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EXC In-Depth Field Notes: Callao, Easter Island, Henderson Island and Pitcairn Island

Our EXC In-Depth Voyage made way to South America, and Holland America Line’s Director of Explorations Dr. Peter Carey is still on board. He and the EXC In-Depth Guides are sharing their up-close adventures and encounters our guests are having at every port. After departing Costa Rica, the ship visited ports in Peru, Chile and the coveted Easter Island. Enjoy this installment of Field Notes, and stay tuned for more!

CALLAO AND GENERAL SAN MARTIN, PERU
Much of the Peruvian coast is arid and barren, in stark contrast to the prodigious life found just offshore. Washed by the productive, cold waters of the Humboldt or Peruvian Current, the sea is awash with marine life. Schooling fish like anchovies have long supported the Peruvian people and have at times been a mainstay of that nation’s economy. When Maasdam called at the ports of Callao (Lima) and General San Martin on our EXC In-Depth voyage, we had the opportunity to see firsthand how rich these waters were. On islands just offshore the land is packed with seabirds and sea lions that are there for the marine abundance and on EXC Tours we were able to get close to their raucous, crowded colonies.

Guanay cormorants and Peruvian boobies take advantage of the huge schools of anchovies found near Maasdam’s jetty.   © peter carey

Guanay cormorants and Peruvian boobies take advantage of the huge schools of anchovies found near Maasdam’s jetty. Photo by Peter Carey

Sea lions crowd onto one of the Islas Palomino, near Callao. Photo by Peter Carey

Sea lions crowd onto one of the Islas Palomino, near Callao. Photo by Peter Carey

EASTER ISLAND, CHILE
Landfall made at the enchanted island! So many of us on Maasdam were particularly excited to get to Easter Island and with 20-foot swells in the forecast, there was cause for doubt we’d be able to get ashore at this remote island. There is no real harbor so ships and their tenders are very much at the mercy of Pacific Ocean’s mood. But the Captain and his officers were carefully following the weather patterns and determined our best chance lay in delaying our arrival by a day to let the worst weather pass through. And so it came to pass as we arrived 24 hours later than originally planned and found the landing conditions were good. We then enjoyed two gloriously sunny days at this easternmost Polynesian island. Most of us made a beeline for the nearest moai – the huge stone statues carved by the ancestors of the Rapanui people. We’d all seen photos of course, but to stand and gaze at the real thing was a mesmerizing experience, and with all the knowledge we’d gained from the onboard EXC In-Depth team, the experience was even deeper.

HENDERSON AND PITCAIRN ISLANDS
Almost as isolated as Easter Island are two of the tiny islands that make up U.K.’s last territory in the Pacific Ocean. Pitcairn Island is home to about 50 people, most of whom are descendants of the mutineers who took over the HMS Bounty in 1789, and the Tahitian women they brought with them into exile on the then-uninhabited Pitcairn. Maasdam circumnavigated this steep, volcanic island as we glimpsed the houses peeking out of the trees on the lush hillsides. Several hours earlier we’d also done a scenic cruise by the uninhabited Henderson Island, whose raised limestone cliffs were battered by the Pacific swells. Henderson Island is home to unique birds and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Waves smash spectacularly against the limestone cliffs of remote Henderson Island. Photo by Peter Carey

Waves smash spectacularly against the limestone cliffs of remote Henderson Island. Photo by Peter Carey

The steep but lush slopes of Pitcairn Island are home to a dwindling population of U.K.’s only Overseas Territory in the Pacific. Photo by Peter Carey

The steep but lush slopes of Pitcairn Island are home to a dwindling population of U.K.’s only Overseas Territory in the Pacific. Photo by Peter Carey

Next up, Maasdam visits the gorgeous South Pacific Islands of Fakarava, Rangiroa and Bora Bora. If you’d like to join an EXC In-Depth Voyage, they are scheduled into 2020 so take a look and see where you’d like to explore!

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