Our field staff made memorable cultural connections in Colombia, explored coastlines from the Galápagos to Washington State, and even witnessed a guest wedding aboard the National Geographic Endurance!
The Pacific Northwest harbors a diversity of habitats ideal for birdlife like the rhinoceros auklet, Steller’s jay, and red-breasted sapsucker. These are just a few of the species to spot on expeditions in the region.
We woke up in the Drake Passage headed north to our destination, Ushuaia, where our amazing adventure would come to an end. As a farewell treat, teatime featured Swedish pancakes with a variety of toppings, which we enjoyed on calm seas and under sunny skies as we sailed toward Cape Horn. Between disembarkation briefings, we enjoyed staff presentations. For example, National Geographic photographer Camille Seaman showed her favorite images from this journey. Many of us contributed our five best images to the Guest Slideshow, which premiered during evening cocktails. Afterward, Captain Yuri introduced our hard-working crew, who received a rousing round of applause. Our final dinner together was accompanied by a gorgeous sunset, which capped our special time together on National Geographic Explorer .
Most everyone enjoyed sleeping in this morning as we softly rolled with the motion of the ocean. This day at sea offered us time to rest, work on the amazing photographs taken on the voyage, and spend time with new friends. In the first presentation of the day, naturalist Eric Guth explained how he fell in love with the ice and got his start with Lindblad Expeditions. In the afternoon, Jonny Reid gave a talk on acoustics in marine mammals. Jamie Coleman gave the final presentation on threats to shorebirds and the ocean ecosystem on which they depend. Occasionally, waves of the Drake Passage sloshed onto the bow and sides of the ship, but the Lounge, located in the aft of the ship, was relatively stable and, fortunately, most of us had acquired our “sea legs.”
Today we visited some of the islands on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Despite a weather system impacting the area, we still had a wonderful landing in the morning and a Zodiac cruise in the afternoon. The good thing about weather systems in Antarctica is that sometimes they bring … snow! And penguins in the whirling snow are a challenging but beautiful thing to photograph.
The morning was spent looking for a sheltered bay as the wind was strong at times. We came to Kayak Bay where we had a brief encounter with a humpback whale and stunning icebergs. Guests on Zodiacs were rewarded with incredible wildlife in the form of seals, various sea birds and, of course, gentoo penguins! Even though it started to snow, our guests enjoyed the amazing scenery and the beauty of Antarctica. The cruise left both guests and naturalists with big smiles on their faces. Meanwhile, the dive team was able to explore a site brand new to them. Very exciting! Lovely underwater scenery and lots of interesting critters to be seen. In the afternoon, we went to Paradise Harbour and Brown Station for another Zodiac cruise, slowly gliding through the ice to get close to the station and the ever so entertaining gentoo penguins. Straight after the cruise, we came to the point of no return: The Polar Plunge. Some 32 brave souls threw themselves into the ice cold water, some even for a second round! The day did not end there. Just after dinner, we had the privilege of watching a humpback whale ferociously feeding near the ship.
Today was filled with the Antarctic trifecta of ice, penguins, and scenery. An adventurous morning at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula allowed us to explore Brown Bluff from shore and by Zodiac. Countless Adelie and gentoo penguins paraded by on their busy day to day activities going to and from the water. By Zodiac, we enjoyed a fantastic cruise along the expanse of the penguin colony and what felt like a never-ending glacier face. The weather conditions continued in a dynamic fashion, with clouds parting to expose the dramatic geology of this region. As we made our way around Antarctic Sound in the afternoon towards the western Antarctic Peninsula, we enjoyed stories of Ancient Antarctica and Antarctic krill presented by our natural history staff team, making occasional detours to view and photograph spectacular icebergs.