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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

Santiago Island

Santiago Island is located in the central realm of Galapagos, and this was the island that we explored today. We started our day on the western side of Santiago, where we had a wet landing on Espumilla beach, and from there we hiked to the top of an extinct cone which rewarded us with a spectacular view of the bay where our ship was anchored. This bay is also a very important nesting site for green sea turtles, and we saw several new nests along the coast.  After breakfast, we moved to another visitor site known as Buccaneers cove, where we had the opportunity to offer snorkeling, kayaking and also had several outings on our glass bottom boat. Read More>

Feb 25, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Esquinas River, Finca Saladero, Casa Orquideas Botanical Gardens and Golfito

The morning began with an early morning expedition landing craft cruise around Rio Esquinas. This is one of the eighteen rivers that empty into the Gulf Dulce. We saw red and black mangroves and many birds, such as osprey, snowy egrets, parrots, and parakeets. For those who stayed on board National Geographic Sea Lion we started the day with a gentle yoga class on the bridge deck, with an amazing view of the ocean and dense rain forest. Read More>

Feb 24, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Scotia Sea

We are heading WNW for South Georgia across the Scotia Sea with a strong wind of about 25 to 30 kts on our port quarter helping us along. Sea state quite light and the ship very stable. By evening we were out of official Antarctic waters north of 60 S. The sea temperature is still low – at O°C. Twenty different birds sighted during the day, including royal (northern and southern) wandering, light mantled sooty, black browed, and grey headed albatross and many prions and petrels down to the delicate Wilsons petrel. Read More>

Feb 24, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Antarctica

Boca de la Soledad

Today was our last day in Bahía Magdalena. We have experienced this unique place, that is like no other in the word, for the last two days. It is hard to describe how intense the experience is, of coexisting with some of the largest animals in the world in the lagoons where they give birth. We started whale watching early today, exploring the northern part of the lagoon, near Boca de Soledad. Before sunrise we could see and listen to several grey whale mother and calf pairs, as they traveled from south to north. Read More>

Feb 24, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

After a long navigation crossing the equator from the north, we finally arrived to the west of Galapagos. It was early in the morning when some of our guests decided to get up to observe the gigantic flanks of Ecuador volcano, its colorful black and red rocks contrasted with the blue sky.  The first beams of sun colored the ocean gold while in the distance we observed some oceanic sun fish and mobula rays jumping and splashing, disturbing the the calm waters.   After breakfast the National Geographic Islander dropped anchor just below the dramatic cliffs at Punta Vicente Roca. Read More>

Feb 24, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Isabela Island

Today was our second day on the western side of the Galapagos, exploring the largest island, Isabela. We anchored this morning at the foothills of one of the six shield volcanoes, Alcedo, where the largest populations of giant tortoises are found. While we headed to the landing beach at Urbina Bay, named after one of the early Ecuadorian presidents, we spotted a group of golden rays, gliding gracefully on the surface of the water, and then just before we landed, a few Galapagos penguins and blue footed boobies were spotted fishing near the shore. Read More>

Feb 24, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Osa Peninsula: Agujitas River, Caletas Reserve, and Corcovado National Park

Today, on our visit to one of the most unique sections of southern Costa Rica, we wanted to start our day on board National Geographic Sea Lion the earliest way possible.  At the break of dawn we advanced with our expedition landing crafts in order to discover the Agujitas River. Only accessible during high tide, Agujitas is a quintessential rainforest portrayal, with a steep river rift covered in dense vegetation. The views of the forest and, far in the distance, of the continental divide rising up to 12,400 feet inspired our curiosity to discover more of this realm. The herons were the stars of the day. We saw green herons, little blue herons, yellow-crowned night herons, and bare-throated tiger herons—however the toucans and tityras were important sightings as well. As soon as we returned and enjoyed breakfast, we replenished our energy in order to explore Caletas Reserve either by horseback riding or walking. Read More>

Feb 23, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Boca de la Soledad

Today we awoke on the National Geographic Sea Bird while floating in the protected and calm waters of Boca de la Soledad, the northernmost entrance to the beautiful coastal lagoon called Magdalena Bay, which is part of an extensive and complex wetland system present in the western side of the peninsula of Baja California. As we all knew, the gray whales come here every winter to give birth and nurse their calves, so we were eager to explore the lagoon and observe these magnificent, gentle, giant marine mammals. Throughout the day we went out in our inflatable crafts, and accompanied our excited guests to help them interpret the complex and fascinating set of behaviors offered by the whales, including spy hopping, breeching, nursing and rolling. Up to 35 pairs of cows and calves were seen in this section of the lagoon. Whales, as we noticed, can be identified individually by the white, black and gray gradations that form unique patterns on their skin, both in calves and their mothers. No whale is identical to another. This has allowed us to give them names, like Sofia, Maria, and so on, for the enjoyment of everyone. Our guests also had the opportunity of exploring, the dune and mangrove ecosystems of Magdalena Island. Read More>

Feb 23, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Point Valentine and Point Wild, Elephant Island

As we continue to follow the route of Shackleton’s Endurance journey, some 100 years later, we arrived at Elephant Island before breakfast. Point Valentine, where Shackleton’s party first made landfall after their harrowing row out of the Weddell Sea, was visible through the windows of the dining room as guests finished their breakfast and headed straight out to the back deck for a Zodiac cruise. Chinstrap penguins and fur seals watched us from shore as we marveled at the meager shoreline that served as a blessing one century ago.   As we left the point, to round the corner to the north side of the island, we were greeted by a large group of fin whales—more than five were feeding together off the bow. Read More>

Feb 23, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Antarctica

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