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Gulf of Panama: Bona, Otoque and Taboga Islands & the Panama Canal

This morning we accomplished our longest sail of the trip, departing from Coiba Island at noon to cover 190 nautical miles to finally reach the Gulf of Panama. This big gulf possess one of the richest upwellings in the region created by strong winds known as trade winds, the same winds that help Columbus across the Atlantic.  What happened is that the trade winds that usually bring humidity to the Caribbean coast get stronger at this time of year and managed to blow across the continental divide. Read More>

Feb 26, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Ensenada Grande and Isla San Francisco

We left the tip of Baja California yesterday afternoon and sailed north all the way to Espiritu Snto Island. There, we found protection from the swells and white cups, that had been building up from previous days of El Norte blowing hard down the Sea of Cortes. We set anchor early this morning in the calm bay of Ensenada Grande, where we had breakfast and set off for our morning operations. Some of us went rock and boulder hopping up the arroyo, to be rewarded with a beautiful view of the sea from the top of the cliff. Other guests wandered along the trail taking pictures of cactus and flowers, and learning more about the amazing desert vegetation of the island. Others chose to explore the world underwater and went snorkeling along the rocky shore on the side of the bay. Every one enjoyed the activities, and afterwards we came back on board for a well deserved lunch, while the National Geographic Sea Bird was sailing north to San Francisco Island.  The afternoon was spent on Isla San Francisco for some more fun activities -kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking to check out the tide pools. Read More>

Feb 26, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Gold Harbour and Cooper Bay, South Georgia

Early this morning, we sailed around the easternmost point of South Georgia and had to dodge and weave our way through icebergs. Most of these huge grounded bergs had come from a tabular berg known as B-17 that broke off an ice shelf in Antarctica nearly 15 years ago. A large piece of it drifted into this region last year and grounded on the shallow water off Cooper Island. It has since broken into numerous smaller bits, which are still quite huge compared to our ship, and these bits will eventually disintegrate and disappear. But, for the time being these tabular bergs are stuck here at South Georgia.    Our vessel continued around to the northern side of the island and just before sunrise, we anchored off Gold Harbour. Read More>

Feb 26, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Antarctica

Santiago Island

Today we started our day on the western side of Santiago Island. The morning was overcast and drizzling, but suddenly turned clear and bit by bit the sun appeared high in the sky. it typical weather for the rainy season in Galapagos. After an early 6:30 am wake-up call we landed at Espumilla beach.  A place covered with an interesting mix of volcanic ashes and tiny pieces of olivine where we spotted fresh tracks made by sea turtles and holes made by ghost crabs.  After crossing a button mangrove forest we hiked by a brackish water lagoon where we found Bahamas pintail ducks and whimbrels, which is a type of migratory birds that feeds on crustaceans and mollusks in the rich ooze of the lagoon.  Then we continued through an area covered by huge Palo Santos trees.  The soil was wet giving a very enjoyable smell. A couple of Galapagos hawks and mocking birds were spotted, then we went back to beach and back aboard the National Geographic Islander. it was a great experience. Also a group of avid photographers enjoyed the morning, learning about nature photography on the islands. They had the chance to take pictures of a flock of blue footed boobies diving like torpedoes in search of food. At the end of our visit our foot prints are left as part of the scenery on the sandy beach. Later in the morning we visited Buccaneer cove. Read More>

Feb 26, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

At Sea-Headed for South Georgia

Today the guests aboard the National Geographic Explorer fell asleep to the gentle rocking that a ship at sea provides. We awoke to much the same tune, and will spend a full two days steaming towards South Georgia on a straight trajectory from Elephant Island. One of the most infallible and interesting forms of wildlife which presents to a ship at sea are seabirds. These birds live for and with the sea, in a beautiful symbiosis between wildlife and habitat. Albatross are some of the most graceful and revered seabirds. Read More>

Feb 26, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Santa Cruz Island

On the sixth day of the expedition, our program brought us to an island where we could enjoy the company of the tortoises all day long. Our morning began at the Darwin Station, and in the afternoon we were able to see this giants in their own natural habitat of the island. Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the archipelago, and on its south-eastern shore lies the largest town in the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. Read More>

Feb 26, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Coiba National Park

After an unforgettable experience on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, where we enjoyed the wonders of the neotropical rainforest, we repositioned over 120 nautical miles to our first visit within Panamanian boundaries. We started by visiting Coiba Marine National Park, which is considered  the most pristine marine national park in Panama, and one of the most important areas of conservation on the Eastern Pacific.  Its importance and conservation efforts make it a cornerstone of the Central and South American Marine Corridor. Together with Cocos Island in Costa Rica, Malpelo in Colombia, and Galapagos in Ecuador, this area is extremely vital for the health of our marine ecology in Central America. Coiba National Park was established in the early 1990’s and because of its worldwide importance it was declared as a World Heritage Site, status that definitively makes all of Panama very proud and willing to help with its conservation. Read More>

Feb 25, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

San Jose del Cabo and Gorda Banks

Morning found us sailing by the END OF THE WORLD, called Finisterra by the Jesuits that were stationed here in the early 1700s. The lights of the city of San Lucas shone strongly behind the hills at the seaside, but the touristic part of Cabo San Lucas was dark: a light out! All the luxury buildings were dark. But as dawn approached, we began to see humpback whales. By the time we had approached the Friar Rocks, or Rocas de los Frailes, moments before sunrise, visibility was good. Slowly we pushed into the small bay, and had the opportunity to see the arch, that granite structure with this rock formation. Between the first and second rocks is a small platform, where   a number of California sea lions roost, and we could hear them barking and growling. After a while, we turned around and headed out of the bay to sail along this extreme southern coast of the Peninsula of Baja California, letting ourselves be shocked by the damage done to the hotels by the hurricane Odile, who lashed this part of Baja California. Read More>

Feb 25, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove, Isabela Island

Today we continue exploring the western realms of this enchanted archipelago.  Urbina Bay, our first stop this morning, is a place of great geological importance for an unusual event took place there as recent as 1954. In the scientific literature it is stated that a strong earthquake of 6.5 on the Richter scale occurred in the area on June 4th, 1954. This provoked a huge area adjacent to the coastline to suddenly uplift, leaving many marine creatures high and dry. Nowadays it is still possible to see, as noiseless relics of this event, huge pieces of brain coral many feet inland!   A healthy population of Galapagos land iguanas live around this area well. Read More>

Feb 25, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Elephant Island

Some places have to be seen to be believed, however there are some places so fantastic that even when you find yourself in front of them, the idea that you are truly there takes a little longer to sink in. Elephant Island is one of those places. Probably one of the more widely known Antarctic sites due to its prominence as the launching point of Shackleton’s heroic voyage to South Georgia and where twenty two crew members remained, waiting to be rescued. Inhospitable doesn’t begin to describe the landscape. Jagged mountain peaks tower along the coastline, emanating a distinctly uninviting presence and ungraciously refusing to offer any protection from the howling wind to the tiny spit of rock that is Point Wild. Though time and tide have changed the terrain somewhat over the last century, the extreme conditions of such an environment make it almost unfathomable to imagine anyone lasting four days let alone four months, and yet they did.  Now we come here to glimpse just a tiny sliver of what those men endured. Perhaps the lingering disbelief that this is indeed the location of such heroic survival is due to the incredibly incongruous conditions we experience of this identical backdrop. Casting comforts aside, after a warm and filling breakfast of course, we take to the Zodiacs and set out for an even closer look at this iconic landmark of exploration history. Read More>

Feb 25, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

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