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Isabela Island

Isabela is the largest island in Galapagos, and its shape is thought to resemble a sea horse. The spine of the sea horse is made up of a chain of six volcanoes, and it’s here that we spent the day. We had several activities throughout the day, the first one at a location called Urbina Bay, where our guests could chose between a short and long hike, both of which offer good opportunities of wildlife sightings, like 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>

Jun 28, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Today we woke up early to see a huge pod of Common dolphins. They have a white underside, are smaller, and are also shier than Bottlenose dolphins. We sailed several times near them and they offered great photos opportunities with their jumps and tail smashing. Afterwards we had a small ceremony to commemorate the crossing of the equatorial line into the southern hemisphere. This was done at the bow of the National Geographic Islander with a small Ecuadorian flag to mark the imaginary line. After breakfast we went in our Zodiacs along the shoreline of Punta Vicente Roca spotting marine iguanas, fur sea lions, blue footed and Nazca Boobies, Brown Noddies and flightless cormorants. Read More>

Jun 28, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Stornoway, The Isle of Lewis

We were blessed with a very signature Scottish morning as National Geographic Orion pulled alongside the dock in Stornoway, the largest town that resides in the Outer Hebrides.  Ready to brave the elements, we boarded the coaches that would take us to some of the most significant archeological sites in the entire region.  Arriving in the district of Carloway, we were introduced to what life was like inside of a traditional “black house. Read More>

Jun 28, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Glacier Bay National Park

Passing through the Sitakaday narrows in the bright light of early morning the National Geographic Sea Bird steamed into Glacier Bay National Park to the backdrop of the snow-capped Fairweather Mountains. The misty plumes of humpback-whale blow rose in the distance while sea otters drifted past feeding on the abundant invertebrates or grooming their luxuriant coats. After breakfast we skirted alongside South Marble Island, a major haul out for the Steller sea lion and roosting place for seabirds. Tufted puffins with the candy-corn bills of breeding season sat on the water dipping their faces into the water to look for prey or stood by the entrances to their burrows on the steep slopes above. Common murres and marbled murrelets dove in the waters surrounding the ship in search of fish while juvenile sea lions leapt about playfully in the water. Approaching the rocky promontory of Gloomy Knob the captain spotted a brown bear wading in the waters of a small creek. Read More>

Jun 28, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Pond Island & Lake Eva

We awoke as the ship was about to drop anchor just off of Pond Island in Kelp Bay. After breakfast, we headed to shore where an exciting morning of bushwhacking awaited us. Breaking off into several groups, we traversed the slippery terrain in true explorer fashion – following bear trails, admiring the handiwork of beavers, smelling the flowers, and eating our body weight in blueberries. As we headed over to our next stop we spotted and followed a pod of killer whales –it was truly incredible to see the six-foot dorsal fin of the male killer whale set to the backdrop of beautiful snowcapped mountains. Read More>

Jun 28, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Fernandina and Isabela Islands

The National Geographic Endeavour dropped anchor this morning off the coast of the youngest island in the archipelago—Fernandina. The landscape has only a few trees here and there, but unique species spread around every inch of this visitor’s site, known as Punta Espinoza.  After our dry landing, we were welcomed by several marine iguanas basking under the equatorial sun.  There were so many marine iguanas on the black lava fields, the whole path was covered with them. Read More>

Jun 27, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

DeGroff Bay and Cruising

We embarked the National Geographic Sea Lion yesterday evening, and cast off from the dock a little later, about 10:30 pm.  After anchoring for the night, we pulled the hook and began cruising a short distance to our morning destination of DeGroff Bay. The sky was overcast, with mist clinging to the trees on the shoreline.  Temperature 52 degrees Fahrenheit, with glassy calm water.  Some people came up to the sundeck for light exercise before breakfast, and we were serenaded by several eagles as we circled up for a group massage.   The salty sea air smelled fresh and clean, fragrant with spruce and hemlock. After breakfast we donned various clothing layers, and backpacks with cameras and binoculars, and loaded into Zodiacs which zipped us to shore. Read More>

Jun 27, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

We started today with a walk before breakfast and climbed a wooden stairway all the way to the top of Bartolome Mountain. The sun was just beginning to rise on the horizon as we disembarked for our walk and immediately I was able to point out the endemic settler plants and describe their importance to the succession of life on a newly formed island. These islands come from the bottom of the sea up and when they surface the ocean they offer no nutrients for plants to grow. It is just an iron slab surrounded by salt water, so it takes a sturdy and special plant to colonize such a rough environment and open the way for other plants to benefit from the organic material that has accumulated, eventually leading to soil formation. It is like going back in time! That is how I describe to get our guests to the importance of these settler plants in the succession of life. Read More>

Jun 27, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Iona and Staffa, Scotland

A sizeable group of guests disembarked early enough this morning to attend the daily ecumenical service in the restored abbey, the heart of the Iona Community that continues the vision of a remarkable Scottish pastor, George Macleod. He first brought ministers and church leaders here on retreat from Govan, a depressed area of inner city Glasgow at the height of the Great Depression. Today their influence has spread across the world but their spirit remains a tangible presence in their island home, memorably described by Macleod himself as “a thin place” where the border between the temporal and spiritual worlds was barely perceptible. It was to Iona in 563 BC that Saint Columba first brought Christianity from Ireland to Scotland, giving Iona iconic status in the northern realms, such that the Kings of Norway were brought here for burial in addition to the Lords of the Isles and the High Kings of Scotland. Read More>

Jun 27, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Sarande/Butrint & Sailing the Ionian Sea

This morning was another early start as Sea Cloud pulled up to the dock at Sarande, Albania. The pier is new and modern; much of Albania has been modernized since the fall of Communism just a few decades ago. An easy bus ride through the resort town of Sarande passed many new hotels, shops, and narrow streets. Read More>

Jun 27, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

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

 

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