Travel Partner: TCS World Travel
Duration | 23 Days
Destination | Global
Starting Price | $104,950
Follow the midnight sun around the globe to the world’s northernmost reaches—including a four-day cruise through Norway’s Svalbard Islands—to seven unique destinations on one seamless, all-inclusive journey.
Surrounded on all sides by mountains, water and evergreen forests, Seattle’s abundant natural beauty is matched only by its wealth of urban attractions. From the prime location of the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, enjoy unfettered access to the Seattle Art Museum, world-class dining and shopping, and Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operated public markets. Meet fellow travelers and expedition staff at a welcome dinner at Chihuly Garden and Glass, which showcases the vibrant glass sculptures of local artist Dale Chihuly against the backdrop of the iconic Space Needle.
Cross the international date line, losing a day en route to Osaka. From there, we travel to the ancient capital of Kyoto, which is home to more than 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. The name Kyoto means “capital” in Japanese, because the city served as the emperor’s home base for more than a thousand years. Kyoto blossomed as a center for learning and the arts—and today boasts 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Experience the striking torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine, its vibrant vermillion wooden beams shaping an inviting path through densely forested grounds. Originally built to honor the god of rice and sake, this Shinto shrine now also serves as a popular site where local businessmen seek blessings. Choose to visit nearby Nara, home of the Todaiji Temple, which houses the nearly 50-foot-tall bronze Buddha statue Daibutsu. Other options include riding a rickshaw to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove on the outskirts of the city for a peaceful stroll through this dense grove of towering bamboo, or taking a Japanese cooking class at a local Kyoto home.
Accomodations Stay at the intimate and contemporary Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, which artfully combines the traditional and modern. This luxury hotel maintains the level of service and amenities befitting a five-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool, luxury spa, fitness center and world-class dining.
After arriving in Ulaanbaatar, fly by local air to the Gobi Desert. From craggy mountain peaks to breathtaking sand dunes, the Gobi is filled with a variety of dramatic landscapes. Examine dinosaur fossils at the Flaming Cliffs— which get their name from the brilliant shades of orange and red the cliffs turn at sunset—and meet a nomadic camel-raising family at Moltsog Els, a 10-mile stretch of sand dunes. Alternatively, opt to hike in Yolyn Am, a spectacular gorge with steep walls that echo the sounds of the stream below. Stay in a private ger, the traditional portable home of the nomads, for a taste of time-honored Mongolian hospitality.
Alternate: Experience a different side of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar and Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, an easy respite from the urban capital. After exploring the Fine Arts Museum in Ulaanbaatar, travel overland to the protected park area with its alpine-like terrain, fascinating rock formations and local wildlife. Explore the spectacular valleys and stunning forests on a hike or on horseback.
Accomodations Located in the heart of the Gobi, the Three Camel Lodge was built according to sustainable guidelines. Guest rooms are handmade gers, or traditional Mongolian felt tents that feature hand-painted, wood-framed furnishings.
Alternate: Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar is a luxurious sanctuary in Mongolia’s capital. Each well-appointed guest room offers panoramic views and boasts a stunning fusion of contemporary and local design styles. Surrounded by the forested mountains of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, the Terelj Hotel and Spa offers a lush retreat in the serene Mongolian wilderness. Enjoy picturesque views from the hotel’s beautiful rooms and easy access to the park’s attractions.
Orthodox belfries share the skyline with colorful minarets in this storied city on the Volga. Travel through time as you stroll historic neighborhoods where modernist mansions stand next to Baroque monuments. Marvel at the ancient white walls of the Kazan Kremlin, a Tatar citadel and UNESCO World Heritage site where the orthodox turrets of Annunciation Cathedral are balanced by the soaring turquoise minarets of the modern Kul Sharif Mosque. Pose for a photo with Kazan’s leaning Suyumbike Tower and enjoy expansive views of the Volga River below. Discover the secrets of Tatar cuisine at a master class luncheon where you can learn to cook the region’s traditional dishes yourself.
Take leave of the city the following day with a getaway on the island of Sviyazhsk, founded in 1551 by Ivan the Terrible during his siege against the Kazan Khanate. Situated at the confluence of the Volga, the Sviyaga and the Shchuka rivers, the historic island was a crossroads of the Silk and Volga routes. Soak in the serenity of Assumption Monastery and John the Baptist Monastery.
Accomodations With its convenient downtown location, the Ramada Kazan City Center allows for easy access to the main sights in the city’s historic core. Enjoy a welcoming and elegant atmosphere that permeates the hotel, from the well-appointed guest rooms to the fitness center, dining room and bar.
Experience the luxury of this spectacular city. Marvel at the ornate halls and grand galleries of the lavishly restored Catherine Palace, including the magnificent Amber Room. Stroll the formal gardens of Peterhof—Peter the Great’s homage to Versailles—and admire its spectacular Grand Cascade, a series of 64 fountains adorned with bronze statues and intricate bas-reliefs.
Explore Peter and Paul Fortress, the city’s oldest structure, to see the stunning grounds and historic cathedral, and then wonder at the fantastic Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood with its intricate mosaics and onion-domed towers, built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Attend an evening performance at one of St. Petersburg’s stately theaters, or cruise the Neva under the midnight sun as night slowly falls and the lights begin to sparkle over the city.
Delve into the world-renowned art collection at the State Hermitage Museum and examine jewels and the works of Peter Carl Fabergé in its Treasure Galleries. On your final evening, channel the spirit of the tsars during an opulent gala dinner in one of St. Petersburg’s regal palaces.
Accomodations Capturing the grandeur of this historic city, Hotel Astoria boasts comfort and elegance in the heart of St. Petersburg. A city landmark for over a century, the hotel is located directly across from St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the Admiralteysky District. Its restaurants and bars offer a range of Russian and European cuisine, inventive cocktails and decadent blinis. A pool, fitness area and spa round out the offerings.
Embark on a private expeditionary cruise through Norway’s impressive Arctic environment. Explore the city of Longyearbyen before transferring to the Ocean Adventurer, a polar expedition ship that will be home for the next four nights. From the ship you will enjoy unfettered views of the towering steep-walled fjords, roving icebergs and massive glaciers.
You will have multiple opportunities for excursions. Opt to take a shore hike to visit auk bird cliffs, where thousands of auks and other birds breed and nest high above ground. Take a Zodiac ride to Smeerenburg, a former 15th-century Dutch whaling village whose name means “Blubber Town.” Hike to vantage points for spectacular panoramas, enjoy a reindeer and tundra walk or choose to go kayaking in this unique Arctic environment. Cruise past a walrus haul out, a mass gathering of walruses resting between periods of foraging activity. In summer the sun never sets, which leaves ample time for animal spotting or simply relaxing and taking in this arresting landscape.
Accomodations The newly renovated Ocean Adventurer expeditionary ship has been refreshed with both cosmetic and technical enhancements. A small ship designed to navigate the challenging Arctic, the Ocean Adventurer is outfitted with stabilizers to create smooth sailing over choppy waters. Congregate with fellow travelers in the bar, take in sweeping views from the deck and enjoy the comradery that comes with having a privately chartered ship.
The world’s northernmost capital enjoys 22 hours of sunlight during the summer, allowing plenty of time to explore Reykjavik’s modern dining scene and embark on outdoor adventures. Upon arrival, relax in the geothermic hot springs of the Blue Lagoon, whose warm, mineral-rich waters offer the perfect setting to ease any travel discomforts.
From black-sand beaches to rugged fjords, Iceland’s stunning landscapes have been largely shaped by volcanic activity over millions of years. See the geothermal Geysir fields, still bubbling with hot springs and mud pots, and refresh in the mists of the majestic Gullfoss, Iceland’s iconic cascading waterfall. At Thingvellir National Park, stand on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. This expansive rift valley, surrounded by high cliffs, is where Iceland’s open-air parliament met annually for more than 800 years.
Opt to visit Heidmörk Nature Reserve for an afternoon jaunt through spruce trees and lava fields, set off on a snowmobiling safari across the eastern part of Langjökull Glacier (weather permitting) or visit a geothermal plant to learn how Iceland harnesses its natural resources.
Accomodations As Reykjavik’s first luxury property, the Hotel Borg encapsulates timeless elegance. Polished and tasteful rooms feature Art Deco design throughout as well as custom-made furniture and original photographs of the hotel from the 1930s.
The world’s largest island, Greenland is a stunning landscape of craggy icefjords, freshly formed icebergs and pristine glaciers that come alive under the midnight sun. Land in Kangerlussuaq, a town of about 500 residents in western Greenland, and take a charter flight to Ilulissat. Located more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, this remote town on Disko Bay sits next to the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the scale of this endlessly white landscape on a flightseeing tour over the Ilulissat Icefjord, where the massive Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier meets the ocean. Embark on an easy hike to the world’s fastest moving glacier and the source of many of Greenland’s icebergs.
Cruise past the expansive Eqi Glacier for a rare opportunity to see icebergs in formation as they dramatically break off the glacier’s edge and crash into the ocean. An iceberg’s color depends on how much air is trapped inside, so look for shades of white and ethereal blue as you sail past the glacier. Meet a dogsledding team, still the most practical mode of transport over Greenland’s largely icy terrain. Take a longer guided walk to the Inuit settlement of Sermermiut and learn about the indigenous people who have lived in Greenland for thousands of years.
Accomodations Perched on the edge of Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord overlooking Disko Bay, the Hotel Arctic is one of the world’s northernmost accommodations. Enjoy the spectacular views of the nearby town and the iceberg-dotted harbor from comfortable guest rooms and the hotel’s restaurants, where you can try traditional Greenlandic foods.
The conclusion of your international adventure brings you to Boston. The gateway to New England, Boston offers numerous opportunities to explore United States history, including the Freedom Trail. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers and a luxurious overnight stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, which reflects the city’s elegant and refined style. Return home on your independent flight the next day.
Prices are per person, based on two people sharing. Room categories, dates of travel and changes to services will affect the price. Dollar conversions shown (if applicable) will fluctuate throughout the year. Contact the Andrew Harper Travel Office to customize this itinerary to fit your needs.
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