Discover lush rain forests, magnificent mountain ranges, lively cities, and the legacies of mighty civilizations as we explore Central and South America by private jet. From the mysterious temples of the ancient Maya to the alluring grace of Argentina’s tango, and from the thundering rush of Iguaçu Falls to the Caribbean charms of coastal Colombia, experience all the adventure, history, and romance that this diverse region of the world has to offer.
Arrive in Miami and meet experts, staff, and fellow travelers at our hotel for a welcome dinner.
Mandarin Oriental, Miami
Fly by private jet to Flores, gateway to the Maya ruins of Tikal—a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tour this ancient city and climb its iconic monuments, including the Temple of the Great Jaguar and the Temple of the Masks. Or choose to visit the Maya ruins at Yaxjá, explore Flores’s colorful town center, or relax at our lakefront hotel. At a gala dinner, meet National Geographic grantee Richard Hansen, director of the Mirador Basin Project. The following day, opt to board a helicopter and fly deep into the jungle to the massive pre-classic Maya metropolis of El Mirador. Here, 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)
Land in Panama City and visit its charming historic center, called Casco Viejo. Then head to the Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Biodiversity to peruse its exhibits highlighting the impact of the Panamanian isthmus on the planet’s biodiversity. Cruise Gatún Lake to Barro Colorado Island for a special visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. For more than 90 years, scientists here have been conducting research on the island’s 115 mammal species, including monkeys, tapirs, and sloths. 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 (B,L,D daily)
Upon arrival in Lima, set out by local air on one of three excursions. Fly to 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. Or 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. Alternatively, head to northern Peru to explore the temples of Trujillo and Chiclayo, which harbor 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/Hotel Libertador Trujillo (B,L,D daily)
Arrive in Rio and transfer to our hotel on Copacabana Beach; then choose from a variety of ways to discover the secrets of this sultry city. Experience colonial Rio on a walking tour; wander the 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 panoramas 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)
Our jet brings us to 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 member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection 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)
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 neighborhoods of the government district, including Plaza de Mayo and multi-colored La Boca. Alternatively, enjoy a private tour of the world-renowned Colón Theater, 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)
Comprised of hundreds of cascades and spanning nearly two miles across the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguaçu Falls is one of nature’s most dramatic aquatic displays. 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 rain forest canopy in a helicopter.
Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (B,L,D daily)
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 center, 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, savor local flavors 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)
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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