Traveling at sea aboard National Geographic Orion, the passing landscape was nothing short of spectacular this morning. The grey skies against the towering snow-capped fjord walls set the scene for a beautifully moody day. We spent some time sipping lattes in the cozy lounge while watching black-browed albatross glide effortlessly behind our ship. Now that we’ve unpacked and settled-in a bit, our time aboard the ship was a good opportunity to get to know our naturalists, photographers, officers, and crew. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic offers the unique opportunity to see how navigation occurs with the open bridge policy. We watched the bridge team hard at work and were able to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on transiting these narrow and shallow fjords. It is a given in almost any expedition that wildlife will appear at inopportune times – and without fail, our photography lecture was cut short due to the presence of feeding humpback whales and various bird species. Despite the eight-foot wingspan of the black-browed albatrosses, the surrounding landscape dwarfed them to mere specks on the water.
Shortly after lunch we dropped Zodiacs so we could have our first opportunity to more intimately explore this remote fjord system. The wind made for a choppy and wet ride across the big blue, but we didn’t mind; we were suited up in waterproof gear and eager for adventure. The area felt desolate, like we were the only humans for miles and miles. We were. Such a rarity in today’s world to be in a true wilderness area – what a treat! We discussed the early explorers of the area and tried to imagine how they survived such an environment. Our imaginations leapt between imagining how this part of the world looked thousands (even millions!) of years ago and how it might look that far in the future. Only time will tell. This afternoon was a successful day for our bird enthusiasts because we were able to check many species off our list! Though we of course enjoyed the flying birds like the skuas, petrels, albatross, condors, and oyster catchers, a favorite was probably the Magellanic penguins we occasionally saw pop out of the water.
As we navigated our small boats directly into the wind and splashing waves back towards our mothership, our spirits stayed high because we knew we’d be greeted with strong drinks and a hot shower. It’s almost embarrassing to admit our happiness about not having to spend our evening enduring the elements like Magellan and his crew once did. What a time to be alive.