Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our first encounter with penguins! Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (aka Malvinas Islands)


Destination: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (aka Malvinas Islands, Argentina)

Number of Days: 1

Times we took the: Boat/Ferry - 1 Bus/Minivan - 2 Train/Subway - 0 taxi/car - 0

Where we stayed: Star Princess

Favorite Restaurant: n/a

Best of: We were excited to see penguins from the moment we started looking at cruises...they were incredible to watch up close!

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Worst of: There were two ships in port the day we arrived so the town was a mad house and the tour we wanted to take to Volunteer Point to see the King penguins was booked up.

The Falkland Islands (as they are officially known as, despite Argentina's claim to the islands they call the Malvinas) has a couple of claims to fame - a small war, wool and penguins. Discovered by the British over 300 years ago, they set up camp for a while until the whaling moved over to the South Georgian Islands. While still uninhabited, Argentina unofficially called it theirs for a little over a 100 years. Then a London businessman came and introduced sheep and wool and a new settlement was started by British settlers. In the early 80's the president of Argentina (considered to be more of a military dictator) decided to play the patriot card and invaded the islands claiming them for Argentina. Great Britain responded and routed the poorly trained troupes off the islands where they are a British Commonwealth till this day. The islands are entirely made up of British descendents (total population around 1700), speak English and consider themselves British so for purposes of this blog I consider them the Falkland Islands, a British Commonwealth.

After deciding on taking the cruise, outside of Antarctica, this was the spot we were looking most forward too, simply put - for the penguins. We had hoped to get out to Volunteer point, home of the second largest King Penguin colony in the world. Sometimes booking things last minute has its consequences and with two ships in port on the same day, all the trips were booked so we settled on going out to Gypsy Cove instead to see the Megallanic Penguins instead. These cute little tuxedo wearing creatures were out in big numbers at Gypsy Cove! We got off the ship and were met with an offer to shuttle us out there for a bargain price of $20 round trip (the ship was charging 3X that price). If we had more time we would have walked, it's only a two hour walk along the waterfront. While we were there we gawked at the burrowing Magellanic penguins, sampled diddle-dee berries, posed for pictures in front of our ship and even had a surprise encounter with some dolphins! Here are some of our favorite shots of the trip out to the Cove.

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When we arrived back in Port Stanley we strolled around town, checked out the local church (complete with whale bone), and bought more wine from the grocery store in preparation for several days at sea! To finish a perfect day we stopped with our friends, Ady & Javier, at The Globe, a local British pub, for a pint (British ciders for the ladies & local beers for the men)!

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To see more photos of the penguins and Port Stanley please click here!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like an interesting place. How close did you get to the penguins?