Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Cook’s Bay, Staten Island, Argentina

    After a comfortable night at anchor along the shores of Staten Island, we repositioned before breakfast to the narrow and sheltered Cook’s Bay.  This was the location of the second prison on the island, although it was only in operation for a few years around 1900.  Here, we were able to walk completely across the island, enjoying the fantastic scenery of this very special place.

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  • Argentina, Staten Island

    Out of the rough and windy ocean, beyond the curved tip of South America (more precisely – the large island of Tierra del Fuego), the mountains of Staten Island emerge from the sea.  It is as if the Andes are surfacing for a final breath of refreshing air before disappearing beneath the ocean.  In the age of sail, most ships rounding Cape Horn sailed by Staten Island, and many of them wrecked on its shores.  Aside from shipwrecked sailors who made it ashore, about the only people here have been a few sealers, prisoners, Antarctic explorers, scientists, and since 1976 - a very small outpost of the Argentinian Navy.  It is protected as a nature preserve, and we are now among the lucky few to experience the beauty of its wild and rugged landscape.  We explored Hoppner Bay via Zodiac, cruising into a hidden and magical inner bay, where calm waters were surrounded by lush, green vegetation.  Later in the day, we landed near the eastern end of the island to visit ‘the lighthouse at the end of the world,’ then took a short Zodiac cruise to see a rockhopper penguin colony above the wave-swept shore. 

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  • Cape Horn, Chile

    We have reached the southernmost tip of the American continent - the end of the world, Cape Horn!  This is where the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic meet, giving way to the Drake Passage in the south. Here, prevailing westerly winds flow off the Pacific, the famous Roaring Forties and Screaming Fifties, winds and waves, between 40ºC and 60º C latitude which blows almost freely around the globe. The mixing of the waters from the two oceans combined with the strong winds creates very challenging conditions to sail in this region. If there are two words to describe where we were, they are water and wind. Water in all its shapes and forms, flavors and quantities, and winds so powerful that it almost seemed like a symphony from the gods playing in high volume and intensity.

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  • Seno Garibaldi, Chilean Fjords

    Today National Geographic Orion had a lot of ground to cover to get to our next destination. The morning was spent on board as the ship sailed through the channel. The weather was pretty mixed as we have all come to expect from Patagonia, but the clouds and strong winds created some incredible skies with moody and dramatic cloud formations.

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  • Karukinka Reserve and Ainsworth Bay

    After a day at sea navigating some stunning Chilean fjords, we were eager to stretch our legs when we awoke this morning in Karukinka Reserve. This area is governed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), an organization that works to conserve beauty and biodiversity. Luckily for us, we have a representative of the WCS aboard our ship, so we were able to learn all about this diverse wilderness area.

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  • The Fjords of Chilean Patagonia

    National Geographic Orion departed from Puerto Natales yesterday evening and headed into the maze of spectacularly scenic fjords that characterize southern Patagonia. Puerto Natales, with a population of about 16,000 people, sits about 51.5 degrees south, about as far from the equator as is London, England, in the northern hemisphere. Dinner finished in time for us to gather on deck for dessert and our navigation through White Narrows, a constricted passage that is best transited at slack tide due to exceptional tidal flows at other times during the tidal cycle.

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  • Isla De Los Estados, Argentina

    Our final day of this two-week expedition was a fitting end to our explorations of Patagonia and Isla de Los Estados (Staten Island). So few people have visited Staten Island that every outing was a new adventure, with today serving as the perfect reminder as to why this place is so special. We spent the entire morning cruising the shores of Isla Observatorio, teeming with thousands of seabirds and pinnipeds; every little nook of kelp-covered shoreline and ridge was packed with life. In the afternoon, we set anchor at Puerto Roca on the main island and set out for a leisurely stroll along the fine, sandy beach, taking time to reflect and soak in the magnificent scenery.  

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  • Isla de los Estados

    This morning we found ourselves in Puerto Cook, a deep indentation on the north coast of Isla de los Estados. There was some wind and light, intermittent rain. After breakfast, we headed ashore. The plan was to walk across the narrow, mile-plus-long isthmus to the other side of the island. 

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  • Isla de los Estados, Patagonia

    It had been a quiet night until National Geographic Explorer headed into the Strait of Lemaire. This stretch of water is known for its strong currents, and the 20-knot winds from the southwest added to the ship’s movement. With arrival of the first light, we sighted Isla de los Estados, and the outside conditions were ideal for seabirds. There were ample opportunities to watch remarkable birds that have made the open ocean their home.

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  • Cape Horn, Chile

    The guests onboard National Geographic Explorer awoke to a beautiful, calm Saturday morning at sea, headed for Cape Horn.

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