Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

January 28, 2012

Given the fact that we had missed the Falkland Islands in 2010 due to severe weather, it was a pleasure to go up to breakfast on the day we were scheduled to visit, and see that we were sailing into the bay where we were to anchor.  As we sailed in we could see a clear demarkation between a very cloudy area and the sunny one we were sailing into.  The non-military population here is just over 3,000, with an additional 2,000 or so military personnel.  There are two main islands in the group, East Falkland and West Falkland, plus 776 small islands.  Stanley, the capital, is located on East Falkland, as is the military base.  Although these islands are located relatively far south in the Atlantic Ocean (latitude is just north of the latitude of Cape Horn), they have a mild, pleasant climate.   The islands are a British Overseas Territory, which is largely self-governing.  Despite the fact that the British had a decisive victory in the 1982 war with Argentina, Argentina is still trying to negotiate to regain sovereignty over the islands.  Although the islands are located close to Argentina, the population is almost completely British, and the islanders wish to retain their British citizenship.  On the day of our visit, the Star Princess followed us into port, so the islanders were kept very busy that day.

The excursion we chose was called ‘The Majestic Penguins of Volunteer Point’.  To get there we climbed into an old Range Rover with another couple and our guide, Andrew, who was quite knowledgeable about the wildlife we saw.  The drive took about 2-½ hours over some roads, but mostly rough, back country terrain.  The fact that most of the island is covered with peat bogs made the driving difficult, but Andrew is very experienced and did a good job.  He also taught us a lot about off-road driving. 

The countryside is quite beautiful, as long as you don’t expect to see trees.  There is one place on the island where someone started a tree farm, but apparently nobody was interested in the trees, so there is now a large rectangular ‘forest’ with trees that have long since been too large to transplant.  There are a few small settlements to be seen along the way.  Most of the island is sheep farms, and the roads go through a succession of ranches, rather than being on the outskirts, with individual access to the farms.

At the end of our drive the penguins became visible.  We parked with numerous other similar vehicles, and then had two hours of free time to wander about and watch the penguins.

One of the great things about having time to watch the penguins is that it allowed us to witness their behavior and the way they interact.  There was quite a scene among a small group of penguins, revolving around this egg.  Apparently some were trying to steal the egg, while others were trying to defend the parent of the egg.  Harry caught the scene on video.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the penguins and head back to the city.  The long time spent in off-road driving made the trip tiring, but it was well worth it, for the opportunity to see the large colonies of penguins and the beautiful scenery.

We hope to be able to return to the Falklands for another visit, because there is still much to see in this amazing place.  If you like nature and have the opportunity to visit the Falkland Islands, don’t pass it by.

Don’t forget to check out the additional photos in the album.

                                                                          King Penguins

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com