Posts Tagged ‘around2011’

Great Travel Book and Gift: The Times Comprehensive Atlas

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Times Comprehensive AtlasEach double-page spread of the latest edition of the Times Comprehensive Atlas is a gorgeous 16″ x 22″. The vibrant graphics are accompanied by excellent physical and political detail, detailed coverage of polar areas, and an expanded index of 200,000 place names and geographic features. Complete with a slipcase, this revised and updated 13th edition also includes a bonus 1922 archival world map.

New features to this new 13th edition include 30 city plans from major cities around the world; flags for every country; the new independent country of Kosovo; and major new place name updates in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Afghanistan, and Iran. The detailed thematic information contains contributions from top experts. New topics discussed include migration, the global impact of recession, migration, and polar regions.

Use the Times Comprehensive Atlas to plan your next journey, or give it as a holiday gift to the travelers in your life. Click to see our current sales and specials on worldwide tours.

Frequently Asked Questions about our Private Jet Tours

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Smithsonian Journeys offers a unique way to learn while you travel and experience what the world has to offer. Our tours by private jet allow you to see the world’s top sites with top experts and unparalled access. Our experts answer the most frequently asked questions about private jet tours for you here:

Visit the moai of Easter Island on our private jet tours.

 Q.  There will be 78 people onboard the jet – won’t this experience have a crowded “group tour” feel?

A.     The jet is a Boeing 757, originally designed to accommodate about 233 travelers, but for our expeditions, is specially configured to generously accommodate only 78 travelers. So travelers on our expedition will enjoy a very spacious and comfortable interior. And the crew-to-traveler ratio is 1 to 5, so the service onboard the jet is highly personalized, Once on land, travelers break up into small groups, rarely touring with more than 15 others, and often much less than that – and are always accompanied with a dedicated, very knowledgeable guide. And there are multiple alternate and optional touring opportunities to further personalize the experience. When visiting a monument like the Taj Mahal, for example, all groups start in different locations to avoid the “group tour” feeling. The only time you are with the entire group is on the jet and at gala meals – which become a celebratory experience with everyone sharing highlights of their touring for the day.

Q.     I have food allergies and special dietary issues. Can the staff accommodate these concerns?

A.    Absolutely. We invite all travelers to provide detailed personal information prior to departure so that we may address any issues. We travel with a private chef aboard the jet who makes sure all food preferences are accommodated while on the private jet. We also have expert “advance” staff on the ground in each country working with all restaurant and hotel staff to further ensure all special requests are taken care of. You are in good hands.

Q.    Do the seats on the jet lie down flat?

A.    No. None of our flights are at night and all of our sleeping is done in the very best hotels available. Our seats are plush, leather, VIP-style “cradle” seats with ecomfort™ foam support which lean back 45 degrees; and have adjustable leg rests. The, seats resemble very comfortable La-Z-boy™ recliners so if a traveler wants to, they may enjoy a nice nap onboard.

 Q.    How strenuous is this trip?

A.  It is as strenuous as you want it to be. One or two of our small daily touring groups are for “slower-walker” groups, who have the opportunity to see and do what everyone else does, only at a more relaxed pace. In addition, we have options for the “go-getter” group, that wants to hike to the top of the mountain and see and do everything. We create these trips for you, for you to customize in the style and manner in which you prefer.

Q.    I’m concerned about getting all of the necessary visas for this trip as I travel a lot. Can you help me with this?

A.    Yes! We use an excellent Washington, DC-based visa service, which provides a detailed visa kit complete with all forms, instructions, and even sample pages so all you have to do is “fill in the blanks.” The visa service can also obtain additional pages for your passport or procure a second passport for you if you are traveling close to the trip departure.

Q.   There are so many different countries on these trips, what about packing and vaccinations?

 A.    We will send you detailed instructions on everything you need to know about preparing for your journey, including vaccinations, expected weather, packing list, shopping suggestions, and a detailed reading list to help you learn about the adventure before departing.

We’re now accepting reservations for our Fall, 2011 and 2012 Private Jet tours. Click  for more.

How the Isthmus of Panama Changed the World

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Tony Coates is a Smithsonian geologist, Senior Scientist Emeritus, and former Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Currently, he is working with a team of scientists to unravel the geological history of the Panamanian isthmus over the last 12 million years, and preparing to lead our January, 2012 departure of Around the World by Private Jet. Here, Dr. Coates answers some great questions about the Isthmus of Panama, the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, which connects North and South America.

Q. What would happen if the Isthmus was not there? What do you think the world be like today?
Locks along the Panama Canal

A. If the Isthmus of Panama was not there, the world would be very different today. All the animals of South America would be unique marsupials, like in Australia, very different to today because they would never have been invaded and overtaken by all the species that colonized from North America. The Caribbean and the East Pacific would be one ocean with similar species; today they are very different with corals reefs abundant in the Caribbean but without large supplies of commercial fish, whereas the Pacific has few small coral reefs and large important commercial fisheries. Humans from Asia might not have reached South America via the Bering Land Bridge from the north so different kinds of humans might have arrived, say, from Polynesia. Columbus might have sailed on to Asia! The Ice Age would have been different and Europe’s ports might freeze every winter like the Saint Laurence seaway does. El Niño and climates in other parts of the world might have been different in ways that we still do not fully understand.

Q. Do you feel that the formation of the Isthmus of Panama has anything to do with causing the El-Niño phenomenon?

A.  The formation of a land barrier between the Atlantic (Caribbean) and the Pacific certainly changed the patterns of ocean circulation in both oceans. It is very likely that this change helped to set up the oceanic conditions in the eastern Pacific which allows the El Niño to develop every few years.
Q. How did the diversion of the Gulf Stream, following the development of the Isthmus of Panama, cause man to begin to walk upright?

A.  Many scientists think that the closure of the Isthmus of Panama strengthened the warm Gulf Stream Current. This current took warm waters high into northern latitudes providing moisture to the atmosphere so that snow formed to build the glaciers of the ice age. At the same time a strong current also flowed south along the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean and affected the climate of north Africa causing it to become drier so that savannahs and open grasslands developed which provided the habitats that previously arboreal (tree living) primates then colonized. In the process one group became more socially organized, had their front limbs freed up for tool making, caring for young, and for other tasks, and in the process started to walk upright.

Q. Animals that traveled south over the land bridge did better than the animals that traveled north. Can you please tell us why?

A. Yes. Some 50-60% of the mammals of South America, including cats, deer, mice, bears, and many others were not known in South America until about 3 million years ago. Why there are only three species that remain from the migration from south to north is not known certainly. Many scientists think that because the North American animals had already evolved in competition with animals from Asia, which had crossed the Bering Land Bridge during the Ice Age and had then survived within North America, they were in some way “hardened” or more robust when they met and competed with the South American animals which had been isolated on that continent for millions of years and had never faced competition from other regions before. But this is just speculation.

Q. Who first came up with idea of making the canal? About how many miles long is the canal from Panama City to the Caribbean Sea? About how long does it take for a boat to travel all the way through the canal?

A. The idea of a canal across the Central American Isthmus is quite old historically. The Spanish early in their conquest wrote about the possibility, the British surveyed the San Juan River between Costa Rica and Nicaragua and the route over to the Pacific in the early 19th century or late 18th century, and of course the French started to build the canal in Panama in the late 1800s but failed. Their route was successfully taken over by the USA and the canal was completed by 1914.

It is about 65-70 kilometers as the crow flies from Panama City (the Pacific entrance to the canal) to Colón (where the canal reaches the Caribbean). Ships usually allow about 24 hours to complete the crossing of the canal; about half this time is spent navigating the canal and its locks. The remainder is spent at anchor with other ships, waiting to be notified by the Panama Canal Authority that a pilot is ready to take them through. The Panama Canal is the only place in the world where the pilot takes complete control of the vessel and the captain cannot countermand him.

Dr. Coates will be leading the January, 2012 departure of our Around the World by Private Jet tour. Click here for information on travel to Panama and check out the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Around the World in 20 Days

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Moai with concrete eyes. Photo: Richard Kurin

What’s on your life list? A safari in the Serengeti? The Sphinx in Egypt? Easter Island? The Great Barrier Reef? What if you could explore all of this (and much, much more) in three weeks? Now you can make it happen, and make it happen in style on our one-of-a-kind journey, Around the World by Private Jet.

What really happens on this kind of journey? Is there really time to learn anything? Is there time to meet any of the local people, to really connect? There sure is.

Last year, Richard Kurin, Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, led our journey and wrote seventeen blog posts about it. Click here to to read them.

Where would you like to go most in the world? Share please!