Australia: The 2012 Total Solar Eclipse Custom Tour
On November 14, 2012, one of the most spectacular, once in a lifetime events will take place: A total solar eclipse! And the best place to see it is in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. We recommend experiencing this eclipse in one of two most unique ways: A hot air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands or out on the Coral Sea aboard a luxury sailing vessel.
This luxury tour is customizable to fit your schedule and touring interests. Enjoy the best of Australia with twelve nights in Sydney, Melbourne & Port Douglas / Great Barrier Reef. If you like to be where the action is, you can't beat Sydney and Melbourne. These vibrant cities have something for everyone: Adventure, shopping, and numerous beaches, each with its own distinct character. Fly to Cairns and journey an hour north to Port Douglas, the gateway to an amazing selection of touring options encompassing the Reef, the Outback, the Rainforest, and, uniquely on this trip, the total solar eclipse.
November 2012: Customizable to fit your schedule on this private trip.
The Great Barrier Reef
From $4,449 for the Eclipse option by sailing vessel.
From $4,999 for the Eclipse option by hot air balloon. To ensure availability of balloon option, it's best to book as soon as possible.
See below for package inclusions. Prices are per person based on double occupancy, for departures from Los Angeles. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply.
* Round-trip International Economy airfare from Los Angeles to Australia on Qantas
* Internal Australia flights
* Private car service airport transfers in Sydney, Melbourne & Cairns/Port Douglas
* 4 nights at the 5 Star Four Seasons Sydney in a City View Room
* 3 nights at 4.5 Star The Grand Hotel Melbourne including Full breakfast daily
* 4 nights at the 5 Star Shantara Resort & Spa in Port Douglas in a Pool view Studio room
* Choice of special Eclipse viewing tour by hot air balloon or sailing vessel on the Coral Sea
* Airport taxes and airline fuel surcharges
Depart US - This itinerary is based on 03 November departure however date variations can be accommodated
Day 2 - Cross International Date Line
Day 3 - Arrive Sydney
Blessed with a temperate climate, Sydney is Australia’s favorite city with the world’s most beautiful harbor. On arrival you will be met by your driver for your private transfer to the Four Seasons Sydney. You will spend four nights at this superbly situated hotel.
FOUR SEASONS SYDNEY – 5 Star accommodation, stunningly situated overlooking Sydney Harbour in the historic Rocks district, a short walk from the city's shopping and CBD, Four Seasons is vibrant and elegant, with dramatic harbour front views and a luxurious day spa featuring exclusive skincare and aromatherapy treatments.
Days 4-6 - Sydney
Explore Sydney at your leisure or consider adding one of our optional tours. Some of our favorites:
Sydney Opera House - Essentials Tour
Experience this miracle of architecture and engineering. Working with new, rich audio-visual components, where images are projected onto the fabric of the building, your guide will take you on an emotional journey, engrossing you in a story to rival any opera plot with its dramatic twists and turns.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
BridgeClimb is a 3.5 hour adventure and an experience that will never be forgotten on one of the world's most modern wonders - The Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Morning Panoramic Sydney Sights Tour
Visit the historic Rocks area (Old Town of Sydney) and hear the early convict history. Enjoy magnificent views of the Opera House, see Sydney Harbour Bridge and the shopping heart of the city, including the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Tower. Visit Sydney's trendy district, Oxford Street and elegant Paddington with its terrace houses. Arrive at the famous beaches - stroll through Tamarama, Bronte and the Bondi beachfront. See surfers, famous Aussie lifesavers and Sydney's most spectacular panoramic viewpoint. Return on a route with unsurpassed views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Blue Mountains Wildlife Eco Tour
Breakfast with the Koalas at Featherdale Wildlife Park; tour loop of the Blue Mountains, short walks to explore the remote regions with stunning views. Lunch; visit to Scenic World attractions; champagne with wild kangaroos.
"Wild Ways to See Sydney" combo
Start with a morning tour of Sydney, the city, its harbour, South Head and Bondi Beach. You will be transferred to Sea Sydney Cruises, lunch on the vessel and cruise like a local in the afternoon on your four hour Sydney Harbour cruise on Calypso, a 52 foot motor yacht.
Day 7 - Fly from Sydney - Melbourne
On arrival you will be met for your private transfer to The Grand Hotel Melbourne. You will spend three nights at this centrally located hotel. Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria, is attractively set on the shores of Port Philip Bay. Famous for its beautiful parks and gardens, mixed with fine Victorian architecture, elegant tree lined boulevards and modern skyscrapers. Explore the city by tram and absorb the atmosphere of Australia’s cultural capital in the many arts galleries and museums or take a cruise on the Yarra River. Dining out in Melbourne is a direct reflection of the city’s diverse ethnicity with an abundance of Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Malaysian restaurants. Don’t miss Lygon Street with its abundance of Italian restaurants.
Days 8 - 9 - Melbourne
Explore Melbourne at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:
Great Ocean Road
The world's most inspiring coastal drive shouldn't be missed -- follow its winding trail through the lush Otway rainforests, to the breathtaking, windswept drama of the Shipwreck Coast. The twists and turns of this road reveal stunning scenes, one after another, including The Twelve Apostles, a collection of famous limestone stacks jutting from the ocean (shown in photos above).
Phillip Island - Penguins, Koalas, Wildlife
Experience an endearing wildlife tour to Phillip Island as well as the Koala Conservation Center. Each evening at dusk, Little Penguins return to the beach after a day of fishing. See them waddle their way into the dunes where their burrow nests are situated.
"Understanding the Real Melbourne" Half Day Tour
Hear stories of the early Indigenous history and how this history is reflected in modern day Melbourne. Take a drive through The Golden Mile, past the Old Treasury Building, Parliament House, Royal Exhibition Building and the beach at St Kilda. Choice between a stroll through some of Melbourne's iconic laneways, an indigenous river walk with a descendant of the local tribe, or try your hand in the kitchen with an indigenous cooking class. Lunch at a restaurant is included.
Half Day Lanes & Arcades Tour
Indulge with a casual walk through Melbourne's lanes and arcades in small groups to engage in the life of this city which many miss. Discover local designers and specialty retailers, tiny cafés and more. A little history and attention to amazing architecture will inspire locals and visitors alike. Get orientated and return to those places you like best in the afternoon, at your leisure.
Yarra Valley Wine Experience
Learn how to swirl, sniff and slurp, then you’ll be ready to taste some of the Yarra's best wines, Yering Station’s award winning classic Australian wine, Rochford Wines with traditional wine making methods in their cellar door and French Champagne company Moet & Chandon's Australian production house -Domaine Chandon
Day 10 - Melbourne to Cairns, transfer to Port Douglas
On arrival you will be met by your driver who will assist with your private transfer to Port Douglas, the closest town to The Great Barrier Reef. You will spend the next four nights at the Shantara Resort & Spa, a contemporary, small boutique, resort-style complex offering up-market apartment accommodation with personalized service in a friendly and relaxed environment.
Shantara Resort & Spa is located 400 metres to Port Douglas’ famous Four Mile Beach with its palm fringed beach, relax or swim in the warm calm waters. Take a stroll to Macrossan Street (400metres) that offers an array of trendy gourmet restaurants, cafes and boutique shopping to suit all tastes. With a choice of spacious studio rooms or large comfortable one bedroom self-contained apartments, Shantara is an adult haven, ideal for couples looking for a tranquil, romantic and relaxing getaway.
Days 11 - 13 - Port Douglas
Relax or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:
Silversonic Outer Barrier Reef
Silversonic is a 29 metre luxury catamaran custom designed for small groups of adventure minded people to revel in the thrill of diving and snorkelling. With over five hours to explore the delights of this underwater world, visit 3 different outer reef locations at Agincourt Reef on the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef
Kuranda, Rail, Skyrail & Tjapukai
Kuranda Scenic Rail to Kuranda, Barron River & Stoney Creek Falls, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park which includes indigenous guide , entrance to all Theatres, the famous Tjapukai Dancers, boomerang/spear throwing & bush medicine.
Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tour
Join one of the Kubirri Warra brothers on their beach, mudflat and mangrove walk. Learn how to throw a spear, hunt whilst stalking and observing wildlife, the country and how to track coastal resources. The brothers share some of their extensive knowledge of this special area and how they care for their country.
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon
Before lift off see the spectacle of how a hot air balloon inflates and then take off to gently float over gum trees. Enjoy a 30 minute balloon flight and experience the wonder, romance and silence of the Australian bush. Look out for kangaroos and enjoy the balloon festival atmosphere.
RnR White Water Rafting
Commence a full day Tully River rafting tour. Travel by coach to the headwaters of the Tully River to experience the thrill and exhilaration of continuous whitewater on a grade 4 river. Spend up to five hours rafting down river through world heritage rainforest over 45 rapids under the guidance of an experienced, fully trained river guide.
Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation
Travel north along the scenic coastal road, crossing the Daintree River for a morning tea stop at the Daintree Discovery Centre. Take a guided boardwalk through the rainforest before continuing to Cape Tribulation Beach where time is allowed for a beach walk or to relax in a tranquil setting. Enjoy a delicious lunch in a rainforest setting. A stop is then made at the Alexandra Lookout for panoramic views out to sea and the mouth of the Daintree river, followed by a cruise to observe the fauna and flora of this region.
Jungle Surf - Daintree Rainforest
Rainforest has more strata than any other terrestrial ecosystem, and can only be truly appreciated by getting up into the canopy. With its low-impact system of platforms and cables, Jungle surfing offers unparalleled access to the heart of the Daintree from the bustling forest floor to the giants that tower above the canopy.
Day 12 - November 14, 2012 - TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE!
Option One: Hot Air Ballooning View of the Eclipse
One of the most spectacular, once in a lifetime events is about to take place right over Cairns, Tropical North Queensland and you can experience this full solar eclipse in one of the most unique ways - a hot air balloon ride. The balloon company has flown daily on the Atherton Tablelands for the past 15 years, and so are intimately familiar with the requirements and permissions needed to fly in the Mareeba valley holding all the required permissions, landholder access and a full operational base right on the spot. Mareeba is about 40 km inland from the Coast and so has the highest chance of an unobstructed view of the eclipse itself. While the eclipse will take sometime to arrive and depart, the peak 2 minutes of viewing at 6.38 AM falls in the middle of ideal flying time. With 7 to 10 balloons flying that morning, there will a truly spectacular sight with the glow of the hot air balloons lighting up like lanterns over the temporarily darkened Australian landscape!
Hear the birds fall quiet, as your balloon drifts along, providing a stable platform for your eclipse viewing. The next total solar eclipse is not until March 2020, showing the uniqueness of this opportunity.
The Hot Air Balloon Eclipse Tour Experience on November 14, 2012 will include:
• A Scenic one hour balloon flight
• Eclipse Spectacles
• Complimentary in-flight photo set
• Pre-launch coffee/teas/beverage
• Delicious breakfast
• Car service transfer from Port Douglas to the Hot Air Ballooning office
• Expert commentary
• Pilot briefing & History of Ballooning presentation
Option Two: Sailing Vessel on the Coral Sea (off the Coast of Port Douglas) viewing of the Eclipse
Imagine yourself on the Coral Sea for an experience of a lifetime. Board the sailing vessel at 5.15 AM for a 5.30 AM departure. Cruise along Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas. Relax and behold the eclipse in style with an unobstructed view from the ocean. Enjoy breakfast on board & return to Port Douglas at 7.30am.
Day 14 - Depart Port Douglas
Private transfer and depart Cairns for flights to USA.
*The above itinerary is based on 03 November 2012 departure from the US but variations can be accommodated.