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Española Island

The Galapagos Islands exploration brought us today to one of the most magnificent places of the archipelago, Española Island.  After a delightful breakfast we got ready for the first adventure of the day along the cliffs of a magic underwater world known as Gardner Islet.  As soon as we got into the water the marvels of the Galapagos Marine Reserve were revealed. There were baby Galapagos sea lions swimming around us, reef fish of different colors were found all over the rocks, and the highlight was the Pacific green sea turtles that were swimming along the walls of Gardner Islet. After a magic experience along the cliffs, it was time to go to one of the most symbolic beaches of the Galapagos, Gardner bay. Read More>

Nov 23, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Pitcairn Island

This morning after a hearty breakfast we boarded Zodiacs to explore one of the most isolated, yet inhabited islands in the world, Pitcairn Island. Residents’ today range from 40 to 50, and when we arrived they explained to us the urgent need to attract more people to widen the possibilities of preserving the settlement that was founded by the Bounty mutineers in the late 18th century. With somewhat treacherous sea conditions today we had to make a landing on the western side of the island using a yet unfinished new harbour construction. Read More>

Nov 23, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Española Island

Located in the extreme southeast of the archipelago, Española is considered to be the oldest island in Galapagos, at approximately five million years old. It is flat and dry, with no highlands, but with a great endemism and a unique natural history, the result of millions of years of evolution.  Before 1892 when Ecuadorian government re-baptized the islands with Spanish names, its English name was Hood Island, after Viscount Samuel Hood. With excellent weather conditions, clear and calm waters, we loaded our Zodiacs and headed to Gardner Islet, where we started our activities with a snorkeling excursion to discover the incredible underwater world. Read More>

Nov 22, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

San Cristobal Island

We woke up on the northern part of Chatham Island, at a place called Pitt Point which is known for red footed boobies. We disembarked on volcanic ash sand after doing a little dingy ride to spot the red footed boobies perched on bushes by the cliff. After landing and drying our feet to put proper shoes on, we walked inland. Sea lions, marine iguanas and lava lizards were spotted along the shoreline. It was a clear day and the sun was shining. It was immediately warm for the walk, but fortunately we had brought plenty water to drink. As we walked up the hill the devastation caused by introduced goats became obvious as Scalesia bushes could only be found on the cliffs where the goats were not able to reach. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Zapote Creek and Supay River

Our Saturday started with a 6:00 a.m. boat ride up Zapote Creek off the Ucayali River. The skies were clear blue with some billowy white clouds and it promised to be another hot morning. However, at this hour the temperature is lovely and it is so wonderful to see the activities of the animals starting their day.  As we entered the creek we were greeted by a pink river dolphin fishing and a snowy egret standing sentinel at the river’s edge. Horned screamers could be heard in the distance and parrots and parakeets were flying overhead heading out to forage for the day. However, in one overhanging branch along the way we found an animal who was just going to bed. There was a small hole in a tree trunk and sticking out of it was the head of a cute little yellow-crowned brush-tailed rat. This sweet little rodent is nocturnal and scurries around at night collecting fruits to eat. During the day it retreats to its hole with just its head protruding out which has resulted in the locals calling it the “window mouse.” It even had a fruit it collected tucked under its chin! After breakfast, we headed back up Zapote Creek. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 Delfin II in Amazon

At Sea Towards Elephant Island, South Shetlands

If you were outside on deck today, you probably did not spend more than half an hour before going back inside for a cup of chocolate or tea and to regain at least some mobility in your extremities. South of the convergence or polar front as it is known these days, air temperatures are rarely far from 0° Celsius and the constant winds chill the air in a way only someone that has been to Antarctica can understand. Imagine then, spending 16 days on a wooden lifeboat roughly the size of our Zodiacs, with hardly any warm food or freshwater, no real place to rest or protect you, wet clothing, and a very uncertain future at best. This is what Ernest Shackleton and five of his men did, on these very same waters, 100 years ago in a desperate attempt to find help in South Georgia not only for themselves but also for their stranded comrades in Elephant Island. We can only imagine what they physically and mentally endured while they survived storms that during those same days sank a much larger whale catcher in nearby waters. We had hoped to find some whales of course, but to have a group of 25-30 fin whales feeding so close to the ship, some of them almost bow-riding and moving around as gently as a small dolphin was well beyond our expectations! Not every day you get ‘sprayed’ by a whale but… is it good or bad luck? The staff on the bow seemed to disagree on that whaling tradition, but we were definitely all very happy to have enjoyed such a close encounter. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

San Cristobal Island

We have had a great time on this week’s expedition around the magical Galápagos archipelago, surrounded by the intrinsic beauty of the volcanic landscapes and the ecological naiveté of the islands’ wildlife. This morning with San Cristobal Island in the horizon, I woke up in high spirits and eager to explore and explain all the marvels of this remote paradise. Read More>

Nov 20, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Santa Cruz Island

Today we got to the island of Santa Cruz in the center of the archipelago. Our day started by visiting the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding center located on the east end of Puerto Ayora. As we walked through the center we observed some of the types of Galapagos giant tortoises and also some of the Galapagos land iguanas in their pens. We also looked for Darwin finches as well as Galapagos mockingbirds and found several of these birds looking for food all around the center. At the end of the morning we got on to local buses and went to the highlands to a local farm. Read More>

Nov 20, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Pacaya River

This morning we woke up at the deepest part of the Pacaya- Samiria Reserve.  Delfin II motored up against the current of the Ucayali River, and tied up close to the entrance of the Pacaya River. We ventured into the Pacaya River at six thirty in the morning to take advantage of the pleasant temperature and the higher wildlife activity. We started out by watching squirrel monkeys, chestnut-fronted macaws, black-collared hawks, and many other jungle-dwelling creatures. Once upriver, we turned our three skiffs into "the jungle café." We tied up to a tree and our local naturalists turned into our waiters, and served us breakfast on board! While we enjoyed our breakfast and our coffee, short-tailed parrots and howler monkeys could be heard a distance away. We spent the afternoon exploring the Pacaya River, even deeper into the reserve. Read More>

Nov 20, 2015 Delfin II in Amazon

Marutea Sud Atoll, Aceton Group

After days at sea, sailing from one small island group to the next, it becomes apparent just how vast the Pacific Ocean is. With a bit of time up our sleeves, our expedition leader Tom decided to add yet another unplanned expedition stop to our itinerary, and after rolling through high seas for days we were pleasantly surprised to find almost ideal conditions for a morning filled with water activities. With the wind still hauling, we found good shelter on the leeward side of Marutea Sud Atoll and the dazzling azure water was just too inviting not to go in for a dip. Divers and snorkelers alike found an astounding array of marine life and a wonderfully pristine and healthy coral reef. A school of moorish idols flitted over the corals, a huge sea turtle paddled gracefully beneath us, and the masters of the reef, blacktip, whitetip and grey reef sharks, glided silently past us. What a wonderful way to spend the morning in this remote part of the world. Back on board National Geographic Orion, we had the opportunity to learn more from our expert guides about the biogeography of the South Pacific and about the tiny creatures of the sea that are the reason for why our oceans are teeming with all kinds of different life-forms. Read More>

Nov 20, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

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