2nd Jan 2017 - Adventure in Antarctica
Off-roading to see the King Penguins at Volunteer Point outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands
Today we were eagerly awaiting our arrival into Stanley, Falkland Islands. The sooner we landed and got off the boat, the greater our chance of having time to see the King penguins. The couple from Boston was eagerly waiting at the main exit with us. We were among the first to exit and as soon as we met Patrick, we were on our way. Patrick knows a lot about the Falkland Islands that he could probably fill an encyclopedia. Here are some of the facts that I found interesting:
-No natural trees but they will grow if maintained
Only about 4000 tourists go to Volunteer Point each year. Here there are over 3 000 King penguins, 3 000 Magellenic penguins, and about 1 000 Gentoo penguins. When we arrived we were all alone. No other person was there other than the 6 of us. What a magical experience! The King penguins are completely at ease with us around them. Many would waddle up to us and sit there in order for us to take their pictures. They were very easy going and didn't mind us being there at all (unlike the Magellenic). The baby King penguins have a fluffy brown fur that is quite puffy. The noises that each penguin makes is very distinct. The King penguins remind me of a car with a dead battery trying to start, but run through a synthesizer (you really need the videos to get the full effect).
Brian and I took pictures and videos for ninety minutes before heading over towards the Magellenics on the beach. I should note the difference in penguin nests here: King don't have a distinct nest and can carry the egg around in a pouch at the bottom of their torso, gentoo/adelie/chinstrap make rock nests, and the Magellenic dig holes in the grass or sand. The Magellenic are more protective like the chinstrap and gentoo. They will tilt their heads left and right trying to figure out if we are a threat. I reckon that if we had been too close for their liking, we would have been pecked until our arms when purple.
We headed back to the car, as we knew we were pushing our 2 hour limit to the maximum and had lunch in the little bunkhouse. Before we entered, we noticed that a family of Magellenics had made a home underneath and were posing at the entry for us. I enjoyed my lunch of cheese and chutney sandwich, chips, juice, chocolate, and tea strong enough to remove paint from furniture. I was sad to leave our penguins, but am thankful for the wonderful opportunity. Just as we were leaving, I saw a penguin 'running' on all fours. It was using his front flippers to stay low in a protective stance and chase another penguin that it did not like near his home.
Our ride back was going to be a long one. However, Patrick gave the warden a bottle of wine to get permission to use his personal route. We drove all along the rocky beach at low tide to save even more time. We made it back to Stanley in only 2 hours, as opposed to three, and had a private tour of every part of the city before heading back to our boat. We said goodbye to Patrick and I highly recommend a tour with him if you are ever in the Falklands.
Back on board, we felt the need to celebrate with a drink. We met at the bar on deck 8 and toasted a great day. Mom and I both enjoyed a Long Beach Iced Tea (similar to Long Island in alcohol quantity, but made with cranberry juice instead of coke). I was incredibly thirsty and drank my first one entirely too fast and was almost instrantly drunk. I paced myself only slightly better for the second drink. Mother and I were drunk and telling lively stories. Brian said that it was the most animated he had seen mom since the cruise started. We all walked a little awkwardly to our rooms and went to bed after a special day.
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