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Bartolomé & Sombrero Chino

In the early morning of our sixth day of exploration, the National Geographic Endeavour has anchored at Bartolomé Island. This small Island is located off of the mid-eastern coast of the Santiago, which is one of the five largest islands in Galapagos. Named after one of the officers of the Beagle, Bartolomé is notable for its extraordinary landscaping potential, and its age, which allows us to understand more about the geology of the archipelago. By 6:30am, all of our explorers are walking along the paths of the island, surrounded by unexpected volcanic features such as lava tubes, lava channels, spatter cones, and red and orange rocks. Read More>

Mar 5, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Casa Orquideas and Rio Tigre; Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

After navigating during the evening, National Geographic Sea Lion docked, early before dawn, at Golfito. We had finally arrived to Costa Rica. Here in Golfito the United Fruit Company established, in 1938, the main banana shipping port. This ended in 1985 when the company pulled out. As we waited for our officers to clear customs and migration, we started our morning activities with our usual stretching class led by our wellness specialist, Darcy. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Bequia

We hauled anchor at 4:00 a.m. and sailed from Union Island in the Tobago Cays to the beautiful island of Bequia reaching Admiralty Bay by 7:00 a.m.  Bequia was settled first by the Taino and then Carib Indians. Scots were bought over as indentured servants in some numbers in the early 18th century and they have remained. The demographics of Bequia is thus unlike many of the other islands we have visited with a substantial Euro-American population. Like all the islands we have visited, however, the races did mix. Here in Bequia we have the origin of a uniquegroup of people called “Grafuna,” resulting from a Carib/African mix. They are sometimes called “Black Carib.” I cannot testify to my following etymology but it sounds to me as if the word “Garafuna” may be a dialect expression of “Caribe-fumé” with “fume” suggesting the darkening of the skin when the races mixed. They were forced off the island of St. Vincent and placed as captives on the tiny islet called Barasloe, which is close to Mustique. They were finally settled by the British in what is today Belize and Honduras.  We landed on the quayside of the lovely small village of Port Elizabeth at 8:45 a. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 Sea Cloud in Caribbean

At Sea, Bahia Magdalena

Dawn’s pastel light revealed the National Geographic Sea Bird northbound in the great Pacific Ocean, easily riding a long, low ocean swell and picking up the first glimpse of Pta. Tosca, the southern point of Isla Santa Margarita, and the southern boundary of the extensive coastal lagoon system called Magdalena Bay.  Groups of short-beaked common dolphins joined us off and on to leap joyfully through the swells and ride our bow wave. Black-vented and pink-footed shearwaters were identified and discussed, and several humpback whales surfaced nearby. It was a leisurely morning at sea;  a time to enjoy conversation with fellow travelers and the fine weather as we made our way along the mountainous coastline. At La Entrada, we tucked into the protection offered by Isla Magdalena, ever northbound, following the narrowing mangrove-lined channel inside the desert dunes of this fifty mile long barrier island. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

At sea, approaching the Falkland Islands

A short, confused sea driven by northwesterly winds caused the night to be interrupted by occasional potholes, but we weathered it well. The wind abated during the day and the sun shone most of the morning and afternoon with a temperature of 8⁰C. Santiago talked about the conservation of seabirds using different techniques to get bait to sink faster by defrosting it, weighting the hooks and line. A vast improvement in reducing the loss of albatross has been achieved in most of the Southern Ocean fisheries. Later in the morning an interesting discussion was held as US and Australian guests advertised the merits of their home states and national attractions and invited each other to visit. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Antarctica

Cruising Tonle Sap River and Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia

Today was another fantastic day on the river as we branch off the Mekong River and begin cruising up the Tonle Sap River on our way to our afternoon destination of Kampong Chhnang. The Tonle Sap River is a 120 km stretch of water that connects the largest freshwater lake in all of Southeast Asia, the Tonle Sap Lake, to the Mekong River. It is only natural that the largest city in all of Cambodia, and the capital, exists at the meeting point of these two rivers. For the majority of the year, the water from the lake flows down the Tonle Sap River and into the Mekong, but at the onset of the wet season an amazing flow reversal takes place. The influx of water is so great from the heavy rains during June and July that the water actually begins to flow upstream and into the Tonle Sap Lake, increasing the surface area of the lake nearly six times its size. This amazing phenomenon drives the incredibly rich fisheries in the lake and the Tonle Sap River, and we are able to witness the fascinating array of fishing activities occurring on either side of the Jahan as we cruise up the river. Before departing from Phnom Penh at the early hour of 6:30 a. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 Jahan in Vietnam & Cambodia

Santa Cruz Island

As soon as we disembarked we saw a different Galapagos from the past two days.  The bay is busy with local boats and sailing yachts passing by in a race on the Pacific. We land on the main pier of Puerto Ayora were we become part of a new day in a town that offers everything a tourist needs, like places for internet, bars, food etc. But our main goal is to reach the rearing center of tortoises.  We started with a 10 minute walk and along the path we admired how marine iguanas get along with the locals passing by.  Careless of what is around them, the iguanas just lay there warming up for the next feeding time. We reached the facilities where this amazing undertaking started in 1972, rearing babies for the future,  a future that is now present and to know how successful it has been makes us feel great satisfaction and hope for these amazing giants. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

At Sea

The only thing that one can truly expect when embarking on an expedition is that not everything will happen according to plan. Weather changes and wildlife always appear right as lunch is being served. Onboard the National Geographic Explorer “the plan” starts as more of an outline, something of a rough draft with text that is constantly shifting. The only option is to remain flexible and schedule the day around what is happening at that moment, not what sounded like a nice idea several days ago. For example, when it is your turn to write the Daily Expedition Report one must think of what kind of photo to take to accompany it. This can be more challenging during a day at sea because sea birds can’t be counted on to cooperate and hover picturesquely within camera reach, although they very frequently do. Still being very southerly, sunsets and sunrises aren’t as reliably dramatic either, though once again they can be. So when the course for the ship guarantees us passing by the only bit of rock out of several hundred miles of wide-open ocean, aiming to capture an image of what is literally a solid sure thing.  Planning or pre-visualizing photography is an important skill and, as with planning an expedition, usually means that what you set out to do is rarely what ends up happening. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Cerro Dragon and Daphne Islet

This morning we arrived to the north-western coast of Santa Cruz Island, and landed on a site known as Cerro Dragon. This place has a good number of Galapagos land iguanas, and we found several as we walked towards the hill. As we walked through the incense tree forest, we also observed some of Darwin finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, and as a surprise we found a small new born Galapagos land iguana, well camouflaged in a small bush. As we returned aboard, we prepared to go snorkeling along the walls of Guy Fawkes Islet. Read More>

Mar 4, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The seas were white tipped as we sailed into the island archipelago of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, indicating strong winds.The original people who settled these islands called St. Vincent “Yaramaqui.”Unlike a number of the other islands, the native population of the Grenadines, the Caribs, were left alone by the early French colonials. Once the Europeans were well established, however, competition for the islands and ownership of the islands seesawed back and forth between French and English overlords. Today they are autonomous.This small island nation gained its independence form England in 1979 and today is governed by a House of Assembly with elected members and appointed senators and a governor-general. We are reminded that we are in a richly volcanic area, as St. Vincent’s Mount Soufrière erupted in 1902 killing two thousand.   There are 36 small islands, which make up this small nation. Read More>

Mar 3, 2015 Sea Cloud in Caribbean

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