Monday, 8 November 2010

A very Stanley day

...well for many of us at least. Those who went on excursions to the Long Island Farm or Volunteer Point left this marvellous town of Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands, but nevertheless had a great time elsewhere. Those of us who stayed, enjoyed the town's nature and history.

As mentioned, some of our passengers visited a 22,000 acre sheep farm at Long Island, East Falkland. The farm is run by the 6th generation of the Watson family in a traditional way: they use sheep dogs, they have cows which they milk to produce their own butter and cream, and they cut and burn the traditional peat in their fireplaces and stoves. We marvelled at a sheep shearing demonstration, and a horse gearing display, before ending up in front of a nice cup of tea or coffee and home made cookies in the farmhouse.

Others preferred to admire the flora and fauna of Stanley by taking the Nature Walk. Numerous birds species such as the Magellanic and the Blackish Oystercatchers, the Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck, Upland Goose, Ruddy-headed Goose, Magellanic Penguin, and Two-banded Plover were seen and photographed. The Magellanic Penguins arrived in October and are already incubating their eggs in their burrows near the shoreline.

The adventurers amongst us decided to visit Volunteer Point, which involved a 2.5 hour ride in a Land Rover over the "camp". The camp is the local Falkland Island term for the countryside, and comes from the Spanish word campo, meaning the same thing. The ride is rewarded by fantastic encounters with King Penguins and their chicks as well as Gentoo Penguins. We restrict our distance to wildlife to a minimum of 15 feet or 5 m. However, penguins don't know what 5 m means, and sometimes will approach closer, in which case we stay put and let them come.

Finally, many of the historical points of interest in Stanley were visited during the Historic Walk. This included Government House, the Anglican Cathedral, the Cemetery, the Museum and the War Memorials.

These past two days in the Falkland Islands have given us a mere taste of what this incredible place has to offer. We are sure many want to return and experience more. Late this afternoon, with great anticipation, we set sail for our next destination, South Georgia Island, which is 1300 km to the east-southeast from here.