In this new short film, the legendary mountaineer shares more about his role aboard our ships, what his childhood was like as the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, and why our expeditions keep drawing him back.
This week's photos from the field include spectacular sunsets in Antarctica and The Bahamas; vibrant bird sightings in Costa Rica and New Zealand; and whale encounters in Antarctica and Baja California.
In this new short film, explore Indonesia's Raja Ampat, considered the gold standard for coral reefs around the world, and learn what makes the undersea program aboard National Geographic Orion especially unique.
Today was the second full day of our expedition, and we started activities very early to make the most of it. Right after sunrise, we boarded Zodiacs to explore a very interesting visitor site on Floreana Island. Here, a green sand beach was waiting for us. We learned about different types of sand and why the green color of this beach is so special. As we walked a little farther, we arrived at a brackish water lagoon. Flamingos are often observed here, but today was really special. We found nearly 80 flamingos feeding at the lagoon. This sighting was not only rare but also very exciting! We kept walking and arrived at a beach known as “the flour beach.” The beach has a particular type of sand that is not only white but very fine, like flour. Walking there was a pleasure. We encountered a sea turtle laying her eggs and covering them with sand. We observed diamond stingrays along the shoreline as we walked along the beach. Our next activity was an amazing deep-water snorkel. We observed many species of colorful fish along with one of the largest colonies of sea lions in the Galapagos. The afternoon was equally interesting, maybe even better! We had the opportunity to visit Post Office Bay, the location of the first mailing system on the islands. Long ago, sailors deposited their mail here, and it was collected by other ships passing through on their way back home. Nowadays, the mail system still works the same way. Postcards are dropped off and then picked up by future visitors, who follow the tradition by hand-delivering the mail once they make it home. After this exciting adventure, we enjoyed the clear and warm waters at the beach. Today was another great day in this little piece of heaven on earth.
On our third day at sea, we continued our sail to Tristan da Cunha. The swells and winds of the past few days have calmed, and the sun is shining. As we sail into the South Atlantic subtropical high, today was significantly warmer on deck. The morning began with an interesting presentation on seafloor mapping by naturalist Kelly! Technology has come a long way since Marie Tharp’s cartography work of the Atlantic Ridge, and scientists can map the floor with incredible detail. Today was truly a peaceful, relaxing day. As we continue our northward journey, the winds are calming, and wandering albatrosses slipstream alongside the ship. New birds are appearing, including the speckled petrel. These birds soar just below the outside decks of National Geographic Explorer . Before lunch, National Geographic writer Andrew Evans presented the fabulous presentation, “Folklore of The Albatross.” His images were so beautiful. Someone was overheard saying they wanted to rush out to buy the book! The weather continued to improve throughout the day, and we spent a lazy afternoon reading, learning to use our smartphone cameras during David’s presentation, and lounging in the sun during teatime, which included grilled sausages on the back deck! The weather was so beautiful that expedition leader Andy announced over the PA that Eduardo’s presentation on Darwin would be delayed so we could continue to enjoy the sunshine. After all, one never knows when the Atlantic weather will change…again! The night wound down with National Geographic photographer Massimo Bossano presenting on, “Shackleton and The Yellow Magazine,” a National Geographic piece on the famed explorer.
Today was our first day in paradise, and we visited Española, the archipelago’s oldest island! We started the day at beautiful Gardner Beach, a white sand beach that is home to Galapagos sea lions. We spent the morning snorkeling to explore the underwater world. Our day ended with a beautiful hike at Punta Suarez, a site where visitors can observe many birds, marine iguanas, and sea lions. As we walked along Punta Suarez, we encountered young and playful sea lions, Nazca boobies nesting, and marine iguanas gathering in piles to conserve heat so they can survive the night. It was a fantastic day in this beautiful archipelago and the perfect start to a magical expedition ahead!
Today was another day at sea as National Geographic Explorer transitioned across the Atlantic. Our next stop is Tristan da Cunha. Days at sea tend to be similar from one day to the next. Many guests search for birds that use the wind for their long flights. You are certain to find a few staff members on deck with their binoculars and cameras. If you venture up to the bridge on windy days, there are always interesting things to observe. Once again, we enjoyed great lectures today. In the lounge, Jim Kelley presented on, “Thermohaline Circulation of the Atlantic.” After that, Kelly Ferron presented on, “Pinnipeds of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.” After lunch, David Cothran ventured into the Circle of Truth with a photography workshop called, “Settings and Techniques for Birds in Flight.” Finally, Mark Vogler shared his presentation, “Living in Antarctica: Life at McMurdo.” It is safe to say that it was a knowledge-filled day with many great presenters. The day ended with the wonderful series Frozen Planet II, Episode 4: Frozen South .
Today is our last day in paradise after an adventure that seems unreal. We are from different backgrounds, but we have bonded as one. The Galapagos brings magic to our souls and minds. From Fernandina to San Cristobal, the youngest and one of the oldest islands in the archipelago, we have been on an expedition, a journey of discovery through time. Today we landed on San Cristobal Island with its green olivine beach. The volcanic scenery we observed during our intense hike was spectacular. The peaks of tuff high in the sky make this site very unusual. It was different than what we observed on other islands and was a moment that will live in our hearts forever. Punta Pitt has impressive scenery from up above. We could immediately feel the heat and humidity. All our senses were heightened as we took in our surroundings while searching for red-footed boobies. We were lucky to see them up-close. Soon after, it was beach time. We played with sea lions and observed as they played with each other on the beach. We repositioned to Cerro Brujo for our last walk over a white sand beach, and we enjoyed the turquoise ocean and the sea lions. What a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Galapagos. Today was particularly special, and the ocean was magical. We boarded the ship at sunset and passed by Kicker Rock, an impressive and massive tuff formation along the shoreline. We are now together in the lounge celebrating life as frigatebirds fly nearby, like they are saying goodbye. Today is our last full day on the islands. We made it to the Galapagos, and it was not easy. We have a deep appreciation for the islands and were honored to enjoy this unforgettable experience. We hope to make a positive change in this wonderful world of ours. Our expedition is now over. Life goes on, but we know this place changes many lives, this place that can never be fully described. We all came from different backgrounds to share in a magic that will exist in our minds forever. “We must rethink our indoctrinated knowledge, the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ and instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surroundings with all our senses; embracing nature with our true-spirit by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.” Celso Montalvo