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Española Island

This was our first full day of our expedition in the Galapagos, and we spent the whole day at Española Island. This is one of the southern islands that is influenced by the south-eastern trade winds and therefore, it has a high percentage of endemic species that are only found here and nowhere else. In the morning, we had a chance to enjoy the wonders of the underwater world of the Galapagos. We left our ship and headed towards Gardner Islet, located in the center of a wide bay of turquoise waters and white sands. We snorkeled along the rocky shore of this islet, where we encountered abundant marine life. A few young sea lions made an appearance, to everyone’s delight, as it is a really unique experience to swim with these playful creatures! There were other options this morning as well, like the first chance to kayak in the bay, or to simply land at the beach and take a stroll amongst the sleepy Galapagos sea lions. It was rather pleasant to be able to share it with this very charismatic species, as well as being greeted and even followed by the ever curious and inquisitive endemic Española mockingbirds. In the afternoon we had to reposition in order to reach our next destination, Punta Suarez, located further east from Gardner Bay. Read More>

Dec 21, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

San Cristobal Island

The National Geographic Islander pulled up to an impressive, ragged and eroded volcanic formation called “tuff cone” just in time for the early morning light to accent the deep scars and ravines that have broken down this mountain over the last 300,000 years. Called “Punta Pitt”, it is the easternmost point of land in all the archipelago. It was the first land seen from the H.M. S. Beagle on their arrival in 1835, but also the first land seen by hundreds of sailors over the past centuries, men hungry for a sign of land after months at sea. It is a barren landscape, however. Read More>

Dec 20, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Santa Cruz Island

Our mother vessel, the National Geographic Islander, dropped anchor at Puerto Ayora, the largest town I the Galapagos. This town holds the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarter facilities of the Galapagos National Park Service. We began our expedition by visiting the breeding center of the National Park.  Many fascinating projects are taking place, some of them involve the breeding in captivity of Giant Tortoises from different islands. The idea here is to restore the dynasty of the emblematic animal from the Galapagos and study the best strategies to keep the Galapagos ecosystems pristine with the most minimum impact. Some well-known individuals of the station were spotted within the facilities. We spotted the famous Super Diego and the baby tortoises from Española Island, which were close to extinction in the 1970’s.  After an informational visit to the breeding center, we headed to the Highlands to visit a local sugar cane press where we had the chance to learn about the processing of brown sugar, coffee and sugar cane alcohol. What a wonderful opportunity to experience a small piece of the social side of the islands and learn how locals lived when most basic facilities were not available in the archipelago.  The Galápagos giant tortoises are found all over the highlands of Santa Cruz, a place full of greenery and tall trees which provide shade for these giants. Read More>

Dec 19, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

San Cristobal Island

Today is our last day in paradise, and the close of an adventure which has been so great, that it bonded us all as one. This week we have taken you back through time, traveling all around the archipelago, we have experienced the magic flora and fauna of places at the youngest and one of the oldest volcanic islands on a journey of discovery. San Cristobal Island is one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos, about 5 million years old. Read More>

Dec 19, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

The Drake Passage, Beagle Channel & Ushuaia

With our bow pointed north, the National Geographic Explorer continued its departure from the Antarctic Peninsula. With gratitude, our guests found the Drake Passage to be much kinder than originally experienced on our initial crossing. This allowed for a mingling of photographers to share and reflect on the photos that were achieved during our expedition, as well as long views of the Southern Ocean as it rolled around us.  Due to the favorable weather, we were treated to a rare approach to the very bottom of the South American continent. Read More>

Dec 19, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At Sea Approaching Easter Island

Our final day at sea before arriving at Easter Island dawned with the familiar gentle rolling of the ship. The past few days have seen us travel many hundreds of miles east through the midst of the South Pacific and despite this area of ocean being vulnerable to rough seas, we have been fortunate to experience only a little of what the South Pacific can generate. A relatively steady swell coupled with a stabilized ship makes long stretches at sea on board National Geographic Orion quite comfortable. Having enjoyed our breakfast and the cooling morning breeze in the outdoor café we were eager to hear more about our final destination. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Santiago Island

We started our day with an early activity—a visit to Espumilla Beach. This beach has a mile-long trail over a mangrove and a “Palo santo” forest. The “Palo santo”, or incense trees, are native for the Americas, but outside Galapagos they are considered to be endangered. Here in this archipelago they are protected and abundant along the arid zone of every island. During the dry season, which runs from June to December, they give the impression of a ghostly appearance, because they dropped their leaves to save water. And during the warmer wet season they bloom with beautiful green leaves and white flowers. The seeds from incense trees can be dormant for many years until they find the right weather conditions to germinate. While some of us were hiking, we also offered a round of kayaking. Because this location has very interesting geological formations along the coast, it’s a good place to observe shore birds, such as pelicans, boobies, turtles, and Galapagos sea lions. To finish our morning activity, we sailed for a short distance toward Buccaneer’s Cove and as soon as we dropped anchor we went out for deep water snorkeling. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Drake Passage

The dreaded Drake Passage was the Drake “lake” today as we crossed it northbound for South America. Once a massive low had moved through the Drake days earlier, much of the energy in the atmosphere was dissipated. This left a mild high that produced little wind and calmed the seas. We enjoyed amazingly calm water with little swell as we plied our way from Antarctica towards Cape Horn. Cape Horn is on an island just off of Tierra del Fuego on the Chilean side of Patagonia. Known for its high winds and seas, it has been the nucleus for many incredible sea stories, especially from the tall sailing ships that rounded her before the Panama Canal was built. A few birds were seen, but with little wind the seabirds of the Southern Ocean can’t make their way to where they make their living. Many were just sitting on the ocean awaiting the wind. There were a few presentations, including part two of Steve MacLean’s presentation on the Endurance expedition, also known as Shackletons’ most successful failure. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Santa Cruz Island

The National Geographic Endeavour dropped its anchor today at 6:00 a.m. in Academy Bay, Santa Cruz Island. After an early breakfast we disembarked ready to spend the whole day on the Island doing various activities.  In the morning we visited the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is the institution that’s been helping the Ecuadorian government with scientific studies about the fragile flora and fauna of the Galápagos. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Coiba Island & Granito de Oro Island

This morning we woke up in Panamanian waters after sailing all night from Costa Rica. After having a great time in Costa Rica for the past few days, we departed last night from the little port of Golfito in Golfo Dulce area, and almost magically woke up this morning in Panama, sailing along a mountainous coastline on our way to the mega island of Coiba island, our destination for today.  Coiba Island in Panama is quite an interesting place. Read More>

Dec 17, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

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