Daily Expedition Reports

What happens out there? Featured daily field reports & photos preview it for you.

  • Montevideo, Uruguay

    We wake up early on this day, which sadly, is to be the last on this remarkable adventure. Every step of the way we have been challenged, our senses are still tingling with all that we have learned about the wildlife, the people and the food, music, and art that form such an integral part of their culture.

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  • At Sea

    Today was a restful day at sea after a final but rewarding day in Brazil. Our next port of call is Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, one of the smallest nation states in South America, created as a buffer state between the two rival powers of Brazil to the north and Argentina to the south. Montevideo and indeed Uruguay itself are situated on the north bank of Rio de la Plata, known by English-speakers as the River Plate, an historic frontier of enormous strategic significance. The huge estuary of the Parana and Uruguay rivers opens out broadly into the Atlantic. In the Age of Exploration it invited the Spanish explorers to nose in search of a navigable route to the silk and spice lands of Cathay. As with other promising inlets along this coast, that particular dream was soon dashed but in the case of this particular inlet an inland route beckoned that was to enable the silver of the Potosi mine to be exported back to Spain ushering in the inflation-racked Siglo Doro, that was simultaneously the making and breaking of the Spanish maritime empire. From the times of the first European settlers to the outbreak of the Second World War, when the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee was captured then scuttled off the coast of Montevideo,  this has strategic historic frontier zone has been a conflicted one.  

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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. 

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  • Ilha Anchieta

    Through the night we sailed south down the coast from Rio, and turned our clocks forward an hour. First light revealed the silhouette of a densely forested island, Ilha Anchieta, with its own dark history. If we turn the clock back 500 years, no one lived here except the native Guarani-Yupi Indians, who fished and foraged in a pristine forest. Then the Portuguese arrived, came ashore and made a treaty with the Indians, promising to live peacefully alongside. Inevitably over the decades more and more Portuguese arrived, displacing the Indians from their forest home.

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  • Paraty

    Early morning cloud cover was clearing quickly as we approached our anchorage early this morning, the evocative old town of Paraty already preparing for a festive weekend ahead, its party-boat crews and store owners all in readiness for business. Our long Zodiac approach through the calm sub-tropical waters of this island-studded coast brought us to a perfectly preserved eighteenth-century colonial town with cobbled streets and low rise buildings, all in an excellent state of preservation as befits a town with UNESCO World Heritage status. It looks and feels as though the Portuguese colonizers left yesterday. An intriguing feature is that the main streets are concave and cleansed each day by the in-coming tide, a spectacle we were able to witness at noon today. Our historical walking tours visited a number of key buildings, including churches, art exhibitions, and a culinary emporium, the latter offering cachaça tastings including one infused in clove and cinnamon named Gabriela, inspired by the work of the national literary hero Jorge Amado. The Casa da Cultura had a number of interesting exhibits made by local artists.

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  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    To see Rio was the goal of many that joined the National Geographic Explorer for this epic South American adventure. But how do you attempt to even get a glimpse of such vibrant and active city with a wide range of attractions?  You go out full of energy and participate in as many activities and visit as many places as you can and that the very hot weather lets you! For those very keen on experiencing some of Rio, the available options were all tempting. Some of us left early in the morning to drive to Tijuca forest, the largest wooded reserve inside a city anywhere in the world. The park is famous for many things but especially for its many kilometers of gorgeous hikes through the secondary growth rainforest and for the surprisingly diverse wildlife that preserves, right in the middle of a 6.5 million people city.  We were lucky enough to have good weather and saw a few of the bird specialties of the area.

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  • Rio de Janeiro

    The early risers were on deck at first light to experience arriving in Rio from the sea. They were rewarded with partly cloudy skies and the morning mist to move past Sugar Loaf Mountain into Guanabara Bay and, a bit later, seeing Corcovado with the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue. Alas, or perhaps not, both Sugar Loaf and Corcovado were partly covered by clouds. But we saw the Rio-Niteroi Ferries crossing the bay and then heard the roar of the 737s and the “Ponte Aerea,” or shuttle flights, between Sao Paulo and Rio starting at 6:00 a.m. In the north part of the bay one saw the many cargo ships and the traffic on the Rio-Niteroi Bridge. The “Magnificent City” or “Cidade Maravilhosa” then was opened to us.

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  • At Sea Off Central Brazil

    Days at sea allow one to catch up on life and reflect on where one is and what one has recently done. On the National Geographic Explorer it is also a time to learn. Everyone aboard has come to not only experience a particular piece of our world but also to be enlightened about various aspects of a location different from where we live.

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