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Ilha Anchieta

Through the night we sailed south down the coast from Rio, and turned our clocks forward an hour. First light revealed the silhouette of a densely forested island, Ilha Anchieta, with its own dark history. If we turn the clock back 500 years, no one lived here except the native Guarani-Yupi Indians, who fished and foraged in a pristine forest. Then the Portuguese arrived, came ashore and made a treaty with the Indians, promising to live peacefully alongside. Inevitably over the decades more and more Portuguese arrived, displacing the Indians from their forest home. Turn the clock back a century, when the new authorities decided that this lovely place was perfect for a penal colony, small, isolated, 25 miles from the mainland. Read More>

Oct 19, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

North Seymour & Rabida Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a living paradise of wildlife, and today we experienced more of its marvels by visiting two of the most iconic Islands here. The best way to begin our expedition was to visit the bird paradise at North Seymour Island. As soon as we landed, two baby Galapagos sea lions were our welcome committee to a magnificent island. Farther into the trail, the marvels of a fantastic bird paradise were shown to our senses. Read More>

Oct 19, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Paraty

Early morning cloud cover was clearing quickly as we approached our anchorage early this morning, the evocative old town of Paraty already preparing for a festive weekend ahead, its party-boat crews and store owners all in readiness for business. Our long Zodiac approach through the calm sub-tropical waters of this island-studded coast brought us to a perfectly preserved eighteenth-century colonial town with cobbled streets and low rise buildings, all in an excellent state of preservation as befits a town with UNESCO World Heritage status. It looks and feels as though the Portuguese colonizers left yesterday. An intriguing feature is that the main streets are concave and cleansed each day by the in-coming tide, a spectacle we were able to witness at noon today. Our historical walking tours visited a number of key buildings, including churches, art exhibitions, and a culinary emporium, the latter offering cachaça tastings including one infused in clove and cinnamon named Gabriela, inspired by the work of the national literary hero Jorge Amado. The Casa da Cultura had a number of interesting exhibits made by local artists. The shallow bay was initially chosen because it afforded a measure of protection to the local carrying trade of the Portuguese who used the port of Paraty to export gold and diamonds from their mines in the hinterland of Minais Gerais up the coast to Rio de Janeiro for onward transfer to Lisbon. Read More>

Oct 18, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

To see Rio was the goal of many that joined the National Geographic Explorer for this epic South American adventure. But how do you attempt to even get a glimpse of such vibrant and active city with a wide range of attractions?  You go out full of energy and participate in as many activities and visit as many places as you can and that the very hot weather lets you! For those very keen on experiencing some of Rio, the available options were all tempting. Some of us left early in the morning to drive to Tijuca forest, the largest wooded reserve inside a city anywhere in the world. The park is famous for many things but especially for its many kilometers of gorgeous hikes through the secondary growth rainforest and for the surprisingly diverse wildlife that preserves, right in the middle of a 6.5 million people city.  We were lucky enough to have good weather and saw a few of the bird specialties of the area. After a fantastic lunch in a ‘fazenda’ (old farm) in the park, we had the chance to visit Rio’s older favela, Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley). Read More>

Oct 17, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Rio de Janeiro

The early risers were on deck at first light to experience arriving in Rio from the sea. They were rewarded with partly cloudy skies and the morning mist to move past Sugar Loaf Mountain into Guanabara Bay and, a bit later, seeing Corcovado with the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue. Alas, or perhaps not, both Sugar Loaf and Corcovado were partly covered by clouds. But we saw the Rio-Niteroi Ferries crossing the bay and then heard the roar of the 737s and the “Ponte Aerea,” or shuttle flights, between Sao Paulo and Rio starting at 6:00 a.m. In the north part of the bay one saw the many cargo ships and the traffic on the Rio-Niteroi Bridge. The “Magnificent City” or “Cidade Maravilhosa” then was opened to us. Of the various options, one group visited the Golden Lion Tamarin reserve and was rewarded with some spectacular close-up views and good photos of this endangered species. Read More>

Oct 16, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

South Plaza & Santa Fe Islands

South Plaza is located on the eastern coast of the larger neighbouring island, Santa Cruz. It is the result of a geological uplift that probably took place over a million years ago. As a consequence, there are no craters or volcanic cones here, but rather a flat surface and higher cliffs, perfect nesting sites for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, and Galápagos shearwaters, while frigatebirds soar overhead, always on the lookout for feeding opportunities. South Plaza Island is also home to one of the archipelago’s largest colonies of Galápagos sea lions and to one of three species of the endemic Galápagos land iguanas.    On some islands land iguanas have been almost wiped out by feral dogs in the past; however, a hugely successful captive and semi-captive breeding program run by the Charles Darwin Research Center and Galápagos National Park has allowed these endangered populations to recover. Read More>

Oct 16, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Bartolomé & Sombrero Chino

For the early morning we begin with a walk on the island of Bartolomé. The island was named after an officer of the Beagle, the ship that navigated to the islands in 1835 with the famous naturalist Charles Darwin on board. It’s a small Island located at the eastern coast of one of largest islands in the archipelago, Santiago. An example of the recent lava flows in the archipelago, this small volcanic formation enhanced the picture of the islands as it looked like a piece of rock in the middle of the ocean as it formed.  The walk is great to learn about pioneer plants, volcanic features, and fascinating landscaping. When the adventure finished on the island the explorers walked to the landing site of the island to catch the Zodiac and ride back to the ship for breakfast. Later we began an aquatic adventure on the same island. Read More>

Oct 16, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

At Sea Off Central Brazil

Days at sea allow one to catch up on life and reflect on where one is and what one has recently done. On the National Geographic Explorer it is also a time to learn. Everyone aboard has come to not only experience a particular piece of our world but also to be enlightened about various aspects of a location different from where we live. The day was filled with activities to educate and enlighten us about the region we are visiting. Read More>

Oct 15, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Astoria, Oregon

“Great  joy in camp   we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See….” William Clark spoke these words as the Expedition reached Pillar Rock on Nov. 7th, 1805, just 25 miles from their final westward destination, the Pacific Ocean. The more popular phrase from Clark is “Ocian in view! O! the joy!”  We felt the same joy as we approached Astoria, Oregon as we have followed the Corps of Discovery from the Clearwater and Snake River confluence, down the Snake River (Lewis’ River) 140 miles to the Columbia River, and then another 325 miles to where the Continent ends. Read More>

Oct 15, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is known to have the second largest population of Galapagos giant tortoises and the main breading center. The visit to the Charles Darwin Station, where we got to see some of the young tortoises that have been bred in captivity was particularly interesting because as we walked among the tortoises we got to learn how humans can restore ecosystems that have previously been impacted by us. Today we learned that the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Foundation are within the two most well-known conservation institutions of the planet, because by saving the giant tortoises from extinction they have basically saved most reptiles. The walk along the main street of Puerto Ayora was interesting too, especially the fish market where a group of pelicans and a sea lion gathered around the fresh fish wanting to get an easy meal!  After lunch we boarded the buses and traveled to a farm known to be on the migratory route of these beautiful gentle giants and saw the area where they spend a good part of their long lives. Read More>

Oct 15, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

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Please note: All Daily Expedition Reports (DER's) are posted Monday-Friday, during normal business hours.