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Inian Islands, Elfin Cove & George Island

It's hard to believe we packed so much into one day! We woke up in Idaho Inlet, a narrow slice of water cutting into northern Chichagof Island. Waters were flat calm; everything was in shades of gray. Floating placidly, unperturbed by our presence, were rafts of wily water weasels—sea otters, the superstars of survival! Returning to north Pacific waters with a vengeance matched by the appetite of King Kong, sea otters are reshaping the underwater world beneath our hull by doing what they do best: eating. A couple otters bobbed past, crabs, clams, and other delicacies balanced on their tummies as they chomped them to bits with gusto. Inspired, we followed their example and headed to breakfast.

Our morning was filled with excitement as we leapt onto our expedition landing craft and puttered out into the Inian Islands.

Jul 24, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

We brake for bears and glaciers! Maybe that should be a bumper sticker here in Alaska.

There are few places in the world more inspiring than Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska, but here we were today, lucky to find ourselves in the legendary and beautiful home of many impressive glaciers, inlets, rock faces, and tall fog-shrouded peaks.

Jul 24, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Bartolome Island & Sombrero Chino

Today’s adventure is taking place on satellite islands surrounding Santiago Island, one of the largest in the archipelago. On this clear Galapagos morning we disembark early on the island of Bartolomé. We walk this small Scoria lava island named after one officer on board the HMS Beagle who was great company of young naturalist Charles Darwin during his voyage. 

This attractive island is great to learn about the young geology of the archipelago; and give the visitor a great encounter with the pioneer botany that is always so interesting.

Jul 24, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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

Santa Cruz Island

Today is the only day we visited a populated area, the town of Puerto Ayora located at Academy Bay, Santa Cruz Island, the third largest Island in the Galapagos. 

It is always surprising for our guests to see the amount of boats on the harbor and the amount of houses and activity on this Island, but this is where the headquarters of the National Park and the Darwin Research Station were placed over 50 years ago, two entities dedicated to the conservation and protection of the Islands.

Jul 23, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Red Bluff Bay and Lake Eva VIDEO

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

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Please note: Daily Expedition Reports (DER’s) are posted Monday-Friday only, 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.