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Lastest Expedition Reports

The Drake Passage, Beagle Channel & Ushuaia

With our bow pointed north, the National Geographic Explorer continued its departure from the Antarctic Peninsula. With gratitude, our guests found the Drake Passage to be much kinder than originally experienced on our initial crossing. This allowed for a mingling of photographers to share and reflect on the photos that were achieved during our expedition, as well as long views of the Southern Ocean as it rolled around us.  Due to the favorable weather, we were treated to a rare approach to the very bottom of the South American continent. Read More>

Dec 19, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At Sea Approaching Easter Island

Our final day at sea before arriving at Easter Island dawned with the familiar gentle rolling of the ship. The past few days have seen us travel many hundreds of miles east through the midst of the South Pacific and despite this area of ocean being vulnerable to rough seas, we have been fortunate to experience only a little of what the South Pacific can generate. A relatively steady swell coupled with a stabilized ship makes long stretches at sea on board National Geographic Orion quite comfortable. Having enjoyed our breakfast and the cooling morning breeze in the outdoor café we were eager to hear more about our final destination. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Santiago Island

We started our day with an early activity—a visit to Espumilla Beach. This beach has a mile-long trail over a mangrove and a “Palo santo” forest. The “Palo santo”, or incense trees, are native for the Americas, but outside Galapagos they are considered to be endangered. Here in this archipelago they are protected and abundant along the arid zone of every island. During the dry season, which runs from June to December, they give the impression of a ghostly appearance, because they dropped their leaves to save water. And during the warmer wet season they bloom with beautiful green leaves and white flowers. The seeds from incense trees can be dormant for many years until they find the right weather conditions to germinate. While some of us were hiking, we also offered a round of kayaking. Because this location has very interesting geological formations along the coast, it’s a good place to observe shore birds, such as pelicans, boobies, turtles, and Galapagos sea lions. To finish our morning activity, we sailed for a short distance toward Buccaneer’s Cove and as soon as we dropped anchor we went out for deep water snorkeling. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Drake Passage

The dreaded Drake Passage was the Drake “lake” today as we crossed it northbound for South America. Once a massive low had moved through the Drake days earlier, much of the energy in the atmosphere was dissipated. This left a mild high that produced little wind and calmed the seas. We enjoyed amazingly calm water with little swell as we plied our way from Antarctica towards Cape Horn. Cape Horn is on an island just off of Tierra del Fuego on the Chilean side of Patagonia. Known for its high winds and seas, it has been the nucleus for many incredible sea stories, especially from the tall sailing ships that rounded her before the Panama Canal was built. A few birds were seen, but with little wind the seabirds of the Southern Ocean can’t make their way to where they make their living. Many were just sitting on the ocean awaiting the wind. There were a few presentations, including part two of Steve MacLean’s presentation on the Endurance expedition, also known as Shackletons’ most successful failure. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Santa Cruz Island

The National Geographic Endeavour dropped its anchor today at 6:00 a.m. in Academy Bay, Santa Cruz Island. After an early breakfast we disembarked ready to spend the whole day on the Island doing various activities.  In the morning we visited the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is the institution that’s been helping the Ecuadorian government with scientific studies about the fragile flora and fauna of the Galápagos. Read More>

Dec 18, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Coiba Island & Granito de Oro Island

This morning we woke up in Panamanian waters after sailing all night from Costa Rica. After having a great time in Costa Rica for the past few days, we departed last night from the little port of Golfito in Golfo Dulce area, and almost magically woke up this morning in Panama, sailing along a mountainous coastline on our way to the mega island of Coiba island, our destination for today.  Coiba Island in Panama is quite an interesting place. Read More>

Dec 17, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

At Sea towards Easter Island

We continue on our way from Pitcairn to Easter Island. It is a long way, through some deep seas with an average depth of nearly 10,000 feet. The water is deep azure blue, similar to the crayon situated all the way at the end in the line of blues. This color of blue tells us how incredibly clear the water is, thus meaning there is very little here in the way of planktonic life. There is no land anywhere nearby. We have left the closest place, Ducie Island, and are headed towards the next one, Easter Island. This is a harsh environment for life, being so far from land in a deep sea with poor nutrients. However, there are signs of life, not only of birds and fish, but of the human migrations that have happened here. A few sea birds were spotted today with some probably coming from behind us while others are more tied to where we are going. Read More>

Dec 17, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Isabela Islands

At dawn, the National Geographic Islander pulled into Urvina Bay, located on the western coast of Isabela Island, between Darwin and Alcedo volcanoes (two of the five active volcanoes of Isabela). Immediately following breakfast, everyone went ashore, some to take a vigorous long hike with challenging rocky crossings, others to avoid those and stick to the level, smooth portion of the trail leading into the interior. Wonderful Galapagos! Upon landing, we had quite the drama of over ten Galapagos penguins fishing a thick school of small fry fish, in competition with two brown pelicans – just feet from the shore! It was already a successful outing by anyone’s standards. On the trail, Darwin’s finches introduced themselves, and the Galapagos mockingbirds were starting to construct nests. Tracks in the trail led us to bright yellow and orange land iguanas, as well as hinted at the presence of giant tortoises in the area. Crashing through the brush told us where to look for the latter, and one small female tortoise held her position in the scrub motionless, perhaps bemused by these tall, slender and quick animals that made many clicking noises when happy. Happiness was also evident when everyone returned to the beach and many, if not most, got into the water to cool off. Read More>

Dec 17, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Port Lockroy, the Gerlache Strait & Dallmann Bay, Antarctica

The crew and staff aboard the National Geographic Explorer will do whatever it takes to provide our guests with the best possible Antarctic experience—witness our morning landing at Port Lockroy. This is the site of a former British base, occupied between 1944 and 1962. It was abandoned and falling into ruins until the U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust stepped in to preserve this bit of Antarctic history. The refurbished buildings became an Antarctic museum and farthest South gift shop. We arrived this morning to find the bay packed with brash ice that had moved in with the wind and tide, but it was a visit not to be missed, especially with Christmas shopping at hand. Our ship pushed into the ice closer than we could ever imagine and the staff, led by Expedition Leader Lisa Kelley, donned chest waders and float coats to jump into the frigid water and push the ice aside, one Zodiac at a time, so we could land on the rocks below the base. The visit gave us a fascinating view into the lives of men (for they were all men) living in Antarctica in the mid-20th century. We are fortunate to be travelling with killer whale biologists John Durban and Holly Fearnbach. Read More>

Dec 17, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Santiago Island

We left the western regions, and after night-long navigation we dropped anchor early this morning at Espumilla beach, in the northwestern coast of Santiago. A pre-breakfast outing was on schedule, an optional choice for the early risers. Espumilla is a very important sea turtle nesting beach, and evidence of this in the shape of turtle tracks and nests all along it really surprised us. We walked inland along a trail that took us under a canopy of mature mangrove trees, and also through a forest of ‘palo santo’ or incense trees, the oldest known in the archipelago. Many land bird species inhabit this area, which, being the end of the cool season, is particularly dry; therefore, the behavior of mockingbirds, flycatchers and finches seems to be more dramatic. We returned back on board and our ship continued further north, as our next destination was Buccaneer Cove. This is reputedly a favorite anchorage for buccaneers and pirates, who used it for approximately a span of 200 years. They particularly liked stopping at Santiago, then called James Island, as they were able to find safe anchorages, firewood, abundant tortoises and a freshwater spring. We did not land at Buccaneer Cove, as it is not permitted by the Galapagos National Park Service, but we explored it in various ways. December is a month of changing seasons, and we are shifting from the cool, dry into the wet and rainy one. Therefore, we have experienced northern winds, which have made the coastline of the Galapagos much more dramatic. Some of our guests explored the coastline either by taking a Zodiac ride, or by paddling and kayaking, or by snorkeling. It was a great morning, with plenty of varied adventures! In the afternoon, we relocated to James Bay. Read More>

Dec 17, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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