“C an you imagine zooming in on a leopard while on safari and having a National Geographic photographer right there with you to help you get the best image?” asks Nancy Schumacher. As the Head of Travel and Tour Operations for National Geographic, Schumacher knows a thing or two about exceptional journeys. Thanks to IfOnly and Sotheby’s, a few lucky guests truly can adventure around the world with National Geographic experts by their sides. As part of Experience Art & Culture: An Online Auction ending 8 December, Sotheby’s is offering two National Geographic trips to Peru and South Africa to support the National Geographic Society. “With more than a century of sending scientists, storytellers and adventurers, National Geographic has a vast network of contacts all over the planet,” says Schumacher. “Our expeditions are designed to draw out the uniqueness of each destination through meaningful encounters and experiences.” Ahead of A Life of Luxury, when the online auction will take place, Schumacher spoke to Sotheby’s about the national treasures to be seen in Peru and South Africa, as well as National Geographic’s award-winning photography.
STUNNING PANORAMIC VIEWS OVER CAPE TOWN'S ICONIC TABLE MOUNTAIN CAN BE ENJOYED ON THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA, PART OF THE EXPERIENCE ART & CULTURE: AN ONLINE AUCTION, ENDING 8 DECEMBER.
How would you summarise National Geographic’s travel philosophy?
National Geographic was built upon a passion for exploration and a desire to understand the planet on a deeper level. Our earliest explorers liked to immerse themselves in new places and get to know the local people and their traditions, cuisine and everyday lives.
National Geographic has taken the genre of travel photography to new heights. Can you speak to its photography legacy?
Photography is a central element of National Geographic’s nearly 130-year history; though some may be surprised to learn that photographs didn’t appear in National Geographic magazine until 1905. We have created some of the most memorable images the world has come to know – most notably the Afghan Girl, which appeared on our June 1985 cover. This year, National Geographic photographer Brent Stirton was recognised as the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his harrowing images of the carnage left behind by illegal hunting, specifically for his photo of a de-horned black rhino killed by poachers in South Africa. Our @NatGeo Instagram feed is the largest media brand in the world and it is because of the work of our photographers that it is so popular.
Describe the National Geographic travel photographer in three words.
Curious, passionate and insightful.
NANCY SCHUMACHER, HEAD OF TRAVEL AND TOUR OPERATIONS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
How will having a National Geographic photographer on the safari enhance the guests’ experience?
The National Geographic photographers whom we select to join our trips love sharing their knowledge and insights with our guests. They enrich the experience by helping our guests improve their own visual storytelling – to better understand what makes a great photo, hone their technique and come home with richer, more compelling photos to share with family and friends. The Nat Geo photographer is truly immersed in the trip with our guests.
What are some experiences unique to the National Geographic Unique Lodges properties?
National Geographic Unique Lodges is a collection of 56 exceptional properties (and growing). These lodges, each handpicked by National Geographic, share a strong commitment to sustainable practices and to protecting natural and cultural heritage. They embody the values that National Geographic holds close: authenticity, enrichment and a dedication to preserving our planet’s diversity. The guest experience they offer is intimate and exceptional, inspiring guests to connect with their destination in a meaningful way and to play a part in safeguarding it for the future.
Each lodge has crafted a complimentary experience exclusive to Nat Geo guests. At Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in South Africa, for instance, guests will be invited to enjoy a private dinner in the wine cellar at Earth Lodge with an introduction to the award-winning wines in Sabi Sabi's collection.
At Inkaterra La Casona, a 16th-century manor in the heart of Cusco, Peru, guests will take an exclusive architectural tour of the estate with the lodge manager and learn about the restoration process that brought this colonial gem back to its original glory. And at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, guests will enjoy a hands-on brewing lesson of chicha de jora (traditional corn beer) while learning about the history of the drink and its role in the local culture.
What are some of the highlights of the Peruvian expedition?
This expedition was especially crafted for Sothebys and celebrates Peru’s rich history of art, including pre-Incan and pre-Columbian collections still present throughout the country as well as a rich weaving tradition, and of course the fascinating architecture of Machu Picchu, which the winners of this auction will examine with a private guide. They will also have the opportunity to visit Pablo Seminario’s ceramic workshop in the Sacred Valley and learn about ancient Peruvian techniques and designs while watching artisans at work. The itinerary includes stays at two National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World that embody Peruvian artistry and tradition. Inkaterra La Casona features baroque furnishings, colonial antiques, original frescoes and Andean textiles throughout the property. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubmba is decorated with hand-woven textiles and designed with traditional Inca and Spanish colonial architectureal elements.
What will the winners of the South African experience have to look forward to?
South Africa, with its complex history and diverse cultures, is a haven for art lovers. The winner of the auction will experience a wide breadth of art, from contemporary African art to ancient Shangaan tribal art to photography of the country’s world-famous wildlife. This specially crafted itinerary features an exclusive afterhours tour of the edgy new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town led by the executive director or chief curator. It opened only a few months ago and is housed in a converted grain silo on the famed Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The vision of the museum is to become a platform for Africans to tell their own story.
PRIVATE ART COLLECTION OF THE EXCLUSIVE ELLERMAN HOUSE IN CAPE TOWN. GUESTS CAN EXPECT TO SEE THE BEST ART THE COUNTRY HAS TO OFFER IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA, PART OF THE EXPERIENCE ART & CULTURE: AN ONLINE AUCTION, ENDING 8 DECEMBER.
Could you share more about the National Geographic Society and some of its unique initiatives?
National Geographic Partners returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund their work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. The National Geographic Society funds some 575 innovators, storytellers, researchers, and explorers every year. Their work is then documented across National Geographic’s expansive media platforms.