18. September 2009 20:11
Guest bloggers Russ and Susan Rosenberry are owners of Islands in the Sun Cruises and Tours. You can find the original blog from their 2008 cruise around South American here, or visit the company's website at www.crus-sun.com.
Dec. 15 — As we reached Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, rain was forecast, and the morning started off cloudy. But by 11:00 a.m. the sun broke through and it stayed bright and sunny for the rest of the day. However, despite the bright sunlight, dressing in layers was still necessary for comfort for touring around the island.
The Falkland Islands are a protectorate of the United Kingdom and comprise about 700 islands, although only the two major islands are inhabited. The total permanent population is now approximately 3,000 and about an additional 2,500 in military and support personnel from the UK live here as well. The islands were first discovered by the Spanish in the 1500’s and Europeans were the first human settlers. It’s sovereignty was transferred back and forth among several European nations until the early 1800’s when British rule solidly took over, and was only temporarily broken during the 3 month long ‘Falkland Islands’ conflict between Argentina and the UK in 1982.
In addition to war memorials and first hand stories from the locals that lived here then, one of the most visible remnants from that short conflict are the miles and miles of land that is still totally fenced off and unusable because of the large number of land mines that the Argentians planted. It is sad that there are not enough resources (after more than 25 years) to remove these mines and let this land be useable again.
Since most of the land is privately owned, in order to get to most of the island’s penguin colonies or other interesting sights it is required that you do this through an official tour. We decided to take the three-hour tour to Bluff Cove to see a large colony of over 1,000 breeding pairs of Gentoo penguins and also several breeding pairs of King penguins. The first 15 minutes of the tour out of Stanley was conducted on a mini-bus and we then transferred into land rover vehicles for an incredible 30-minute journey across an amazing landscape of rocky outcroppings and peat bogs. It was the first time I was in a four-wheel drive vehicle where all of its functionalities were put to the test. The journey was worth the effort for the amount of quality time we got to spend near the penguin colonies at sea’s edge, and the excellent photo opportunities.
After this exciting tour we returned to Stanley and went to the ‘Globe Tavern’ for some very British Fish & Chips. We also had time for some further sightseeing and shopping in town and then had a pleasant tender ride back to our ship.