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Lastest Expedition Reports

Taveuni Island, Fiji

We awoke to a beautiful morning at sea and although we were in open ocean waters, we could at all times see land somewhere far in the distance. The winds were strong, but that was to be expected with the Southeast Trade Winds in this part of the world. In fact, the dependable trades are what makes it all work here, or at least did in the distant past when the Pacific islanders travelled about in huge sailing canoes. This relaxing time at sea gave most of our guests time to recover from their long travels, jet lag, etc. It was also a time to get to know the ship and give some briefings on Zodiac, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving operations, as well as an introduction to life in Fiji, its customs, our expectations, and proper behavior with the locals.  During lunch, we entered the much calmer waters in the lee of Taveuni Island and found a good anchorage. Read More>

Nov 19, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

We woke early while navigating in the northern hemisphere along the north coast of Isabela Island. In the distance we could see the volcanoes of Wolf and Ecuador and later we could see Fernandina, the youngest Island in the archipelago. No cetaceans were sighted but we enjoyed seeing several species of sea birds including storm petrels, shearwaters, dark-rumped petrels and frigate birds.  We also saw a mola sun fish, a few leaping mobula rays, a flying fish and fur seals returning from a night of fishing. After a hearty breakfast we gathered in the bridge and watched the GPS tick down to 0.00 as we crossed the equator and travelled back into the southern hemisphere. Soon the captain dropped the anchor of the National Geographic Islander at the base of dramatic cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca.  We boarded the Zodiacs for a cruise along the rocky shoreline and found much wildlife this morning! We saw huge marine iguanas, penguins, flightless cormorants, sally light foot crabs and many noddy terns. Read More>

Nov 18, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Fortuna Bay, Stromness Harbour & Grytviken, South Georgia

South Georgia echoes with voices from the past. If one stops to listen, the bellows and wails of fur seals, of elephant seals and whales reverberate as they did when sealers and whalers stole their lives. The spirits of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Frank Wild, and Tom Crean still stand on the ridge above Stromness, listening for the whalers’ call to work. Two such extremes in our minds, yet each were striving for their own prize. One set sought fortune through exploitation and the other sought fame through exploration. What would we choose as our “set prize”? Would it be the ultimate goal, a legacy left behind? Or would it simply be seeking pleasure each and every day? “I hold…that a man should strive to the uttermost  for his life’s set prize”  Robert Browning  Diversity abounds here in South Georgia, a tiny land in the great southern sea. Read More>

Nov 18, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Isabela Island

Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago, it is made of six large shield volcanoes; this morning we explored the coast right at the base of Alcedo volcano. We landed on a small beach which is one of the places that green sea turtles use for nesting.  Our walk along the National Park’s trail was made on what used to be sea floor, and was uplifted during the beginning of 1954. Read More>

Nov 18, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

We woke up to a wonderful day, ready to explore the land of barren volcanoes and pristine lava flows. Before breakfast, we hiked to the summit of Bartolome Island, a tiny little island full of geological wonders and a place that allows us to travel in time to explore the beginning of all of the Galapagos ecosystems. This island is named after Bartholomew Sullivan, 2nd Lieutenant on board the Beagle. Bartolome is the perfect site to see the unique geological origin of the islands, the premiere colonizations and species over thousands, even millions of years old.  Primary successions allows lichens and other pioneer plants to cause bio-erosion of the lava, converting it into soil where other less adapted species will be able to survive.  The view from the top is spectacular, allowing us to see spatter cones and lava tubes. Read More>

Nov 17, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Fernandina & Isabela Islands

The Galapagos Islands attractions continue to surprise us as days pass by, and today we had a taste of it by visiting the youngest area of the archipelago.  The majestic Fernandina Island was the first experience of today’s expedition; and a comfortable dry landing at Punta Espinoza was the perfect way to begin our journey. At the moment of our arrival, we were greeted by a welcome committee of marine iguanas that were covering the lava rock area. Read More>

Nov 17, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Hercules Bay & Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island

The sunrays beaming through the shifting clouds on Stromness Harbor were a welcoming sight just after 5 a.m. Last evening, Captain Skog snugged the National Geographic Explorer up the shoreline in Stromness for a unique oblique perspective of this historic whaling community. The early birds this morning were treated to freshly covered, snow-capped peaks that surround this scenic bay and the opportunity to safely watch the sparing Antarctic fur seals vying for the coveted beach master spot. As we left the harbor, the clouds parted and the sun revealed the subtle rust colors of the old whaling station buildings against the green of the tussock grass and meadow. Our morning activity took place just west around Cape Saunders in the scenic mountainous amphitheater of Hercules Bay. The sun brightly lit the turquoise-colored ocean as we pulled into this protected bay surrounded by 3,000-foot peaks covered in nesting birds. From the safety of our Zodiacs, our first wildlife sighting was a close up of the macaroni penguins exiting the water and preening their feathers. Other notable sightings were the light-mantled sooty albatrosses as well as the Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals hauled out on the beach below a spectacular waterfall.   After lunch we transferred the ship to the next bay to the west; Fortuna Bay, which is where Ernest Shackleton and two of his crew mistaken for Stromness Bay during their epic walk across South Georgia after being shipwrecked and their arduous open boat journey from Antarctica. Read More>

Nov 17, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Beqa Island, Fiji

Bula! Our last day on this voyage across Melanesia was spent on the island of Beqa in Fiji.   Here, we spent an amazing afternoon getting a taste of the warmth and fun of the people of Fiji. We packed an incredible lot into a short time, and everyone left with great thoughts of Fiji and the hope of returning soon.  After going ashore and being warmly welcomed, we divided into different groups. Read More>

Nov 17, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Salisbury Plain & Prion Island, South Georgia

Today, dreams became a reality. For some, their dream was to someday return to the island of South Georgia, where memories of glaciers, mountains, and densely packed beaches teeming with seals and penguins have been seared into their minds since the last visit. For others, a chance to step on soil shared by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, exactly 100 years ago, or navigate large swaths of the Southern Ocean were dreams that, today, and in the days to come, have been realized. Our first glimpse of this 100-mile-long, northwest- to southeast-oriented island was early this morning as its rugged skyline began to emerge through low cloud cover. Read More>

Nov 16, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At Sea between Vanuatu & Fiji

We continued on our eastward heading throughout the day and this brought us headlong into the Southeast Trade Winds of the tropical seas in the Southern Hemisphere.  Winds are named according to the direction from which they come, that is, the direction in which one faces into the wind. These consistent air movements are called trade winds for good reason.  They produce a dependable mode of travel for sail-driven vessels and have been used by navigators for thousands of years. Pacific island navigators depended upon the trade winds (both the southeast trades in the Southern Hemisphere and northeast trades in the Northern Hemisphere) to wander about and find virtually all the islands in the South Pacific. Polynesians proved to be the best at this and managed to settle lands extending from New Zealand in the south to Easter Island in the East and Hawai’i in the north.  They even reached South America and traded with Native Americans. It’s amazing to realize that most of this, if not all, was accomplished long before Europeans managed to cross the relatively narrow North Atlantic Ocean to reach the Americas.  In spite of the constant wind (15-20 knots) and perhaps a little more motion than some would have liked, the stabilizers worked beautifully and we had a nice ride. Read More>

Nov 16, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

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