After our visit to Ushuaia and then rounding Cape Horn on our 16 day South American cruise aboard the MS Zaandam we headed east over the South Atlantic to the Falkland Islands.
The Falkland Islands is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about 483 kilometres east of South America’s southern Patagonian coast, and about 1,210 kilometres from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago, with an area of 12,000 square kilometres, comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. As a British overseas territory, the Falklands have internal self-governance, and the United Kingdom takes responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs. The Falkland Islands’ capital is Stanley on East Falkland.
Controversy exists over the Falklands’ discovery and subsequent colonisation by Europeans. At various times, the islands have had French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain reasserted its rule in 1833, although Argentina maintains its claim to the islands. In April 1982, Argentine forces temporarily occupied the islands. British administration was restored two months later at the end of the Falklands War.
Bluff Cove Penguin Sanctuary
We did an excursion to visit the Bluff Cove Penguin Sanctuary which required a drive out from Stanley then a 4×4 drive over the tundra to Bluff Cove. The Lagoon has over 3,000 Gentoo penguins, many of which stay at the rookeries throughout the winter, fishing in nearby waters, before laying their eggs in the spring.
The growing colony of King penguins at the Lagoon is a great delight to all and we managed to get a great view of some of these King Penguins after a walk along the beachfront. It is one of only three successful breeding King colonies in the Falklands. Regular visitors on the beach in summer are the Magellanic penguins from East Island, a Tussac grass wildlife haven, just off the point at the southern end of the beach. Magellanic penguins are in decline worldwide, and that includes the colony on East Island. They are now regarded as threatened. After the walk we had a welcome cup of tea and home baked cakes in the Sea Cabbage Cafe.
After the walk along the beach to see the King Penguin colony we had a welcome cup of tea and home baked cakes in the Sea Cabbage Cafe. It was so British!
The population of Falklands (3,398 inhabitants in 2016) primarily consists of native-born Falkland Islanders, the majority of British descent. Immigration from the United Kingdom, the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, and Chile has reversed a population decline. The predominant (and official) language is English. Under the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, Falkland Islanders are British citizens.
The islands lie on the boundary of the subantarctic oceanic and tundra climate zones, and both major islands have mountain ranges reaching 700 m. They are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands because of competition from introduced species. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism and sheep farming, with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports. Oil exploration, licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, remains controversial as a result of maritime disputes with Argentina.
We had a traditional pub lunch of fish and chips washed down with local ale at the Globe Tavern in Stanley. We could have been anywhere in England. Then I had to pay a brief visit to the Victory Bar closeby to capture a photograph of the infamous toilet seat in the gent’s toilet with the photo of the Argentinian President at the time of the Falklands War.
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