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Bartholomew and Chinese Hat

Once the National Geographic Endeavour has repositioned herself to the center part of the archipelago, we see the first light at 5:30 in the morning, revealing a very different setting from what we have seen over the last few days. We are anchored in Sullivan’s Bay, at the easternmost tip of James Island. This area has been subject to violent eruptions, and although these events date back at least a century, sometimes several dozens of centuries, the topography makes one think it was only yesterday. Volcanic features are preserved for a relatively long time in Galapagos, for the climate is relatively stable and therefore maintains current conditions of the tuffs, basalts and cinders for many centuries to come. Read More>

May 26, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Vega Island & Listen National Park

Perhaps the first few days of this expedition have shared a common thread: good weather. In fact, it seems that each day included improved weather from the pervious day. Today will mark the end of that streak, if only because the weather on the Norwegian coast cannot be better than today’s. Blue, cloudless skies, gentle breezes, and balmy weather prevailed, and we put that to good use. The day began at a UNESCO World Heritage site: Vega Island. Read More>

May 26, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

We anchored today in South Plaza where we are half way through in our Galápagos expedition. Right now we are moving along the central part of the Archipelago.  We left Santa Cruz Island in the early hours, and travelled around its southern side to reach our morning destination South Plaza Island. This tiny island is our destination for this morning. It is small but it is teeming with a great number of life forms. Our first impression is the surrounding landscape. Once you reach the calm shallow shore you are greeted by three baby sea lions. As we landed, we spotted land iguanas coming out of the cactus forest and some of them gathered underneath the cactus trees waiting for a fruit to drop off. This island is not only a colony of iguanas and sea lions; it is also a breeding colony for sea birds; swallow-tailed gulls, tropic birds, Galápagos shear waters and lots of land birds as well: the amazing Galapagos finch, specially, the iconic cactus finch. Once on board, we were jumping overboard for the fun of it, as an amenity. In the afternoon we visited Santa Fe Island. Read More>

May 26, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Glacier Bay National Park

It is auspicious that we are here ay this time, on the 100 year anniversary of the National Parks inaugural season. The day could not have been better. With slight clouds overhead, we were treated to perfect light conditions for photography and glacial viewing. Our first destination brought us to South Marble Island, a small bit of rock touted for its density of birds. Even as we approached, binoculars were held high in anticipation of promised puffins. On our approach, we spotted the expected tufted puffin in great densities, but it was the rarer horned puffin, interspersed, that was the treat of the morning. Adding to the melee was a horde of Steller sea lions hauled out upon the rocks with the Fairweather mountain range framing their bulk in the background. Our next stop was Gloomy Knob, named for its heft of dark rock upon which mountain goats did perch, protected by the sheer cliffs, which only they are fit to stand upon. Read More>

May 26, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Bilbao, Spain

We had a quiet, beautiful morning on board as we were not arriving into Bilbao until 1:00 p.m. At 9:00 a. Read More>

May 26, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Mazzara del Vallo, Sicily

The ancient Greek colonists from Megara Hyblea on the east coast of Sicily chose a huge, pear-shaped coastal promontory between two rivers as the site for their new city around 651 B.C. As the western most Greek city, Selinute was moulded by its “frontier” position—a bastion on the border of the Phoenician and Elymian lands on the island. The city took its name from the Greek word for wild celery: ‘selinon,’ which once grew in abundance in the fertile valley that stretches inland from the fortified acropolis. Its rapid economic and demographic growth was based on its trade of cereal crops to Carthage and other Phoenician colonies in North Africa. Selinute’s pursuit of prestige is immediately evident as we walked up the eastern slopes of the Ipsas River to visit one of two sacred sanctuaries in the city. Read More>

May 25, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Cerro Dragon and Guy Fawkes – Santa Cruz Island

It is almost 9:00pm, and it’s been an astonishing day of exploration along the central area of the Galapagos archipelago. Today, the leeward side of Santa Cruz island welcomed us with its fascinating beauty. Our first stop was on Dragon Hill, a low lying hill which is home to a healthy population of the Galapagos land iguana – Conolophus subcristatus -. We are extremely lucky to witness these wonderful dragons roaming freely around this trail. Considering that Santa Cruz has been affected by several introduced species such as dogs, cats and goats, the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Station has made great efforts to restore the population of these enigmatic reptiles since the 1970s. Bird watchers had the chance to discover several species along the trail including medium ground finches, great-blue herons, mocking-birds, yellow warblers, flycatchers and black-necked stilts. Read More>

May 25, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

A Coruña, Spain

Early risers watched A Coruña come into sight as the National Geographic Orion approached the port city this morning. An iconic tower was the first thing that we noticed. The Tower of Hercules stands on a point in front of the city. It is the world’s longest continuously running lighthouse, having been in operation since the 2nd century AD. Even though rain had been forecast for the morning, as we pulled into the harbor the clouds broke and the sun emerged, providing a wonderful setting for our various morning options. Some of us went to get a close up look at the tower, traveling there either by bus or by bicycle. The rest of the group set out on foot to explore the Old Quarter area of this Galician city. A Coruña is distinct in appearance when looking at it from the Atlantic with the prominent lighthouse. Read More>

May 25, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Smøla

National Geographic Explorer arrived in Smøla shortly after 6 a.m. under gray skies but calm seas. Smøla is an island with a population of 2,200 people. After a hearty breakfast, guests had options for hiking, fishing, and a visit to either Veilholmen village or Brattvaeret Island village. The former village has an active fishing community while the latter village no longer has an active fishing community. Read More>

May 25, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Santa Cruz Island

This morning we arrived at Santa Cruz Island. As soon as we disembarked, we saw a very different island from the past two days, with a busy bay full of local boats and sailing yachts. Our goal today was to reach the Rearing Center of Tortoises, and we started with a short walk along the path to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Among other things, we saw marine iguanas got along with passing-by locals, careless of what was around them, just laying down to warm up for the next feeding time. As we reach the facilities we saw the corrals of adults and the breeding individuals. We also learn about land iguanas and the efforts to bring them back to colonies like Baltra. We had sometime in town to get some souvenirs, and visit a local market: the fisherman’s market was a lot fun with sea lions, pelicans, frigates, all wanting to get a share of the leftovers. On our way up to highlands we experienced the change in vegetation from dry to ever green fields, cattle farms and coffee plantations. We visited one of the farms, where we treated ourselves to some locally distilled alcohol and we got very high in spirits. Our BBQ lunch was wonderful and tasty! Afterwards, we went higher in the island to visit a farm where tortoises roam in freedom: and there they were, the icon of the Galapagos Islands, the Galapagos giant tortoises, so prehistoric that it was easy to see how they would share their time with dinosaurs. Read More>

May 25, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

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

 

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