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Jon Bowermaster
Explorer Jon Bowermaster

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

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

Magellan knew them as the Dangerous Archipelago, a chain laced with pristine, ship-eating reefs. Today called Tuamotu—Tahitian for "distant islands"—this 78-island stretch of French Polynesia lies halfway between Australia and South America.

For two months last fall, explorer Jon Bowermaster led a team through this barely populated 900-mile-long (1,450-kilometer-long) archipelago. Navigating by sun and stars, the team had what he called a "Robinson Crusoe existence," including spearing and hooking their dinners; the reefs here pulse with a virtual rainbow of fish and sharks some 400 species strong.

Along the way, they shot through storm-tossed waters, kayaked amid migrating whales, and made contact with some of the world's most isolated cultures.

—Ted Chamberlain

Click map to enlarge
French Polynesia

Next: The Team >>

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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.


Bowermaster portrait by Barry Tessman; map by Steve Turner
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  • Introduction
  The Team
  Photo Gallery
  Dispatch 1
  Dispatch 2
  Dispatch 3
  Dispatch 4
  Dispatch 5
  Dispatch 6
  Dispatch 7
  Dispatch 8

Related Web Sites

Ask the Expedition Advisor
Jon Bowermaster fielded readers' 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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August 2003

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