Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Observatorio Island, Staten Island

    Our final day of exploration on Staten Island began with a Zodiac cruise along the shores of Observatorio Island. Here, wildlife was abundant! As we made our way to shore, various species of birds lined the rocks. Gulls, geese, ducks, cormorants, and penguins were everywhere we looked. One prominent point appeared to have a buzz cut, when in reality it was thousands of nests of blue-eyed or imperial cormorants. Many Magellanic penguins were running up and down the slopes. It was comical to watch them gather in their groups and react to various creatures passing by.  

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  • Isla de los Estados, Argentina

    On our second day exploring Staten Island, Argentina, we went ashore at San Juan de Salvamento bay to visit the famous ‘lighthouse at the end of the world’, which inspired Jules Verne’s eponymous novel. We walked into the Magellanic subpolar forest on a sunny warm morning, and at the top of the hill we were able to enter the lighthouse and explore its surroundings. Up there, under the cloudless sky, several striated caracara were flying close to us.

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  • Isla de los Estados

    During the night the National Geographic Explorer left Ushuaia, sailed eastward out the Beagle Channel, and by first light had reached the northwest coast of the fabled Isla de los Estados (Staten Island). For 38 years I have been a naturalist with the Lindblad-National Geographic family and have sailed longingly past this magnificent island, time after time hoping that one day we would finally obtain permission from the government of Argentina to stop and explore this beautiful, undisturbed place. Finally, last year, our wishes were granted.

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  • Cape Horn, Beagle Channel & Ushuaia

    The ‘roaring’ forties, the ‘furious’ fifties and the ‘screaming’ sixties… yes, I think we might be getting there. The winds in Patagonia and Cape Horn are legendary and receive their name according to the latitude at which they occur and their perceived strength. Today we had a chance to fully experience the forces of nature that make this region famous. From the comfort of the National Geographic Explorer, we had a chance to observe the lighthouse where a Chilean family lives, regularly for a year, managing the site and receiving visitors to this, the southernmost outpost of Chile. Far back, we could also see the albatross monument, nested by the actual horn (cape) and built of metal sheets recovered from vessels that travelled these waters, when going the ‘wrong’ way around the horn was something to be proud of. In attempting to do just that, hundreds went down or simply gave up. There are multiple stories of ships waiting for months for the winds to calm so they could cross to the Pacific Ocean side, finally giving up and going the other way around the world to be able to reach their destinations.

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  • Garibaldi Glacier and the Beagle Channel

    A Friday aboard the National Geographic Explorer is quite unlike a normal Friday. Never are workers dull, waiting for 5 pm, excited for the weekend. Aboard the ship no one knows what day of the week it is, naturalist staff wake up alert and excited for the day, eyes gleaming for the promise of new adventure.

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  • Agostini National Park, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

    We are now deep within the fiords of Tierra del Fuego cruising amongst high, snow-capped mountains and cliffs so steep they could have been cut with a knife!  However, only the most vertical and smoothest slopes are without some sort of vegetation, whether it is warm comforters of golden moss or short stubbles of southern beech trees, life persists and thrives!

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  • Kirke Narrows and Navigating the Fjords

    The National Geographic Explorer left Puerto Natales in the early hours of the morning, heading towards the Kirke Narrows.  Amazing light appeared as the sun rose over the mountains and the moon went down, with almost lenticular clouds hanging over the mountain-tops.

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  • Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Fjords

    ‘Unbelievable’ was the word used for the weather that greeted our early rising and breakfast. The sky over Puerto Natales was absolutely clear and our expectations were being exceeded as we began what would be a memorable all-day excursion to Torres del Paine National Park.

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  • Montañas Fjord, Bernal Glacier, White Narrows and Puerto Natales

    The beautiful weather we all enjoyed yesterday continued today. As day broke and the first rays of sun lit up the snow-dusted peaks we could fully appreciate the narrow Montañas fjord that the ship is sailing along. The rocks along the coastline were mostly well rounded and sparsely covered with vegetation, telling us that once they felt the full strength of huge glaciers which carved out these landscapes. Further in, the slopes rose ever steeper and the tops of the mountains became jagged and covered in ice. More glaciers appeared, some tumbling down to the shoreline. Occasionally huge boulders and smaller rocks could be seen strewn about the shore and as we drew abeam of them glaciers could be seen back from the main coast; these have retreated and small tidal lagoons could be seen. As the sun rose and the large moon set, we were left speechless at the incredible beauty of the glowing snow and ice, as well as the green and brown reflections from the coastal rocks and trees on the flat calm waters. Off in the distance the mountains were covered by extensive fields of ice.

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  • English Narrows and Pio XI Glacier, Chile

    The sun rose a little before seven o’clock this morning casting a brilliant alpenglow of pink light on the snowcapped peaks surrounding the English Narrows of Chile. The beautiful and striking fjord system is only 200 yards (180m) wide in places and is dotted with small islands before the steep forested hills rise out the water and ascent thousands of feet high where fresh snow lies and lenticular clouds shroud the peaks.

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