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From the Field
Expedition: Dangerous Archipelago
Kayaking French Polynesia's Tuamotu Islands

Explorer Jon Bowermaster sends dispatches from the deep South (Pacific).

Dispatch 2: Rangiroa

September 16, 2002

[Note: Nationalgeographic.com does not research or copyedit field dispatches.]

We've now been in the Tuamotus a week, and it's hard to imagine any week being more spectacular. [Already] we've been diving to 130 feet [40 meters]—except for John Armstrong, our cameraman, who was down to 160 feet [50 meters]—[spotting] sharks, maybe two to three meters [6.5 to 10 feet] long ... Unbelievable.

Now we're off to the south side of Rangiroa, the [second largest atoll in the world] maybe 50 miles [80 kilometers] long by 20 miles [32 kilometers] across. We're just skipping from motus, little sand islands, to motu. Today we paddled to a little motu that's maybe a mile [1.6] square. It's called Paati. And I'm looking out now to the ocean which is a couple hundred meters to my left. Standing on the lagoon side, I found myself literally hypnotized by the red bow of the kayak as it plowed through this incredibly blue sea. And the combination of the red and the blue through my polarized sunglasses was literally mesmerizing.

So from here we go to a place in the far western edge of the atoll called the Blue Lagoon. From there, after the Blue Lagoon, we'll head south to Fakarava. So by the time I report in next, we'll hopefully will be nearing Fakarava.

—Jon Bowermaster

Next: Dispatch 3: The Miramu and Wave Trains >>

Photograph courtesy Jon Bowermaster

Click map to enlarge

Look for Jon Bowermaster's feature article on kayaking the Dangerous Archipelago in a future issue of Adventure. Subscribe Now and Save 62 percent off the cover price >>

Funding for this expedition was provided by the National Geographic Society Expeditions Council. For more information on the Council, its projects, and grants, e-mail ecouncil@ngs.org.


Photograph courtesy Jon Bowermaster; Map by NG Maps
  The Team
  Photo Gallery
  Dispatch 1
  • Dispatch 2
  Dispatch 3
  Dispatch 4
  Dispatch 5
  Dispatch 6
  Dispatch 7
  Dispatch 8


Video: Tuamotu Sunset (0:55)
Watch: RealPlayer 56.6

Audio: Dispatch 2—Rangiroa (1:08)
"It's hard to imagine any week being more spectacular..."
RealPlayer: 28.8 | 56.6

Download RealPlayer

Related Web Sites

Ask the Expedition Advisor
Jon Bowermaster fielded reader's questions on planning an out-there adventure.

Descending the Dragon
Hear Bowermaster's dispatches from his kayak odyssey down the Vietnam coast.

Dispatches From the Birthplace of the Winds
See photos and hear dispatches from the expedition that inspired Bowermaster's new book, Birthplace of the Winds.

Video: Bowermaster on His Aleutian Odyssey
Find out what it took to take Alaska's Islands of the Four Mountains by kayak.

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