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Raft Point Bluff and Montgomery Reef, Australia

As the dawn broke, another stunning morning was experienced in The Kimberley.  After breaking of the fast, we headed to Raft Point Bluff, a place characterized by impressive geological formations of pink and orange sandstone cliffs plunging into the sea of Doubtful Bay. During our ascent to view the art, we were greeted by the icon of The Kimberley, the Boab tree (Adansonia gregorii), a relative of the Madagascan and African species known as Baobabs. Though not exceptionally high (up to 15 m), they can reach a massive girth of up to 20 meters. Standing tall and bloated along the path, some of the specimens are considered to be over a millennia in age. On the way we heard and saw a range of birds, including spangled drongo, bar-breasted honeyeaters, red-headed honeyeater, brown honeyeater, and wood-swallows. At the top of the track, we had the opportunity to admire the mysterious and intriguing Wandjina rock art. Wandjinas are spiritual figures displaying large haloed heads with no mouths.  They are painted on sandstone surfaces, usually in various colours of reds, browns, yellows, whites and black pigments. We were fortunate enough to meet some of the original custodians of the land that explained and shared their beliefs and stories about this special place and unique rock art.

After a tasty lunch savored on board, we boarded our Zodiacs for another adventure.

Jul 24, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Red Bluff Bay and Lake Eva

Early risers were greeted with a typical soup-thick fog within Red Bluff Bay, but with cameras and coffee in hand their patience was quickly rewarded. A break in the clouds soon revealed the morning sun and a nearby waterfall cascading down, while the still waters provided reflections to capture both hearts and images. 

Heading into Warm Springs Bay, National Geographic Sea Lion intercepted a skiff carrying none other than Andy Szabo, the director of the Alaskan Whale Foundation.

Jul 23, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

George Island, Elfin Cove & The Inian Islands

Our morning wake-up call came around 6 a.m. from a group of humpback whales. The sound of their breaths at the surface and the splash of a breach drew us out of our cabins and set the stage for a day filled with spectacular wildlife! 

Our first stop was Granite Cove at George Island.

Jul 23, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Vigur Island, Isafjord

How can be a day be anything but fantastic when your wake-up call is accompanied by the announcement that there are humpback whales at the bow of the boat? The day is only minutes old and already we are having incredible wildlife viewing as a humpback whale keeps surfacing only yards away from our ship. We linger as long as we can, but we have puffins to visit.

This morning we disembark onto the island of Vigur, a tiny little island in Isafjord.

Jul 23, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Santa Cruz

To the north of the large island of Santa Cruz and far from the inhabited part is Dragon Hill, with remarkable variety in both flora and fauna. 

After a wet landing on a rocky terrain we come across a white sandy beach surrounded by black basaltic rock.

Jul 23, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Talbot Bay

Day two of the northbound leg of the Kimberley trip had the National Geographic Orion thread her way through the aptly named island chain called ‘the Narrows’ to enter Talbot Bay and anchor between Slug Island and the McLarty Ranges. Upon arrival the National Geographic Orion and her guests were greeted by some of the locals – two large tawny nurse sharks which swam right up to the marina deck, entertaining everyone with their beauty and natural grace.

One of the reasons to visit Talbot Bay was to view the spectacle of the Horizontal Waterfalls, locally known as the ‘Horries.

Jul 23, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Cascade Creek and Petersburg

Early this morning, National Geographic Sea Lion continued her journey into Frederick Sound, making a slight turn into Thomas Bay which was our morning destination. The sound of a raging river could be heard as Zodiacs made their way into shore and the entrance to a National Forest Service semi-maintained trail made up of a “plank walk.” Leaving the beach we made our way up the Cascade Creek Trail, into the forest along a very full stream...which led to a enormous, raging waterfall.

The early morning sunlight had just crested the hill to the east of the waterfall, filling the area around the base of the waterfall with sunlight reflected off millions of particles of mist.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Red Bluff Bay & Lake Eva Trail

Today was a day of changing speeds. It began with an almost mystical quality as we entered Red Bluff Bay during the early hours. Hardly a breath of air stirred the water as we reveled at the hidden entrance that opened into a serene lovely sanctuary that we enjoyed until breakfast was served.

A few hours later our guest speaker Dr.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Floreana Island

We spent the whole day at Floreana Island in three different locations. Even though they are very close together, they look very different from each other. And in order to accomplish our program we had to start our day with a pre-breakfast activity, first we hiked over compacted volcanic ash. It was a very easy trail and suitable for everyone onboard the National Geographic Islander

We disembarked on a volcanic material beach with a high concentration of olivine crystals, that is the reason this beach is known as a green beach.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Latrabjarg Cliffs and Flatey, Iceland

We awoke to a misty, moist first morning as we made our approach to the spectacular Latrabjarg cliffs of Iceland’s rugged northwestern shores. These ledged cliffs are perfectly formed to house a major colony of razorbills and other members of the auk family, including Atlantic puffin and black guillemot. Rich feeding grounds were much in evidence with balls of mackerel at every turn and, in spite of the misty conditions, there were good bird sightings including red-necked phalarope in addition to numerous fulmar and kittiwake.

Our afternoon destination was the historic community of Flatey.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

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