Published: March 21st 2011
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Fri 4th Feb
Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Sparrow Cove penguin experience

Like many other people i think, until Maggie’s involvement in defending these islands from the Argentinean invasion, I had never heard of Port Stanley. Murdo of course knew about this region due to his fathers tales of his whaling trips to Antarctica. So for different reasons we both were looking forward to our stay today.
A tender boat took us over to the island to commence our excursion to see a colony of gentoo penguins.
Having stepped onto the island, we felt like we were back home !!! The similarity of the terrain to the Scottish highlands was uncanny with it's small farms nestling amongst wild backdrops of rocks, heather and peaty ground. As we walked our feet sprang in a comfy familiar way. It felt great and what a surprise. Beautiful all white sandy beaches, which some of unfortunately were still polluted with land mines left by the Argentineans. We took a short drive over the bumpy wilderness in a 4x4, the weather cool and fresh but not cold. Cruise ships coming to this area are relatively new and now add an extra welcome income for the islands which already has a good fishing and sheep farming trade.
In our new wisdom we were not expecting the penguins to be trudging through snow and ice!!! But thought they would be as the Magellanic ones we saw in Argentina nesting in the bushes. What we saw was a much smaller colony, nesting in more of an open terrain. They were bigger than Magellanic penguins and to our delight there was one King penguin amongst them sitting on an egg. Herbie was delighted to meet his kindred kind. In the photo try and spot the Herbie !!!!
Once again it was a thrilling experience, their sound echoed through the silent moores as they went about their business. Some were snuggled sleeping together whilst others were chasing each other around the colony. They had to walk quite a distance to the shoreline to feed and it was wonderful to watch them waddle along. Again the colony was well protected with boundaries we could not step over. Occasionally the penguins came into the human compound to our delight.
As our visit came to an end we were invited into a hut in the field for hot drinks and lovely cakes and biscuits. To our delight it was also a post office and we were able to purchase post cards, write them quickly and post them from there to our family.
After our visit ended we went back to the ship and got a different tender to take us to Port Stanley. We learnt that here is the smallest and remotest capital in the world. It looked like a village but had a Cathedral and a Government House. It consisted of one main street which ran along the shoreline. The buildings were pretty and it looked like an English village. Everyone spoke English and were very friendly. Apparently 3 cruise ships docked yesterday which immediately doubled the islands population and they found it difficult to cope, ie feeding, transport, toilets etc!! They had lovely tourist shops all selling penguins of some kind or another. One shop only sold penguin paraphernalia... we've never seen so many penguins in a row !!! The people were very friendly and helpful.
Our empty tummies rumbled and we searched for a place to eat. A greasy style fish and chip shop took our fancy and we went in. Basic but friendly. Murdo enjoyed his fish and chips and I a huge piece of shepherds pie. We sat under the actual telephone that played an important part in alerting the island and military to being able to defend themselves. It all felt a little surreal as we contemplated the villages fears and problems of the invasion whilst sitting there watching the world go by.
A lovely day seeing the penguins again and discovering the attractive, peaceful and friendly island. It would be a place we would revisit.
Unfortunately due to high winds the ship did not go to West Falkland Isles, but planned to spend our extra day cruising the Chilean fiords.

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