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Published: February 1st 2013
It turns out that the Falkland Islands are not shaped like a fork. I discovered this as they appeared out of the fairly grey sea that we had been sailing on for a couple of days since leaving Ushuaia, but managed to counteract my disappointment with the knowledge that they would be awesome. We were there for almost two days in total, with two landings on the first day and one on the second.
The first day we landed in the morning to see a Rockhopper (penguin) and Albatross colony that were located on the back of the island. A very brief walk led up to them and it was our first wildlife on the trip. It didn’t disappoint, even now looking back at the myriad of wildlife we have seen across the whole trip. Birds (the flying kind) aren’t my favourite thing in the whole world. The idea of watching, naming, cataloguing them etc. has never really appealed to me but I have met some great people now who are ‘Birders’, and I must admit it was pretty impressive seeing them up close. There were lots, either nesting on the cliff face or circling overhead, and the camera clicks
from everyone were nearly as loud as the squawking. The Rockhopper penguins get their name from hopping. Onto rocks. And hopping. Off rocks. It’s pretty simple really so I hope you are all managing to keep up with me so far. As you can see from the pictures they have a crest on their head which makes them pretty easy to spot, and the lectures (some of them really were lectures and not talks) on the ship had led us to realise we would be expected to know our penguin types.
Everyone was pretty excited with this first landing and some of us were led down to the shoreline to watch them from a different angle. We saw them coming out of the sea and even a couple of seals hanging around the shoreline as well, but the girly ones amongst you will be happy to know that none of the penguins appeared to be eaten for lunch while we were there.
Everyone also knows that penguins are cool and no doubt most of you have seen them either at the zoo or in fairly small numbers perhaps in other places. Up close in the wild they remain
cool. They are super inquisitive at times and other times don’t seem to care one tiny bit that you are there, but just hop along in their own way as they are bound (no pun intended) to do. I also have to say that the pictures I’ve put up are a fraction of those available, but the best ones for now until I am back home and have more time to dazzle you all.
The afternoon saw another landing on a different island (both landings were around the West Falkland island), for more birds and penguins. This was a longer walk which was pretty welcome exercise after being stuck on the boat (I should point out that there is a gym onboard which I think is a frankly ridiculous idea. Admittedly it did seem popular with some of the more active members of the passengers but I was quite content to exert my stomach with a range of expansion exercises made possible by the copious amounts of food that were provided. You will be pleased to know that these exercises were successful, hence my current need to hike for days on end to counterbalance the mighty effect they had),
and after seeing the fauna (yeah, I got two A's in science, baby) we went and had tea and cake at the house on the island. A nice treat to end the day and the residents were very welcoming. It’s quite something that people live there due to the isolation, but I guess that’s kind of the point in the first place and they all seem pretty happy with it.
Day two was spent in Stanley, which is on East Falkland island. I visited two museums with Brian, one on the general history of the place and the second on the actual conflict. It is very safe to say that they want to remain British, and it’s understandable given the culture there and what they went through in the conflict. Interesting - if at times a little grim - reading.
In the afternoon we left The Falklands to start our journey to South Georgia. To be perfectly honest, I had hardly heard a thing about South Georgia when I booked the trip but it was intended as a good option to extend my trip time. However, the crew were even more excited than a lot of the passengers
I think, and the way they talked about the wildlife and the area led to a subsequent perk in my interest. Time to charge the camera batteries and get ready with the shutter finger.
And I nearly forgot to mention... I'm pretty sure it was in the Falklands that a guy got crapped on by an Albatross. It was awesome. This is a bird with the biggest wingspan in the world, growing up to nearly two metres I think, which equals a lot of bird shit (sorry Mum), but was most amusing to see. I don't think he took it as good luck, but I did as it was on him and not me - sweet!
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