Ancient Cultures and Contemporary Traditions
From London To London - 23 Nights

Departing from:
23 Nights
Private Jet Tour
Travel Dates:
07/06/23 to 30/07/23
Tour Operator:
National Geographic Expeditions
Reference Code:



Price per person

Package Details


Across the globe and across the ages, culture has flourished in times of prosperity and remained an enduring touchstone in times of hardship. Delve into rich and timeless traditions from western Europe to eastern Asia and discover how cultures of the past continue to influence contemporary life. Trace history in the remarkable architecture of Budapest and Berlin, and explore the vestiges of once-powerful civilizations amid the ancient ruins of Sri Lanka and Israel. Delve into the legacy of the Silk Road in the beautiful cities of Samarkand and Tbilisi, and get immersed in the timeless lifestyle of Mongolia’s nomads. Amid the marble palaces and winding souks of Oman, soak up the rhythms of life on the Arabian Peninsula. Along the way, get immersed in the art, music, dance, and flavors that define these rich cultures, with National Geographic Expeditions.


Arrive in London, where you’ll be met by a private driver for the transfer to your luxury hotel in the
heart of the city. Meet your National Geographic Experts, staff, and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner
this evening.
Meals Included: Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square
Our first flight by private jet brings us to Berlin, a city with a long history of conflict that erupted with
creative energy once the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Set out on an orientation tour of Berlin’s
evolution and its major sites, including the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. Examine the
intriguing world of espionage at the German Spy Museum Berlin, or delve into an underground network
of bunkers and air raid shelters for a fascinating encounter with life in the city during World War II.
Browse a world-renowned collection of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum and visit the Reichstag; or
stroll through the excellent Jewish Museum, where haunting architecture helps tell the story of Jews in
Alternatively, choose to take a morning excursion to nearby Potsdam, the seat of the monarchs of
Prussia. Visit the building where the Nazi’s Wannsee Conference took place in 1941, setting into motion
the so-called “final solution,” and explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sanssouci Palace, built by
King Frederick of Prussia in the mid 1700s.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Adlon Kempinski
Elegant Budapest is a tale of two cities separated by the mighty Danube: quaint Buda, with its hills and
cobbled lanes, and grand Pest, where wide boulevards and majestic architecture recall the city’s cultural
heyday during the Habsburg Empire. Set out on an afternoon walking tour of Buda’s Castle Hill, a World
Heritage site. Visit Buda Castle and see highlights from the collection at the National Gallery. Step into
Matthias Church, the setting for Habsburg coronations and weddings, and enjoy views of the city from
Fisherman’s Bastion.
Over the following days, choose from a range of excursions. Discover the architectural gems of Pest,
including the neo-Gothic Parliament building and the Opera House, whose façade is lined with statues of
famous composers. Visit Europe’s largest synagogue and poignant monuments on a Jewish Heritage
tour. Or pick up produce at the Klauzal Market and learn to prepare traditional dishes with a local chef.
Sample Hungarian wines with a leading sommelier or find out how strudel is made. In historic
Szentendre, now home to a vibrant artists’ colony, tour galleries and museums and stroll through the
old town. Alternatively, venture into Slovakia on a full-day excursion to Bratislava’s historic sites and
visit Schloss Hof, a baroque palace just across the border in Austria.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace
Travel by private jet to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia since the fifth century. Straddling the Mtkvari River
and scattered with turrets, churches, and Art Deco architecture, Tbilisi is a vibrant hub of culture and
history. Enjoy a variety of opportunities to explore Tbilisi and its environs. Embark on a walking tour of
the delightful old town, admiring its colorful houses and their carved wooden balconies. Ascend to
Narikala Fortress for panoramic views of the city and the Caucasus Mountains beyond. Examine the vivid
frescoes of Sioni Cathedral, and visit the beautiful Anchiskhati Basilica, which dates back to the sixth
century. Take a walking tour with an architect, or visit an art school and meet with an artist in her
Try your hand at making Georgian specialties during a cooking class, or enjoy tea in a local home known
for its incredible wooden “lace” façade. Or spend a day in the wine region of Kakhet’i. Learn about
Georgia’s 8,000-year old winemaking tradition and enjoy lunch and a tasting at a wine estate before a
walk through the hilltop town of Sighnaghi. Alternatively, travel to the ancient capital of Mtskheta to see
its World Heritage-listed medieval churches, or venture into the Bronze Age cave city of Uplistsikhe and
continue to Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Georgian
National Museum or take a private tour of the opulent Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater. Gather for a
performance of polyphonic singing our final evening.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Tbilisi Marriott
Since the 14th century, when the legendary conqueror Tamerlane declared Samarkand the capital of the
world, tales of this glorious city have drawn people from distant lands. A vibrant outpost on the Silk
Road, Samarkand was an oasis where science, music, religion, and commerce thrived. Walk in the
footsteps of explorers of old in this World Heritage site, a crossroads of world cultures whose history can
be traced back to 1500 B.C.
On Registan Square, take in the exquisite artistry, fluted domes, and minarets of some of the most
breathtaking jewels of Islamic architecture in the world. Admire the astonishing mosaic-covered ceilings
of the 17th-century Tilla Kari Madrasa, and venture into the interior of the sparkling turquoise Gur-e
Amir mausoleum, the tomb of Tamerlane. Explore the sacred Shahi Zinda complex of mosques and
mausoleums and learn about medieval astronomy at the Ulugbek Observatory. Then visit the Afrosiab
Museum and attend a papermaking workshop, or see the Bibi Khanum mosque, one of the city’s
towering landmarks, and stroll through the bustling Siab Bazaar, where fresh bread and stacks of dried
fruits and nuts compete for space next to household goods and vibrant textiles.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Registan Plaza
Fly by private jet to the legendary land of Genghis Khan, who conquered most of Central and East Asia
with his formidable horsemen in the 13th century. Land in the capital Ulaanbaatar, and choose one of
two options. Take a private charter flight to the Gobi, a vast desert that is home to one of the last
remaining nomadic cultures in the world. Continue by 4×4 to Three Camel Lodge, where we’ll settle into
traditional ger tents set amid sweeping plains. Meet with a traditional shaman, and follow in the
footsteps of Genghis Khan on a walk along the mesmerizing Moltsog Els sand dunes. Spend time with a
nomadic family learning about their unique way of life, and visit the Flaming Cliffs, a spectacular
sandstone escarpment that harbors a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils. Go hiking or horseback riding in
Yol Am Valley. Then participate in a demonstration of the traditional sports of the Naadam festival:
bareback horse riding, archery, and wrestling.
Instead of visiting the Gobi, tour the Gandan Monastery—one of the only Mongolian monasteries to
survive the religious purges of 1938—and spend a day in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Experience a
traditional shaman ceremony to learn about the role of Buddhism in Mongolian life. Go horseback riding
across the park’s beautiful landscapes, and meet with a local family to hear tales of nomadic life. Then
visit the Genghis Khan Statue Complex with a local historian and hike to the Temple of Heaven.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Three Camel Lodge or Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar and Terelj Hotel
An island nation only slightly larger than West Virginia, Sri Lanka is blessed with an incredible array of
wildlife, a vibrant cultural heritage, and no fewer than eight World Heritage sites. After a night in
Colombo, take a charter flight to Hingurakgoda and continue to the garden city of Polonnaruwa, a major
capital during the 12th and 13th centuries. See the ruins, including a soaring stupa and enormous rock
sculptures, and note how the site was built in harmony with its natural setting. Sit down to lunch at a
local farm before heading into the wilds of Minneriya National Park to search for elephants and other
wildlife on an afternoon safari. Later, enjoy high tea and lively performance of Kandyan dancing.
If you wish, go on an early morning birding walk with a naturalist, on the lookout for kingfishers, Asian
open bills, black darters and blue Indian rollers. Take a morning excursion to the Golden Temple of
Dambulla, a cave monastery that has drawn Buddhist pilgrims for more than 22 centuries. Venture into
the numerous temples and dwellings of this rock sanctuary to see beautifully preserved murals and
statuary. Then choose from several afternoon excursions. Explore Sigiriya, a royal city built by King
Kassapa I in the fifth century. Climb to the base of Lion Mountain, a massive granite monolith upon
which the king built an elaborate fortified palace. Examine magnificent frescos that contain ancient texts
of the Sinhala language, and see evidence of literature and philosophy from as far back as the third
century B.C. Or take a guided tour of a spice plantation with an Ayurvedic doctor, and learn about the
uses of spices in healing and cuisine. Alternatively, tour a tea plantation with a renowned planter and
learn the nuances of tea flavors during a traditional tasting. End our stay with a gala dinner featuring
dances, rituals, and a cultural marketplace with goods from across the country.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Shangri-La Colombo and Jetwing Vil Uyana Sigiriya
Return to Colombo on a charter flight, and continue by private jet to Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate
of Oman and once an important port on the maritime routes of the Silk Road. If you wish, enjoy an
evening sail on the Gulf of Oman in a traditional dhow, taking in views of the domes and minarets of
Muscat set against a backdrop of rugged mountains. On a city tour, trace the history of this ancient
Arabian kingdom at the splendid National Museum; see the Grand Mosque, which can accommodate
some 20,000 worshippers; and stroll past the opulent Al Alam Palace, one of the six royal residences of
the sultan of Oman. Wander the labyrinthine alleyways of the Mutrah Souq, filled with exotic spices,
perfumes, and handicrafts.
Alternatively, embark on a full-day tour of the historic town of Nizwá, which lies about a hundred miles
south of Muscat amid groves of date palms. Visit the impressive Nizwá Fort, dating to the mid-17th
century. Enjoy a performance of traditional Omani dances as you sip aromatic Arabic coffee and nibble
on succulent dates. Stroll through the souk or visit the produce market before exploring the countryside.
See the ruins of an ancient village, watch for birdlife, and learn about the World Heritage-listed “Falaj”
system that has irrigated this date palm oasis for centuries.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: Al Husn Shangri-la
Touch down in Tel Aviv and continue overland to Jerusalem, a holy city revered by many faiths. On the
Mount of Olives, view the holy site where Jesus is said to have addressed his disciples the night before
he was crucified. The next day, delve into the captivating, World Heritage-listed Old City, exploring its
Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian quarters. Stroll past ancient synagogues and historic churches,
and soak up the sights and sounds of the bustling bazaars. Visit the Western Wall, the most sacred
Jewish site, where the faithful often tuck written prayers into the cracks between the stones. See the
Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended
into heaven. Tour the ongoing excavations beneath the city, discover the region’s rich history and
culture at the Israel Museum, or hear both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the City of David
archaeological site.
Explore the Holy Land further on your choice of excursions. Spend time at the Yad Vashem Holocaust
History Museum, seeing original artifacts and survivor testimonies. Or travel with a guide to Bethlehem
to visit Rachel’s tomb and the Church of the Nativity—revered as the birthplace of Jesus—and see the
political graffiti along the wall that surrounds the West Bank. Learn the history of Eid Karem and the War
of 1948 with an Israeli and a Palestinian guide, or enjoy a tasting tour through Yehuda Market.
Alternatively, journey into the desert to visit Masada, King Herod’s 2,000-year-old fortress, which
commands a dramatic position atop a rocky plateau. Ride a cable car to the top and explore the ruins of
this ancient fortification where Jewish resistance fighters made a last stand against the Romans. Cap off
the excursion with a float in the Dead Sea. Celebrate our cultural odyssey at a festive farewell dinner.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations: American Colony
After breakfast, fly by private jet to London and transfer to our hotel. Enjoy dinner at the hotel before
departing for home on commercial flights the following day.
Meals Included: June 29 Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner; June 30: Breakfast
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square



  • Deluxe or best available accommodations
  • All meals, from dinner on the first night to breakfast on the final morning
  • All beverages, including liquor, aboard the private jet and during special events and cocktail parties; house wine and beer at lunches and dinners
  • Daily activities, excursions, options, and special events as indicated in the itinerary; enrichment program, including lectures by a team of experts
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Transportation by private jet and other conveyance, as noted in the itinerary
  • Gratuities
  • $50,000 medical evacuation insurance for covered reasons and services of an expedition physician
  • Laundry services, excluding dry-cleaning


All prices are per person, based on double occupancy, unless otherwise stated and are subject to availability and change without notice and do not include international airfare. All prices are quoted in U.S. Dollars. Prices listed for each offer may pertain to specific departure dates. Single supplement applies. Other restrictions, blackout dates and holiday surcharges may apply. Itinerary and inclusions subject to change.

Not included: Commercial airfare to the departure city, and return from the final destination; Trip cancellation insurance or other travel insurance; Visas; Personal expenses such as dry-cleaning, telephone, and beverages not listed above

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