Montevideo, Uruguay, 10/22/2022, National Geographic Endurance
National Geographic Endurance
Overnight, we navigated across the Rio de la Plata, or River Plate, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. We arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay just before lunch. The River Plate is a massive estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay and Paraná Rivers. Spanning over 140 kilometers, it is considered the widest estuary in the world. Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay and its largest city with over 1.3 million people, was founded by the Spanish in 1724. This vital and thriving port city is considered to offer the highest quality of life in South America. The city boasts a rich and diverse cultural scene, as well as many unique architectural features.
Today our guests took a tour of the city by motor coach, making several stops along the way to appreciate what the city offers. Later in the afternoon, we visited Bodega Bouza Winery. We enjoyed a tasting of their regional wine specialties paired with elegant tapas. A very pleasant way to enjoy the vibrant culture of Montevideo and the pampas region of South America.
In the evening, we gathered in the Ice Lounge to celebrate the beginning of our expedition with Captain Aaron Wood’s welcome cocktail and dinner reception.
Doug Gualtieri has worked as a Naturalist interpretive guide for over 20 years, beginning his career in Denali National Park and Preserve at a remote wilderness lodge leading hikes and giving lectures on the ecology and wildlife of that region. Later...
After nearly 4,000 nautical miles together–from sunny days on Argentinian estancias to snow showers in South Georgia to the white sand beaches of the Falklands–our three-week expedition comes to a close. Well-worn muck boots and trekking poles were cleaned for a final time and returned today, and carefully selected photos of favorite moments and new friends were submitted to the voyage slideshow. Once home, orange polar parkas will emerge from our luggage, carrying the scents and salt of the Southern Ocean. National Geographic photographer Todd Gipstein shared his approach to curating travel stories, and the natural history team provided a few last short presentations. We knew Ushuaia was just around the corner when the pilot boat came alongside National Geographic Endurance in the late afternoon, though sailing down the Beagle Channel reminded us that there are endless new and stunning locations to be visited if we take the time. During Captain Aaron Wood’s Farewell Cocktail Party, he introduced members of the ship’s crew so we could express our appreciation for their continuous hard work and cheerful energy. We reminisced about the voyage and planned future travels during our traditional Argentinian Asado feast, a fitting close to our journey along coastal South America and across the Southwest Atlantic.
We awoke on our last day of landings to expedition leader Russ Evans inviting us up to breakfast in preparation for a long day of adventure in the Falkland Islands. Our first stop of the day was Grave Cove, a beautiful little sheltered beach brimming with birdlife on mainland West Falklands. At 8:30, the team was ready to receive us ashore. We loaded into Zodiacs in the brilliant sunshine and enjoyed a quick transit to the beach. The beach was beautiful with fine white sand and clear turquoise water; it could easily be misidentified as a tropical location. On the beach, landowner Marie Del met us and invited us on a short walk through the valley to the beach on the other side. On both beaches, small colonies of Gentoo penguins sat on their eggs in the sunshine, quietly observing us as we hiked across the landscape. On the way, we observed several ponds with a variety of birdlife residing along the edges. We were treated to sights of brent geese and upland geese with their goslings, as well as crested ducks, Magellanic oystercatchers, striated caracara (Johnny rooks), and long-tailed meadowlarks. Gentoo penguins came ashore in tumbling groups, providing opportunities to take wonderful photos. Soon it was time to make our way back to the landing site. We said goodbye to Marie and loaded back into our Zodiacs, returning just in time for lunch. Due to the beautiful weather, the galley team moved lunch to deck 8, so we could enjoy the wonderful views. As we approached the settlement of West Point Island, we were stunned by views of the historic buildings and gorse bushes in full bloom. It was a little windier than earlier, but we loaded into our Zodiacs and without too much splashing, we arrived at the jetty to explore the island. The caretakers of the island, Kiki and Tees, met us as we disembarked and welcomed us to the island. Some guests took off for a long hike across the island to an impressive black-browed albatross colony on the coastline. Others loaded into two Land Rovers to travel to the albatross colony. Once we arrived, we enjoyed sneaking in amongst the six foot tussac bogs to get a good view of the albatross on their nests. Nearby, rockhopper penguins noisily bickered. Silently hidden in the long grass, we watched these beautiful animals interact with each other in preparation for breeding. After some time, we started to make our way back to the settlement where Kiki had prepared a huge spread of freshly brewed tea and homemade cakes. We enjoyed our tea chatting with her in the kitchen or sitting out in the garden in the sunshine. It was a brilliant ending to our last landing. Soon it was time to head back. We loaded up again and returned to the ship ready for the night’s events. We enjoyed final recap followed by an amazing dinner before returning to the ice lounge for a wonderful show put on by the ship’s crew. They were amazing! We laughed, and some of us danced the night away. It was the perfect ending to our Falklands adventure.
Saunders Island (Falkland Islands) greeted us with a moody cape of fog that soon fizzled away. The rest of our morning was full of blue skies, azure-blue seas, and a gentle, mild breeze. We saw four species of penguins and surfing Commerson’s dolphins. We spent the afternoon visiting the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony on the remote island with a challenging landing area: Steeple Jason Island. It was a superb day of birding, hiking, and beachcombing!