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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

Neko Harbour & The Gerlache Strait

The wake up call gently awoke the passengers at 7:00 a. Read More>

Dec 16, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Esquinas River,Saladero and Casa Orquideas, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

The third full day of our exploration through the wonders of Central America took place in one of Costa Rica’s most isolated areas—the southern Pacific corner, specifically in the Golfo Dulce, an incredible deep gulf surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest. The sun shining through the horizon was the best sign of a great day to come. National Geographic Sea Lion dropped anchor in this emerald color water, while the guest were getting ready to explore this magnificent gulf, river, and forest. Read More>

Dec 16, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Passing Ducie Atoll, Pitcairn Islands, South Pacific

Last Sunday, after a most interesting full day exploration of Pitcairn Island, the National Geographic Orion left Bounty Bay heading towards the uplifted coral island of Henderson and Ducie Atoll. Sea conditions were changing very rapidly and embarking and disembarking Zodiacs was rough but all of us returned safely.   On our way to to Ducie Atoll weather forecasts indicated that landing at Ducie would be unlikely. Read More>

Dec 16, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

The National Geographic Islander explored the calm blue waters under the beautiful orange light of sunrise. We gathered on the decks with warm coffee to admire the majesty of the volcanoes of Isabela Island and the flocks of sea birds as they skimmed the ocean in search of their morning meals. We, on the other hand, were searching for dolphins. Suddenly we spotted big splashes close to the horizon and we changed the course of the ship.  Certainly there were dolphins.  There was a pod of five hundred or more common dolphins which were breaching everywhere! This was an amazing beginning to this exciting day. Still in the early morning hours we reached Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Read More>

Dec 16, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Isabela

The western islands of this archipelago are the youngest, and therefore the most volcanic. Isabela, being the largest island of all, is where we spent the full day for our several activities. Our first stop was Urbina Bay, where our guests chose between a short hike and a long hike, both of which offer good opportunities for wildlife sightings, such as large land iguanas, and occasionally also giant tortoises.  Land birds are also everywhere here, from Darwin’s finches, Galapagos hawks, warblers and Galapagos mockingbirds, to some waders and sea birds like the unique flightless cormorants and pelicans. Read More>

Dec 16, 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.