Be among the first to experience our brand new Australia itineraries, full of ancient history and abundant wildlife, as we return to this untouched region of the world in 2023.
2 Min Read
Recently, Sven and Kristin Lindblad explored French Polynesia in search of new opportunities to share with guests. Discover these gorgeous images that offer a sneak peek of adventures to come.
Daily Expedition Reports
National Geographic Explorer
This morning, we woke up to find ourselves at the busy port of Georgetown, where National Geographic Explorer docked during the night. As the country’s capital and largest city, Georgetown is also a melting pot of several cultures. It is a fascinating place, as we got the chance to see on our way to the local airport. A tremendously rich mixture of African, Hindu, Chinese, British, Dutch, and native cultures (among others) makes for a picturesque and interesting place. We had the pleasure of watching a group of local Guyanese musicians perform for us at the dock in front of the ship. They mesmerized us with the rhythm and power of their drumming and provided an excellent introduction to the culture of this very unique city. At the airport, we boarded small planes to fly about 150 miles southwest of Georgetown. We passed over a green carpet of tropical rainforest to arrive at one of the country’s crown jewels, Kaieteur Falls. It doesn’t matter how many waterfalls you have seen during your life; nothing compares to Kaieteur. Water from the Potaro River falls an incredible 820 feet, dropping an astonishing 30,000 gallons per second over a 400 feet wide edge. Those numbers are certainly very impressive, but the sight of the falls is absolutely marvelous. Kaieteur Falls are reputed to be the world’s highest single-drop waterfall, five times the size of Niagara Falls. What a magnificent sight! Although the waterfall itself is worth the flight to this very remote location that is inaccessible by other means, we also had the opportunity to learn about the tropical rainforest and many of its inhabitants. We walked several jungle trails to various viewpoints and saw an astonishing variety of plants. In some of the large bromeliads, small pools of rainwater accumulate at the base of the leaves. In these pools, we found several small frog species, including the gorgeous golden rocket frog. Birders and non-birders alike enjoyed watching a group of Guianan cock-of-the-rock males. They competed for the attention of females at a lek. Leks are specific patches of forest that males use for display during the breeding season. What a truly beautiful bird and a highlight for all the birders onboard! Back in the planes, we were sweaty but extremely happy for the pleasure of experiencing such a wild and remote place where we watched the magnificent Kaieteur Falls. The falls are certainly Guyana’s crown jewel.
National Geographic Endeavour II
We spent today on the island of Santiago. Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist, camped here for nine days to observe the various species of the Galapagos Islands. We had an amazing day full of excitement, including great wildlife encounters and opportunities for photography.
National Geographic Endurance
Today we awoke on National Geographic Endurance to beautiful pink skies and icebergs passing by the ship as we sat down for breakfast. We enjoyed a nice cruise into the furthest northwestern fjord of Scoresby Sund. Today was a lovely day filled with ice and dramatic scenery, making it hard to walk away from the window for even just a moment.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Isabela Island is the largest island in the Galapagos archipelago. Its backbone is made of five huge shield volcanos, starting from the north: Wolf, Darwin, Alcedo, Sierra Negra, and Cerro Azul. All these massive volcanos are active, and one erupts about every three years.
National Geographic Resolution
Early this morning, we got sight of a small, rugged-looking island far off on the horizon. This was almost as exciting to us as it must have been for the HMAV Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions on January 15th, 1790 after their long search for this very same island. The island was reported by Europeans in 1767 and was named Pitcairn’s Island, after the sailor who first sighted it. At the time of discovery, no landing was attempted, and it was incorrectly charted, making it very difficult for the mutineers to find. This isolated volcanic structure rises about 1,100 feet (330 meters) above the ocean’s surface and has a land area of only 1.75 square miles. Pitcairn Island is roughly situated midway between Panama and New Zealand. Archaeological evidence shows that the island was part of an important but restricted Polynesian trade system that also included Henderson Island and Mangareva Island (the French Polynesian island from where we have just come). Pitcairn Island was inhabited for several centuries by Polynesians up until about 1500. From that time, it remained uninhabited until the coming of the Bounty mutineers led by Fletcher Christian in 1790. The new wave of settlers included nine mutineers, twelve Tahitian women, and six Tahitian men, and very soon, children were born. Although the island must have seemed like a virtual paradise upon arrival, the tiny community endured considerable discord and then violence between the British mutineers and the Tahitian men in the ensuing years. By 1800, only one of the original men (mutineer Alexander Smith, a.k.a. John Adams) was still alive. He became the leader of the community that then included nine Tahitian women and numerous children. They remained totally isolated until they were discovered in 1808 by the American sailing ship Topaz under the command of Mayhew Folger. Their descendants today are a unique blend of European and Polynesian cultures, genetics, and languages, and it is very pleasing to hear the local Pitkinese language spoken among residents. Pitcairn Island became a British colony in 1838. By the 1850s, the community was outgrowing the island, so its leaders appealed to the British government. The Pitcairn islanders were offered Norfolk Island, and on May 3, 1856, the entire community of 193 people left for Norfolk. After eighteen months on Norfolk, seventeen of the Pitcairners decided to return home. Five years later, another twenty-seven did as well, and Pitcairn has been continuously inhabited ever since. The population peaked at 233 in 1937, and it has since fallen severely due to emigration, leaving less than fifty people living on Pitcairn today. The islanders converted to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the 1880s, so tobacco, consumption of liquor, and pork are not allowed on the island. Gardening and fishing are important parts of the residents’ subsistence, and sometimes they produce enough to sell fresh vegetables to the rare passing ship. Pitcairn is governed under the British High Commissioner in New Zealand, who is Governor of Pitcairn and its associated islands, i.e., Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Islands. Upon arrival, we collected the officials in our Zodiacs for clearance into the United Kingdom. Mayor Melva gave us a wonderful presentation that introduced us to the island. By midmorning, the Zodiacs were ready, and we began what would certainly be one of the highlights of the voyage. Once ashore in the little harbor, we were welcomed by the islanders and made our way up a road known as The Hill of Difficulty to reach Adamstown (named for John Adams). Some of us walked up the hill, while others were given rides on the backs of local quad bikes. It is important to realize our visit was as meaningful to the islanders as it was to us. The island gets very few visitors, and the staff and crew have many friends living here. The Pitcairn islanders are renowned for their artistic abilities, and the handicrafts produced here are valued by collectors around the world. There were market stands along the road and in the Main Square where local artisans sold wooden bowls and carvings made from miro wood or Polynesian rosewood, as well as postcards and other souvenirs. Word was they did very well with us insofar as selling merchandise is concerned, which is helpful to the island’s residents. In the afternoon, we divided into groups to enjoy different activities available here on the island. A few guests opted for a difficult but rewarding hike to the highest point of the island for spectacular views. Several others hiked up to Christian’s Cave, a famous grotto that Fletcher Christian visited to retreat from his compatriots and meditate. Several other guests walked to the easternmost point of the island to visit St. Paul’s Pool, a natural swimming hole that is both filled and emptied by the sea. A few of our people managed a swim in the sheltered waters of the innermost section. Most of our group, however, went on a walking tour of the environs of Adamstown. We saw John Adams’s grave (along with the graves of his wife and daughter), historic homesites, giant banyan trees and other lush vegetation, overlooks, and the historic cemetery. The wonderful museum, with its collection of HMAV Bounty items that have been salvaged from the wreck, was extremely interesting. There was a lot to see and do here, and everyone had plenty of time to experience the island and its amazing history as they saw fit. We returned to the ship tired but satisfied. It had been a remarkable and successful day.