If you read Condé Nast Traveler, chances are you want to go somewhere and do something most people haven’t. And to turn a vacation into an I’ll-tell-my-grandkids-about-this lifetime high point, you need an "experience maker," as we refer to them here at Traveler. These on-the-ground fixers don’t dole out canned itineraries. They can get you a meeting with the Dalai Lama in a Buddhist temple, rustle up a private 737 for your wedding party when the scheduled flight is canceled, and make it snow in Bethlehem. (Just kidding about that last one—or are we?)
For more on the trips these travel specialists can plan, plus details on how to contact them, visit http://www.cntraveler.stfi.re/travel-specialists.
Africa and The Middle East
Central, East, and Southern Africa
She plans elephant viewing in the Okavango Delta, walks with Singita’s anti-poaching team, and tours with the co-founder of Gabon’s national parks system.
Passage to Africa
His specialty is “off the grid”: charter flights over Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression or journeys to Chad’s game-rich Zakouma National Park.
Cazenove & Loyd
Gets you up close to meerkats in the Kalahari Desert or watching sea turtles on the coast of South Africa.
Friedman has planned safari weddings and multi-generational family trips through Kenya and Tanzania.
Nina Wennersten and Daniel Saperstein
Hippo Creek Safaris
They know all the spots, including ideal mobile camps, for prime wildlife viewing in the Maasai Mara.
Destinations & Adventures International
Unlocks after-hours access to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities; knows sites such as Petra, Jordan, too.
Abercrombie & Kent
A native Egyptian, Girgis takes clients to historic sites like the tomb of Amenhotep II that are otherwise closed to the public.
Ethiopia and Sudan
Journeys by Design
Jones creates out-there adventures like helicopter safaris in some of the least-visited corners of Africa.
The Little Ruckomechi bush camp, near Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools, is a great base for game drives and canoeing on the Zambezi River. It’s the sort of pioneering camp we used 25 years ago, when we first started operating safaris in the country. —Henrietta Loyd, Africa specialistSHARE THIS QUOTE
Wyllys Professional Travel
She can book the best rooms at hotels—even when they’re sold out.
Can intro travelers to Israeli MPs or researchers leading archaeological digs.
Heritage Tours Private Travel
He’ll walk you through Fez’s spice markets and take you stargazing in the desert.
Nelson has exclusive access to a private, mobile tented camp for adventure trips through the dunes of the Empty Quarter.
A former safari guide, he plans game drives in Chobe and Kruger national parks.
Admiral Travel International/AuthentEscapes
He’s obsessed with wildlife photography and sharing tips for taking pro shots on your safari.
The Africa Adventure Company
He’ll connect you with chimp researchers in Uganda or help you climb Kilimanjaro.
Sends guests gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains and canoeing in the Okavango.
Gil Travel Group
He can take you to Roman ruins or desert oases—or intro you to Arab Spring activists and human rights leaders.
GeoEx Does crowd-free tours of the dramatic, cliff-clinging Tiger’s Nest Monastery and Bhutan’s largest fortress, Trongsa Dzong.
Bhutan and Nepal
Myths and Mountains
She’ll get you into ancient Hindu temples and even set up meetings with the Dalai Lama.
Butterfield & Robinson
Runs private trips deep into the rarely seen countryside.
He’s literally written the book on Angkor Wat and is an expert on Laos and Vietnam.
Silk Road Treasure Tours
Decodes stunning Silk Road cities like Ashgabat, Bukhara, and Samarkand.
He’ll steer you to the Great Wall’s less-trafficked areas and help you skip museum lines.
Her food-focused trips take you to pilgrimage-worthy restaurants like Hangzhou’s Longjing Caotang.
His outstanding guides can take you through Bhutan, India, Nepal, Tibet—and even to Everest Base Camp.
One of our clients with his own plane couldn’t get a jet parking space at the small airport on Ibiza, so I got in touch with one of the shareholders of the company that owns the airport. Problem solved. —Cédric Reversade, villa specialistSHARE THIS QUOTE
She’s great with multi-day walking treks through lesser-visited regions like Ladakh and Sikkim.
Bertie and Victoria Dyer
They’ll craft tiger safaris in the jungles of Ranthambore National Park or textile shopping trips to Jaipur.
India and Pakistan
Our go-to man in Kashmir, he can arrange private cruises on Lake Dal and meals with local families.
Bali Barong Tours
Embree’s trips go beyond Bali’s high-end resorts to lesser-known dive sites off Lombok, eastern Java, and Sulawesi.
Has close relationships with craftspeople, chefs, and ryokan owners you’d otherwise never meet.
He knows which of the country’s 7,107 islands are worth seeing—and which aren’t.
G. W. “Sandy” Ferguson
He’ll get you into spots like the Queen Sirikit Textile Museum that most visitors can’t access on their own.
An expert on yachts in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat, she’s also planned private tours of Burma’s pagodas.
Journeys Within Tour Company
Ross has peerless guides in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
He’s guided Himalayas trips since the ’80s and knows the best trekking routes depending on your experience.
Butterfield & Robinson
His custom-planned trips explore seldom-visited villages like Dalat or Phan Rang.
Central and South America
She’ll craft off-road adventures in Patagonia or stays at Mendoza wineries or country estancias.
Argentina and Chile
He’s known for private architecture tours of Rio and out-there adventures through the dunes and lagoons of Lençóis Maranhenses.
Knows the best times to visit Florianópolis and Brazil’s most luxurious pousadas.
South American Escapes
Arranges bird-watching on the Amazon and guided walks with local artists or filmmakers who’ll show you their São Paulo.
Pearson’s focus is adventure trips—by bike, on skis— but he also knows all the up-and-coming wineries.
Builds trips to Cartagena, Medellín, and the rarely visited (but totally amazing) Tatacoa Desert.
Irene and Richard Edwards
They plan bird-watching hikes through El Silencio Cloud Forest and the animal-rich Osa Peninsula.
$15.5 billion: That’s how much travelers spent last year on trips arranged by Virtuoso, a network of travel specialists. The figure is up from $12.5 billion in 2013.SHARE THIS QUOTE
Natalie Ewing and Michael S. Kaye
Costa Rica Expeditions
Their whitewater-rafting, ultralight-flying, wildlife-watching adventures often include stays at their own lodges.
Ecuador and Peru
Myths and Mountains
Almario has in-depth knowledge of every luxury ship in the islands.
Well versed in the Galápagos, he also knows mainland Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama.
Gedeon does jungle treks, boat excursions, and tours of colonial-era homes in Grenada and León.
Dialed in at Machu Picchu, Mosquera also takes travelers to the Peruvian Amazon and Bolivia.
Keeps horses for day- or week-long excursions through the countryside.
Australia and the South Pacific
He recently started private-plane trips for time-strapped guests who want to see it all.
Epic Private Journeys
Specializing in back-of-beyond journeys, O’Connor has access to rarely visited Aboriginal rock art sites.
Rigg connects you with in-the-know locals: surfers, chefs, and Aboriginal guides.
Fiji and Papua New Guinea
She’ll get you beyond the resorts and out to Fiji’s 223 uninhabited islands.
Ahipara Luxury Travel
Jefferson knows everyone—Maori chefs, landscape artists, abalone divers—and he’ll make sure you do, too.
New Zealand Travel
Plans treks through national parks, wildlife-watching trips, and swimming with seals.
Sends you helicoptering over glaciers or golfing on otherwise-members-only greens.
South Pacific Islands
The Art of Travel
Sure, he knows the quietest overwater bungalows, but if you want to meet the best local tattoo artist, he’ll make that intro too.
Gets her guests private access to wineries and historic sites in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
Wanda S. Radetti
Knows the ins and outs of gorgeous coastal towns like Dubrovnik and Split.
In Any Event Tours
McCrum opens the gates to Cotswolds gardens and country estates normally closed to the public.
England and Wales
He’ll lock in the best rooms in the top castle hotels.
If you want fantastic diving—but don’t want to be near Bali’s overcrowded sites—go to Amanwana, a luxury tented camp on a remote island just north of Sumbawa. —Diane Embree, Indonesia specialistSHARE THIS QUOTE
Anthony Bay Is Europe
He’s a certified National Guide of France with expertise in Provence.
French Wine Explorers
She’ll get you into landmark châteaux that don’t typically welcome guests.
Has excellent guides for historic sites like Epidaurus and Delphi.
Travel2Greece by Travelive
An Athens pro, she’ll also tip you off to under-the-radar boutique hotels in the islands.
Coordinates cooking classes on Crete or history tours of the Peloponnese.
Tackles multi-day yacht charters in the Cyclades; sets up private wine tastings on Santorini.
He’ll have you exploring glacial ice caves—or seeing the Northern Lights from outdoor hot springs.
She can plan treks through rural counties, boat trips through the Aran Islands, or falconry lessons at Ashford Castle.
Sheridan’s hotel connections can land you upgrades and extras across the country.
Harbison can arrange crowd-free visits to castles like Schloss Mespelbrunn or find you the right guide in Berlin.
Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers
Concierge in Umbria
Their expertise extends beyond Umbria: They know great restaurants, cheese makers, and truffle hunters across the country.
Grisdale will get you behind the scenes with the Vatican’s Swiss Guards or a meeting with racers before Siena’s Palio.
Opens doors to private country homes, gardens, and kitchens, especially in central Italy, where she lives.
5.8: Average number of nights per trip planned by Ovation Vacations, a luxury agency, proving that you don’t need to blow all your vacation days when enlisting a specialist.SHARE THIS QUOTE
Portuesi is plugged into the country’s food scene like few others. He’s particularly savvy on Sicily.
The Travel Society
Has a solid network of clued-in guides in Amsterdam and beyond.
Norway and Sweden
He’s planned rafting and sea kayaking trips—and low-key sails through fjords.
Tours for You
A former tour guide, he has deep knowledge of Lisbon, the Alentejo, and wine regions.
Heritage Tours Private Travel
Korn encourages travelers to explore smaller towns like Marvão and Braga; he also outfits surfing trips in Nazaré and plans road trips in the Douro Valley.
Russia and Eastern Europe
The top fixer for a private tour of the Hermitage or access to the countryside palaces of the czars.
She’ll secure notoriously hard-to-get tee times at Gleneagles’s legendary courses or show you Edinburgh Castle without the crowds.
Tobin’s an expert on whisky-tasting trips (such as to Glenturret or Cardhu) as well as stately castle hotels.
Made for Spain & Portugal
Our go-to in lesser-traveled regions like Navarre, she’s got contacts across the country and knows Portugal, too.
Heritage Tours Private Travel
Can get you schooled in traditional cheesemaking or set up private tastings at wineries like Bodegas Torres and Clos de L’Obac.
Shaw will have you trekking the wildflower-studded Alpine trails of Zermatt or through the lovely waterfall-filled Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Karen Fedorko Sefer
Sea Song Tours
She’s the expert on fully staffed gulets, the traditional wooden yachts that sail the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
He works with some of the savviest guides in Istanbul and Cappadocia.
The United Kingdom and Ireland
Butler will have you bypassing lines at museums and palaces like Windsor Castle.
North America and the Caribbean
American National Parks
National Parks Revealed
The ultimate fixer for the parks, he’ll handle the logistics and help you avoid the crowds.
The American West
Caroline Bach Wood
She’ll link you with Navajo guides in Arizona and map out hikes on lesser-known Zion National Park trails.
Travelong of Summit
Can clue you in on the island’s most appealing hotels, golf courses, and beaches.
California Wine Country
Wine Country Concierge
A certified somm, Gatto will get you into Napa and Sonoma tasting rooms not open to the public.
He will pair you with some of Canada’s best guides—and can get you upgrades at lodges along the way.
Becky Veith Travel
She can plan bird-watching, bonefishing, and scuba diving trips.
Coelho can intro you to artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs—or even register you for the Havana Marathon.
She knows every inch of the parks—and Disney’s cruise ships.
Susan D. Tanzman
Martin’s Travel and Tours
Tanzman will show you the way to remote, rarely visited beaches.
Rabinor gets after-hours access to major museums and Mayan ruins and knows the country’s best-kept-secret hotels.
Tia Stephanie Tours
She’s all about cultural immersion, taking you to meet weavers in Chiapas or chefs in Oaxaca.
Pacific Northwest Journeys
She has encyclopedic knowledge of the region’s best hotels (like the Thompson Seattle), where she can often get rates not found elsewhere.
European Canal Barges
The Barge Lady
Sack recommends the best vessels on popular wine-region routes in Burgundy and Champagne.
European Canal Barges and River Cruises
Jill A. Jergel
Frontiers International Travel
She’ll point you to lines with unrivaled shore excursions and wine programs and organize private vessels for charter trips.
In São Paulo, they’re testing Ubercopter, which can get you around the city via helicopter for as little as $20. Use it to get to Guarulhos Airport from downtown. That drive often takes two hours by car—now it’s just ten minutes. —Jill Siegel, Brazil specialistSHARE THIS QUOTE
He’ll get you on a standard ship—or plan a fully private polar trip on a charter yacht.
A onetime expedition leader, Palmer knows the best small vessels to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Galápagos Islands.
While he’s got the polar regions and the Galápagos covered, Smith also organizes trips to Croatia, Cuba, and New Zealand.
Taylor and his team only recommend vessels they’ve personally traveled on, such as the M.S. Hebridean Sky.
He knows which staterooms to book and plans custom excursions to spots like the Vatican cloisters.
Large Ships and River Cruises
Cruises by Linda
Allen focuses on lines like Celebrity, Oceania, and Uniworld and zeroes in on the best cabins on every vessel.
Richard Bruce Turen
Churchill & Turen
Is an authority on river ship itineraries in Europe and beyond as well as small-ship ocean lines.
Personalized Travel Consultants
Fambrini is dialed in to upscale lines like Crystal Cruises, Paul Gauguin, Sea-Dream Yacht Club, and Silversea.
Mary Jean Tully
Tully Luxury Travel
Particularly great with Crystal, Tully crafts next-level shore excursions, like a three-day safari tacked onto a Cape Town trip.
Churchill & Turen
She specializes in small- and medium-size ships on lines like Oceania, Regent, Seabourn, and SeaDream, and custom-designs in-port activities. She’s also a spa vacation expert.
Mary T. Crowley
Crowley can find you a yacht, with a crew if you prefer, just about anywhere there’s water.
California Wine Country
Has rental homes in Napa and Sonoma that are big enough for the extended family.
He’s got villas in Turks and Caicos and beachfront homes on Anguilla.
Knows every detail about her dozens of vacation rentals in Paris.
Her apartments, mostly around Montmartre, are perfect for couples or small families.
She can book you an apartment in Paris, a château in Bordeaux, or a villa on the Côte d’Azur.
He cornered the market on lovely villas and family-size farmhouses across the country.
France and Italy
Ville et Village
Has a portfolio including a 17th-century Dordogne castle and an olive oil estate just nine miles from Florence.
France, Italy, and Spain
Cédric Reversade and Paul-Maxime Koskas
Unique Properties & Events
They have one-of-a-kind rental properties on the Amalfi Coast and in Andalusia, the Balearics, and Provence.
France and Spain
Specializes in French wine regions and the Balearic Islands.
Ileana von Hirsch
Five Star Greece
Helps clients make sense of the many islands, and narrows down whitewashed villa picks on Mykonos and in the Ionians.
Her luxury rentals span the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu.
Countess Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda
The Best in Italy
She’ll arrange home and villa stays as well as insider access to art galleries and restoration studios.
We send clients to the top floor of the Milan airport, where there’s an Autogrill like the ones you’d find roadside. It’s a white-tablecloth restaurant with jacketed waiters serving pasta and wine. —Patrice M. Salezze, villa specialistSHARE THIS QUOTE
Patrice M. Salezze
Papavero Villa Rentals
Salezze’s properties include historic vineyard estates and stand-alone villas in Rome.
Has opulent homes on Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast that are perfect for big groups.
St. Barth Properties
Walsh has keys to an eye-popping 227 rentals, ranging from one to 12 bedrooms.
St. Martin and Sint Maarten
Sonja van der Drift
Blue Ocean Villas
She works on both sides of the island, with beachy villas for any size group.
Luisa Ladron de Guevara
Manages contemporary vacation apartments in cities like Buenos Aires, José Ignacio, and Rio.
El Sol Villas
She’s got a network of helpful guides as well as villas across Spain.
Warren de Long
Has a network of private country homes that aren’t listed with any other specialist.
Madelyn Byrne Willems
Her flats are in posh London neighborhoods like Chelsea, Kensington, and Notting Hill.
United Kingdom and Ireland
Loyd & Townsend Rose
Dialed in to the countries’ epic estates, like Birkhill Castle in the Cotswolds.
Carpe Diem Luxury Travel
Her highly exclusive roster of homes, castles, and estates can’t be booked elsewhere.
Sylvia Delvaille Jones
Villas and Apartments Abroad
If she doesn’t already know the perfect home for you, she’ll find it.
His service monitors weather and flight schedules to quickly rebook you if and when things go wrong.
Jack S. Ezon
Ezon has mastered the personal touch, whether you’re planning a destination birthday or a surprise anniversary escape.
Harlan deBell and Kara Bebell
The Travel Siblings
They orchestrate the most complicated weddings—and have even closed The Uffizi Gallery for an unforgettable proposal.
Are We There Yet? Family Adventures
A pro at multi-generational trips, particularly in Europe.
The expert to call for family trips to Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Frontiers International Travel
She’s got exclusive access to prime venues in Argentina, New Zealand, and even Russia.
Book Your Award
Maximizes your unused miles, securing first- and business-class seats for a flat fee of $150.
Caters to an adventurous gay clientele, specifically helping navigate destinations that aren’t necessarily LGBT-friendly.
Doty’s pulled off helicopter tours over Cambodian temple complexes and one-on-ones with luminaries like Ai Weiwei.
She builds see-it-all itineraries for time-pressed jet-setters.
The Travel Society
Austin can put you in a dry suit and send you under Antarctica’s ice or arrange private visits to Mexican cenotes.
He’s who pro riders call for surf safaris in remote destinations.
Bennett’s team of roughly 1,000 guides, many of them art historians, give walking tours of about 40 cities globally.
Food & Wine Trails
His trips often include stays with winemakers and behind-the-scenes cellar access you can’t get any other way.