.
Weather permitting, opt to stay for a polo match; or return to the hotel for wine tasting with a sommelier. Spend the following day discovering the highlights of Buenos Aires. Stroll the diverse neighbourhoods of the government district, including Plaza de Mayo and multi-coloured La Boca. Alternatively, enjoy a private tour of the world-renowned Colón Theatre, followed by a visit to Plaza San Martín. Gather in the evening for dinner and a tango performance. Alvear Palace Hotel (B,L,D daily)

Day 18 Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Iguaçu Falls is one of nature’s most dramatic aquatic displays that spans almost two miles across the border of Brazil and Argentina. See this World Heritage site from every angle: a thrilling Zodiac ride that goes behind the falls, the nature paths on our hotel grounds, or soaring above the surrounding rainforest canopy in a helicopter. Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (B,L,D daily)

Days 19 & 20 Cartagena, Colombia

Cross the Equator en route to Colombia, and land in the Caribbean port 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 tour through the cobblestone streets of its enchanting colonial centre and enjoy a walking tour of the area. Walk atop the city walls, stroll past multi-hued buildings with flower-draped balconies, and admire vibrant public art. Alternately, savour local flavours during a Cartagena culinary experience. Later, learn about the life and work of Colombian author and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, or take a coffee tour. Enjoy a cocktail cruise on the Caribbean at sunset. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena (B,L,D daily)

Days 21 & 22 Miami, Florida

Our journey ends in Miami, where we’ll celebrate with a festive farewell dinner. The next day, connect with your commercial flight home. Mandarin Oriental, Miami (D)

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