Thursday 5 November 2015

Hiking, cookies and penguins at the Falklands

After the winds and swells at Saunders Island yesterday, we were happy to see blue skies and calm seas upon our arrival at West Point Island. Locals Kikki and Thies gave us a warm welcome, included one of the most extensive English tea & cookies table you could imagine. The fact that 200 passengers were interested in visiting their lovely house, could not have been less of a problem. After we had taken off our shoes, we could choose among dozens of different kinds of cookies. Enjoying them in the spring sun, while sitting in the back yard among the daffodils, felt like a real treat.

Besides the outstanding local hospitality, the hike to Devil’s Nose was our other reason to land at West Point Island. After half an hour of hiking, we were able to admire this rocky promontory. It is the habitat of approximately 2,100 breeding pairs of black-browed albatross, living together with about 500 pairs of rockhopper penguins. Although the rockhoppers and albatross occasionally seem to enjoy some neighboring arguments, they truly live together in peace, often nesting only centimeters apart.

Our second landing of the day took us a few miles further north, Carcass Island. The hospitality here was just as impeccable, and the cookies even more abundant – although, of course, it is impossible to favorize either West Point or Carcass.

We needed the calories, because the second hike of the day was even longer and took us about 1 hour each way. The stunning views at Leopard Beach were absolutely worth it. Sunbathing on the sandy beach or commuting through the dunes on their way from or to the sea, we were able to experience a whole bunch of Gentoo penguins and an occasional Magellanic penguin.

We made it back on board the Fram just before dark. It truly was nice day, packed with hiking, cookies and penguins. Give us more of the good stuff!