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Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

This morning we began our voyage from Bali to the Great Barrier Reef in grand style, cruising into the harbor at Badas on the north coast of Sumbawa, two islands east of Bali. This small port lies at the foot of the vast stub of Gunung Tambora, the great volcano that exploded with unimaginable violence in 1815, filling the world’s skies with ash and bringing on the “year without a summer.”  It seemed an appropriately superlative opening to our explorations through this greatest of archipelagos. Secure to the dock at Badas, we left the ship immediately after breakfast and climbed into small buses that carried us up into the dry hills of the island to the village of Pamulung. Read More>

Oct 21, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Palouse River & Lower Monumental Dam

Our wakeup announcement came this morning to clear skies, already lightening with the sun’s imminent arrival. Our earliest light yet, due in part to being further east, and in part because there were no clouds or fog to veil the sun’s rays. The temperature, however, was a chilly 51° F. National Geographic Sea Bird had crossed over into the Snake River while we slept, and the morning was devoted to traveling east towards the Palouse River where we planned to anchor for the afternoon. The terrain along the riverbanks and inland now had completely transformed to desert scrub and amber-colored grasses. (And yes, Geologist Grace, more basalt!) In the first part of the morning, our historian led a talk and lively discussion on “Rivers, Dams, and Fish: Conflicts in the Pacific Northwest.” In the latter part of the morning we arrived at the Lower Monumental Dam. The crew climbed up to the lido deck and lowered a few expedition landing craft into the water, and a number of people went through the locks for this water-eye vantage point.  During lunch we arrived at our anchorage on the Palouse for our afternoon activities. Read More>

Oct 20, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

Our pre-breakfast outing this morning was fantastic. We hiked to the summit of Bartolome Island, a tiny little island full of geological wonders. Named after Bartholomew Sullivan, the 2nd Lieutenant on board the Beagle, Bartolome is the perfect site to explain the geological origin of the islands and the arrival of colonization and of species over thousands or even millions of years. Lichens and pioneer plants such as lava cactus and the endemic “tiquilia nesiotica” are the organisms that cause the bio-erosion of the lava, converting it into soil where other less-adapted species will be able to survive.  The view from the top is breathtaking, full of spatter cones, lava tubes, and “hornitos,” all of which are common features on the volcanic landscape that seem taken from a movie of the moon. Read More>

Oct 20, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Fernandina & Isabela Islands

This area is a strange and wonderful place here in Galapagos as we explore the western part of the archipelago. The surrounding ocean brightens as we search for cetaceans in the early morning along the Bolivar Channel, which separates Fernandina and Isabela islands. Splashes are spotted in the distance and as we approach we encounter short-finned pilot whales with their distinctive falcate dorsal fins. Among the pod there are five small dorsal fins which indicate calves among the group. We are able to have a close look at these large members of the Delphinidae family (large oceanic dolphins) as they are quite slow in the water when not diving; however, they are known to make extremely long dives of over 1000 feet searching for squid as a food source. Then, no longer than 10 minutes after finding the first group we come upon another; however, this large group is mixed with bottlenose dolphins that come to the bow of the ship to “ride” the bow wave. This was a great start to the day, and then we arrived at Fernandina Island. Read More>

Oct 20, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

The Dalles & Maryhill

Today we continued our adventure of exploration along the Columbia River. Our first stop was at Rowena Crest where we had sweeping views of the river and basalt cliffs. Then we drove to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum. The exhibits on the geology and cultural history of the gorge were varied and visually stimulating. Of great interest were the displays of two live raptors, representatives of the birds of prey inhabiting the gorge, and the exhibit of the items of cargo carried by Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery. Some guests returned to the National Geographic Sea Bird by a 5.5-mile bike path, while others walked back via a shorter route. Others took a nature or photo walk around the natural area behind the Discovery Center. Yet other guests returned via motor coach to Lewis and Clark’s Rock Fort campsite, where the explorers spent time going downriver in 1805 and upriver in 1806. After lunch on board, we traveled by motor coach across the Columbia River to the Washington side for a visit to the Maryhill Art Museum. Read More>

Oct 19, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Ilha Anchieta

Through the night we sailed south down the coast from Rio, and turned our clocks forward an hour. First light revealed the silhouette of a densely forested island, Ilha Anchieta, with its own dark history. If we turn the clock back 500 years, no one lived here except the native Guarani-Yupi Indians, who fished and foraged in a pristine forest. Then the Portuguese arrived, came ashore and made a treaty with the Indians, promising to live peacefully alongside. Inevitably over the decades more and more Portuguese arrived, displacing the Indians from their forest home. Turn the clock back a century, when the new authorities decided that this lovely place was perfect for a penal colony, small, isolated, 25 miles from the mainland. Read More>

Oct 19, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

North Seymour & Rabida Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a living paradise of wildlife, and today we experienced more of its marvels by visiting two of the most iconic Islands here. The best way to begin our expedition was to visit the bird paradise at North Seymour Island. As soon as we landed, two baby Galapagos sea lions were our welcome committee to a magnificent island. Farther into the trail, the marvels of a fantastic bird paradise were shown to our senses. Read More>

Oct 19, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Cascade Locks & Hood River

Along the Pacific Northwest coast, weather patterns predominately flow in the direction of west to east. Moisture-laden clouds are wrung nearly dry as they smack into the Cascade Mountain Range, work their way up, over and through the Columbia River Gorge, and emerge as wisps of their former waterlogged selves. As we approached Bonneville lock and dam this morning, the clouds associated with the latest weather patterns were sporadically letting go their cargo of moisture as they scudded their way eastward. Read More>

Oct 18, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Genovesa

The island of Genovesa is one of the northern formations of the archipelago. Today we landed on Darwin’s Bay which is a sandy beach made of broken pieces of coral surrounded by the eroded cliffs of the caldera. This is the habitat of many species of seabirds, so this island is also known as “bird Island.” As we started the walk we found many swallow-tail gulls feeding their immature chicks that were constantly begging for food. It was just amazing to see the numbers of red-footed boobies doing different things. There were couples beginning their courtship, others making nests, some chicks in the nests, and a lot of immature birds wanting to jump off the trees. These last birds were particularly interesting since we could see on their faces how they were nervous about this, probably their first jump. It was also interesting to learn that the ocean currents have not brought the land reptiles normally found on the central islands so as a result of it, we could only find here the marine iguanas that are actually within the smallest of the entire islands. As a result of the land reptile’s absence the cacti is not spending energy in making strong spines—the spines today were as soft as hair.   Snorkelers got ready to get into very nice calm water. Read More>

Oct 18, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Paraty

Early morning cloud cover was clearing quickly as we approached our anchorage early this morning, the evocative old town of Paraty already preparing for a festive weekend ahead, its party-boat crews and store owners all in readiness for business. Our long Zodiac approach through the calm sub-tropical waters of this island-studded coast brought us to a perfectly preserved eighteenth-century colonial town with cobbled streets and low rise buildings, all in an excellent state of preservation as befits a town with UNESCO World Heritage status. It looks and feels as though the Portuguese colonizers left yesterday. An intriguing feature is that the main streets are concave and cleansed each day by the in-coming tide, a spectacle we were able to witness at noon today. Our historical walking tours visited a number of key buildings, including churches, art exhibitions, and a culinary emporium, the latter offering cachaça tastings including one infused in clove and cinnamon named Gabriela, inspired by the work of the national literary hero Jorge Amado. The Casa da Cultura had a number of interesting exhibits made by local artists. The shallow bay was initially chosen because it afforded a measure of protection to the local carrying trade of the Portuguese who used the port of Paraty to export gold and diamonds from their mines in the hinterland of Minais Gerais up the coast to Rio de Janeiro for onward transfer to Lisbon. Read More>

Oct 18, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

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

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Daily Expedition Report Information

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