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Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Our last day in wonderful Brazil started with the arrival of a local pilot who drove the National Geographic Explorer into the Lagoa dos Patos (meaning “the ducks’ lagoon”), docking in the town of Pelotas. Pelotas is very close to the entrance of the 90 mile-long coastal lagoon, at which opposite end lies the city of Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil’s southernmost state and borders Uruguay to the south and Argentina to the west. It is also an extremely nice place, with milder weather than the tropical portions of this very large country and a strong influence of its southern neighbors. We divided into groups and while some went to the Charqueada São João, a cattle ranch with all the flavor of the traditional gaucho culture, other went to the TAIM wetlands reserve. Read More>

Oct 22, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Santiago Island

This morning we had a pre-breakfast morning activity to explore one of the largest nesting grounds of the Pacific green sea turtles in Galapagos. For this activity we offer one group to do photography and a few groups to talk about natural history interpretation.  Photographers stayed along the beach for photographing ghost crabs, Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, finches, yellow warblers, and the interesting landscapes formations. Read More>

Oct 22, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Komodo Island National Park, Indonesia

We awoke this morning to another glorious Indonesian sunrise and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast on deck before preparing for our morning activities. Full of anticipation, we made the short Zodiac transfer to Rinca Island, part of the Komodo Island National Park. We were greeted on the jetty by a very cheeky group of long-tailed macaques who were playing in the mangroves all around us. Read More>

Oct 22, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

At Sea off the South Coast of Brazil

Brazil is definitely a country facing the sea. It is also one of the most spectacularly beautiful coastlines on the planet. From the recesses of the Amazon region to the dumbfounding straight lines of the south, through the paradisiacal vertigo in the Northeast and the lush sea-mountain combination of the Southeast, Brazil has it all. As the National Geographic Explorer cruises to the south coast of Brazil, we wonder about the Brazilian beaches that came into existence between 90 and 130 million years ago when tectonic process of colossal proportions separated the mega continent Gondwana, thus creating the coasts of Africa and South America. Read More>

Oct 21, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Fernandina and Isabela Island

Early in the morning we entered Bolivar Canal. We went with our coffees to our outer decks to observe this majestic scenario: the new Islands of Isabela and Fernandina, both with their volcanoes and lava fields.   Six active shield volcanoes are standing in this area. Read More>

Oct 21, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Urvina Bay & Tagus Cove

Tuesday, in the morning, National Geographic Endeavour anchored at the foot of Alcedo Volcano on the island of Isabela; the largest island in the Galapagos and the only one formed by six large young volcanos.   Alcedo is known throughout the world for having the largest endemic tortoise population. Read More>

Oct 21, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Hell’s Canyon, Snake River & Clearwater River

Having passed through the locks of two dams last night we awoke this morning to the ship settling into its final mooring for this expedition, Clarkston, Washington. After a gentle but invigorating stretch class with Susan, and another delicious breakfast prepared by the ship’s chefs, I made my way to the sign-out board and onto the jet boat waiting to take us to Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area. As we began our more than 50-mile-ride upriver, houses that had dotted the banks on either side began to disappear and were soon replaced with ranchland, mountains, and basaltic rock cliffs with incredible geometric patterns. We took up a swift pace but slowed to inspect a beaver lodge on the banks as well as two coyotes. We then continued on until the water was running fast, unaffected by dams now too far downstream to slow it. After traveling nearly 37 miles on the Snake River we stopped for a morning break and were joined by a mule deer and more than eight wild turkeys! Back on the boats we traveled another 13 miles upriver and turned around after reaching the fork of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. After lunch at the Garden Creek Nature Conservancy land we were back on the jet boats heading downstream but stopped for both a large group of big horn sheep foraging close to the river’s rocky edge, as well as ancient Indian petroglyphs. From then it was a speedy return, descending the more than 315 feet we climbed to get there.  Another group from our ship opted to explore some of the campsites of the Lewis and Clark expedition along the Clearwater River. Read More>

Oct 21, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Sumbawa Island, Indonesia VIDEO

This morning we began our voyage from Bali to the Great Barrier Reef in grand style, cruising into the harbor at Badas on the north coast of Sumbawa, two islands east of Bali. This small port lies at the foot of the vast stub of Gunung Tambora, the great volcano that exploded with unimaginable violence in 1815, filling the world’s skies with ash and bringing on the “year without a summer.”  It seemed an appropriately superlative opening to our explorations through this greatest of archipelagos. Secure to the dock at Badas, we left the ship immediately after breakfast and climbed into small buses that carried us up into the dry hills of the island to the village of Pamulung. Read More>

Oct 21, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Paranagua

Somewhere in the course of the evening National Geographic Explorer passed out of tropics, but just barely. Paranagua lies roughly at 26º south, we began our expedition in Salvador at 13º south latitude so far having sailed nearly 800 nautical miles of Brazil's coastline. This is of significance because the Atlantic forest ecosystem, with the richest biodiversity on Earth, spans that same 800 miles with another 600 more miles lying north of Salvador. Prior to Portuguese colonizing these shores in the 16th century the Atlantic Forest covered over 1.25 million square kilometers now, sadly, less than 100,000 square kilometers remain intact. Of that remaining forest, 99% exists in very small fragments of less than ½ km². Today our time in Paranagua and the surrounding area will be our last day exploring the Atlantic forest as we sail further south the climate and ecosystems transition from coastal forests to the flat and expansive pampas of southeastern Brazil.  One of our outings today traveled to the capital of Parana State, Curitiba, situated in the middle of the Serra do Mar mountains, where we boarded the Serra Verde Express train to Morretes. Read More>

Oct 20, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in South American East Coast

Palouse River & Lower Monumental Dam

Our wakeup announcement came this morning to clear skies, already lightening with the sun’s imminent arrival. Our earliest light yet, due in part to being further east, and in part because there were no clouds or fog to veil the sun’s rays. The temperature, however, was a chilly 51° F. National Geographic Sea Bird had crossed over into the Snake River while we slept, and the morning was devoted to traveling east towards the Palouse River where we planned to anchor for the afternoon. The terrain along the riverbanks and inland now had completely transformed to desert scrub and amber-colored grasses. (And yes, Geologist Grace, more basalt!) In the first part of the morning, our historian led a talk and lively discussion on “Rivers, Dams, and Fish: Conflicts in the Pacific Northwest.” In the latter part of the morning we arrived at the Lower Monumental Dam. The crew climbed up to the lido deck and lowered a few expedition landing craft into the water, and a number of people went through the locks for this water-eye vantage point.  During lunch we arrived at our anchorage on the Palouse for our afternoon activities. Read More>

Oct 20, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

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