Highlights
  • Examine the Paleolithic art of two UNESCO World Heritage–listed cave regions: France’s Vézère Valley and the northern coast of Spain.
  • Meet leading archaeologists and anthropologists for talks and private tours of cave sites.
  • Visit Castel-Merle with Isabelle Castanet, whose family has excavated the site for generations.
  • Explore Sarlat, France, and Santillana del Mar, Spain, two of Europe's best-preserved medieval villages.

Trace the footsteps of early humans as we explore the cradles of civilization in southwest France and on Spain’s northern coast. On an expedition designed with paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, examine carvings and cave paintings that illustrate life up to 40,000 years ago. From the Dordogne to Basque Country, stay in beautiful medieval towns that dot these long-inhabited landscapes. 

Travelers Also Viewed All similar trips
Travel Theme
Destinations
Flights & Transport
  • Only ground transport

2
National Geographic Expeditions Travel Reviews & Ratings
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
100% Recommend

4.0 out of 5
Excellent 1 Great 0 Average 1 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0
Value
4.0 Guide
4.0 Activities
5.0 Lodging
4.5 Transportation
5.0 Meals
4.5
Stride Take

You’ll get a first-hand look at prehistoric cave paintings in southern France and Spain’s Basque country, in the company of a paleoanthropologist.

Human Origins: Southwest France and Northern Spain

No reviews yet for this trip. Browse other reviews below for National Geographic Expeditions.

V

Recommends

great sights. Great local guides. Impatient unpleasant photographer leader November 2017

3.0
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 4.0
The local guide went above and beyond. The sights were amazing. The accommodations and meals much better than expected. Lots of driving but in good cars with good drivers. The trip is advertised as being for all levels of photographers but you need to check carefully if this is true for each particular photographer. This trip for me was spoilt by attitude and behavior of photographer and being told by the photographer that if I did not know what I was doing he could not help me. I have reasonable photography experience and I thought these trip were to help all levels learn. Photographer spent most of his time with the most experienced photographers and was dismissive of those less experienced .
Read more

Operator National Geographic Expeditions

H

Recommends

Photographic tour of Turkey featuring Istanbul, Capadoccia and the coast January 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Turkey was a destination I had dreamed of visiting, and going there with a group of photographers was a dream come true. in 2014 I travelled with a National Geographic Expedition to Turkey which allowed us access to many locations and sight we would perhaps not had the opportunity to see with another group or travelling individually. The cost of the tour was a little expensive but the accommodation and tour generally was 5star.

Our tour was for only 10 days so we stayed in 3 main destinations for 2-3 nights, and we took an internal flight to keep our exploration time on the ground to a maximum. We were lead by 3 tour leaders being a cultural guide, photographic guide and general organiser. Our cultural guide was an expert on the history of the country and he passionately shared this with us on our journey. We visited many other highlights and our photographic guide was available for questions and help throughout the whole tour. Our tour was designed to take advantage of photographic opportunities wherever possible. The opportunity to do your own thing was also possible with the extended stays in each location.

We started off in Istanbul where we stayed for 3 nights, then flew to Capadoccia where we stayed a further 2 nights. My friend and I took advantage of a balloon ride over the amazing landscape there and I am so glad we did. We also experienced a whirling dervishes and were allowed to take photos of their spiritual dance which was a thrill and privilege. We then headed towards the coast where we visited the ruins at Ephesus and by bus to Bodrum which was our final destination. We visited the Museum of Underwater Archeology, and had a behind the scenes tour of the complex and watched the process of reconstruction and recovery of ancient shipwrecks in the area. There were many other sights and locations we visited throughout the trip, and each day we experienced local food and hospitality which really enhanced the experience.

My friend and I decided to book a further couple of nights in Bodrum to extend the length of the holiday as we didn't want to leave the magical coast of Turkey. The locals were very friendly throughout our tour and we were made welcome by everyone we met.

National Geographic Expeditions were a high standard of tour and I would be happy to recommend them as a tour provider for a photographic experience.
Read more

Operator National Geographic Expeditions

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2: U.S./Bordeaux, France/Vézère Valley

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Le Centenaire or Hotel Villa Romaine

Depart on an overnight flight to Bordeaux. Journey to the beautiful Dordogne region—still commonly known by its pre-revolutionary name, Périgord. Here, rivers have carved up the limestone landscape, leaving cliffs and caves where humans have built their homes for tens of thousands of years. Settle into your country hotel in the Vézère valley, and gather this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3: Prehistoric Sites of the Vézère Valley

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Le Centenaire or Hotel Villa Romaine

Begin the day with an introduction to Paleolithic art by one of the world’s leading experts, Christine Desdemaines-Hugon, author of Stepping Stones: A Journey Through the Ice Age Caves of the Dordognef. Then join Christine on an excursion to see the majestic sculpted frieze of horses and bison in the shelter of the cliffs at Cap Blanc, followed by a guided tour at the National Museum of Prehistory. After lunch on your own in the nearby town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, end the day with a visit to either Font-de-Gaume, home to more than 200 polychrome paintings, or at Rouffignac Cave, known as the “cave of a hundred mammoths.”

Day 4: Sarlat/Lascaux II

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Le Centenaire or Hotel Villa Romaine

Travel to picturesque Sarlat, whose original halftimbered, golden-stone buildings and narrow cobbled streets make it one of the best-preserved medieval towns in France. After time to explore on your own, gather for a unique “prehistoric” lunch, made with the ingredients once used by the Neanderthals. In the afternoon, join archaeologist Isabelle Castanet for a visit to Castel-Merle, a complex of prehistoric stone shelters more than 300 feet long, excavated and preserved by several generations of the Castanet family. Meet prehistory expert Denis Tauxe for a private, behind-the-scenes visit to Lascaux II, a painstaking recreation of the two primary chambers of the original Lascaux cave, whose famous paintings have been off-limits to visitors since 1963 to prevent deterioration.

Day 5: Pech Merle/Toulouse

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Grand Hotel De L'Opera

This morning, venture into the spectacular natural galleries of Pech Merle, an enormous cave system filled with prehistoric art and artifacts dating back 25,000 years. See rare representations of human figures, engraved or spotted animals, and a mammoth drawn using the natural contours of the rock. The cave floor displays children’s footprints preserved in the ancient clay more than 12,000 years ago. Following lunch on your own, continue to the lively university town of Toulouse.

Day 6: Basque Country/Santillana del Mar, Spain

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Parador Santillana Del Mar

Drive southwest into France’s Basque region, stopping in a picturesque village for lunch in a traditional Basque restaurant. In the afternoon, enter the Isturitz and Oxocelhaya caves with local prehistory specialist Aude Labarge and meet with the archaeological site director, Christian Normand. Used by human beings for more than 80,000 years, these superimposed caves have yielded tens of thousands of artifacts, including flutes, sculpted reindeer horns, and whale-bone tools. Cross into Spain this afternoon and trace the Bay of Biscay to the Cantabria region. Check into our charming hotel, a manor house situated in the heart of the medieval village of Santillana del Mar.

Day 7: Puente Viesgo Caves

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Parador Santillana Del Mar

Come face-to-face with some of the oldest artistic representations in human history on a visit to the caves at Puente Viesgo, part of the Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain World Heritage site. Recently identified as the oldest cave artwork in the world, the paintings in El Castillo cave date back at least 40,800 years. Explore the nearby Las Monedas cave—the longest in Puente Viesgo— and later, delve deeper into the prehistory of the region on a visit to the Altamira Museum.

Day 8: Hornos de la Peña Cave/Bilbao

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Miró or Hotel Carlton

Continue our exploration of Cantabria’s World Heritage–listed caves at Hornos de la Peña. Here, large-scale naturalistic engravings depict horses, bison, aurochs, goats, and other animals, as well as an unusual anthropomorphic figure with a human-like arm and a tail. After lunch at a local restaurant, transfer to Bilbao, the largest city in Spain’s autonomous Basque Country. Explore the city on your own this afternoon, and if you wish, stop in at the world-famous Guggenheim Museum located just a short walk from our hotel.

Day 9: Atapuerca/Bilbao

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Miró or Hotel Carlton

Today we are joined by renowned archaeologist Dr. Ana Cristina Pinto-Llona, an expert on the origins of modern humans. Ana is a two-time National Geographic grant recipient for her work in the Asturias region of northern Spain, and also spent several years excavating at the Atapuerca archaeological site. Visit Atapuerca, where the oldest known hominin fossil remains in Europe have been unearthed. Return to Bilbao and celebrate your prehistoric adventure at a festive farewell dinner.

Day 10: Bilbao/U.S.

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, transfer to Bilbao Airport for your flight home.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 6,995

Price Per Day:

$ 700 per day
 
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 1,095
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • Accommodation
  • Most of the meals
  • All internal transportation
  • Airport transfer
  • Tour Guide
Trip Excludes
  • Any kind of Insurance
  • International airfare to Bordeaux and return from Bilbao
  • Tips
Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
Start City
Bordeaux
End City
Bilbao

Trip ID#: humorinat

×
Great Choice!

You can access members-only savings of up to $700 on over 6,000 Stride Select trips.

Sign in to see trip eligibility

or
or
Provide email and password

With your FREE membership you get to:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
Already a member?

We respect your privacy and take great care to protect your information. By joining you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Tours & Operators on Stride Awarded and Featured by:

  • National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure
  • Outside, The New York Times
×
×
Sign in to Save Trips
Welcome back! We're so happy to see you. ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
  • Bookmark trips you like
  • Share with your travel companions
  • Track price changes
  • Access private discounts on trips you save
×
Sign in to see your results

TripFinder is a member-only feature. Don’t worry, it’s free!

With a membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
Activate your free Stride membership

Just use the email address and password provided in the email we sent.

? Forgot Password?

With your free membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Please enter valid email address
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!
Something went wrong! Try again later!