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Tracy Arm Fjord & Williams Cove

They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Here in Southeast Alaska that is all we need. Setting the tone of the expedition we began by exploring Williams Cove by foot or paddle, after the first of many delicious breakfasts on board.

For those that had never kayaked before it would be hard to even design a more ideal location, calm serene waters, gently rising forested slopes and lots of wide open space with nothing to bump into! Hikers were able to begin to introduce themselves to the wonders of the temperate rain forest that we will be surrounded by all week, immersing ourselves into a vibrant world of deep glowing green.

Jul 20, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Yampi Sound, the Kimberley, Australia

National Geographic Orion anchored in Yampi Sound, amid the islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago. Two islands, Cockatoo and Koolan, have substantial iron mines, from which they extract rich ore. Evidence of the iron is readily evident when looking at the ancient sandstone, much of which has a patina of rust. Laid down as a series of sedimentary deposits, the sandstone is sometimes replaced by a layer of much softer, gray siltstone. This entire rock formation has been bent and buckled over great spans of time, forming synclines and anticlines.  Much of the rock has been turned on its side, and stands vertically.   

Our morning started early, so after a quick breakfast and coffee, it was back on the Zodiacs, as we poked into inlets and scoured the shoreline for wildlife, scenic surprises, and photo opportunities.

Jul 20, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Vestmannaeyjar (Westmen Islands), Iceland

There are not many countries in Europe where academics can debate the country’s origin to within a few years of a given date. But this is Iceland, a country first settled at the close of the first millennium from Norway which has a rich written record in the sagas of its early settlement. Late origins and a remote, isolated location have given Iceland a homogenous population that has proved particularly attractive to researchers of the human genome, the so-called “Viking gene” showing up here in good measure.

There is one other element in the DNA make-up of Iceland that has attracted attention, however, and that is the rich vein of Irish blood that would appear to course through Icelandic veins.

Jul 20, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Española Island

This is the first full day of our expedition in the Enchanted Islands. As the sun rises, our ship is already anchored in beautiful Gardner Bay, located northeast of Española Island. There are a few islets in the middle of this bay and Gardner Islet will be our snorkeling site this morning. Amid schools of razor surgeon, parrotfish and salemas, we encounter a bunch of playful Galapagos sea lions. Right in the center of the bay there is a wide beach of fine white sand and turquoise waters, the perfect location for snorkeling. Once again, we have close encounters with the many fearless young sea lions of the local colony. There is also time to relax and take abundant pictures of the many sea lion harems of Gardner Beach. Another interesting creature here is the endemic Española mockingbird. Several of them inspected every backpack left unattended on the sand.

By midday, we all returned to National Geographic Endeavour.

Jul 20, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Tracy Arm

Ice. Pure, beautiful, blue ice. As we awoke this morning, we were once again in the presence of floating icebergs, indicating our proximity to tidewater glaciers. National Geographic Sea Lion had entered Tracy Arm in the early morning by crossing the fjord’s shallow terminal moraine, which is a pile of debris that was produced during the Ice Age when the glacier was at its furthest extent.

Tracy Arm is a narrow and spectacular fjord that averages only a mile in width along its entire 26-mile length.

Jul 19, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Talbot Bay

The National Geographic Orion has now reached the Buccaneer Archipelago, a particularly stunning part of the Kimberley coastline that provides some of the best examples of the power of tectonic movement seen on the trip so far. Around 1.8 billion years ago, the Kimberley continent rammed into the land mass of Australia. An almost inexorable force collided slowly but surely with an almost immovable object, the Earth's crust crumpling and folding with the impact, heating the rock and "welding" the two landmasses together. And so did the Kimberley region become an essential part of Australia.

Our trusty group of Zodiacs departed the National Geographic Orion early in the morning to visit the famous Horizontal Waterfall in Talbot Bay.

Jul 19, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

San Cristobal Island

Seven days have flown away, and our last day in the Galapagos Islands was astonishing. To begin the day we found ourselves on the most southeastern island in the archipelago. San Cristóbal, also known as Chatham, was the fist island visited by naturalist Charles Darwin. Today this island is home for more than 8,000 people that work in tourism and artisanal fishing. To enjoy the island, we had a combination of Zodiac rides, hiking, and snorkeling throughout the day. 

The morning outing took place at Punta Pitt, located at the northernmost of the island.

Jul 19, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Vatnajokull Glacier

Today we explored the frozen side of the land of fire and ice. We boarded buses right after breakfast from the dock in the small port town of Djupivogur. We split up into three groups as this area does not have a large tourism industry and we took all their buses for the day. The photo bus stopped in many places throughout the day including along a stunning black sand beach and up a hill for a look behind a beautiful waterfall.

The other main option of the day was to visit the ice lagoon of Jokulsarlon.

Jul 19, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Zapote River & Supay

Today is our last full day in the Upper Amazon. We started early with a quiet kayak ride along Rio Zapote. Some of us went for a skiff ride searching for birds and monkeys. Today we were very lucky for it rained earlier and cleared up in time for us to explore.

We returned to the ship for breakfast and then headed out for another round of kayaking.

Jul 19, 2014 Delfin II in Amazon

LeConte Bay and Petersburg

A soft rain welcomed the first round of boat rides into LeConte Bay as we got up-close and personal with the icebergs of the LeConte Glacier, the southern-most tidewater glacier in North America. The glacier was named in 1887 in honor of University of California geology professor Joseph LeConte, a contemporary of John Muir, by U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Charles Thomas while he was mapping these waters in the 1880s. The low clouds and grey skies made for tantalizingly blue ice and the ice made a perfect landing pad for glaucous-winged gulls. That whole weather pattern shifted by the second boat ride as blue sky and sunshine crept into the morning and provided photographers with stunning ice reflections off flat, calm waters.

Just as we left LeConte Bay, a DeHavilland Beaver on floats took off with six of our fellow explorers for an aerial view of the glacier and surrounding Tongass National Forest.

Jul 18, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

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