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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


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


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

Astoria, Oregon

Sailing into Astoria in the earliest light of dawn we pass near the lights of a giant cargo ship. We make a turn to portside and approach our dock across from a large U.S. Coast Guard ship. Captain Kay expertly maneuvers the National Geographic Sea Bird alongside and our sailors make the lines fast to the dock. First thing this morning we all travel to Fort Clatsop, the site where Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-06. On the way we see a large herd of Roosevelt Elk, most likely descendants of the very animals that sustained the Corps of Discovery through their stay at Fort Clatsop. Following an orientation we are guided by a ranger as we visit a replica of the fort and learn about living conditions during that difficult winter. Then we take a walk in the woods—a temperate rain forest. We walk down a path beneath towering Sitka spruce and see, in addition to the wonderful plants, a sassy Douglas squirrel, a winter wren, some chestnut-backed chickadees, and a beautiful blue Steller’s jay.  On our way back into Astoria we drive up the winding road to the top of Coxcomb Hill for a look at a local landmark, the famous Astoria Column. Read More>

Oct 17, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Sombrero Chino and Santiago Islands

Just before midnight, we left our anchorage off Santa Fe Island and all night long we slowly and smoothly cruised along to the north and then to the west. We dropped anchor at dawn between the small reddish cinder islet of Sombrero Chino and the larger, central island of Santiago, or “James.” A group joined our wellness specialist Roxana on the sky deck for stretching and a green smoothie at 0700; the rest of us had the chance to sleep-in until Daniel announced breakfast at 0730. We had a hearty meal of eggs benedict, smoked trout, fresh tropical fruits, and cereal and then boarded the Zodiacs for the first outing of the day.   With a “panguero” and naturalist in each Zodiac, we admired the extensive lava flow on island of Santiago that dates from 1897. Read More>

Oct 17, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

To see Rio was the goal of many that joined the National Geographic Explorer for this epic South American adventure. But how do you attempt to even get a glimpse of such vibrant and active city with a wide range of attractions?  You go out full of energy and participate in as many activities and visit as many places as you can and that the very hot weather lets you! For those very keen on experiencing some of Rio, the available options were all tempting. Some of us left early in the morning to drive to Tijuca forest, the largest wooded reserve inside a city anywhere in the world. The park is famous for many things but especially for its many kilometers of gorgeous hikes through the secondary growth rainforest and for the surprisingly diverse wildlife that preserves, right in the middle of a 6.5 million people city.  We were lucky enough to have good weather and saw a few of the bird specialties of the area. After a fantastic lunch in a ‘fazenda’ (old farm) in the park, we had the chance to visit Rio’s older favela, Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley). Read More>

Oct 17, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Rio de Janeiro

The early risers were on deck at first light to experience arriving in Rio from the sea. They were rewarded with partly cloudy skies and the morning mist to move past Sugar Loaf Mountain into Guanabara Bay and, a bit later, seeing Corcovado with the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue. Alas, or perhaps not, both Sugar Loaf and Corcovado were partly covered by clouds. But we saw the Rio-Niteroi Ferries crossing the bay and then heard the roar of the 737s and the “Ponte Aerea,” or shuttle flights, between Sao Paulo and Rio starting at 6:00 a.m. In the north part of the bay one saw the many cargo ships and the traffic on the Rio-Niteroi Bridge. The “Magnificent City” or “Cidade Maravilhosa” then was opened to us. Of the various options, one group visited the Golden Lion Tamarin reserve and was rewarded with some spectacular close-up views and good photos of this endangered species. Read More>

Oct 16, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

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Daily Expedition Report Information

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

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