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Larantuka, Indonesia

The warmth and humidity of Indonesia could definitely be felt as we ventured outside to have breakfast on deck of the National Geographic Orion this morning.  As we navigated between lush mountains and extinct volcanoes to find our anchorage, local fishermen passed close by in their colorful wood-planked boats in order to get a closer look at their visitors for the day.  After a brief clearance from the local authorities, the Zodiacs were dropped and we were on our way for yet another adventure in this capital city on the island of Flores.  Upon reaching the dock it was obvious that Larantuka is a central hub for this area that was once a colony of Portugal for 300 years.  The hustle and bustle was impossible to ignore and almost overwhelming with motorbikes, buses, cars and people everywhere.  Making our way through the crowds, we managed to find our local guides and be on our way to a local market. 

The market was full of almost anything and everything one could possibly need, and plenty of things that one probably wouldn’t as well.

Aug 21, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Santa Cruz Island

We´ve completed four expedition days navigating in the Galápagos Islands onboard the National Geographic Islander. So far every day has proven these groups of oceanic islands are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world with a high degree of endemism.

Santa Cruz Island is where we stayed the whole day anchored at Academy Bay, situated just in the base of Puerto Ayora, the most populated town in the Galápagos.

Aug 20, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Red Bluff Bay, Chatham Strait, and Lake Eva

Wildlife and waterfalls! What a day! 

From sunrise to sunset our day was spent enjoying the finest of Southeast Alaska.

Aug 20, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Port Althorp, Inian Islands

Southeast Alaska is always an amazing place to spend time, but every once in a while you get that one day when there are no clouds in the sky, warm temperatures, and special wildlife moments. Today was one of those days! It didn’t start out that way, with fog and low clouds early, but by the time breakfast was being served all that changed, and we had perfect conditions for our morning activities.

Those activities were happening in a bay on the northwest side of Chichagof Island, called Port Althorp, an area that we don’t visit much, but has a lot to offer our intrepid guest.

Aug 20, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Santa Cruz Island

We arrived early in the morning to northern Santa Cruz. We were now far away from the inhabited areas of this island, and the panorama looked quite different with the landscape being dominated by bare incense trees and prickly Opuntia trees instead of the greenery of the southern coast. It is here where we find a visitor’s site called Cerro Dragon, named after the endemic yellow-colored land iguanas that inhabit it. Since it is their last ‘kingdom’ on this island, major conservation projects have been carried out by the National Park, mainly to increase their numbers that have been decimated by predation in the past. We landed on the shoreline and followed an inland trail that led us to the land iguanas’ territories. We walked past cacti and spiny bushes, and soon enough we started finding them: most were warming themselves up in the mild temperatures of this morning, while others had started to patrol their territories. We were expecting to find just a few of them, since they are usually well camouflaged, but today’s weather was on our side and we found two or three dozens of them! After such a successful excursion we returned back onboard to get into our snorkeling gear and leave once more. This time were ready to explore the underwater world of a group of rocks named Guy Fawkes. They are the remains of an eroded tuff cone located far from the coast, and the snorkeling here was quite stunning: there were large schools of king angel fish, scissor-tailed chromis and razor surgeons. Colorful fish were to be found here too like the blue-chin and the bump-head parrotfish, barberfish and harlequin wrasses. Alongside a magnificent wall we had a close encounter of a local inhabitant of these rocks: a Galapagos penguin, which amazed us with its diving skills and speedy swimming. Some of our guests preferred to enjoy the peace and tranquility of a local little beach, where they could just swim and relax.

In the afternoon we changed our location and navigated westwards towards Eden Islet.

Aug 20, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Dili: Timor Leste

We were full of excited anticipation as National Geographic Orion approached the capital city of East Timor, Dili. Many of us were on the outer decks to witness the berthing procedure, as we came alongside the Port of Dili. Dili lies on the northern coast of Timor Island, the easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is the seat of the administration of the district of Dili, which is the administrative entity of the area and includes the island of Atauro and some cities close to Dili city. Dili is a melting pot of the different ethnic groups of East Timor, due partly to the internal migration of young men from around the country in search of work.

Dili was settled about 1520 by the Portuguese, who made it the capital of Portuguese Timor in 1769.

Aug 20, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Hanus Bay, Lake Eva & Chatham Strait

This gorgeous, misty day started with soft rays breaking through the clouds. This set the tone of our contrasting light all day. Dark luminous clouds, then gentle diffused golden color, as beautiful mist was replaced by moments of sunshine. Light that truly illuminated our way as we hiked along the forest path and excitedly raced from one side of the ship to the other in search of bubblenet feeding humpbacks.

We arrived on the shore at Lake Eva in anticipation for hikes into the emerald, moss-covered forest.

Aug 19, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Floreana Island

Before breakfast, we landed on Floreana island. The island is home to mysterious events that highlight the human history of the Galapagos. We headed onto the beach for a short hike through a greenish-brown sandy beach with some olivine crystals that are considered semi-precious stones. We also saw a brackish water lagoon with Greater Flamingoes, noble inhabitants of this paradise usually in the company of pintail ducks and black-necked stilts. 

The trail ended at a white coralline sandy beach where green sea turtles nest throughout the year and where diamond rays are concentrated by the hundreds along the shore under the breaking waves, while sally lightfoot crabs give a touch of color to the dark lava.

Aug 19, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

LeConte Glacier & Petersburg

Finally, at long last, the weather is changing! After weeks of record-breaking rain, Southeast Alaska's weather has taken a turn towards the sun. This morning we awoke to thick fog, the kind of dense white in which you can't differentiate between water and sky and cloud. Shreds of blue sucker holes drifted by above, giving us hope for the remainder of the day. A few humpback whales made a brief appearance as we belted our foghorn into the echoing quiet of the morning.

After breakfast we hopped into our inflatable landing crafts and experienced a wild paradise of floating ice.

Aug 19, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Jaco Island

After missing our snorkel stop at Rowley Shoals we couldn’t wait for our scheduled snorkel stop at Jaco Island, and we weren’t disappointed, with what could be best described as the perfect day. After a leisurely breakfast we packed our snorkel gear and headed for the beach. It was a sunny day with light winds and as we approached the white sandy beach we could see the coral reef beneath the crystal clear water. The island was shaded by huge cassarina trees, a great place to put on the snorkel gear and get in clear cool water.

There was an abundance of fish in all sorts of colors, we even saw Nemo hiding amongst a sea anemone, there was also plenty of hard and soft corals to keep us amused as we snaked our way in between them, but careful not to touch them as some are poisonous and others are very sharp.

Aug 19, 2014 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.