Falkland Islands
Fairy Cove

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    • Day40

      Die Falklandinseln

      December 27, 2022 in Falkland Islands ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

      Ein Stück Großbritannien im Südatlantik.

      Die Falklandinseln sind eine Inselgruppe am Ende der Welt. Hunderte Kilometer vor der argentinischen Küste im Südatlantik gelegen und ein Paradies für Tierbeobachter und Naturfreunde. Trotz der Tatsache, dass die insgesamt 200 Inseln mit ihren beiden Hauptinseln Ost- und West-Falkland dicht vor Argentiniens Ostküste liegen, handelt es sich um britisches Staatsgebiet. Die Eilande bilden ein Stück Großbritannien auf der südlichen Erdhalbkugel, auf geografisch südamerikanischem Gebiet, aber mit eigener Regierung. Eine weitere Besonderheit ist, dass gut ein Drittel der Bevölkerung aus Angehörigen der britischen Streitkräfte besteht.
      Stanley ist mit seinen rund 2.100 Einwohnern die Hauptstadt und der Regierungssitz der Falklandinseln. Sie befindet sich auf Ost-Falkland. Die Stadt wurde nach Lord Stanley benannt, dem „Secretary of State for War and the Colonies“ von England. Während des Falkland-Konflikts im Jahre 1982 besetzte Argentinien die Stadt. Sie erlitt dabei Zerstörungen, bevor britische Truppen sie zurückeroberten. Stanley wurde von
      der damaligen argentinischen Besatzungsmacht im Jahre 1982 in „Puerto
      Argentino“ umbenannt. Dieser Name wird auch heute noch in Argentinien verwendet.

      Witzig, dass wir mit unserem Tenderboot die Pier wechseln mussten, da sich dort ein paar Seelöwen sonnten. 😀 Und es gab Pingus in freier Wildbahn zu sehen!!!
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    • Day8

      Tiere auf den Falklandinseln

      November 21, 2019 in Falkland Islands ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      Man fahrt sicherlich nicht nur wegen der bewegten Geschichte auf die Falklandinseln. Die Tierwelt ist einzigartig, auch wenn viele nicht einheimische Arten die Inseln prägen. Z.B. ist der gelb Ginster nett anzusehen, auf die Inseln gehört er nicht.
      Die Pinguine sind sehr nett an den Südseeartigen Ständen anzusehen. Neben Gänse, Enten, diversen Seevögeln haben wir auch Defline und Robben gesehen.
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      Da will ich auch mal hin

    • Dec11

      Stanley, Falkland Islands

      December 11, 2019 in Falkland Islands ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      Falkland Islands. Penguins. Private Guide, Carlos.

      We had a leisurely breakfast this morning and got on the tender for a 20-minute ride to the port city of Stanley which is the capital of Falkland Islands. The tender held 150 people and was modern and comfortable. When we got off, we saw lots of guides holding signs offering private tours. It was only 11 o’clock, and we realized there really wasn’t much to see right at the port and we would have a long wait for our included tour scheduled at 3:00. We decided to choose a private tour guide, Carlos. He took Lee to a bank to get some money because the guides don’t take credit cards and only accept The Falkland Pound. While I was waiting for Lee to get the money, I saw across the bay, white stones spelling out the names of ships. Endurance, Protector, Beagle, Clyde, Barracuda and Dumbarton. It turned out that these are the names of ships that have provided prolonged periods of protection for the islanders and are still in action.

      Carlos was born in Chile and stayed there until he was about 16 when he moved to New Jersey in the States. He returned to Chile when he was 20 and fell in love, married and had 2 girls. He moved to The Islands about 6 years ago when his girls were 12 and 10. When we asked him why he liked the Falklands so much he said it was very safe and secure, free of crime and drugs. Education is paid for including University off island, if the student elects to go to a university. In this case, the government pays the base rate and the student tops up depending on their choice of university.

      He gave a lot of random information along the way. Remarkably there are about 200 sheep for every person in this starkly beautiful archipelago, yet the Falklands are also known for their biological diversity. Five penguin species call the islands home, from the King penguins that waddle along Volunteer Beach to the Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins on further shores.

      -There is only one bank in Stanley, two supermarkets, five bars and two churches.
      -With the soil being clay, it’s hard to grow much of anything and he gave us some examples of pricing at the grocery store. One avocado cost 3/1/2 Falkland pounds, ($6.10 Canadian ) I litre of milk costs 1 pound and 3 pence.($2.26)
      -He told us that if he hits a sheep on the highway that he has to take it to a vet. The vet by virtue of tags knows how to contact the owner and the owner will tell him how much he needs to pay and then you can take the sheep home and eat it if you want.
      -They don’t use the water in the lakes but rather collect and recycle water from the mountains and rainwater.
      -They have one horse racetrack in Port Stanley, but betting is illegal in this country. However, they open the racetrack for special holidays including over Christmas and New Year’s.
      -Windmills provide about 60% of the hydro power for the island.

      On our 1-hour drive to see the penguins at Bertha's Beach, we passed through one of the largest farms on the island called Fitzroy. It was named after Captain Robert FitzRoy of HMS Beagle that Darwin sailed with in 1833. It is now owned by Luciano Benneton owner of the Italian clothing company Benneton. He owns several farms totalling 2,220,00 acres. The Spanish name for sheep farms is Estancias.

      We also passed by the military base, RAF Mount Pleasant, which has its own school as well as the islands International airport. Just the day before, a Chilean Hercules plane crashed somewhere in the ocean just off the coast of the Falklands and all 32 people on board are feared lost. We saw the rescue planes searching for floating debris. We saw where the cargo ships dock at Mare Harbour necessitating all goods to be transported by truck for an hour before reaching Stanley. Currently, the harbour at Stanley is too shallow for ships to dock, (which is why we had to tender in).

      Once we reached Bertha's Beach, we walked about 300 meters towards the beach and saw hundreds of sheep with their newly born lambs and hundreds more Gentoo penguins hopping up towards three separate large nesting sites, about 300 meters from the ocean. They all mill around with each other, sheep and penguins, neither bothering the other. These penguins grow up to three feet tall and are a riot to watch. Their eggs are just now hatching, some have one chick and others have two. They are very organized in caring for their young and one parent does not leave the chicks until the parent takes over and moves onto the nest. In this way, they keep the eggs warm and safe from predators.

      The drive back was over the same route and Carlos graciously took us to Gypsy Cove, the destination of the tour we would have otherwise taken. It was fairly close to the ship. The location was a very expansive beach and there were maybe a thousand Magellanic penguins moving back from the beach to the burrows that they dug for a nest (rather like Groundhog holes) up on the hills. These penguins are shorter than the Gentoos at about 2 feet. How they hop up the steep cliffs back to their burrows is hard to understand but they do. They will get to within about 15 feet of humans and just wait till they move, to continue their trip back to their burrows.

      Known as the Islas Malvina's to Argentines, the Falkland Islands are a British overseas territory comprising 770 small islands. The population of the Falklands is only about 5,000 people. The islands were uninhabited when discovered by Europeans. France established a colony on the islands in 1764. In 1765, a British captain claimed the islands for Britain. In early 1770 a Spanish commander arrived from Argentina with five ships and 1,400 soldiers forced the British to leave Port Egmont. Britain and Spain almost went to war over the islands, but the British government decided that it should withdraw its presence from many overseas settlements in 1774. Spain, which had a garrison at Puerto Soledad on East Falklands, administered the garrison from Montevideo until 1811 when it was compelled to withdraw by pressures resulting from the Peninsular War. In 1833, the British returned to the Falkland Islands and had sovereignty. The government of Argentina continued to have a hard time accepting this.

      At a time when the president of Argentina was experiencing problems at home with low approval ratings, he decided that declaring a war to reclaim the islands would bolster his approval rate. Argentina invaded the islands on 2 April 1982.
      At the same time Margaret Thatcher was experiencing the same problems in the UK and it was a perfect opportunity to take action and retaliate. The British responded with an expeditionary force that culminated in Argentina surrendering. It was a nasty war, lasting 10 weeks, taking the lives of 649 Argentine military and 255 British and 3 Falkland citizens. And the casualties for both sides to military aircraft and ships was extensive. One of Argentina’s strategies to protect the Falklands from the inevitable British invasion, was to plant up to 30,000 land mines along the shores where they expected the invasion to land. Some of the mines were cleared after the war and those areas that were still not cleared were fenced off. While we were watching the penguins, we saw a party of 6 men on the beach in yellow suits, all from Zimbabwe, who were searching for land mines left behind and still not discovered from the war between the UK and Argentina in 1982. Partway through the production of the mines, they changed from metal to plastic, so are very hard to detect. There are 5 more areas to clear at this time, but they expect to be finished by next year.

      On the final leg back to the ship we passed by the wreck of Lady Elizabeth, a cargo ship carrying lumber from Vancouver. On the 4th of December, 1912 it encountered severe weather halfway through the voyage and was damaged just off Cape Horn. The Captain ordered the ship to the nearest port for repairs. Lady Elizabeth altered course for Stanley, Falkland Islands. 24 km outside Port Stanley, Lady Elizabeth struck a rock. The ship began to sink but was able to get to Port Stanley for repairs. She was declared unseaworthy and converted into a coal hulk. February 17 1936 her mooring lines broke during a storm and she drifted to where she now lies on her side in Whalebone Cove in Stanley Harbour rusting away.

      Our final stop was to buy a copy of the local weekly newspaper, called, appropriately, The Penguin News!

      We thoroughly enjoyed this private tour and definitely saw a lot more than if we had been on the ship’s planned tour.

      Tonight, the entertainment was Beatlemania, a fun hour long program led by the ships vocalists.
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    • Day15


      November 24, 2019 in Falkland Islands ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

      As we sail towards the Falkland Islands this morning, the wind is gusting strongly, and sea spray is giving my cabin window a regular dousing. Nevertheless, the boat seems fairly solid in the water, and my expected feelings of queasiness haven’t materialised. We are due to be arriving around 09:30, and in contrast to the last time I was here on MV Aurora, we shall actually be docking at Stanley. Last time, this was one of the few ports where we had to go ashore using the tender boats, but for this cruise it’s entirely the opposite - this is the first time we will have docked since leaving Punta Arenas 12 days ago. As I’ve been here relatively recently, and as the only excursion that I would have been interested in doing is the exact same one I did last time, I’ve chosen to forego the organised activities today, and to have a lazy morning on the ship instead. I will go ashore in the afternoon, but for now, I’m content to have the run of a pretty empty boat. A solo sauna session is followed by a lone soak in the hot tub, after which I throw on a few layers and sit up on the deserted open deck with a steaming mug of coffee and go through some of my previous journal entries (my proofreader head is ashamed and appalled at some of the typos I’ve discovered looking back - I appeal for clemency based on the fact that I’m typing all of this on an iPhone, and I have fat fingers!)

      After an early lunch onboard, I gather my things and prepare to go ashore. The ship, although much smaller than Aurora, is still too big to dock anywhere near the town centre, so there is a courtesy bus running every 15 minutes for those of us who wish to make our own plans today. Rick has taken advantage of our unchaperoned day to the full, and has already set off for a long run around some of his old haunts - having served for the RAF in the Falklands 36 years ago, he’s keen to see how much things have changed. I have no such aspirations of extreme physical exertion, and I suspect not too much has changed since I was here in January of last year, so I take my place on the bus for the 8 minute ride into Stanley.

      It’s a fairly overcast day, and the wind is howling, but there’s a peaceful air to the place at the moment. Last time I was here, the town was crawling with the other 1,500 guests from Aurora: this time, we are much fewer in number, and most people seem to be on organised tours, so I get to experience a much sleepier Stanley than I was expecting. I make my way up to Victory Green, and plonk myself down on a park bench looking out over the bay and take stock.

      Stanley seems like a strange place. Last time I was here, I remember thinking it seems like an imagined version of a British seaside village from decades ago, except with more albatrosses. The place is still undeniably British in character - union flags are flying everywhere, along side the flag of the islands, which itself contains a union flag in its top left corner. There are certainly more red phone boxes here than I’ve seen back home in a long while. And the weather certainly has a UK seaside flavour to it - during the course of my 2-hour amble up and down the main promenade, it seems to cycle through spring, summer and autumn, twice. It could easily be some costal town in Scotland. It does seem utterly absurd to think that this place is actually just 450 miles from the coast of South America. I guess that’s probably Argentina’s point...

      Today, I get to take my time strolling around, unlike my last visit, which was a rather rushed affair. I meander my way down the main street, which runs parallel to the seafront, nipping into little gift shops as I go. I add a few souvenir pins to my collection, receiving a Falklands £5 note in my change, which I’ve never seen before, but which I promptly spend to get myself a hot drink in one of the little coffee shops. Afterwards, I walk down to the dockyards museum - I’m usually deathly allergic to museums, but everyone has been raving on about this one. It still doesn’t exactly blow my skirt up, but it’s not dreadful, and it’s something to do on a Sunday afternoon, I suppose.

      My walk takes me down to the Falklands Liberation Monument, which sits alongside a small bust of Margaret Thatcher. I’d been down to see this last time I was here, but it’s at least a landmark I remember. I spend a few minutes reading the names inscribed on the cenotaph - which I find I’m much more inclined to do now, since my own foray into genealogy, where I discovered that my great uncle was killed at sea during the Second World War - and then I begin a slow walk back towards the shuttle bus, stopping occasionally to appreciate the beautiful flowers in many of the seafront gardens.

      It’s time to get back on the ship and warm up. Tonight, we’ll be leaving Stanley in the early evening and making our way round to the West Island, where I believe the plan is more coastline landings with the zodiac boats. That is, we might, provided this damn wind dies down a little...

      Addendum: I’ve just finished writing this entry, and have walked up to the gift shop onboard to purchase my ration of Kettle Chips for the evening, when I make a horrifying discovery. Because we’re in port, the gift shop is shut, and won’t be opening again until tomorrow. It’s now 16:30. The supermarket in Stanley closes at 17:00 The next hopper bus doesn’t leave for 15 minutes, and it’s an 8 minute drive from the port. Only a desperate addict would even consider making the dash.

      Dammit. Hold my coffee...
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    • Day223

      Falkland Islands

      December 15, 2017 in Falkland Islands ⋅ 🌬 11 °C

      Even though we’re traveling on a luxurious ship with all the comforts you can imagine (champagne, sir?), this first stop on our trip helped us to quickly remember we’re in a very remote part of the world that few people will ever have the opportunity to see. The crazy part is that we still have a very long way to go to get somewhat close to where the early (and current) explorers and researchers traveled to document and preserve this incredible part of the world.
      Once we were cleared to get off the ship (very strict bio-security measures), we jumped into Land Rovers driven by locals over dense, spongy peat fields to visit a rock-hopper penguin colony. After hanging out with the penguins for an hour or so, we headed back to the capital, Port Stanley. We walked the main street and visited the very impressive museum that included a great exhibit presenting a local viewpoint of the short occupation and brutal war with Argentina in ’82. Before returning to the ship to begin 2 days of sailing to South Georgia we stopped in one of the pubs to enjoy a local pint.
      This is an amazing, unique, wind-swept group of islands, with a population of just 3,000 people. A beautiful and remote place.
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      Rowena Singer

      We didn't get a chance to see these particular penguins on the Antarctic peninsula, and I would have mis-categorized them as macaroni penguins. Great shot of a parent and its baby penguin looking straight at camera!



    • Day24

      Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

      November 16, 2017 in Falkland Islands ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      We expected a desolate, windswept island and instead found a strangely attractive island with a variety of flora and fauna. We saw many species of ducks, geese and birds and tall grasses, gorse, hedges and even the odd palm tree. It is early spring here so a few brave flowers were in bloom. And we saw a couple of families of geese with a clutch of goslings.

      But the main draw is the penguins. We had 2 choices: a very bumpy (and expensive) ship excursion to see a large penguin colony on the other side of the island from where we docked or a $20 USD shuttle to Gypsy Cove. The Hadleys and the Delaneys opted for the shuttle to Gypsy Cove. It is a lovely bay where some of the Magellan penguins come to nest. We were lucky to see a few penguins as well as some lovely sea birds, some impressive raptors and a couple of gun emplacements left over from the war between Argentina and Great Britain.

      We elected to walk part of the way back and happened upon the Lighthouse Mariners Mission run by a lovely woman and her husband (who we did not get to meet). Not actually open to the public, we were invited to have a cup of coffee and warm up before we continued our walk back to town. Despite the inference of the word “mission” this appears to be a not-for-profit, non-affiliated refuge for merchant sailors on the boats that dock in Port Stanley. They see many sailors from East Asia who work, primarily, on the fishing boats. The Falklands have a robust squid population which attracts boats from the Far East. The mission provides a safe, alcohol free social club with some services such as WIFI, clothes, coffee and games such as chess, football and pool. For injured or sick sailors, accommodation is offered in which to recover, paid for by insurance.

      Today was windy, overcast and about 45 F. Much as I enjoyed the day, I cannot imagine living here year round, with my 2700 neighbors and not much else. A great example of “Great place to visit....”. You know the rest. However, if you need a job, we're told there are more positions available than there are people!

      Tomorrow we were to go to Ushuaia but just learned that port is to dangerous to visit (huge waves) so we're headed for Punta Arenas.
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      We took the 4 by 4 expedition with a hearty 6th generation Falkland Islander who was a wealth of info about the war and multinational life in town. He went around the crater-sized bomb holes on the way to the coast and took us to a hillside where thousands of penguins were nesting. We were able to get within 2 feet of the baby penguins for adorable photos, again on a bright sunny day.

    • Day24

      Falkland Islands

      January 26, 2018 in Falkland Islands ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

      Today marks another important stop on our tour, although for very different reasons. For people of my generation, the name ‘Falkland’s’ is synonymous with conflict: these are the islands over which Britain went to war with Argentina in 1982. Indeed, for several passengers on this ship, this port of call is not a holiday—it’s a pilgrimage. Several people have brought wreaths to lay in tribute to fallen family members.

      Our ship is far too big to dock in the port, so we will be transferred to the mainland by tenders.

      Actually, just getting onto the lifeboats today is proving challenging, as there’s quite a lot of swell, and there are many people trying to go ashore who are none too steady on their feet. Once the tender leaves the ship, we make a very choppy 30-minute journey across the bay towards Port Stanley. There’s a general muttering of concern that if the weather worsens at all then we might not be able to get back to the ship. Let’s see!

      We’ve split up today—Dad wanted to go the battlefields tour, whereas Mum and I preferred to go visit some penguin colonies. So we’re off the boat first while Dad has a leisurely breakfast, as it’s a 2-3 hour drive to reach them.

      Once ashore, we are met by the tour staff and directed in groups of four towards the waiting 4X4s for our drive across gravel tracks to Volunteer Point.

      Ok scrub that—they aren’t gravel roads, they aren’t roads at all!! Twelve miles driving in what seems like circles over very uneven heath and moorland, all at around 4mph. It takes us 2½ hours over this ridiculous terrain to reach the penguins, by which time I’m feeling like a pair of knickers on a fast spin cycle. I shall never complain about seasickness again!

      However, once we reach the penguins, all is forgiven. I presumed we might see a few dozen penguins, but I wasn’t expecting the colony to number in the thousands! This grassy peninsula in the north-east of East Falkland Island is home to King Penguins (of biscuit fame), Magellanic Penguins, and Gentoo Penguins. They are clearly completely unphased by human presence, and even though there are wardens around to make sure we don’t stray into nesting areas, the penguins are quite happy to stroll right past us.

      Watching these birds in their natural habitat is an amazing experience. Although it’s summer in the Falklands, the temperature isn’t especially high here, and a biting wind blows in off the ocean. It’s easy to see how well adapted these birds are for this environment, with their dense coat of waterproof feathers. As they waddle across the beach, they look for all the world like tiny men in wetsuits. When one of them needs to move quicker than it can waddle, it simply drops onto its belly and ‘swims’ across the sand or grass, propelling itself forwards with its very powerful back legs.

      The trip back was just as rough as the trip there. After another 2½ hour ‘ride’, during which we’re body-slammed into the car doors every 10 seconds and the last of my fillings rattle out of my head, we arrive back at Port Stanley. On our return, our driver is clearly eager to give us value for money, so offers to give us a tour of Port Stanley itself, which is actually rather quaint, and looks especially lovely now that the sun has come out properly.

      Our guide is a 5th generation Falklander and is incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the island. There are only just over 3,000 people living here, the vast majority of whom fiercely identify as British. As a result, the feeling you get here is a distinctly odd one: I’m standing only 300 miles off the coast of South America, yet I’m unmistakably in Britain. Or, at least, a nostalgic vision of a Britain I’m not sure ever existed. There are red phone boxes, union jacks, fish and chips, and garden gnomes. There’s a young lad murdering the bagpipes for our auditory ‘pleasure’ by the quayside. Even the Iron Lady is here, gazing proudly over her subjects, all of whom hold her in very high esteem for her actions in protecting what they see as the Falklands’ right to freedom of allegiance. The weather itself seems reminiscent of a British summer—changeable at best (we’ve both frozen and fried today), but capable of beautiful clear skies when the mood suits.

      Tired, bruised, yet very satisfied, we make our way to one of the last tenders back to the ship, noticing with relief how much calmer the seas are now.

      We sail away at 7pm, taking with us some very fond memories of an amazing day here in the Falkland Islands. The next few days will be spent at sea as we make the crossing towards the Cape, through the Beagle Channel and up to Punta Arenas.
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