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Special Events

Imagine discussing wildlife conservation issues with world-renowned researchers in Africa’s game reserves, joining the world’s leading archaeologists for special access to the world of the Maya, traveling with award-winning writers in Alaska, or watching an eclipse in a remote corner of the planet with top astronomers—these are some of the unique experiences offered by our Special Events program. These symposiums and specially themed journeys, each featuring a team of eminent guest experts, are our unique way of bringing you an insider’s view, and you can only find it with Wilderness Travel. Our list of past luminaries is long and has included Jane Goodall, Sir Edmund Hillary, Mary Leakey, wildlife biologist George Schaller, author Barry Lopez, astronomer Alex Filippenko, mountaineers Reinhold Messner and Conrad Anker, and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. Read about our upcoming Special Events below, and scroll down for a look at some of our past programs!

USA

Alaskan Dreams

July 22-29, 2017

A Voyage through the Glacial Wilderness of Southeast Alaska
Featuring Renowned Nature Writers Barry Lopez and Richard Nelson

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Southeast Alaska’s stunning fjords and mountain-ringed waterways, including glorious Glacier Bay, are among the world’s grandest landscapes, a wonderland of ice-blue glaciers, snow-capped peaks, and deep forests sheltering plentiful wildlife. In 2015, we offered a Special Event that explored the legendary landscape of Alaska’s Inside Passage with Special Guests Barry Lopez, one of the premier nature writers of our time, and Richard Nelson, cultural anthropologist and award-winning author. It was a resounding success, and due to popular demand, we are pleased to offer a new Special Event in July 2017, and are delighted that Barry Lopez and Richard Nelson will return once again as our incomparable Special Guests.

Navigating remote fjords and quiet inlets aboard the intimate 74-guest Wilderness Explorer, our journey brings us from Sitka to Juneau through some of Alaska’s most scenic waterways, and includes explorations at Chichagof Island, home to a vast bear population, and magnificent Glacier Bay, where 11 tidewater glaciers spill to the sea.

We’ll spend active days hiking, whale watching, sea kayaking, exploring by skiff, and even paddle boarding. At day’s end, we enjoy the welcoming comfort of our boat and unforgettable evening presentations by Barry Lopez and Richard Nelson, whose thoughtful insights on mankind’s relationship with the natural world will bring even greater depth to our journey. This is the perfect way to experience one of the most extraordinary settings in the world, and a rare chance to enjoy the company and perspectives of our two distinguished experts in informal settings on board the ship and on our excursions. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

World of the Maya: New Discoveries in the New Millennium

December 28, 2017-January 8, 2018

Exploring Recent Discoveries that have Changed our Understanding of Maya Culture

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The new millennium has brought many exciting discoveries to light in northern Guatemala that have significantly altered our understanding of the Maya. The size and sophistication of El Mirador, at its height during 300-150 BC, make it one of the largest and earliest of the Maya cities; mural paintings at San Bartolo, carbon dated to 100 BC, make them the oldest known Mayan paintings; and La Corona is now proven to be the long-sought “Site Q,” solving one of the great mysteries of Mayan archaeology. Our symposium is a wonderful opportunity to discuss these finds in the company of distinguished experts who will greatly enhance our understanding of this remarkable civilization, whose secrets are still being revealed.

The Guest Speakers

Dr. Richard D. Hansen, an archaeologist specializing in the early Maya, is Director of the Mirador Basin Project and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah. He has written extensively on his work and been featured in many documentaries on the Maya.

Dr. Marcello Canuto is Director of Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute and an Associate Professor of Anthropology. He is co-director of the La Corona Regional Archaeological Project, a multi-disciplinary study of the heart of lowland Maya civilization. He has received a series of grants from the National Geographic Society to continue his research at La Corona.

Dr. Simon Martin, a British epigrapher, is known for his epigraphic study of Maya dynastic and political history, recounted in his important book, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering The Dynasties of the Ancient Maya. He is a senior research specialist in Maya epigraphy at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, working with the Calakmul Epigraphic Research Project.

Dr. Karl Taube, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Riverside, is the Project Iconographer for the San Bartolo Project. His research has focused on the ancient writing and religious systems of ancient Mesoamerica, and he is well known for his works The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya, Aztec and Maya Myths, and The Major Gods of Ancient Yucatan.

Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli directs a multi-disciplinary archaeological project at Holmul, Guatemala, and teaches archaeology and geographic information systems at Tulane University. A National Geographic Explorer, he is the author of  The First Maya Civilization: Ritual and Power Before the Classic Period, on the origins of Maya civilization.

Total Solar Eclipse of 2019

June 26-July 10, 2019

With Astronomer Dr. Alex Filippenko

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Past Special Events

Legendary Explorers • November 2016

The Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica

Featuring: Conrad Anker, Tim Jarvis, Carl Safina, and Frans Lanting

Alaskan Passage • May 2015

Alaska’s Inside Passage, from Ketchikan to Juneau

Featuring: Barry Lopez and Richard Nelson

The Arc of the Sacred • January 2015

Angkor, Cambodia, with Tours in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, India & Nepal

Featuring: Helen Ibbitson Jessup, Vasudha Narayanan, Todd Lewis, Damian Evans, and John Sanday

Perspectives on East Africa • June 2014

Laikipia, Kenya, with Safaris in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania

Featuring: Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Louise Leakey, Richard Estes, Laurence Frank, and Frans Lanting

World of the Maya: Cycles of Time • December 2012

Uxmal, Mexico, with Tours in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras

Featuring: Anthony Aveni, Susan Milbrath, Harvey Bricker, Victoria Bricker, Karl Taube, Alfonso Morales

Ancient Kingdoms of Peru • July 2011

Northern Peru, with Treks and Tours Throughout the Country

Featuring: Richard Burger, Michael Moseley, Walter Alva, Joanne Pillsbury, Luis Jaime Castillo

Wonders of Ancient Egypt • January 2011

Cairo, Abu Simbel, Aswan, Nile Cruise, Luxor, and Alexandria, Egypt

Featuring: Zahi Hawass, Mark Lehner, Kent Weeks, Jean-Yves Empereur, Raymond Johnson

World of the Maya: New Discoveries at Ancient Copán • December 2009

Copán, Honduras, with Tours in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize

Featuring: Robert Sharer, Ricardo Agurcia, Marc Zender, Ellen Bell, Francisco Estrada-Belli, Loa Traxler

Perspectives on Southern Africa • August 2007

Chobe National Park, Botswana, with Safaris in Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia

Featuring: Mark Vandewalle, Anthony Hall-Martin, Laurie Marker, John McNutt, Dereck & Beverly Joubert, Mike Main

The Alps: Perspectives on a Climber’s World • June 2007

Bolzano, Italy, with Hiking Tours in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia

Featuring: Reinhold Messner, David Breashears, John Cleare, Peter Hansen, Angelika Fleckinger, Eduard Egarter-Vigl

Arctic Odyssey • September 2006

Svalbard, Greenland, and Iceland

Featuring: Will Steger and Frans Lanting

Antarctica: In the Wake of the Great Explorers • February 2006

The Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica

Featuring: Reinhold Messner, Conrad Anker, Caroline Alexander, Frans Lanting, Jerry Kooyman

A Greek Odyssey • May 2005

Athens, Delos, Syros, Amorgos, Santorini, Crete, and the Southern Peloponnese, Greece

Featuring: Andrew Szegedy-Maszak and Albert Leonard, Jr.

World of the Maya: Palenque • December 2004

Palenque, Mexico, with Tours in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras

Featuring: Merle Green Robertson, Bill Fash, Anthony Aveni, Marc Zender, Alfonso Morales, Julie Miller

Wonders of Ancient Egypt • January 2004

Cairo, Abu Simbel, Aswan, Nile Cruise, and Luxor, Egypt

Featuring: Zahi Hawass, Mark Lehner, Kent Weeks, Lanny Bell

Dubrovnik to Venice • September 2003

Croatia, Montenegro, and Italy

Featuring: Larry Wolff and Ida Sinkevič

Whales and Wildlife of the Sea of Cortez • March 2003

The Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Featuring: Reinhold Messner and Joe Kane

Circling the Bering Sea • July 2002

Alaska, Kamchatka & Chukchi Peninsula, Russia

Featuring: Galen Rowell, Frans Lanting, Orcutt Frost, Aldona Jonaitis, Mark Brazil, Angela Kepler, Tony Huntley, and Bob Rubin

Perspectives on the Himalayas • April 2002

Kathmandu, Nepal, with Treks and Tours in Nepal, Bhutan, and India

Featuring: Sir Edmund Hillary, George Schaller, Conrad Anker, Galen Rowell, John Sanday, Chokyi Nima Rimpoche, Thomas Schrom, and Lee Birch

An Antarctic Odyssey • February 2002

The Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica

Featuring: Will Steger, Barry Lopez, and Galen Rowell

Crossroads of History in the Mediterranean • September 2001

Spain, Tunisia, Sicily, and Greece

Featuring: Kathryn Miller and Carolina Lo Nero

World of the Maya: The Millennium at Tikal • December 1999

Tikal, Guatemala, with Tours in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and Honduras

Featuring: Clemency Coggins, Federico Fahsen, Christopher Jones, Robert Sharer, and “Chip” Morris

Perspectives on East Africa • March 1999

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, with Safaris in Tanzania and Kenya

Featuring: Jane Goodall, Cynthia Moss, David Bygott, Richard Estes, Esmond Bradley Martin, Sarah Cleaveland, and Sarah Durant

Empires of the Sun: Tiwanaku to Cusco • July 1998

Bolivia and Peru, with Tours and Treks Throughout Peru

Featuring: Michael Moseley, John Hemming, Charles Stannish, Johan Reinhard, Joseph Bastien, Brian Bauer, Andrea Heckman, and John Janusek

World of the Maya: Copan • December 1997

Copán, Honduras, with Tours in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize

Featuring: Pat Culbert, Bill Fash, Anthony Aveni, David Stuart, Ricardo Agurcia, and Barbara Fash

Perspectives on East Africa • August 1996

Nairobi, Kenya, with Safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda

Featuring: Jane Goodall, Mary Leakey, Jeannette Hanby, Frans Lanting, Joyce Poole, and Daphne Sheldrick

The Incas • July 1996

Cusco, Peru, with Treks and Tours in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile

Featuring: Brian Bauer, Jorge Flores Ochoa, Gordon McEwan, Susan Niles, Jean-Pierre Protzen, Johan Reinhard, and Gene Savoy

Photography with the Masters • May 1996

Otavalo, Ecuador, with Photo Tours in the Galápagos Islands

Featuring: Galen Rowell, Frans Lanting, and Robert Holmes

Archaeology of Peru • July 1995

Chiclayo, Peru, with Treks and Tours Throughout Peru and in Ecuador

Featuring: Thor Heyerdahl, Richard Burger, Gary Urton, Johan Reinhard, Vincent Lee, Walter Alva, Garth Bawden, Alan Kolata, Federico Kauffmann-Doig, David Dearborn, and Amy Rodman

Eclipse Programs

To witness a total solar eclipse is an unforgettable experience—and our unique eclipse travel programs are once-in-a-lifetime travel adventures! We have organized programs for 12 total solar eclipses in 21 different locations around the world—all successfully viewed!—and have a reputation as one of the very best eclipse travel companies in the business. Renowned astronomer Alex Filippenko, PhD, one of UC Berkeley’s most popular professors, brings his expertise and enthusiasm to most of our eclipse trips.

Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: Darwin to Kota Kinabalu • March 2016

Featuring: Rick Fienberg

Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: From Bali to Borneo • March 2016

Featuring: Alex Filippenko

Total Solar Eclipse of 2013: Morocco to Cape Verde • October 2013

Featuring: Alex Filippenko and Olga Stavrakis

Total Solar Eclipse of 2013: Spain to Sierra Leone • October 2013

Featuring: Rick Fienberg, Christine Drake, and Deborah Mack

Total Solar Eclipse of 2012: Bali to Australia • November 2012

Featuring: Alex Filippenko

Total Solar Eclipse of 2012: Fiji to New Caledonia • November 2012

Featuring: Rick Fienberg, Holly Gilbert, and Mark Eddowes

Total Solar Eclipse in Tahiti • July 2010

Featuring: Alex Filippenko, Jay Anderson

Total Solar Eclipse in Polynesia • July 2009

Featuring: Alex Filippenko, Owen Gingerich, and Rick Feinberg

Total Solar Eclipse in Mongolia • August 2008

Featuring: Alex Filippenko

Total Solar Eclipse: Egypt, Turkey, and the Mediterranean • March 2006

Featuring: Joel Weisberg, Perry Hackman, Owen Gingerich

Total Solar Eclipse in Zimbabwe • June 2001

Featuring: Alex Filippenko and Perry Hacking

Total Solar Eclipse in Turkey • August 1999

Featuring: Alex Filippenko and Joel Weisberg

Total Solar Eclipse and 20th Anniversary in the Caribbean • February 1998

Featuring: Alex Filippenko and Owen Gingerich

Total Solar Eclipse in the Galapagos Islands • February 1998

Featuring: Perry Hacking and Tom Bullock

Total Solar Eclipse in India, Thailand, and Cambodia • October 1995

Featuring: George Smoot, Donald Goldsmith, Owen Gingerich, Tom Bullock, Alex Filippenko, Perry Hacking, Robert Havlen, and Joel Weisberg

Total Solar Eclipse in Chile and Peru • October/November 1994

Featuring: George Smoot, Donald Goldsmith, Owen Gingerich, Tom Bullock, Alex Filippenko, Perry Hacking, Robert Havlen, Joel Weisberg, Mitzi Adams, and Mark Davis