Posts Tagged ‘National Geographic Explorer’

A New Antarctica Article

March 22nd, 2010 at 12:02 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I was asked by Lindblad Expeditions if I could write an article for their blog about our trip on the National Geographic Explorer. I immediately agreed, and only realized later how challenging an effort it was – we just saw and experienced so many wonderful “firsts” on our trip. After a third attempt I finally came up with as good a summary as I possibly could without writing a book.

You can find it at


The Black Penguin

March 11th, 2010 at 5:48 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

It figures that something remarkable was seen on our trip, but I completely missed it. Fortunately my daughter Krystyana did see it – and she also managed to take several photos of this unusual critter. I’m speaking of the Black Penguin, a flightless bird with unusual coloring that appears to have taken the world by storm.

Black King penguin next to normal King penguin

Black King penguin next to normal King penguin

Fellow traveler and National Geographic Traveler contributing editor Andrew Evans posted a photo of the melanistic penguin on his blog, which led to another post in the Intelligent Travel blog, and from there it seems to have spiraled into a major news story.

So, to help prove that Andrew’s photo was not an anomaly, below are a few more photos of the Black Penguin.

Black Penguin in the foreground with a regular King penguin in the background

Black Penguin in the foreground with a regular King penguin in the background

The Black Penguin

The Black Penguin

Larger versions of the above images, along with additional photos can be found on Krystyana’s Flickr pages.


Slide Show From The Antarctic Expedition

March 9th, 2010 at 2:01 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We had several photo pros on board the National Geographic Explorer, including Lindblad staff photographers Michael Nolan and Eric Guth and National Geographic photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. This photo “team” was always readily available to provide guests with tips and critiques, as well as technical assistance.

Some of the ways they used to help improve the quality of the photos taken by guests was to lead seminars on photography and photographic techniques, as well as have open critiques of submitted photos. There’s no question that general photo quality improved as a whole over the three weeks we were traveling the seas.

The culmination of the photographic experience was a computer-based slide show put together by Mike Nolan, including most of the submissions from the first two critiques, plus a final set of photos, all contributed by a large number of guests and staff alike. There are many amazing photos from our trip included in the slide show, including wildlife, landscapes, abstract works, and even ones of various people you might or might not recognize.

While the slide show was distributed to folks on memory cards on board the ship the last day at sea, I offered to Mike that I could also post it here on our site for on-line access by our fellow guests and their friends and family, and that offer was gladly accepted.

The link below leads to a .MOV file containing the slide show, which can be played back via QuickTime, iTunes, or any of a number of other video players. You can download Apple’s QuickTime here in case you need it.

The .MOV file is just over 50MB in size, and takes about 32 minutes to play through (there are a lot of photos there). There is no sound in the file, so don’t be alarmed if you hear nothing when you start the slide show. I would suggest playing some Jazz or Classical music in the room you view the slide show in to add a nice aural ambiance.

To play the .MOV file, click on the link below, and then save the .MOV file in a local directory on your system. Once it is fully downloaded, and assuming you have QuickTime or another compatible player installed, you can double click on the file to play it. You may also have to click on the “play” button in your video player to start the slide show.

Enjoy the show! And special thanks from all of the guests (including us) to the National Geographic Explorer Photo Team for all their advice, comments, and support!


No Magellanic Woodpeckers, And Also No Plane

March 5th, 2010 at 2:40 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We just returned from Lago Escondido on the other side of the Andes mountain range here in Tierra del Fuego. Beautiful scenery along the way, and a spectacular roasted lamb for lunch, but no Magellanic woodpeckers to be found.

Roasted lamb in the Tierra del Fuego style - yum!

Roasted lamb in the Tierra del Fuego style - yum!

Returning back to the ship we found that in addition to there being no woodpeckers in sight, our charter flight to Miami was also in hiding.

Word is that the plane finally cleared all the Argentinian bureaucratic paperwork (there was a missing signature on a form, and that’s been the case for the last day), and should have finally departed Lima, Peru a few minutes ago, bound for Ushuaia.

This means we’ll be enjoying another night in the best hotel in Ushuaia, our ship, the National Geographic Explorer. It’s looking likely that we might actually leave tomorrow, but everything depends on when the charter flight actually lands in Ushuaia tonight (hopefully).


We Really Mean It This Time – We’re Going to Miami

March 4th, 2010 at 10:31 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

But we’re not going to Miami when we thought we would be. The latest update is that we’re not leaving Ushuaia at 7:30am as most recently planned. Since the Argentinian paperwork appears to have been even more bureaucratic than expected, our charter flight still had not left Lima as of a couple of hours ago, but the signs are very positive that they will actually get to Ushuaia tomorrow.

This is the long-tailed meadowlark - in this photo he seems to be pretty serious

This is the long-tailed meadowlark - in this photo he seems to be pretty serious

The new, updated, and revised plan is that we will now be leaving Ushuaia at 8:00pm on Friday evening, getting into Miami at 10:00am on Saturday morning.

And, since we get most of another day in Ushuaia (while staying in the “best hotel” in Ushuaia, namely the National Geographic Explorer), the folks here have been great in planning another excursion for us to a lake on the other side of the Andes mountain range here in Tierra del Fuego. Should give us an opportunity to see sled dogs and the elusive Magellanic woodpecker (seriously!). And we’ll be fed, several times, tomorrow too. We feel very well loved by Lindblad Expeditions. Not sure I can think of another company that would do so much, on their nickel, to make sure their guests got home safely. Kudos to all of you Lindblad folks!


On-Going Travel Plans Still Somewhat In Limbo

March 2nd, 2010 at 10:40 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We did get some definitive word this evening at our nightly re-cap aboard the National Geographic Explorer about our on-going travel plans after we arrive in Ushuaia in a couple of days. That word was that our previously planned charter back to Santiago, Chile this coming Thursday has been canceled. And with it, our continuation to Easter Island. We’re a little disappointed, but at the same time quite relieved to not have to brave the chaos of post-earthquake Chile.

The only other key thing we were told is that Lindblad’s corporate office is working on a charter to get us out of Ushuaia after we arrive on Thursday morning, but at present it was not clear where the charter flight would take us. It was also explained that those of us who had been on the Easter Island extension would be getting a letter detailing how refunds, etc., would be processed and dealt with.

After the brief announcement and discussion about the changes in our travel plans, everyone on board was asked what their final return destination airport would be, presumably so that appropriate return flights and connections could be arranged. That didn’t quite address the issue of how to spend the extra week or so we had planned to be away from home, so maybe we’ll just end up at home sooner than expected. Considering the Traveling Richters were having issues today figuring out to spend a week in Argentina, that might be for the best.

So, for now, all we know is what we’re definitely not doing, which is returning to Chile. We don’t know what we are doing instead, though.

But mystery and serendipity are all part of of expedition and exploration travel, so we’ll let ourselves be surprised, and if we don’t like the surprise, we’ll get it changed somehow. For now, we’ll pack our cold weather clothes away, and assume we’ll be at least a moderately temperate climate from Ushuaia onward.