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Komodo National Park

"Here be dragons!" Such words were written into the corners of old mariner's maps, hidden on the edges of the known world beyond which monsters both magnificent and terrible lay, creatures of nightmares that only the brave and foolhardy would seek out. Today we know that dragons don't really exist, right? Surely not the mythical, fire-breathing versions of our most fanciful tales? Fortunately not, perhaps, but that doesn't mean that the wondrous creatures that probably inspired them—at least in part--can't still be found. Today National Geographic Orion sailed into Komodo National Park to visit a group of islands upon which dragons really do still exist. Read More>

Aug 28, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Larantuka, Indonesia

Getting woken up in the wee hours of the morning is not the greatest. However, wasn’t it absolutely worth it?! Dr. Lawrence Blair had told us that the volcano on Pulau Komba, which was on our way from East Timor to the island of Flores, would most likely be active and it sure was. Captain Lyubo, always happy to accommodate unplanned expedition stops, slowed down the ship just after midnight and we got to experience an absolutely unforgettable nature spectacle. A bright moon lit the clouds above the mountain. We could hear rumbling noises from deep within the volcano. The earth was spitting fire. Chunks of lava were tumbling down the side of the mountain and disappeared in a black sea. One eruption followed the next and it was difficult to pull ourselves away. Though, at some point it was time to get moving again and also to get some rest before arriving at our first destination in Indonesia that same morning. In colorful busses we drove through the bustling streets of Flores’ capital city, Larantuka. Read More>

Aug 27, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Ideal Cove & Petersburg

The morning dawned with swirling patterns of gray. Chunks of ice from the LeConte glacier were grounded in the distance as we anchored at Ideal Cove and dropped expedition landing craft into the water. Heading to shore kingfishers swooped over the water, chattering at us as they scanned for small fish. Once ashore we split into groups and headed up a boardwalk trail into the forest. Fall colors splashed the greenery with brilliant flashes of berries (which were devoured en route)—highbush cranberries, blueberries, bunchberries (not the tastiest), watermelon berries. Some of the walks reached as far as a lake surrounded by sphagnum moss and yellow cedar. Stellar jays laughed in guffawing jeers as we wandered the boardwalk, blue plumage standing out like sapphires against the greenery. Once back aboard National Geographic Sea Bird, naturalist extraordinaire David Stephens presented a talk on the native art traditions of the northwest coast. Following lunch we docked in the town of Petersburg, a small fishing town founded on a strong Norwegian heritage. Read More>

Aug 27, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Ithaca, Greece

A golden sunrise kissed the calm blue waters of the Ionian Sea as we came home this morning to Ithaca. We sailed into the deep-water bay of Vathi and tendered to shore. Ithaca is the home of Odysseus and is referenced in poetry as a universal symbol of home yearning and arrival at your destination.  “When you set out for Ithaka ask that your way be long, full of adventure…” Our adventures began as we improvised a caravan of local taxis to take us up the scenic winding road to a monastery and a Greek Orthodox church. Read More>

Aug 27, 2015 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Lake Eva and Cruising Chatham Straight

It’s been an action packed day here in southeast Alaska. We woke up to an early morning sighting of killer whales just off the bow of the ship, providing spectacular views of these amazing animals in their environment. We followed the pod for nearly an hour with beautiful morning light that made for unbelievable photography. Killer whales live in matriarchal groups, with an alpha female who leads the pod. In this case there were several young males, easily identified by the markings on their dorsal fins and saddle patches, following their mother. It was a fantastic way to start the day. After the amazing whale sighting this morning, we made our way to Lake Eva where we spent our morning hiking and kayaking. Read More>

Aug 27, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Katakolon (to Olympia), Greece

On the way to the birthplace of the Olympics we woke to a beautiful morning in the Ionian Sea. It began with a surprising gentle breeze when there had been none forecast. Sea Cloud set sails unexpectedly during breakfast, and by 0930 we were thrilled with the unique experience of cruising the Zodiacs around Sea Cloud in her full glory with almost all sails set. It was a vision of the past to see her like that in the middle of the sea. Lunch on the lido deck was another joy of the day as we sailed slowly to the port of Katakalon for our anticipated visit to Olympia. Read More>

Aug 26, 2015 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Beechey Island & Devon Island

For a maritime historian and archaeologist like myself, this morning’s expedition to the barren, windswept beach of Beechey Island at the entrance of Wellington Channel was particularly poignant. For it was here that Sir John Franklin spent the winter of 1845-1846; it was here that he left a cairn pointing out the direction in which he was heading to find the elusive Northwest Passage; and it here that the first three members of his crew died and were buried. We all had the opportunity to visit the graves of Franklin’s crew who had succumbed to pneumonia and lead poisoning from the badly soldered canned foods. The simple headboards of the graves stood like sentinels at right angles to the sea facing west in the direction their fellow shipmates were to sail to their doom. Further down the beach was the scattered remains of Northumberland House, a temporary shelter built in 1853 to house more than 200 men of Sir Edward Belcher’s Arctic Squadron, one of the many expeditions sent out to scour the Arctic Archipelago for the missing expedition in the decade following Franklin’s disappearance. Read More>

Aug 26, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Santiago/James Island

After several days out in the western region, the most remote part of the Archipelago, the National Geographic Endeavour has relocated overnight back into the central area of the Galapagos. We anchored just as the sun started to rise, revealing a very different landscape than the one we had experienced at the younger islands of Fernandina and Isabela. Read More>

Aug 26, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove, Isabela Island

Today we explored the western realms of this enchanted archipelago.  Urbina Bay, our visitors’ site in the morning, is a place of great geological interest because an unusual event occurred as recent as 1954. In the scientific literature it is stated that a strong earthquake of 6.5 on the Richter scale took place in this area on June 4th, 1954 provoking a huge area adjacent to the coastline to uplift, leaving many marine creatures high and dry.  It is still possible to see huge pieces of brain coral many feet inland. A healthy and thriving population of Galapagos land iguanas live around this area and we saw several of them along the trails. At the end of the walk, as the sun was stronger, we had the chance to cool off on the landing beach. Once back onboard, the ship was repositioned to the south to Tagus Cove, a place where we spent the rest of the day. Read More>

Aug 26, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Glacier Bay National Park

The day started early (0230!) for some guests when the call came over the P.A. system about the northern lights (aurora borealis) display. As National Geographic Sea Lion traveled north in Glacier Bay National Park, the Great Bear constellation (Big Dipper - Ursa major, the symbol on Alaska’s state flag) was draped in shifting curtains of green light. We were fortunate to have the rare combination of conditions necessary for good viewing of this phenomenon—clear dark skies and charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere and interacting with various gases. By dawn we were situated in front of Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers at the end of Tarr Inlet—the northernmost extent of our voyage. Read More>

Aug 26, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

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