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South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

Today we visited two small islands in this archipelago, one in the morning known as South Plaza and   Santa Fe Island in the afternoon.  These two islands are not far from Santa Cruz Island. These destinations gave our National Geographic Islander guests a better understanding of why reptiles in the Galapagos are more successful than terrestrial mammals. Read More>

Dec 11, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Bartolome & Sombrero Chino Islands

Today early in the morning, just as the sun rose on the horizon, we could see the striking volcanic landscape of Bartolome Island. This relatively small volcanic formation, which is only 0.5 square miles, is one of the most beautiful locations in the Galapagos Archipelago. Bartolome is located off the east coast of Santiago Island and is a living field guide of volcanic features. Spatter and tuff cones together with the lava flows create an out-of-this–world unique lunar-looking landscape.    We disembarked at 6:30 a. Read More>

Dec 11, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

The Acteon Group and At Sea

This morning found the National Geographic Orion sailing further afield, in the far southeastern part of the Tuamotu atoll cluster. With a few extra hours in our pocket, our Expedition Leader, Tim, had hoped to make an expedition stop in the isolated and very rarely visited Acteon Group. These four small atolls — Matureivavao, Tenararo, Tenarunga and Vahanga — are not inhabited, and access to the shore or inner lagoon areas is close to impossible in these seas. Our goal had been a platform snorkel and dive outings along the outer reef, yet the day presented us with the challenges of wind and waves wrapping around the atolls. As the sun shimmered across the water we watched the surf crashing against the reef beyond, the wind carrying the spray in powerful brushstrokes, the turquoise waters of the inner lagoons beyond. We sadly had to relinquish our plans to the ultimate power of nature.  And so we had a lovely day at sea exploring various subjects of interest. Read More>

Dec 11, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

San Francisco and Clavero

We had an optional wake up call at 0530 to take full advantage of the day and the best time to look for wildlife. The light rain stopped shortly after we embarked the skiffs to explore Marayali Caño. Marayali gets its name from a combination of the two names of the rivers that it connects—the Marañón and Ucayali. Here we dedicated the early morning to identifying the different bird species that we could either see or listen to. Huge flocks of parakeets dotted the sky, and their calls could be heard from long distances. We had a very nice cultural experience visiting a village called San Francisco. Read More>

Dec 10, 2014 Delfin II in Amazon

Pukarua Atoll, French Polynesia

We spent a leisurely morning at sea sailing farther southeastward out the sprawling archipelago of the Tuamotu Islands. By midday we reached the remote atoll of Pukarua, our destination for the afternoon. We found good shelter on the leeward side of the island, just off of the small town of Marautagaroa. The divers headed out to explore the underwater world of the surrounding reef where they found plentiful healthy coral rich with tropical fishes, and many giant clams. It was a vibrant site that few other people ever have the opportunity to dive.  The rest of us headed ashore by Zodiac through a cut in the fringing reef allowing easy access to the town’s cement pier. Read More>

Dec 10, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Santa Cruz Island

We woke up to the view of Puerto Ayora through our windows. This is the largest town in Galapagos and the place where the Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarter facilities of the Galapagos National Park are found. We started our day visiting the breeding center of the National Park where many conservation projects are underway to restore the dynasty of the Galapagos giant tortoises and to study the best strategies to keep the pristine stage of the Galapagos ecosystems with the least amount of impact. Some well-known residents of the station were spotted within the facilities, such as Super Diego (a saddle back male tortoise brought from San Diego Zoo, California), the male tortoise who helped save the species on Espanola Island. It was also nice to see some of the tortoises from different islands and how they incubate eggs and care for the baby tortoises for their first years of life, before they get repatriated back into the wild. After visiting the breeding center, we headed to the highlands to visit a local sugar cane press where we had the chance to learn about the processing of brown sugar, coffee and sugar cane alcohol. Read More>

Dec 10, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Santa Cruz and Daphne

Last night, we navigated to the northwestern side of Santa Cruz Island—it is amazing to see the differences between two spots that are on the same island. By just heading further north, we have come across a completely different scenario. The low lands of Santa Cruz are extremely dry in the north, as the winds that bring the humidity are stopped by the south side.   A cactus forest welcomed us, hiding a brackish water lagoon. Read More>

Dec 10, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Amazonas Natural Park and Nauta caño

The second day of our expedition in the Peruvian Amazon started with a visit to the Amazonas Natural Park, which is a privately owned property along the northern shore of the Marañon River, facing the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. The owner has been protecting the land for years and developed a fish farm raising paiche, better known as arapaima, and other species for local consumption. We rowed in the lagoon to reach a jungle trail where we hiked through the terra firme forest, which is the type that never gets flooded during the rainy season. Many different kinds of colorful mushrooms, flowers and fruits where diligently pointed out to us by our guides, and we learned a lot about the traditional medicinal and therapeutic uses of many plants by the local people. We now know how to get fresh potable water out of a vine, or how to obtain a natural mosquito repellent from termites. The photographers delighted in taking pictures of several gorgeous specimens of the more than 3,800 butterfly species that live in Peru, and we all enjoyed watching a big group of saddle-backed tamarins foraging in the trees around the trail. Tamarins are small monkeys, not much larger than a squirrel, and their high-pitched vocalizations filled the forest.  During the afternoon, we experienced the beauty of a tropical rainstorm, which is a gift that helps to make this place so rich and special. Read More>

Dec 9, 2014 Delfin II in Amazon

Floreana Island VIDEO

We woke up at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island. It is located in the northern part of the island. Floreana has a little town of around 130 people. It is dry and rocky, especially around the shore. In the highlands it is green and fertile for farming and cattle ranching. Most of this island is national park and there is interesting wildlife on all of the landing sites. In the morning we landed at Punta Cormorant. Read More>

Dec 9, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

At Sea passing Raroia, French Polynesia

Today was our first full day at sea having spent the previous five days actively immersed in the South Pacific and its idyllic islands. Hikes and tours, snorkelling and diving, kayaking and Zodiac cruising - it is hard to believe we have only been on the ship for a matter of days considering everything we have experienced thus far. Today was an opportunity to spend time on board and to learn more from our expert guides about the natural history and cultural history of the South Pacific. Our day at sea also offered us the time to become more acquainted with our wonderful vessel: whether enjoying the observation lounge and its extensive library, spending time out on deck with guides and binoculars looking for wildlife, enjoying a relaxing massage with Katrina our wellness specialist or burning some energy in the gym – there is no shortage of experiences during a day at sea on board National Geographic Orion.   It wasn’t long into the morning that we had our first memorable experience of the day. Read More>

Dec 9, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

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