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!
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!
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.
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.
A total solar eclipse is one of nature’s most dramatic phenomena, when the sun, moon, and earth are perfectly aligned and darkness falls over the earth during daylight hours. We invite you to experience this awesome event aboard the luxurious Paul Gauguin on the turquoise seas of the South Pacific. Our ship gives us the maximum flexibility to maneuver to the ideal viewing position on Eclipse Day and offers every comfort as we journey among Polynesia’s magnificent isles and coral lagoons. Astronomer Alex Filippenko, PhD, one of UC Berkeley’s most popular professors, Rick Fienberg, PhD, the American Astronomical Society's Press Officer and Director of Communications, and Polynesian cultural anthropologist Mark Eddowes will accompany us to share their expert knowledge. This will be Dr. Filippenko's 12th eclipse program with us!
Alex Filippenko, PhD, professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, is a leading authority on supernovae, black holes, galaxies, and cosmology, and is actively working with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck telescopes. His team’s discovery of “antigravity” was named “Top Science Breakthrough of 1998” by Science magazine. He has coauthored nearly 560 publications and an award-winning textbook, and has produced video courses with The Teaching Company. Dr. Filippenko has been voted “Best Professor” by the UC Berkeley student body an extraordinary nine times.
Rick Fienberg, PhD, is the American Astronomical Society’s Press Officer and Director of Communications. He previously spent 22 years at Sky & Telescope magazine, the last eight as Editor in Chief. He’s a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Astronomical Union has named asteroid 9983 Rickfienberg in his honor. Rick has done research on the aurora borealis, asteroids, planetary nebulas, active galaxies, and the center of the Milky Way. An inveterate traveler and eclipse-chaser, he has visited all seven continents and the North and South Poles. Eclipse 2019 will be his 14th voyage to totality.