Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • The Falkland Islands

    This morning we awoke to the relative calm and silence of the outer harbor at Port Stanley, Falklands. After a long journey across the increasingly turbulent and gusty Southern Ocean, the sight of dry land was very welcome. However, with gusts of wind up to 60 miles an hour forcing the port authorities to shut the port, we put our planned morning activities on hold, and remained anchored in the outer harbor.

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  • At Sea towards the Falkland Islands

    Our second day at sea away from South Georgia was a bit rough as we bumped our way west to the protection of the Falkland Islands. It is Equinox today which means “equal night”. One of only two days, the other being September 21st, that all points on Earth receive the same amount of daylight. The sun is right over the Equator on these two days and the sun sets at the South Pole and rises at the North Pole. There is only one sunset and sunrise per year at the poles. This is first day of fall in the southern hemisphere and the weather showed that summer is not long in the Southern Ocean. The low pressures become more and more intense in the fall. National Geographic Explorer is an excellent ship in these types of seas though and as we edged up onto the continental shelf close to the Falkland Islands the sea state changed and we could feel the difference in the swells.

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  • At sea towards Falkland Islands

    The prospect of having two days at sea might be daunting to some but for the modern explorer it should be a welcome and infrequent break to think and place the previous weeks of traveling into perspective. Very rarely these days we expose ourselves to this kind of idle time, submerged in the fury of connectivity and restlessness that comes with our modern lifestyle. To some it might be just some time that needs to pass quickly to go back home, but for most it opens the opportunity to wrap around ideas, images, or memories of the amazing days spent in South Georgia. For some, even, it is a transcendental part of the trip as the Southern Ocean is the place to find and experience some of the most remarkable creatures that roam our planet. Wandering, black-browed, and light-mantled albatross, assorted petrels, and even some oceanic-going hourglass dolphins were spotted from the bridge during the day in a magnificent display of what these waters have to offer.

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  • Prion Island, South Georgia

    Our last landing on South Georgia was particularly dedicated to the bird with the largest wingspan in the world—the wandering albatross. The wake-up call this morning sounded very early to allow for the landing of several small groups of guests at Prion Island. This island has remained among the few rat-free areas on South Georgia and is still one of the few nesting colonies for wandering albatrosses around the main island. The American ornithologist Robert Cusham Murphy, having seen the wandering albatross for the first time, was so moved by the encounter that he left this quote, now to be found in the historical museum at Grytviken: “I now belong to a new cult of mortals, for I have seen the albatross.”

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  • Gold Harbour

    The morning started bright and early aboard the National Geographic Explorer as we made a pre-sunrise landing at Gold Harbour, arguably one of the most spectacular landing sites on South Georgia. Arriving ashore before sunrise, it is a most magnificent feeling to be amongst hundreds of thousands of pairs of breeding king penguins, fur seals, elephant seals, skuas, albatross and other wildlife as things begin to come to life with the rising of the sun.

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  • Jason Harbor & Fortuna Bay

    Another splendid day on board the National Geographic Explorer in South Georgia. After a night basking in the incredible starry skies guests awoke within Cumberland Bay ready for a morning at Jason Harbor. Guests were presented with a host of options for the morning’s activities including kayaking within a lagoon alongside hundreds of fur seal pups and hiking.

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  • Drygalski Fjord and North Coast

    Soon after breakfast, on this bright, sunny day, we pulled out of the swell that was causing the National Geographic Explorer to roll a little and we entered the mouth of Drygalski Fjord on the far southeastern end of South Georgia. The fjord runs west northwest for about two miles and is bordered by spectacular steep-sided cliffs and tumbling glaciers. Looking up one glacial valley to the north, one could see the high peak of Mount Carse towering over us.

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  • Willis Islands & Peggotty Bluff

    Braving the crossing from the Falkland Islands, the National Geographic Explorer came to the Willis Islands in the morning to witness a myriad of seabirds dipping and diving into the water to feed, including prions and grey-headed albatross. The Southern Ocean was showing its might, casting a northerly wind across the entirety of the north shore of South Georgia. Thus, much as Shackleton and his men did, we entered King Haakon Bay and came to land exactly at the site where the members of the Endurance expedition found terra firma, after their long, and impossible journey over from Elephant Island.

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  • At sea towards South Georgia

    The magnificent Southern Ocean look stunning under the sun this morning. The fog and mist of yesterday faded during the night to reveal the intense, deep blue of these waters. A large variety of the many seabirds that live here were seen during the day by avid observers, either from the cozy bridge of the National Geographic Explorer or, for the more adventurous, the outer decks. Several lectures and environmental considerations were presented to introduce us to South Georgia in preparation for our arrival tomorrow.

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