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Badas Islands & At Sea

After a day at sea, we were ready for new adventures in the water. Exploring the world in the coral reefs around the rarely visited island of Tambelan, part of the Badas group in the Karimata Strait, was a much-welcomed plan by all. Our first chance to jump in the water with plenty of time to seek the creatures that make a living around the coral was readily taken by many of us, while others enjoyed what they thought was going to be the drier option: a tour on the glass bottom Zodiac. The short lived, but nonetheless great, tropical storm that visited us during the morning made sure the glass bottom Zodiac guests ended up wetter than the ones that had actually choose to go snorkeling! It was a powerful demonstration of the typical rain showers of these regions. In any case, either option was rewarded with great encounters with dozens of different tropical fish (including Nemo!), several types of coral and anemones and for those that managed to get their eyes out of the water for a minute or two, hovering over the island were some fascinating frigatebirds, a family of white-bellied sea eagles and even a few of the remarkable nicobar pigeons were spotted! After a few hours playing in the water, we all came back on board for a delicious (yet again!) lunch and a well-deserved nap. Read More>

Sep 4, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Bartolome & Chinese Hat

It is 6:30 in the morning, the sun is out, and we are ready for the first expedition of the day on this small island, known for its truly fantastic volcanic landscape, which is reminiscent of the moon. About 400 wooden steps make up the boardwalk that was built by the National Park some years ago. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

We started the day with a dry landing at South Plaza. The prickly pear forest and the arid terrain here has evolved into the natural habitat of the endemic land iguanas. The colossal species is found on six different islands within the enchanted archipelago, including south plaza where they have become the top herbivore. This volcanic floor of south plaza was uplifted from the bottom of the ocean millions of years ago, and today serves as the habitat for yellow dragons, finches, cacti, colonies of sea lions and a large variety of vegetation, snakes, and endemic scorpions.  This phenomenon allowed for the biological process of secondary succession to take place. The cliffs of these islands are bathed by the breaking waves and they hold several nesting grounds for the Galapagos shear waters and Swallow tailed gulls, which are seen flying in search of food. After lunch we dropped anchor and got ready to explore the visitor site on Santa Fe Island. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Port Althorp & Inian Islands

The day began with wonder as an early announcement told of the many bears walking the low tide line of Port Althorp. First there was a sow walking along with two yearling cubs trailing behind her, looking healthy and spry, and then a large male appeared to add drama to the event. Trailing behind the trio with great intention, the naturalists explained that the male could very well be hunting the cubs. As backwards as this may seem, it is part of the natural cycle of the brown bears’ existence, but luckily the mother wisely took her cubs into the obscurity of the woods – and we wish them safe travels. Landing on the beach, guests were treated to bear prints, a myriad of salmon running up the stream, and even the rarely seen Humboldt squid washed up upon the shore. After lunch, we anchored off the Inian Islands – a place like no other in Alaska. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Ummannaq & Qilakitsoq, Greenland

After days in the Canadian Arctic without a glimpse of civilization the brightly colored houses that dotted the hills of Ummannaq might have felt like the bright lights of Vegas to those on board National Geographic Explorer. Although Ummannaq is a modest settlement, its setting could not be more dramatic. A prominent rock mountain is surrounded by colorful buildings, and with a bright blue sky and large white ice bergs in the foreground we were given the perfect opportunity to practice our panoramic shots. We were welcomed ashore by the barking huskies as we made our way along the port road towards the museum. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Iona, Duart Castle & Oban

All was quiet in Tobermoray at 6 a.m. this morning as we stole away from our berth and continued our passage down the Sound of Mull to Craignure. A brisk wind spread whitecaps here and there, but soon we were aboard Sheila’s bus and on our way by road to Finnephort, on the sout-western tip of Mull. Here we joined the ferry for the short crossing to Iona. It doesn’t take long to fall under the charm of this tiny island, even on a blustery September day. It was to this special place that St. Columba came around 563 A.D. to establish his great Celtic monastery, and over the years this grew into a major teaching, cultural, spiritual, and artistic centre, prospering alongside the new Kingdom of the Scots whose religious powerhouse it had become. A great royal burial ground was established at Reilig Oran, where countless chiefs, kings, and notables were buried under sculptured stones.  Even the depredations of the Pagan Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries A.D. did not extinguish it, and from 1200 A.D. it saw renewed life as the spiritual heart of the Lordship of the Isles. Today Iona is a peaceful sleepy little community where ancient ruins are found dotted among the lanes, gardens, and cottages. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

Glacier Bay National Park

An early wakeup call by our expedition leader announced a wonderful sunrise that was not to be missed. As we emerged from our cabins, the light got better and better, illuminating Johns Hopkins Glacier with magical light. The north winds that blew for the last days have cleared up the skies, and sunrise was followed by a sunny day as we sailed through Glacier Bay National Park. As National Geographic Sea Bird traveled over its mirrored image, we sailed into Tarr Inlet. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

At Sea

At first when having an “At Sea Day,” one might wonder how they will spend the day; some might even entertain the idea of relaxing for the day. It’s always interesting to hear from some people that they found the days travelling between locations as the most exhausting and a lot of people remember them as their favourite days of the expedition. Other than the chance to spend the day on what has to be one of the most beautiful expedition ships in the world, the National Geographic Orion, the highlight is being able to attend presentations by the National Geographic representatives and the expedition team. Today we started off with the presentation “On Assignment with National Geographic,” held by our National Geographic photographer Jeff Mauritzen. Read More>

Sep 3, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Santa Cruz Island

By the time our guests got up this morning we were anchored at Academy Bay at the south end of Santa Cruz Island. It was a beautiful morning and by 8:00 all of our guests already landed and were on their way to visit and learn about one of the most successful programs on ecological restoration of the islands, the Giant Tortoise Rearing Center. This is a program that is jointly run by the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) and the Charles Darwin Research Station.  After this visit our guests had the chance to visit the community of Puerto Ayora where some did souvenir shopping while others went for ice cream and others to a cyber café. By 11:00 am our guests boarded buses and headed to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to enjoy a visit to a sugar cane mill called El Trapiche. Read More>

Sep 2, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Icy Strait, Cross Sound & Chichagof Island

Today we explored far northern Southeast Alaska. Icy Strait and Cross Sound, two joined waterways, empty and fill the whole watery region every time the tide changes. Tidal currents race dangerously. But they also lift nutrients to the sunlit surface. Additionally, the glaciers of Glacier Bay National Park dump huge quantities of rock dust into the sea. Together, these make Icy Strait perhaps the most productive waters on the Northwest Coast. We awoke under pink-tinged clouds among the Inian Islands. Read More>

Sep 2, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

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