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Santa Cruz and Daphne Islands

After a few hours of navigation, we dropped anchor in the early morning at Cerro Dragón, or Dragon Hill, located in the northern coast of the Santa Cruz Island. It is hard to believe that this is the same island that we explored a previously, as the landscape at this site is brown and arid instead of lush and green! The trail led us inland into the territories of one of the last remnants of a once large population of Galápagos land iguanas. This endemic species has been severely decimated in the last hundred years due to predation by introduced carnivorous land mammals like rats, cats and dogs. We are well into the dry season now, and therefore the local vegetation has decayed, creating a yellowish mantle on the area. And since the land iguanas are yellow as well, this became a bit of a difficult search, but we were ultimately successful. As the ground and air warmed up, the iguanas started emerging from their boroughs, to soak up in the sun and find their food. In addition to the land iguanas, we also enjoyed observing the other local inhabitants, like the Galápagos mockingbirds, marine iguanas, yellow warblers, herons and a solitary greater flamingo feeding in a brackish lagoon. We returned back on board and our ship changed position to be nearer to Guy Fawkes, a group of small islets not far from Dragon Hill. Here, some of our guests chose to take a Zodiac ride along its shoreline, where many seabird species next, like blue-footed and Nazca boobies, brown noddies, swallow-tailed gulls and Galápagos shearwaters. A couple of American oystercatchers were busy piercing the barnacles, while a few sea lions enjoyed a very, very long siesta on the rocks. Guy Fawkes is also a spectacular snorkeling site, with its deep wall covered in colorful marine invertebrates. Because of the surrounding deep waters, it is a highly productive area with many fish species, some of them rather large, like the giant manta ray that accompanied our snorkelers for a while. In the afternoon we anchored by Eden Islet; this is a tall tuff cone, half of which has been eroded away. Read More>

Sep 2, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

At Sea Crossing Baffin Bay to Greenland

It’s a great feeling being at sea with the gentle motion of National Geographic Explorer plying through the waves. Not only is it relaxing but also thought provoking. It’s a time for reflection, looking back on all we’ve experienced these past two weeks. From the polar bear sightings, to the ice and wonderful weather, this expedition has been truly epic. Today was also a great day to hear from our experts. Read More>

Sep 2, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Island joys: Isle of Canna and Isle of Mull

After breakfast we set off to explore the beautiful island of Canna. We had a choice of either joining Carol and Konia on a historical walk or Steve on a photo stroll. Canna offers many photo opportunities, as it is a very tranquil and scenic island. Read More>

Sep 2, 2015 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

Chatham Strait and Lake Eva

During the evening hours, the National Geographic Sea Lion made her way northwards and then west out through Frederick Sound and into Chatham Strait. Winds were predicted to be 20 to 25 knots. As the National Geographic Sea Lion entered Chatham Strait those winds hit hard as she made her way slowly towards our morning anchorage.  At some point in the night, our expedition leader was on the bridge and plans were changed to find shelter. As daylight crested, the bow of the ship was headed into Peril Strait, as we made our way towards Saook Bay.  Naturalists were on the bow with the sunrise when a breaching humpback whale was spotted!  At 6:30am a ship wide call went out and very soon the bow of the Sea Lion was filled with anxious whale watchers.  The whale continued to breach in the early morning magic light, providing a fabulous start to our day. Again and again we watched as this animal soared into the air displaying its long pectoral flippers, water falling away in the high winds. The ship was expertly maneuvered in wind and chop for wonderful views of breaching and finally tale lobbing as the whale began to slow down to just surfacing for long breaths of air. Long before breakfast, we were already enjoying sightings beyond belief! We continued into Peril Strait towards a protected area and took shelter in Saook Bay. Read More>

Sep 2, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Eilean Donan Castle, Plocton & The Clan Donald Centre, Isle of Skye

It’s our first full day here in Scotland and we start with visit to a Scottish icon, Eilean Donan Castle. Eilean Donan is one of Scotland’s most recognizable landmarks given to the many movies that have been filmed here. It is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, which is understandable since it is as we all remember the castles of our dreams as youngsters, imagining being a knight in the days of old. It is perfectly situated at the end of a long stone bridge and sits out on its own island, a most ideal setting for any nobleman or noblewoman. The castle has been renovated and much of it dates back to the 20th century, when Lieutenant Colonel MacRae devoted his life to rebuilding the site and reclaiming it for Clan MacRae. After our visit to Eilean Donan, we drive a short distance to Plocton a tiny village overlooking Loch Carron and the Creag nan Darach Mountain. Read More>

Sep 1, 2015 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

Le Conte Bay & Petersburg

“Shh – don’t jinx it,” was the word on deck this morning. The rain had stopped and large swaths of blue were displacing the grey clouds that had persisted since the trip began. Sailors are a superstitious lot, and we didn’t want to press our luck by mentioning the weather… This morning, the National Geographic Sea Lion took station at the mouth of the Le Conte Bay, which, due to shallow depths, acts like a catch basin for the icebergs and bergy bits that are calved from the Le Conte Glacier, whose terminus is about eight miles up the fjord it created. Read More>

Sep 1, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Chatham Strait & Kelp Bay

Sun! Glorious sun! Wow, what a day! We woke up to brilliant sunshine in Chatham Strait as the moon slowly slipped below the mountains of Baranof Island. Fresh snow rested atop the peaks and a few humpback whales were sighted before breakfast. Following breakfast we brought aboard guest lecturer Andy Szabo, the director of the Alaska Whale Foundation. He presented an energetic and entertaining program on humpback whales in Southeast Alaska, followed by a phantom bear sighting along the shoreline and a beautiful cascading waterfall. For the rest of the morning we cruised for wildlife and found a humpback whale feeding at the entrance of Kelp Bay. Harbor seals sat on small rocky islands and watched the undersea specialist and her dive buddies jump into the water. After lunch half the group headed out in kayaks to explore Kelp Bay. Read More>

Sep 1, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Santa Cruz Island

Last night we arrived to Santa Cruz Island and today went to the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center for Galapagos Giant Tortoises; this place has one of the most successful projects aiming to restore populations of the emblematic tortoises to their natural environment. We observed land tortoises from different islands as well as Galapagos land iguanas. Along the trail, we observed different species of Darwin’s finches, such as the common cactus finch and its long beak. There were also some Galapagos mockingbirds and Galapagos flycatchers flitting around us as we walked, looking for insects to feed on. The vegetation surrounding the area is impressive, with the endemic giant prickly pear cactus, which looks the same as a typical tree with golden brown bark, but reaches heights of more than twelve feet tall. After walking through the center, we had some time to walk around the town before heading up to the highlands. Read More>

Sep 1, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Fram Fjord, Ellesmere Island

Well it might be the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and in fact it felt like a spring day here in the north! National Geographic Explorer cruised slowly into Fram Fiord before breakfast, with dappled sunlight hitting the small bergs and mountainsides. A very picturesque scene, with calm waters and slowly increasing blue sky patches. It wasn’t long before we had spotted several small herds of muskox on the steep slopes and tundra filled valleys. Read More>

Sep 1, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Floreana Island

We had a pre breakfast outing followed by a wet landing on a green sandy beach, the color of which is due to the olivine crystals that produce a refraction of light.  Behind our landing site we found a brackish water lagoon where a few Greater flamingos were feeding on small shrimp like forms, algae and some other crustaceans within the mud. As we ventured farther onto the island we encountered approximately 13 Diamond sting rays which were right underneath the breaking waves. Read More>

Sep 1, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

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