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King George River, Australia

After spending the last two days at sea then docking in Wyndham, it was great to hit the Kimberley coast. It was an early start for some of us who mustered up the courage to do the hike up to the top of King George Falls. But for the rest of the ship it was time to enjoy another sumptuous breakfast, and enjoy the scenic wonders of the rusty red ranges of Koolama Bay. 

The early starters headed off on their six-hour tour towards the King George River, a spectacular 14-kilometer gorge cut into a 100-meter high sandstone plateau.

Jul 15, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Casual & The Yanayacu River

As the sun tried to break through the morning fog, most of us boarded the skiffs to begin our exploration of the Amazon. Crossing the mighty Marañon River, we entered a small blackwater creek. Fishermen were catching many fish, including various catfish and piranha. A sloth was spotted curled up in a ball. Then we began to experience the diverse bird life as the forest came alive. Parrots noisily flew overhead while kingfishers were on most prominent perches. A few different hawks gave great looks, including the black-collared hawk. Soon, it was time for breakfast.

For the main part of the morning, we took our first walk into the rain forest.

Jul 14, 2014 Delfin II in Amazon

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

We had a spectacular first full day in the Enchanted Islands! I woke the guests at 6:00 a.m. for coffee, fruit and apple bread in the lounge. By 6:30 a.m. we were loading three Zodiacs for the climb to the summit of Bartolome with our naturalists Walter, Greg and Jan. We followed a boardwalk and wooden steps past cinder and spatter cones, and small lava tubes and from the top we had a fabulous view of the extensive lava flow on Santiago that dates from 1897. The contrasting golden and white sand beaches, reddish cinder cones, barren black lava fields, green mangrove thicket and the blue ocean made for some lovely photo opportunities! 

We enjoyed – and deserved – our breakfast following that hike.

Jul 14, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

The End of the Inside Passage

Perhaps Henry Wadsworth Longfellow captures the essence of our day of exploration and adventure.

“My soul is full of longing, For the secrets of the sea, And the heart of the great ocean Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

Jul 14, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Látrabjarg Cliffs and Flatey, Breiðafjörður, Iceland

The first morning of our Icelandic adventure aboard National Geographic Explorer opened to reveal the endless panorama of the Látrabjarg Cliffs, their upper reaches still shrouded in low clouds. This 9-mile-long landmark fri nges the north coast of Breiðafjðrður, and the combination of the shallow expanse of the broad bay, full of tasty fish, and the convenient ledges and slopes of the cliffs provides for a huge concentration of breeding seabirds, most significantly the razorbills. Many of us had our first sightings of Atlantic puffins, as well as common murres, or guillemots, keeping a paternal watch over their chicks. Northern fulmars glided low over the dark water, its surface broken with churning patches of mackerel, just the surface of the much larger “bait balls” below. It was thrilling to watch a pod of white-beaked dolphins who were feeding on these come over to bow-ride with the ship.

Our afternoon was spent on the small and charming island of Flatey.

Jul 14, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Cruising & Pavlof Harbor

Our first morning dawned still and shrouded in mist. We woke in Saook Bay, a small inlet on Chichagof Island. Sitka black tailed deer grazed along the shoreline, pausing to let their fawns nurse. Dall’s porpoise zipped along the surface of the calm gray water, sending up sprays of water off their small triangular dorsal fins. A lone humpback whale led us back into the bay with gasping breaths and languid waves of its tail. 

We headed north along the coast of Chichagof Island, searching for more wildlife.

Jul 14, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Fernandina Island and Punta Vicente Roca at Isabela

Early in the morning we arrived to Fernandina, located in the west of the Galapagos Islands. It is one of the most pristine places on earth, the youngest island of Galapagos and also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Not every visitor staying in Galapagos has the opportunity to see this marvelous place. One of the reasons is because it is so far away from the arrival ports. 

Well! Here we are, ready to explore this unique place.

Jul 14, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Wyndham, Australia

After two sunny days at sea, the weather for our arrival in Wyndham was overcast with light rain, accompanied by a chilly wind. It had our guests, the crew and staff reaching for their jumpers and spray jackets in preparation of the day ahead.

After a hearty breakfast, the first group left Wyndham for Kunanurra to cruise the mighty Ord River.

Jul 14, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Kelp Bay & Pavlov Harbor

After casting off from the dock in Sitka and traveling overnight through Peril Strait, we awakened aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird in Chatham Strait to gray skies and drizzle. We tucked into Kelp Bay, a beautiful scenic area along the northeast corner of Baranof Island. After light exercise and breakfast, introductions and safety briefings, the naturalists called us out on deck to see a humpback whale. People grabbed jackets, binoculars, and cameras and poured out onto the decks for looks at this magnificent creature feeding very near the ship. Fog rose up from the water and clung to the trees along the coastline, the water was calm, and we were treated to a typical Southeast Alaskan morning of light rain and whale watching/waiting. The explosive “Pffftt” of the outbreath, the gentle glide of the humped back, and after several breaths, the graceful arch of the back to reveal the tail fluke—were mesmerizing.

As the ship moved on towards our afternoon destination, we gathered in the lounge for an introductory photography and break-out session with cameras.

Jul 13, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Crossing the Timor Sea

The Timor Sea is the eastern gateway to the Indian Ocean, the wide waters that open to the west. Today our ship moves gently as we cross this smaller sea and in this motion we can already begin to feel the great rhythms of the Kimberley.  The beautiful desert coast of this region of Australia was carved from ancient rocks into its current magnificent cliffs, headlands and canyons by the action of the highest tides in the world, tides that are rising and falling beneath our feet even now.  These great surges of water sweep in out of the Indian Ocean into the Timor Sea where they are constricted between the Australian mainland and the islands of Indonesia to the north, and at the same time they are lifted as they approach the shallower waters in the east, focusing them into the gigantic rises and falls of the ocean that flood and drain the Kimberley’s coast twice each day.

A pleasant day at sea under bright blue skies has given the opportunity to settle into life on the National Geographic Orion, enjoying delicious meals, catching up on a bit of rest and preparing for the adventures ahead.

Jul 13, 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.