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Drake Passage, Antarctica

All journeys begin with a decision. For the intrepid guests upon the National Geographic Explorer that decision was to take part in a once in a lifetime journey to the very bottom of our planet. Beginning yesterday in Buenos Aires, our guests visited the capital city before boarding a charter flight to Ushuaia the following morning. While sailing around the bay aboard a catamaran, a clear day and strong winds provided stunning views of the surrounding mountain range before embarkation began. Once aboard, introductions and cocktails were had before the lines were thrown and National Geographic Explorer pointed herself toward the Southern Ocean. One thing is for certain and that is that the White Continent must be earned—the test being a journey across the Drake Passage. Read More>

Dec 1, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Drake Passage, Beagle Channel

“When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. And last he must implement the journey. How to go, what to take, how long to stay. This part of the process is invariable and immortal. I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teen-agers in new-hatched sin, will not think they invented it.  Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. Read More>

Nov 29, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Drake Passage, towards Beagle Channel & Ushuaia

This expedition, which many of us consider the best trip among the wide range of destinations our ships visit all over the planet, is slowly coming to an end. It now seems ages ago when we were so surprised by the hidden jewel that the Falkland Islands are; the vastness and wildness of South Georgia and the massiveness of the Antarctic Peninsula…time goes very fast in good company and with such amazingly long spell of good weather! During the morning, the calm and misty waters of the Drake provided plenty of time for reflecting over the last weeks and nothing better than a tour over the amazing images that our National Geographic photographer ‘King of Panoramas’ Rich Reid presented us with to bring back to life some of the best moments. Read More>

Nov 28, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Port Lockroy and Dallmann Bay, Antarctica

It was an Antarctic Day!  After our days of bright sunshine, brilliant vistas, and sunburned noses, we were lucky enough to see and experience another side of Antarctica.  A short run from the site of last night's festivities at the U.S. Antarctic Research Program's Palmer Station brought us to Port Lockroy, a well-protected harbor tucked into Wienke Island.  Since its discovery by the French Antarctic explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot in 1903, it has been used by Antarctic explorers to repair their ships and by whalers to process their catch.  In 1944, the British established Base A here as part of a wartime effort under the name of Operation Tabarin (the code name Tabarin taken from a bawdy bar in Paris.)  The purpose is not altogether clear.  Following the war it became a science base used largely for atmospheric studies.  Base A was abandoned in 1962 and left to fall into ruins, but then was taken over by the U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust and turned into an Antarctic museum and the almost-farthest-south gift shop.  Proceeds from the gift shop support the preservation of historic huts in this sector of the Antarctic.  We did our best to advance that cause! The National Geographic Explorer was docked in the shorefast ice of Port Lockroy - that is, sea ice left over from last winter and still contiguous with the land. Read More>

Nov 27, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Dorian Bay, Damoy Point and Palmer Station, Antarctica VIDEO

There’s a party in Antarctic tonight and everyone has been invited.  Personnel from US Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station and UK Heritage Trust’s Port Lockroy join with a visiting film crew and the guests of the National Geographic Explorer for a regional get-together.  Music fills the lounge and camaraderie abounds.  This really is the whole neighborhood.  There is no one else.  The entire population of Anvers, Weincke and Goudier Island is less than the number of inhabitants of our floating village.  All in all, it’s a pretty nice neighborhood in which to live.  The narrow Neumayer Channel weaves its way between the glacier-clad shoulders of Anvers and Weincke Island. Read More>

Nov 26, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Danco Island, Neko Harbor & Lemaire Channel

The daylight hours this far south begin at around 3 a.m. and extend until almost midnight, so there has been plenty of opportunity for sightseeing. After a bit of wind last night, the seas have calmed to almost lake-like conditions this morning in the spectacular Danco Island for our morning activities. Over the intercom, our expedition leader Lisa Kelley’s soft voice says, “Good morning, its 32 degrees outside with minimal winds and a gorgeous day in Antarctica.” Everyone was enthusiastic to land on shore to visit several small colonies of gentoo penguins spread out over the snow-covered land climbing up to an 800-foot plateau affording a spectacular view of a bay filled with blue glacial icebergs. From my vantage point on this summit, I could see the yellow kayaks plying the clear waters amongst the surreal ice leaving small wakes that seem to roll into infinity. Over the radio the announcement came, “Today is a great day for a polar plunge.” Back on the ship we had around 30 intrepid guests take the plunge on this clear blue day into the 28 degree water for only a brief moment. Comments between gasps of breath ranged from, “Wow, exhilarating” to, “Now that was dumb.”   We relocated the ship to our next equally beautiful destination of Neko Harbor, which was surrounded by an incredible tidewater glacier and again more gentoo penguins waiting for the snow to melt to carry on with their seasonal nesting. Read More>

Nov 25, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Brown Bluff & Lindblad Cove

This morning served as a historic moment for many people aboard National Geographic Explorer. Phase 3 of our Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula voyage began on the continent proper. Not all landfall made on the Antarctic peninsula is connected to the mainland due to the thousands of tiny islands strung along its coastline so, today, being able to make our first stop in Antarctica at a location known as Brown Bluff offered a number of people the chance to claim their seventh continent.  The morning began very cold with the temperature in the low 20’s before wind chill was factored in. Read More>

Nov 24, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Point Wild, Elephant Island & into the Bransfield Strait

Point Wild, Elephant Island: a good place to spend an expedition morning in the early Antarctic summer, but four months, through an Antarctic winter??! Maybe not, but the men of Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance had no choice.  April 16, 1916: The three lifeboats from Endurance, newly named after the expedition's main sponsors James B. Read More>

Nov 23, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At sea bound for Antarctica

Despite having all the potential for providing us with “just another day at sea,” 22 November actually delivered a plethora of excitement and education. Read More>

Nov 22, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At Sea, Scotia Sea

Yesterday in the afternoon our captain took the ship deep into Drygalski fjord, named after the famous German Antarctic explorer who sailed with his ship Gauss to East Antarctica in 1901. Drygalski has the last green vegetation, including some minor spots with tussock grass we will see until we arrive back to Tierra del Fuego.   Today we had our first encounter of “Antarctica feeling” with cold rugged glaciers, later followed by the sighting of a huge iceberg, B-17A, which has drifted from the Ross Sea. From now on our voyage will be about ice! To encounter a massive tabular iceberg is always a wonderful experience. Read More>

Nov 21, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

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