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Lastest Expedition Reports

Palouse & Snake Rivers

This glorious day started early for the crew of National Geographic Sea Bird. Captain Kay, the officers, and deckhands brought us safely through the Lower Granite Dam (around 1 a.m.) and the Little Goose Dam (around 6 a.m.). A few were up to watch, but most came up to the decks for sunrise yoga class at 7 a.m. After sufficient stretching, sipping smoothies and coffee, and a wonderful breakfast, our group disembarked on a morning of expedition landing craft cruises, waterfall viewing, and kayaking. There were numerous birds abound including a golden eagle. Also, one lucky group spotted a porcupine up in a tree. For our lovely meal, the amazing hotel department set up a deck lunch. Read More>

Oct 11, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Islas Ballestas & Paracas, Peru

Today was the first day of our voyage in Peru and Chile and we began in one of the most interesting parts of the Peruvian Coast—the Paracas Peninsula. Located south of Lima and Callao, Paracus is the largest peninsula along this coast and is the remnant of an earlier coast range. The port of Pico on the peninsula is the second largest in the country and ships nitrate, copper, and fishmeal out and petroleum and other commodities in. North of the peninsula are the famous Chincha Islands, the major source of the fantastically rich guano trade between the middle of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th. We visited some smaller but no less spectacular islands called Islas Ballestras. The name means “cross-bow” and refers to the many arches cut by the waves through the islands. On the way we saw the famous “Caldelabra” glyph on the coast of the peninsula. At the islands we were able to see thousands of nesting Peruvian boobies and Peruvian pelicans and millions of Guanay cormorants, the major source of the guano deposits. When guano mining began on the Chincha Islands in about 1850, the deposits were as much as 50m thick. We also saw the beautiful Nazca terns, red-legged cormorants, and South American sea lions on the beaches and in the water. We returned to the ship in late morning and heard a presentation by Johan Reinhard our National Geographic archeologist who has done some of the most important work on mummies of the Andes and other aspects of Inca and Nazca archeology. Read More>

Oct 10, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in South American West Coast

San Cristobal Island

Today is the last day of our expedition. We visited San Cristobal Island, the first island visited by Charles Darwin during the Voyage of the Beagle on September, 1835. We started our first hike in Punta Pitt, an old tuff cone with impressive cliffs. The hike to the plateau and lookout led us to an area covered with patches of red Sesuvium, or Galapagos carpet weed. Here we found a colony of red footed boobies nesting. These boobies are the only ones, among the 3 species found in Galapagos, that nest in trees and bushes along the cliffs. Today we got to see some chicks and eggs. Once we finished our beautiful, uphill hike, it was time to enjoy the beach and the playful sea lions.  Our guests had a blast swimming and taking pictures of them. After lunch we sailed towards the imposing offshore islet named Leon Dormido, or Kicker Rock, an old rocky outcrop which is the remainder of a volcanic tuff cone eroded by the wind and wave action over thousands of years. Read More>

Oct 10, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

The Snake River & Hell’s Canyon

Today we navigated south into Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River and traveled 50 miles to the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers before retracing our wake. We experienced not only incredible scenery, but traveled through multiple stories as well. The wedding-cake tiers of basaltic lava and orderly columns of basalt told a geologic story of millions of years ago. The sporadic deposits we found of Mount Mazama ash along the river banks told the tale of explosive events thousands of years ago. The quirky deposit of limestone deeper into the canyon told a tale of epic proportions when plate tectonics accreted marine seafloor to what then was the west coast of the North American continent. So recent as to be considered a side note was the tale of the Lewis & Clark expedition coming near the area, and sending three members of their party into the canyon to search for food. The salmon they obtained from the Nez Perce people were quite likely considered less than edible after the several days on the trail the men traveled to rejoin the main expedition party. Our jaunt into the canyon on this fine autumn day also brought wildlife sightings of mule deer, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, and numerous turkeys. Read More>

Oct 10, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Clarkston, Washington; Hells Canyon; Nez Perce National Historical Park

We woke to sunny skies as we anchored in Clarkston, Washington. The day would turn out to warm although the morning air was crisp and cool. Today, everyone loaded onto two jet boats to take an exciting journey up the Snake River into the amazing Hells Canyon. We saw great blue herons and western grebes along the shore as we sped away from the town. We eventually left behind the riverside cabins and ranches to enter the wild and deep canyon. Along the way we got a great look at Native American petroglyphs etched into basalt. Just as we were admiring the ancient artwork, we noticed a family of river otters playing in the water near our jet boat! What a joy to watch them wiggle and frolic. We made it to the part of the canyon where ancient terranes are exposed. Read More>

Oct 9, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

Pegion Island and Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

On our final day of this voyage around the island of New Guinea, we woke up sailing between the eastern islands of New Britain and New Ireland.  Heinroth’s shearwaters and flying fish escorted us to a small group of islands, the Duke of York Islands.  Two tiny islands, the Pegion Islands, were our destination.   A fierce wind at first seemed daunting, but the captain found us a nice lee and we continued on as planned.   A few of us went for a bit of history and culture. Read More>

Oct 9, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Santiago Island

Today we left the western islands and headed to Santiago, visiting three different locations to offer the best of everything.  This island offers a lot of history due to Charles Darwin’s visit in 1835 during the HMS Beagle’s voyage around the world. Here is where the famous naturalist spent most of his time collecting data before he left, never to return. Santiago had a human settlement for several years during the 1920’s which ran a salt mine that later closed because of the hard living conditions. We set foot on the island before the sun could come out entirely and walked to a place called Espumilla beach. Read More>

Oct 8, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Clarkston, Washington & Hells Canyon

At 0615 hrs National Geographic Sea Bird is making its way upstream on the Snake River, bound for Clarkston, Washington. Mist rises on the river and a few low clouds lie in pale, wraith-like layers along the basalt cliffs that are just emerging in the growing dawn. Clarkston, located at the confluence of the Snake River and Clearwater Rivers, is just across the river from Lewiston, Idaho, and the farthest inland port on the West Coast, reachable by some ocean-going ships. After a hearty breakfast we board the jet boats Canyon Quest and Min Tara II for a Hells Canyon adventure. Read More>

Oct 8, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Cruising Snake & Palouse River

As morning approached, the National Geographic Sea Lion was greeted with a beautiful sunrise. The early risers, some joining the morning stretch class, or out on the bow with one of our naturalists sipping on morning coffee, got to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We continued our journey on the Snake River. The National Geographic Sea Lion made its way through not one but two locks before guests were served their lunch. The two locks were called Ice Harbor and the Lower Monumental Dam. Ice Harbor was named for a geographic area, a cove that the sternwheelers utilized to wait for the ice to break up. The vertical lift is one hundred feet and was completed in 1962. The Lower Monumental Dam is also one hundred feet and was named for Monumental Rock, which is a few miles upstream and was completed in 1969. As lunch time neared, the National Geographic Sea Lion anchored near the mouth of the Palouse River. Read More>

Oct 8, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

Kuiyawa, Trobriand Islands (Papua New Guinea)

This morning the National Geographic Orion meandered cheerfully amidst the Trobriand Islands, made famous worldwide by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski when he dubbed them “The Islands of Love.”  His work illuminated the intriguing courtships of the islanders in this matrilineal society in which women at times aggressively pursued their male interests and the act of lovemaking was seen as unconnected to childbearing. Yet while the villagers of Kuiyawa’s notions of love may have changed somewhat through time, their greeting to visitors remains as lovely as ever with cheerful men, women, and children bearing colorful frangipani leis welcoming us warmly. Gathering in front of the school, the village presented us with a series of dances that were not only marvelous sights to behold but a fascinating demonstration of their mixed Melanesian and Polynesian heritage. Read More>

Oct 8, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

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Daily Expedition Report Information

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