The sound of the steel pan and calypso tell you you're in Trinidad. Check in to the unique upside-down Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center with breathtaking views overlooking the Gulf of Paria.
Explore the old section of the city, and visit renowned Asa Wright Nature Center, high in the lush Arima Valley, and the Caroni Swamp, home to the famed scarlet ibis. Embark National Geographic Explorer and sail southward to begin your voyage.
Explore the Orinoco River, the world’s third largest by volume, and its tropical rainforest — with a dazzling variety of birds, exotic plants and animals from red howler monkeys to electric-blue morpho butterflies and bow-riding river dolphins.
Little-visited Guyana has developed a deserved reputation for some of the most pristine rainforest and tropical nature in the world. Take an excursion by charter aircraft (weather permitting) to Guyana’s crown jewel, remote, powerful Kaieteur Falls. Explore the surrounding forest and look for colorful birdlife including, with luck, the cock-of-the-rock. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, offers a number of interesting possibilities. Explore the city, seeing its rich colonial architecture, historic buildings and markets and listening to some of the spirited local music.
Paramaribo’s well-preserved Dutch colonial architecture has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Explore Fort Zeelandia, home to the fine Suriname Museum, and the side-by-side synagogue and mosque, a symbol of the country’s tolerance.
The collective name for a group of small rocky islets, it became notorious as a penal colony that held inmates, Henri Charrière, who chronicled his imprisonment and escape in Papillon, and Alfred Dreyfus. See the remains of the buildings, including the commander’s house, cell blocks and mental asylum. The islands have been reclaimed by jungle, so your explorations will include wildlife and birdlife sightings.
The delta region of the great Amazon River is extraordinarily rich in wildlife, with colorful birds including macaws, toucans and kingfishers, along with monkeys and pink river dolphins. Spend two days exploring the river and its tributaries by ship and by Zodiac. See some of the communities of local residents, called the caboclos. Belém, capital of Pará in Northern Brazil, is the gateway to the Amazon. Founded by the Portuguese, it has a rich colonial history—evident in the old town’s charming tree-filled squares, churches and traditional blue tiles. Early in the morning visit the Ver-O-Peso market, a bustle of activity with an amazing variety of products, including a medicinal section of rainforest remedies.
A highlight will be the archipelago Fernando de Noronha, a UNESCO site recognized for the richness of its waters and as a tropical seabird breeding site. Pending official permission, spend two days exploring its beaches, birdlife and rich marine life, with a special visit to the TAMAR turtle research project.
The capital of the State of Bahia is home to a blend of different cultures and a unique Bahian lifestyle. Explore its pastel-hued, baroque-style buildings, and the vivid local market, where embroidered linens and wood carvings are the draw. It’s the perfect launching point for the diversity and wonders ahead along the Brazilian coast.
Ilhéus once flourished as the cacao capital of Brazil. Stroll past charming colonial buildings to the impressive Cathedral of Sao Sebastião. Visit a cacao plantation and see a musical performance. Visit a research facility for endangered maned sloth and the Una Ecological Reserve, the canopy section ideal for bird watching. There’s also a lovely beach for swimming.
Humpback whales come here to breed and give birth. In previous years, the crew has been fortunate to observe them tail lob, breach and even sit motionless with their tails out of the water.
Famous for its fun-loving ways, Rio presents a dazzling array of options. Explore Floresta da Tijuca, Rio’s largest national park with a maze of trails. High above the city at the famous iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado yields spectacular views over the city, the ocean, and Guanabara Bay — all making for great photo opportunities. Or visit the golden lion tamarin reserve and learn about this endangered primate. And be sure to enjoy Rio’s legendary beaches.
Once prominent in the gold trade, charming Parati is a World Heritage Site with cobbled streets, lovely colonial buildings and churches. An isolated beach or secluded bay will beckon here, inviting you to relax or kayak.
In Paranaguá; board the Litorina train for for Brazil’s most remarkable rail trip — a three-hour ride down steep mountains, across 30 trestle bridges and through 13 tunnels—to the tropical lowlands, with a barreado (traditional beef stew) finale. Or explore the Atlantic rain forest, with opportunities for forest walks and waterfall views. Aboard a local boat navigate the mangroves habitat of the Laguna Mar complex.
North of this southernmost Brazilian port is one of the longest sandy beaches in the world. Now in the pampas region of South America, which extends southward through Uruguay and Argentina. The region has a diverse history influenced by immigrants from a variety of European countries. Wildlife of the region is a mixture of northern and southern species, and you’ll spend the day exploring this region.
Montevideo’s history is reflected in elegant architecture ranging from colonial to Art Deco. Experience the culture of the gauchos at a private estancia (ranch) and savor an asado (traditional barbecue).
Explore the city’s Beaux Arts palaces, including the famous pink palace of Eva Perón; and the bohemian quarters of La Boca and the revitalized bohemian quarters La Boca and San Telmo. Disembark this afternoon and connect to your overnight flight home.