Before I took off on Nat Geo’s Around the World by Private Jet expedition, my good friends at Intelligent Travel asked a favor: Would I, an amateur photographer, test Jim Richardson’s can’t-miss formula for shooting the Milky Way? After all, I would be visiting the world’s most remote inhabited island, so light pollution wouldn’t be an issue. Plus, it seemed like a fitting tribute to the Polynesian wayfarers who used the stars to get there in the first place.

Who doesn’t dream of visiting Machu Picchu? I finally got my chance after hitching a ride on National Geographic’s Around-the-World-by-Private-Jet expedition last week. And while the Inca village in the clouds is exhilarating, there’s much more in the Peruvian highlands for travelers to explore while they’re in the Sacred Valley.

It’s not every day you get an offer like this: We want you to travel around the world.

Well, halfway around it, give or take.