From the red-rock domes of the outback to the intricate coral systems of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s wonders are legendary. After exploring vibrant Sydney and its harbor, head into the legendary outback for an intimate look at its sacred landscapes. Sleep within sight of Uluru and delve into the Aboriginal traditions that infuse Australia’s Red Centre. Then travel to Lizard Island, a remote national park bordered by the world’s largest known barrier reef, and discover a dazzling marine world on snorkeling, boating and diving excursions.
Stay in two spectacular National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World: Lizard Island Resort on the Great Barrier Reef and Longitude 131° in the heart of the outback.
Wake up to views of the sunrise over Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) and circle its base with a private guide to examine ancient rock paintings.
Discover the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater world of sea turtles and schooling fish found just beyond the shores of secluded Lizard Island.
See Sydney’s iconic Opera House from the water on a cruise through the city’s harbor.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Arrive Sydney, Australia
Land in Sydney and transfer to your hotel in the Rocks district. Now brimming with cozy cafés and galleries, this historic neighborhood marks the spot of the first European settlement in Australia. Set out on a guided tour of this waterfront area located at the foot of the colossal Harbour Bridge, and enjoy a privately guided tour of the famed Sydney Opera house.
Day 2 — Sydney
Take to the water on a charter boat this afternoon on a Sydney Harbor cruise. Catch spectacular views of the city’s iconic Opera House as you make your way to the sandy beaches of Watsons Bay. Along the way, uncover hidden coves and refreshing swimming spots and go fishing if you wish. Sit down to lunch on deck, savoring grilled specialties from the “barbie,” and then return to the city for an evening at leisure. Shangri-La Sydney (B, L)
Day 3 — Sydney/Uluru
Board a flight this morning to the heart of the vast Australian outback. Settle into your luxury tent at Longitude 131°, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection poised at the gateway to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From your window-walled bedroom, relish magnificent views of the sacred red monolith of Uluru. Enjoy dinner with panoramic views in the Dune House, or opt for a special meal under the stars with entertainment from indigenous performers dancing to the mesmerizing sounds of the didgeridoo. Longitude 131° (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Uluru
Choose from an array of guided adventures into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, immersing yourself in the mysticism and beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Catch the sunrise on Uluru as you circle its base and learn about the spiritual significance of its ancient rock paintings. Walk the Walpa Gorge, which cuts between two of the 36 domed-rock formations of Kata Tjuta, and view Aboriginal art at the park’s cultural center. As a National Geographic guest, you’re invited to join the lodge’s chef in the kitchen this afternoon for an exclusive introduction to outback cuisine and native ingredients. Late in the day, take an optional excursion to the interior crevices of Uluru and sip champagne in Kantju Gorge as you watch the descending sun set its red rock ablaze. Longitude 131° (B, L, D)
Day 5 — Cairns
Fly to Cairns, a coastal city in northern Queensland that serves as the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest known coral reef and a designated World Heritage site. Spend an evening here at leisure, strolling the waterfront boardwalk or relaxing at your hotel located next to the marina. Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina (B)
Day 6 — Lizard Island
Take a scenic flight over turquoise waters, traveling 150 miles north of Cairns to secluded Lizard Island. This pristine national park of sugar-white beaches and mangrove forests is bordered by the Great Barrier Reef, giving visitors unparalleled access to its extraordinary marine ecosystem. Your destination is Lizard Island Resort, the island’s only development and a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. Settle into your Sunset Villa accommodation with sea view, and get familiar with the surrounding beaches and nature trails, or take in stunning seascapes from the restaurant patio. Lizard Island Resort (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Lizard Island
Delve into an underwater world of brilliant coral formations and neon-colored fish living among the reefs that surround Lizard Island. Discover the wonders of this aquatic world in a variety of ways, snorkeling amid diverse marine life or riding across crystalline waters on a catamaran, motorized dinghy or pair of glass-bottom paddle skis. A wide range of optional diving trips and lessons are also available for those in search of deep-sea creatures. This evening, enjoy local seafood and refreshments on a private sunset cruise exclusively for National Geographic guests, and watch for marine life as twilight hues illuminate the barrier reef. Lizard Island Resort (B, L, D)
Day 8 — Lizard Island
Spend another day on the water, seeking out new coral patches or boating to a secluded bay for swimming and stunning sea views. Or opt for a land-based excursion and explore some of Lizard Island’s many nature trails on foot. You may also wish to take an optional trip to the Lizard Island Research Station—a coral research facility sponsored and operated by the Australian Museum. Lizard Island Resort (B, L, D)
Days 9 & 10 — Lizard Island / Cairns / Depart
Fly back to Cairns this morning and enjoy an afternoon at leisure in town. The following morning, transfer to the airport for your international flight home. Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina (B)
Pricing starts at $9,000 per person, double occupancy and is subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights between Sydney, Uluru and Cairns, and between Cairns and Lizard Island range between $1,200 and $1,600 (variable by season, and subject to change). International airfare to Sydney and return from Cairns is not included in the expedition cost. A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays as well as local events and festivals.
About Private Expeditions
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you’d like to travel with and when you want to travel. We’ll take care of the rest.
Private Expeditions are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we'll make all the arrangements.
Accommodations (hotels, tents and cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, and if such are available, you can pay a single supplement fee. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we can assign a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom you can share, a single supplement fee will apply.
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.