Daily Expedition Reports

Browse photos & daily reports sent from the field every day



Lastest Expedition Reports

  • Santa Cruz Island

    Tuesday is tortoise day in the Galapagos. We began today’s adventure with an early walk through the Charles Darwin Research Station, learning all about conservation projects of the past, present and future, and the importance of taking care of Darwin’s natural laboratory. The highlight of the walk was seeing the baby tortoises in the breeding center feeding, and our Galapagos tortoise stallion, Diego, who has sired 800 offspring!

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  • Floreana Island- Punta Cormorant, Champion Islet, and Post Office Bay

    Today we visited Floreana Island, one of the oldest Islands of the archipelago, characterized by hundreds of volcanic cones. Floreana was one of the first Islands to be colonized by humans, therefore, it is a place with rich human history. These days Floreana harbors a small human settlement of less than 120 people.

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  • Floreana Island

    Floreana was the first island in Galapagos to be colonized by people. Ecuador took possession of the Galapagos Islands in 1832 and stablished a penal colony in Floreana Island. When Darwin visited the Galapagos in 1835, the second island he landed on was Floreana.  During his stay, Darwin met with some of the convicts and explored the highlands. 

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  • Point Wild, Elephant Island

    Our voyage continued towards the Antarctic Peninsula today, but first a stop of incredible, historic polar value. The morning was challenging as we felt the ability of the Southern Ocean to remind us of the powers involved when wind meets the sea. National Geographic Explorer was worthy to the task as she plied her way towards Elephant Island. It was here that Ernest Shackleton and his men made landfall for the first time in 500 days—after leaving South Georgia, becoming beset in the sea ice of the Weddell Sea; after the Endurance sank in front of them, after making two separate camps on the ice, after the ice broke up and they rowed and rowed and rowed. On arrival, they made camp at a point that Frank Wild, Shackleton’s right-hand man, found while scouting the island. They brought their three boats ashore on a small beach supplied with rocks from the glacier behind them. They rested, increased their larder and made camp while Shackleton conceived a plan so bold and unprecedented that it was only a few years ago that it was repeated in a similar fashion. He would take five men and sail for South Georgia, across the most violent sea in the world, in winter.

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  • Espanola Island

    We spent the day on one of the oldest islands of the archipelago, Espanola. It was a day filled with activities, with an early kayaking excursion, to deep water snorkeling, and an easy and fantastic stroll along the beautiful white sandy beach of Gardner Bay. In the afternoon we visited Punta Suarez, with an explosion of wildlife and a great place for nature photography. We enjoyed observing the Espanola mocking birds, Waved albatross, Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and the Galapagos sea lion females with their pups. It was an incredible day and the start of a voyage sure to be full of unforgettable experiences!

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  • Coronation Island, South Orkney Islands

    The National Geographic Orion dipped below 60 degrees south latitude for a quick stop at Coronation Island en route to Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Not only does this put us officially into Antarctica for treaty purposes, but we have clearly moved into a colder and more severe climate regime. Fog and low clouds routinely drape the western point of the Island, which hosts thousands of chinstrap penguins lining all available shorelines along this part of the coast.  Luckily the wind, clouds, and sea cooperated enough to allow a landing on the small beach, where the penguins entertained all who made it ashore. By mid-morning we were again on our way across the open sea, avoiding pack ice in a freshening southerly wind, as we roughly paralleled Shackleton’s perilous passage to South Georgia in reverse.

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  • Espanola Island

    Today’s expedition took place on the oldest island of the Galapagos Archipelago, Espanola Island, also known as Hood Island. We spent the morning snorkeling at Gardner Islet and at Gardner Beach, where a big sea lion colony lives. In the afternoon, we visited Punta Suarez in Espanola Island. As we set foot on its lava rock terrain, a big group of colorful marine iguanas and the curious Hood mockingbird welcomed us. Along the trail, we had close encounters with various birds such as nesting Nazca boobies, waved albatross adults and chicks, the Galapagos dove and a Galapagos hawk. As the sun went down, we came back onboard, after spending an amazing day on the Enchanted Islands.

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  • Coronation Island, South Orkney Islands

    For the first time in a decade National Geographic Explorer sailed to the western extent of the South Orkney Islands, bound for Coronation Island. Favorable wind conditions on our passage from South Georgia presented this rare opportunity. On arrival, conditions were less inviting with strong wind creating challenges within our anchorage. First order of business was to deploy the depth sounding Zodiac. Chief mate Aaron Wood traveled back and forth in the inlet to gather bathymetric data for our anchorage. Next, our fleet of Zodiacs was deployed to explore this rarely visited piece of our planet. It’s hard to believe that so many chinstrap penguins can survive in such a harsh environment—120,000 to be precise. From the slopes of ice all around us, we also managed to pick out a small handful of Adélie penguins, a new species for most of us.

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  • Leaving South Georgia for Coronation Island

    Sunday found us underway across the Scotia Sea after bidding a sad farewell to South Georgia Island. It had been a sun-filled visit, but it seemed that bad weather was on the horizon, so our best bet was to head out of the Drygalski Fjord Saturday evening and sail southeast toward Coronation Island. The Scotia Sea is the area of water between Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Normally stormy and cold, the weather for our voyage was tolerable with maximum 4-5 meter seas and 30 knot winds. Dinnertime found us rolling into fog with radar showing a 3km tabular iceberg off in the distance. This could have thrown an unexpected delay into our plans, but around midnight the fog cleared and National Geographic Orion sailed off at the expected speed.

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  • At Sea towards the South Orkneys

    Sea days are a perfect time for reflection, especially after the jam-packed week we had in South Georgia. We are en route to the South Orkneys, but it will take a full day and two nights to get there. Some of us slept in a little, while others visited the bridge early—as usual—to get the first crack at the daily bird list.

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Please note: Daily Expedition Reports (DER’s) are posted Monday-Friday only, during normal business hours.


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