Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Lerwick & Shetland Islands

    The final outing of our expedition before setting sail for Bergen, Norway, was a visit to the archeological site known as Jarlshof, which tells the rich and far-reaching story of more than 5,000 years of human occupation in the South Shetlands. Though Scottish in a contemporary sense, the Shetland Islands were under Norse influence longer than they’ve been Scottish. Reaching back thousands of years into the Neolithic Age, these islands are truly a tapestry of human history. Considered one of the most significant archeological sites in Britain, Jarlshof is a virtual time machine one can stroll through and be swept away through the ages.

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  • Foula, Mousa & Lerwick

    Overnight we sailed from Kirkwall in Orkney to Foula Island in the Shetlands. Foula was shrouded in light rain and mist as we arrived. We were greeted by long-time resident and guide Sheila Gear who shared her knowledge of the local culture, flora, and fauna. The 4.5-square-mile island is home to 35 hardy residents, primarily crofters who raise sheep and ponies. This was Lindblad Expeditions’ first visit to the remote island of Foula, which has been continuously inhabited since Neolithic times.

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  • Kirkwall

    Orkney, an archipelago of some seventy islands, has the greatest concentration of prehistoric archaeological sites in northern Europe and has accordingly been given UNESCO status. Our afternoon tour on Mainland, the largest of the islands, took in the Neolithic village of Skara Brae and the megalithic monument known as the Ring of Brodgar, together with the earlier Stones of Stenness and the exciting, contemporary archaeological site at the Ness of Brodgar, a site that has already confounded the archaeologists with earlier dates for these communities than had been anticipated.

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  • St. Kilda

    A trip out to St. Kilda cannot be guaranteed at any time of year. There is no ferry service to the farthest west of the Hebridean islands, and a wide stretch of open Atlantic makes both passage and landings on the island problematic. So, we were truly blessed with a cloudless sky, wonderful visibility, and calm seas for our visit to an amazing island that was continuously occupied for millennia, from the Bronze Age to the 20th century.

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  • Staffa & Iona, Scotland

    Overnight we crossed from Ireland to the Inner Hebrides, a group of islands off the southwest coast of Scotland. Our first landfall was Staffa. This small island consists of tens of thousands of hexagonal basaltic columns that formed around 60 million years ago, when massive outpourings of magma quickly cooled and solidified.Once we were ashore, Staffa’s puffin colony was the main attraction. These birds dig tunnels in the soil and lay a single egg in a breeding chamber at its end. The chick is raised underground. This comical-looking bird was a guest favorite, and we spent a lot of time watching individual puffins return to their burrows from foraging excursions out at sea. The high-pitched vocalization of fast-flying oystercatchers as well as cormorants, shags, and great black-backed and herring gulls added variety to our visit. A nature reserve, Staffa comes under the auspices of the National Trust for Scotland. From the landing area, a narrow pathway leads to a small platform that affords excellent views of the most famous feature of the island, Fingal’s Cave, and many of the guests took advantage of this.

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  • Killybegs & Arranmore, Ireland

    The sun rose on another glorious day in the Emerald Isles as we sailed into County Donegal and our first stop of the day, the fishing port of Killibegs. The morning’s activities included three options: a walk up the rolling hills of the surrounding area, a visit to a local archaeological burial site, or a visit to a local, traditional wool mill.

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  • Aran Islands & County Clare, Ireland

    We arrived early this morning just off Inis Mór, one of the famous Aran Islands on the west coast of Ireland. Celebrated over the centuries in song, poem, play, and film, it is renowned for its elemental beauty. Here rock, sky, and sea combine to mesmerize. The island is a karst landscape with large expanses of exposed carboniferous limestone at every turn. One of the highlights of our explorations was a visit to the ancient stone fort of Dun Aengus. Archaeological excavations here in the 1990s revealed intermittent occupation spanning two and a half millennia, from circa 1,500 BC to 1,000 AD. Covering 14 acres, the site has a commanding view of a large portion of the island. The incessant pounding of waves 300 feet below was clearly audible.

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  • Skelligs, Valentia Island, and Dingle

    Every day should begin with dolphins! As the sun rose over Ireland, National Geographic Explorer approached the Skelligs with common dolphins under the bow. Calm conditions allowed us to cruise close by Skellig Michael and Little Skellig, giving us spectacular views of the largest gannet colony in Ireland as well as the monastic settlements.

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  • Cobh, Ireland

    At 6 a.m., National Geographic Explorer entered the outer harbor of Cobh and slowly cruised up the channel to dock right by the town. Cobh is famous for being the last place Titanic moored before she departed on her fateful journey. It is also the place where thousands of migrants boarded ships to find a better life in the United States, Australia, and Canada.

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  • Isles of Scilly, Cornwall

    Today we visited the remote and storied Isles of Scilly which lie off Land’s End in Corwall, in the extreme southwest of England. We began our day with a visit to Tresco Gardens on Tresco Island. These remarkable gardens display a magnificent array of plants from across the globe. For many years, especially during Victorian times, British sea captains brought plants from tropical and temperate regions around the world to thrive in the warm climate of Tresco, which is bathed by the waters of the North Atlantic Drift, the extension of the Gulf Stream. We were escorted through the gardens by the gardeners themselves who have all developed a strong dedication to cultivating the rich variety plants. One of the highlights of Tresco Garden is the display of beautifully restored figureheads recovered from ships that ran aground in the treacherous waters of the Isles over the centuries. In addition to our visit to the gardens, some of us took a nature walk along the lovely coastal cliffs where we had good looks at birds and also admired the beautiful white granite which makes up all the islands of the archipelago and provides the sand for the many small, shining beaches.

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