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History's Lost Cities by Private JetOctober 7, 2013 - October 28, 2013
Priced from: $59,950
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Oct 7 - Oct 8 USA / London, England
Depart on your independent flight to London. Gather at our hotel this evening for a welcome dinner. The Dorchester
Oct 9 - Oct 10 Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Board our private jet for Samarkand, once a prosperous Silk Road trading city and the capital of the legendary 14th-century conqueror Tamerlane. A virtual oasis of science, music, and commerce,today Samarkand offers an intriguing blend of East and West, ancient and modern. At Registan Square, admire the magnificent domes and gleaming turquoise tiles of historic madrassas (Islamic seminaries), considered by many as the most breathtaking examples of Islamic architecture in the world. Pay a visit to Tamerlane’s tomb, the Gur-e Amir mausoleum; the sacred Shahi Zinda complex of mosques and mausoleums; and the Bibi Khanum Mosque, whose interior dazzles with colorful glazed tiles and delicately carved marble. A trip to the bustling local market reveals displays of grains, produce, and household wares that have changed little since Tamerlane’s time. Hotel President
Or, choose to visit Samarkand's well-preserved Jewish quarter and historic synagogue to learn about the rich history and contemporary life of Uzbekistan’s "Bukhara" Jews from a member of this close-knit community.
Oct 11 - Oct 13 Chengdu, China / Lhasa, Tibet or Xi’an
Fly by private jet to Chengdu, China and check in to the Shangri La Hotel for dinner and overnight. The next morning, take a local flight to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, located on one of the world’s highest plateaus. Once a “forbidden city,” this Himalayan center of Buddhist pilgrimage—with the spectacular Potala Palace dominating its skyline—often inspires a deep mystical feeling for visitors. Stop by an SOS Village to meet the students and teachers of a successful primary school maintained by the world’s largest orphaned and abandoned children’s charity. Visit the Jokhang Temple, the region’s oldest and most revered, then explore the Borkhar street market. The colorful stalls overflow with finely crafted ornaments, rugs, religious paintings, and carvings. The next day, visit Potala Palace, with its hundreds of rooms, lavish decor, and labyrinthine corridors. Once the winter residence of the Dalai Lama, Potala served as the seat of the Tibetan government for more than 300 years. Stop by the nearly 600-year-old Sera Monastery, and with luck you may witness the spectacle of monks debating the tenets of Buddhism in the courtyard. St. Regis Lhasa Resort
In Lhasa, if you wish, you may also visit the Tibet Museum, which presents Tibet’s history and visions for its future through texts, photographs, videos, and installations. Or, explore theTsang Khung Nunneryand a local market.
Or, choose to fly from Chengdu to Xi’an to view the famous 7,000-strong army of life-size terra-cotta warriors—one of the most significant archaeological finds of the last century. In this ancient Chinese capital you may also visit the Ming dynasty walls, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Xi’an City Museum, and the impressive Yangling Tombs of Emperor Liu Qi and Empress Wang. Once back in Chengdu, enjoy a viewing of the area’s famed giant pandas at the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. The Westin
Oct 14 - Oct 16 Vientiane, Laos / Luang Prabang
Fly by private jet to Vientiane. A city tour brings you to the beautiful Wat Si Saket, Vientiane’s oldest Lao temple and the only building to survive destruction during the Siamese conquest of 1828. Surrounding the temple, gallery walls depict nearly 7,000 impressions of Buddha. Nearby, explore Wat Phra Kaeo, which now houses the Museum of Lao Art. Lao Plaza Hotel
Board your charter flight to Luang Prabang, a gorgeous Laotian city dramatically set in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers. Explore the Royal Palace, built for King Sisavang Vong in the early twentieth century, blending traditional Lao and French Beaux-Arts styles. This beautiful, well-preserved estate now houses the Royal Palace Museum, which features the golden Phra Bang Buddha statue—the most revered object in Laos—for which the town is named. Visit the area’s most revered temples, including Wat Xieng Thong, covered in gold leaf and an elaborate mosaic depicting the fabled Tree of Life. Cruise the Mekong River to the cave temples of Pak Ou, home to thousands of lacquered and gilded Buddha figures. To sample the celebrated warmth and hospitality of the Lao people, visit the village near the caves for an authentic look inside Lao culture. Amantaka or La Résidence Phou Vao
If you wish, you may attend the ancient tradition of almsgiving at sunrise. Departing their temples to the sound of drums, saffron-robed monks walk single file through the city to receive food that they will eat that day.
Oct 17 - Oct 20 Yangon, Myanmar / Inle Lake / Bagan
Board our private jet bound for Myanmar, a key stop on the historic overland trade route between India and China. In the capital of Yangon, visit the dazzling gold stupa (a revered structure for Buddhists) of the Shwedagon Pagoda, which has dominated the city’s skyline since the 11th century and see the Reclining Buddha inside the Chauk Htat Gyi Temple. Traders Hotel
From Yangon, continue by private local air to remote Inle Lake and discover the fascinating floating villages and markets of the Intha people. Learn about their traditional silk weaving and blacksmithing techniques, observe the jumping cats of Nga Phe Monastery, and marvel at the fishermen who ply the waters using a unique leg-rowing technique. Enjoy a gala dinner with traditional music and dance. Aureum Resort & Spa, Inle Lake
After two nights at Inle Lake, fly to the ancient capital of Bagan, a remarkable religious center which ruled all of Southeast Asia in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the two centuries before Kublai Khan overran the region in 1287, devotees built some 13,000 temples, pagodas, and other religious structures on the vast plain east of the Irrawaddy River. Today, more than 2,200 monuments remain in this “Kingdom of the Temple Builders.” Aureum Hotel, Bagan
Oct 21 - Oct 22 Agra, India / Udaipur
Take a local flight to Yangon, and board our private jet for the flight to Agra. View the iconic Taj Mahal, built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan, as a loving tribute to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A masterpiece of the Mogul Empire, the monument soars majestically above the banks of the Yamuna River. Stroll the site, admire its form among the reflecting pools and gardens that surround it, and examine its intricate mosaics made of precious stones.
Instead of visiting the Taj Mahal, you may choose to venture into Kachhpura, a village in Agra inhabited by the Harijan people, otherwise known as “untouchables.” Meet with local families and visit a school. Then visit the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, an early 17th-century mausoleum renowned for its intricate marble-work and gardens.
In the evening, reboard our private jet to Rajasthan, the “land of kings,” where, centuries ago, aristocratic Rajputs used their wealth from overland trade to build sumptuous palaces and majestic gardens. Land in Udaipur, a Rajasthani desert oasis known as the City of Lakes, and admire the fairy-tale marble palaces that appear to rise from the waters of Lake Pichola. Venture into a spectacular labyrinth of courtyards within the City Palace, which blends Rajasthani, Mughal, European, and Chinese architecture, and is richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, mosaics, and frescoes. Stroll through the Old Town and its bustling bazaars, and visit the Folk Art Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of traditional toys, musical instruments, puppets, and other regional curiosities. Enjoy a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola before a festive dinner at our hotel. Oberoi Udaivilas
Oct 23 - Oct 24 Kathmandu, Nepal
Fly by private jet to Nepal’s colorful capital city, Kathmandu. Nestled in an idyllic valley amidst the Himalayas and home to eight of the ten tallest peaks in the world, Kathmandu remained hidden and well off the beaten path until the 1950s. Explore Nepal’s largest stupa, Bodhnath, boasting a magnificent white dome surrounded by 108 sculptures of Buddha. Visit Patan and Bhaktapur, two of Nepal’s ancient capitals. Fly via helicopters and local chartered aircraft for a thrilling ascent to Kongde Lodge, where you can celebrate life on top of the world during breakfast at 15,000 feet, with Everest as your backdrop (weather allowing). Dwarika’s Himalayan Shangri-La Village Resort
Or, upon arrival in Kathmandu, you may wish to take a short commercial flight to Chitwan National Park for a one-night stay at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge. The tall grass and dense forest create a vital habitat for deer, rhinos, and kingfishers. Following ancient, royal traditions, we explore the area by elephants.
A third option takes you by commercial air to Pokhara, to stay for the night at Tiger Mountain Lodge—renowned for their lush gardens. Remain at the cozy lodge or take a short trek on foot—both options offer sweeping views of Annapurna and the mighty Himalayas.
Oct 25 - Oct 26 Petra, Jordan / Wadi Rum
Fly by private jet to Aqaba. A scenic drive brings you to the ancient city of Petra, half-built, half-carved into rose-red cliffs by the mysterious Nabataean people more than 2,000 years ago. Venture through the Siq, a narrow chasm in the bedrock, and arrive at the iconic Treasury. Explore elaborate buildings and tombs, and observe the superb blending of Eastern traditions with Hellenistic architecture. Celebrate the end of your expedition with a gala dinner and Bedouin folkloric performance. Mövenpick Hotel
Go on a 4x4 jeep safari through the shifting sands of Wadi Rum, an evocative lunar-like landscape made famous by T. E. Lawrence and the film about him, Lawrence of Arabia. Marvel at the stark beauty of spectacular rock formations and view ancient pictographs and inscriptions. Return to our hotel in Petra for the night.
Oct 27 - Oct 28 London, England / USA
Your private jet returns to London, where we celebrate our journey with a farewell dinner. The next morning, transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight. The Dorchester