Penguins!

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
1
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Trip End Jan 06, 2009


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Flag of Falkland Islands  ,
Monday, January 16, 2006

After 1 week in the Islands, still totally time-confused. Falling asleep in the afternoon after work then waking up at 2am and lying there for the rest of the night wide awake. It didn't help that the days were so long it didn't get dark until 11pm and then the sun was up by 4am again.

Was invited along on an overnight trip to a place called Volunteer Point and agreed to go because everyone said it's difficult to get to at the best of times and a chance to go shouldn't be passed up. So even though I'd been looking forward to my first weekend relaxing in my new home and finishing the unpacking etc and basically just sleeping I ended up having my first good look at my new island surroundings.

To get to Volunteer Pt it's about a 1.5 hour drive along gravel roads (just about all roads here are gravel) then almost 3 hours of hard 4WD travel though the bogs and tussock grass to get to the beach. I was told on one trip they did, they got bogged up to 22 times, needing another vehicle to tow out. The countryside is crisscrossed with deep ditches that you don't see until you are just about on them or in them and if you can't cross the big ones then it's a long process of backing up and driving back and forth looking for a crossable section.

Volunteer Point though really is worth the effort to get to - a long sweeping beach with groups of penguins here and there. Mainly Magellanic and King penguins although there is also a big colony of Gentoo penguins a few hundred metres inland. The great thing is they are quite unbothered by people and you can get as close as you like, just walking amongst the penguins. The Falklands are like the mini-Galapagos of the South Atlantic (minus the iguanas, giant tortoises) except that it's still a big secret. Amazing that this place is so off anyones travel radars. Oh well - I don't like crowds anyway!

That night everyone set up their fancy tents and we had a great bbq overlooking the beach with penguins wandering around a few metres away. Brilliant spot. I ended up sleeping in the tussock grass (no tent) and impressed the locals with my tough Aussie outdoors approach to camping. 'Yeah no worries - sleep outside all the time back home' but thinking next time must make sure to bring the 3 season tent and and down filled sleeping bags!

The next morning we went for a walk along the cliffs and were caught out in a huge thunderstorm with much lightning all around. In a treeless land where there highest thing is grass that comes up to your kness where do you hide? I never felt so exposed and I could feel the electricity in the air around me - was just waiting for my world to end in a bright flash.

After another long drive back to Stanley finally back home in the evening, absolutely stuffed. Maybe next weekend I'll get to catch up on some sleep!
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