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Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve

Ask any of the naturalists onboard what the highlight of this voyage must be and the answer should be obvious—our day in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. This reserve was established in 1895, which makes it the oldest game park in Africa. It is set in the heart of Zululand and covers nearly 100,000 ha (about 250,000 acres). Actually, it is composed of two sections—the northern part is known as Hluhluwe (pronounced Shloosh-lewy) and the southern component is known as Imfolozi (pronounced just as it is spelled). The park is characterized by hilly topography and very high species diversities of both birds and mammals, as well as a wide variety of invertebrates, reptiles, and plant life. It is known worldwide for the great efforts started in the 1980s to save the white rhinoceros from extinction. This project was very successful, and in spite of some setbacks in restocking other areas due to despicable poaching, the population here is quite healthy.   We got off to a very early start this morning from our hotels and lodges in St. Read More>

Mar 29, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean

Española Island

An ancient volcanic landmass, well known for its beauty and fascinating wildlife, was our host island today. Española is characterized by its high endemism, due to the fact that is over three million years old. This span of time has allowed the island to built up and establish a unique ecosystem that is only found in Española Island. The morning outing at Gardner bay amazed our guests. Read More>

Mar 29, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Isla San Jose

A beautiful sunrise and early wake-up call found us at Isla San Jose. Some of us ventured ashore before breakfast and were treated to the beautiful landscape under the changing morning light. After breakfast we had more time to explore the island—lizards darted underfoot, hummingbirds zipped through the air, and the soft curves of the sandstone cliffs lined our path along the arroyo. Jack Swenson started our afternoon with some tips about photographing dolphins and, as if on cue, the dolphins arrived to test our skills. Read More>

Mar 28, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Game Reserve, South Africa

We arrived early this morning off the deep water harbor of Richard’s Bay, only to have to wait several hours for the required pilot to board our vessel before we could berth alongside. No matter, we still were able to go ashore right on schedule. This is one of the largest harbors in Africa and dates back to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Nowadays, it is the main export facility for mined ores and coal, as well as products from other industries such as the smelting of aluminum, or aluminium if you prefer, and the manufacture of synthetic fertilizers. For our purposes, however, Richard’s Bay was an ideal jumping off point to explore the wonderful natural history of Zululand. These next two days would prove to be our biggest adventure yet of the voyage as we dedicated our time to experiencing the famous megafauna of wild Africa.   Today, we explored the expansive iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Game Reserve. Read More>

Mar 28, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean

San Cristobal Island

San Cristobal is the political capital of the Galapagos Islands and the most eastern island we visited during the trip. On the northern part of the island, lava flows of about a million years old form the landscape. Read More>

Mar 28, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Los Islotes & Isla Partida

The sun was out in full force this morning as we navigated our small boats around the rock outcropping of Los Islotes, a chunk of volcanic rock off the north coast of Isla Partida, a part of the Archipelago de Espiritu Santo National Park. California sea lions lounged on the rocks, while gulls and frigatebirds perched high atop the crags.  After our morning cruises, many bold travelers donned wetsuits, grabbed their underwater cameras, and spent the rest of the morning snorkeling with the sea lions. Read More>

Mar 27, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Durban to Eshowe (Zululand)

We spent last night berthed in the bustling harbor of Durban, South Africa’s biggest port. This provided us with an ideal position from which to operate our day’s exploration of KwaZulu-Natal, or Zululand. Right after breakfast, we all boarded coaches to head for Eshowe, a region located in the heart of Zululand. Most of us opted for a morning visit to Fort Nongqayi to learn about the sometimes violent history of the interactions between the Zulu nation and the British colonizers. The fort was built by the British in 1844, during a lull in the Zulu Wars. There were three major wars fought here in Zululand during the 19th century between Britain and the Zulu Kingdom. Two wars occurred before the fort was established and the final one, made famous by the Battle of Rourke’s Drift in 1879, occurred after its construction. The structure provides us with an intact representative of the typical British fortress used in colonial Africa. No fighting actually took place here in Eshowe after the fort was built, and perhaps the fort’s greatest importance was its later use as a training facility and barracks for the Zulu constabulary.    The rest of us spent much of the morning exploring the Dlinza Forest (also in the Eshowe region), where we had a chance to visit a beautiful piece of the original forest of Natal. Read More>

Mar 27, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean

Santa Cruz Island

Clear skies and sunshine gave us a warm welcome to Santa Cruz. All of our guests were very excited to see the unique wildlife of this Island and also looked forward to seeing the first town of the expedition.  It is a little hard to believe that people live in the Galapagos, so today we showed our guests the two different sides of this enchanted archipelago.   The Charles Darwin Station, home of several hundred giant tortoises, was our first destination of the morning. Read More>

Mar 27, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

San Cristobal Island

Our Galapagos expedition this week has managed to take us from the most western to most eastern island in the enchanted archipelago, allowing us to have a complete overview of the pristine nature’s essence, from the youngest to the oldest ecosystems that have followed in succession since their establishment. Today, the National Geographic Endeavour dropped anchor off the coast of San Cristobal Island, embracing the amazing view of the titan cliffs of our visitor site known as Pitt’s Point. Read More>

Mar 27, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Land’s End & San Jose del Cabo

Having sailed south all night long in the open Pacific from Magdalena Bay, we arrived to the southern part of the peninsula of Baja California before sunrise. Our captain’s expert hand maneuvered the National Geographic Sea Bird in front of the iconic granite arch at Land’s End that has become the identifying image of Cabo San Lucas around the world; we admired the beautiful rock formation and watched the numerous seabirds and sea lions, as well as the early morning commute of the local sport fishing fleet. Cabo San Lucas is renowned as favorite place for those who like to pursue big game fish like marlin, tuna, and sailfish. Many other people like Cabo as well, as the two huge cruise ships anchored in the bay and some late spring-breakers showed. But we were interested in other kind of creatures, and right there off the arch we encountered the first humpback whales of the day. We sailed a few miles to the east and entered the Puerto Los Cabos marina to visit the town of San José del Cabo. Read More>

Mar 26, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

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Daily Expedition Report Information

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