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Samarai Island and Deka Deka Island

It’s hard to imagine today that Samarai Island was once a bustling trading port and resupply center for ships travelling between Australia and the China.

Apr 15, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Bahia San Juanico, Baja California, Mexico

The best thing about an expedition is the element of surprise.

Apr 14, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Crossing the Coral Sea

On our way at last!  We left Australia last night and cruised out through one of the big channels in the Great Barrier Reef, into the Coral Sea, bound for New Guinea.  And what a pleasant surprise we found on these tropical waters today!   Cyclone Ita has only just left the region, but the seas are calm, the winds gentle and the sky full of sunshine and puffy white clouds.

This easy day at sea was the perfect setting for beginning the educational side of our expedition.

Apr 14, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Española Island

It is our second day of the trip.  This morning, which is a bit overcast, we are in Gardner Bay, a nice visitor site with several islets surrounded by turquoise blue water that hits a white sandy beach where a big colony of sea lions rest. 

After having breakfast we prepare to initiate our adventure, we set our snorkeling gear up and went to Gardner islet to enjoy the marine ecosystems that Galapagos offers to all intrepid swimmers.

Apr 14, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Floreana Island

We are into our second day of our expedition in the Enchanted Isles, and as the sun rises we were able to spot hilly Floreana, one of the southern islands. Early in the morning we set off to visit Punta Cormorant, and we landed at what is known as the ‘olivine beach.’ Its sands are composed of miniature grains of a volcanic crystal which give it a greenish tinge. Behind it lies a large, brackish lagoon where some greater flamingos were feeding in the distance. We followed an easy trail that crossed a dry area full of incense trees and dry bushes, a typical scene of the arid zone in the Galapagos. At the end we found another beach that had white sands instead, this is one of the important nesting sites for the Eastern Pacific green sea turtle. Females rise up the sand dunes to find a nesting spot, having to work all night to lay around one hundred eggs, and then leave by the early hours of the morning. 

A little later on we had finished our breakfast and were preparing for our next activities.

Apr 14, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Isla San Jose & Los Islotes

Early risers aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird this morning were treated to a colorful sunrise, followed by visits from both bottlenose and common dolphins. How fun to watch them leap high in the air and make their way to get a free joy ride off the bow of the ship! After breakfast the ship anchored off Isla San Jose, the crew lowered our expedition landing craft and zipped us ashore to the stunning Punta Colorado. We spent this first morning of our voyage walking up a beautiful arroyo whose walls are formed of red and white sandstone. Longer hikes scrambled over rocks and some larger boulders, and enjoyed cliff-side “shade breaks” from the hot desert sun. 

The afternoon/evening was devoted to exploring the area around Los Islotes at the north end Isla Partida.

Apr 13, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Cairns, Australia VIDEO

When deciding to start this voyage in Cairns, it is unlikely that any of us expected to spend quite so much time in Cairns. As pleasant as the city is, and the surrounding area has many attractions, our stay was somewhat enforced at the whim of Mother Nature. At the end of the last voyage, the National Geographic Orion arrived safely ahead of the Tropical Cyclone Ita. As the storm developed, it soon became clear that we would not be able to embark guests for this voyage and depart before the storm arrived. A plan was developed to stay onshore in a comfortable hotel while the storm blew through, and then board the National Geographic Orion and begin the voyage.

This morning the ship arrived back in Cairns after riding out the storm at a safe distance.

Apr 13, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Española Island

Española is the southernmost island in the archipelago. At about five million years old it is also the oldest one, and has very few obviously volcanic features. Its flat terrain and low cliffs makes it an ideal nesting site for a great number of sea birds such as Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and the largest sea birds in the Galapagos, the waved albatross.

After sailing south, early in the morning the National Geographic Endeavour dropped anchor in front of Gardner Bay on the east of Española Island.

Apr 13, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Isla San Pedro Martir and a day at sea

“Rain here is only brief punctuation, a momentary breath between long dry stanzas.“

               -- Jack Swenson, from the book A Special Expedition to Baja and the Sea of Cortez In the last moments of darkness before sunrise, we slipped from National Geographic Sea Lion into our inflatable expedition crafts to begin our early morning explorations.

Apr 12, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Baja California

San Cristobal Island

Today was our last full day in the magical Galapagos National Park yet our visitor’s site was completely new; it was like walking on the surface of a different planet.

Apr 12, 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.