Weather: Morning sunshine, overcast in the afternoon with sporadic showers
Air Temperature: 10 ºC
Sea Temperature: 8 ºC
Wind: 20-30 knots W
I awoke this morning to a glorious sight: the narrows just in front of Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Perhaps more glorious even was the absolutely clear blue sky and gentle winds that greeted us as our Captain dropped anchor not far from the pier and the town’s charming and brightly coloured buildings.
As guests on board ate breakfast, the scout boat was lowered to the water and the Port’s Immigration and Customs Officer was welcomed on board to clear the ship for landing operations. Groups 3 and 4 were first to land followed by Groups 1 and 2. The small buses of the Bluff Cove Lagoon Tours were there to meet us and I boarded quickly, eager to be whisked away into the vast and rolling landscape that surrounded Stanley.
On the way, however, the bus driver provided me with a short tour of the main road and this proved very handy later in the day when free time was scheduled for shopping! Within about 25 minutes, I disembarked the bus and was transferred to off road Land Rovers. Joined by 4 guests, I bumped and rolled along with them and our driver as we were entertained with lovely stories of local life and brilliant views of the hills, peat, and grazing sheep!
The spectacular weather followed all of us as we wandered around the small Gentoo Penguin rookeries watching their antics as they trumpeted, preened, shifted their eggs, and moved small stones around their nests. Two pairs of King Penguins delighted me with their vivid colouring. Each pair had a large chick wandering around the rookery though they were clearly on their way to being independent since they had begun to molt.
I then walked along the beach with its white sand as a couple of Gentoo Penguins had the same idea. It was so charming to see them waddle along together in a tight group, seeming in such a hurry but not being able to move fast enough.
The beach on the other side of the small peninsula was much rougher and here the waves rose quite high from the surface and crashed as the wind picked up much spray. The weather became cloudy and I was happy to have dressed well for such a fast changing climate.
I was greeted at the entrance to the Sea Cabbage Café by our Expedition Staff and I made my way inside, thankful for protection from the wind and delighted by the simple décor and homey feeling. The ladies of the Café were hard at work serving coffee, tea and cakes and I chose my favourite ones to sample. How delicious and what a treat!
I boarded the Land Rovers once again and we all made our way back to the pier. Our day, however, was not complete. Shopping and touring Stanley were high on the list of priorities. However, the wind had picked up and the Zodiac operations back to the ship were in full swing and so it goes that the rest of my visit was spent enjoying the banter and company of the Expedition Staff as we made our way back to the ship.
In the afternoon, as we sailed out of the harbor, I watched for whales on the Bridge while many attended Chris’s lecture on the seabirds of the Southern Ocean. He made sure that all were well prepared to identify both the majestic and minute seabirds that we would see during our days at sea.
After tea, Louise, our photographer, educated us on how to improve our photos. She covered all types of photographers, from the point and shoot to the super equipped. As a budding photographer, the excitement to try out her tips began rising in me!
The evening was capped off with a beautiful rainbow; promise of calm seas and skies as we gathered in The Theatre for our evening Recap & Briefing. A perfect end to a wonderful day.