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Hells Canyon and Nez Perce National Historic Park

The last full day of our journey up the Columbia and Snake rivers was sunny and warm. We disembarked the National Geographic Sea Lion early this morning and stepped onto our jet boats. We spent much of the day on these speedy craft, going more than 50 miles up the Snake River into Hells Canyon. At 8,000 feet from top to bottom, Hells Canyon is the deepest river canyon in North America. Yes, even deeper than the Grand Canyon. The jet boat ride gave us a wonderful opportunity to see the canyon from within. Read More>

Sep 25, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

Clarkston and Hells Canyon

Low clouds in the east turned red-violet just before sunrise as the National Geographic Sea Bird was nearing our dock in Clarkston, Washington. As Captain Kay eased our little ship alongside, Bos’n jumped onto the dock and made all of the lines fast. Soon after breakfast we boarded jet boats piloted by Cap’n Chuck and Cap’n Eric and away we went upstream on the Snake River on this gorgeous and sunny morning, bound for wild and scenic Hells Canyon, the deepest river canyon in America. Near the river’s edge flocks of Canada geese and American coots rested on the water. A pair of blue-winged teal flew across the river right in front of our jet boat. Great blue herons stood silent like sentinels on the riverbanks, waiting for hapless fish to swim by. As we headed on upstream, great walls of layered lava flows loomed above us. Read More>

Sep 24, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

The Snake River, Lower Monumental Dam and Palouse River

Around three A.M the National Geographic Sea Lion diverged from the mighty Columbia River and headed northeast up the Snake River. While everyone aboard was sleeping, the Sea Lion crossed through two locks overnight; the McNary Dam as well as Ice Harbor. Ice harbor is the closest dam to the mouth of the Snake. Shortly after breakfast we received word from the lockmaster at Lower Monumental Dam that they would allow us to bring our inflatable expedition craft into the massive lock chamber. Three expedition landing crafts were lowered off the boat deck and filled with brave guests craving a sense of perspective at just how large and powerful these lock systems are. We entered the 86ft wide and 665ft long concrete behemoth and waited as the water lifted the National Geographic Sea Lion and expedition landing crafts the entire 100ft to the next level of river. The slight wind and perfect temperature allowed for a delightful lunch on the sundeck as we approached our Palouse River anchorage. Read More>

Sep 24, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

Snake and Palouse Rivers

In the early light of dawn the National Geographic Sea Bird made her way upstream on the Snake River. A half-moon rode high in the sky. In the bronze light on the water ahead, a white pelican swam at a stately pace across our bow. We were making our way toward our afternoon anchorage on the Palouse River, but first we had a leisurely morning to enjoy the views along the river. A great blue heron squawked as it burst from the river’s edge and flapped past our ship. Four great egrets in their snowy plumage flew ahead of us and landed at the edge of the river. These elegant birds were snow white with long black legs and yellow, stiletto-like bills. Before breakfast we locked through Ice Harbor Dam and were told to look forward to a bit of an adventure when we got to Lower Monumental Dam. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the light wind, the sun, and the beautiful scenery of cliffs of brown basalt stepping up from the river followed by orchards and hayfields. On shore we saw black-billed magpies perched on the broken-down corral. We passed large granaries holding wheat from dryland farms on the rolling hills above the river. Long, long trains roar by going west and carrying oil and coal toward the coast. Following breakfast our geologist, Grace, gave a presentation on the Columbia River Basalt Province and described the lava flows to us. Read More>

Sep 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

The Dalles OR and Maryhill WA

The National Geographic Sea Lion began the busy day with a very fitting 5:30 am departure from our Hood River marina which hosted us for the night. We headed slightly under 2 hours up -river to the town of The Dalles which was established due to its proximity to the no-longer existing Celilo Falls, which was once the greatest salmon fishery the world has ever known. This was a trading hub for natives from the Pacific Coast, Canada, the Dakotas and California due to the abundance of salmon and interesting geography. Our first adventure was a windy ascent up to Rowena Crest where we had breathtaking views in all directions but especially of the Columbia River Gorge and the columnar basalt that speckled the landscape. Read More>

Sep 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

Charles Darwin Research Station, Highlands, Santa Cruz Island

Today we spent the day on Santa Cruz Island, which is the home of the largest giant tortoises to inhabit this archipelago. As we approached the dock by Zodiac, we could see several brown pelicans in the mangrove forest and marine iguanas swimming. Several Darwin’s finches moved from tree to tree, searching for food or perhaps looking for a mate. The Galapagos National Park Service, together with the Charles Darwin Foundation, are some of the most respected conservation institutions in the world due to the breeding center, where the tortoises are being raised in captivity and repatriated to their island of origin. Read More>

Sep 22, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Santiago Island

We are in the middle of a fantastic expedition in the Galapàgos Islands, and today it was time to explore Santiago Island. Early in the morning, before breakfast, the National Geographic Islander dropped anchor at Espumilla Beach. Read More>

Sep 22, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

The Dalles, Maryhill Museum

At about six o’clock this morning the National Geographic Sea Bird pulled away from the dock at Hood River and started its repositioning up river to The Dalles. We had a nice morning with a following wind and sea, which made our journey very enjoyable. So right after breakfast we geared up for the a.m. activities, enjoying a spectacular view of the Gorge from Rowena Crest overlook, and then spending the rest of the morning at the Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center, an incredible museum and accompanying grounds, with more wonderful views of the mighty Columbia! We did have a variety of options for returning to the ship during the morning. First there was a walk of about 6 miles on the bike/walking trail along the river, then there was an early bus that headed back at 11:15 a.m., then a bike ride along the same trail and finally, a bus that got us to the ship just before lunch, perfect! This afternoon would have a little twist to the returning-to-ship part of the activities, so we needed to bring our life preservers along with us on the bus, but I’ll get to that in a minute! First, we boarded the buses for about a half-hour ride to the Maryhill Museum, which sits on a high bench above the Columbia River upriver from The Dalles. Read More>

Sep 22, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

The Columbia River Gorge, Hood River

What a gorgeous day in the gorge!  We began with an early morning view of the forested hillsides of the lower reaches of the Columbia River Gorge, recalling the joy of Lewis and Clark as they passed through this same landscape in the autumn of 1805.  A highlight for them and for us was passing by the massive monolith of Beacon Rock, a giant sentinel beaconing the way toward tidewater. As we entered the lock at Bonneville Dam we recalled the great optimism of President Franklin D. Read More>

Sep 22, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

San Salvador Island

We dropped the anchor at Espumilla Bay, at sunrise. With the first rays of light, our guests prepared to disembark for today’s adventures. One of the groups hiked through an enchanted forest of holy trees and up a gentle hill, where they enjoyed delightful views accompanied with the intoxicating aroma of incense permeating the atmosphere. Several guests decided to stay along the beach, photographing hawks hovering in the mangroves and friendly shore birds; they learned about light, composition and shutter speed in the company of our photo expert, Aura. We also had a group who decided to sit, observe and paint, living the “here and now” together with resident artist Amy Wright. If the early morning was peacefully charming, the after breakfast activities kept us very active. Read More>

Sep 21, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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


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