Exploring Stanley and Meeting Penguins at Bluff Cove in the Falkland Islands
There was one thing that mum and I were really, really excited for on our South American journey (other than Antarctic, of course) and that was PENGUINS.
Penguins. Debatably the most loves bird on the planet. But indisputably the most loved bird in mine and my mothers eyes. So our day in the Falkland Islands (or Malvinas) was dedicated to some penguin love – after a morning exploring Stanley of course.
Stanley is the capital of the Falkland Islands. Founded in 1843 it is now home to more than 2,115 people. Prior to the existence of the Panama Canal, this city was a major repair stop for boats traveling through the Straits of Magellan. The rough waters and intense storms found at the tip of the continent forced many ships to Stanley Harbour, and the ship repair industry helped to drive the island economy. Later, support for the Antarctic sealing and whaling boats became a major industry. Today, the vast majority of the town’s residents are employed by the government, with tourism also being a major source of employment; on days (like the day we arrived) when two or more large cruise ships dock in the town tourists may outnumber the local residents.
We wandered through the town and could have easily forgotten which continent we were on – it reminded me of a quaint British town (for obvious reasons given that it is British territory). It was certainly a bit of a culture shock during our South American adventure. We admired the Christ Church Cathedral, with its whalebone arch built in 1933, browsed through the western supermarket with the saddest fruit we had ever seen (most of it looking so old that it belonged in a compost bin), bought some marmite crackers (because it was the closest thing I had seen to vegemite in weeks) and ordered some
unusual looking flavoured coffees.
Then it was penguin time.
We were heading to Bluff Cove Lagoon know it is a peaceful unspoilt wildlife habitat, where penguins make their rookery homes on the long white sand beach. It is home to over 1,000 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguins as well as a ten breeding pairs of Kind Penguins along with their chicks and several juveniles.
We were picked up in Stanley and piled into a mini bus – we then switched into 4×4’s and started the off-road journey to Bluff Cove (and luckily were not in the car that got bogged). Our driver was fascinating (and not just because of his cool Falkland Island accent). He told us about his french father who did
regular sailing trips to Antarctica and his Australian mother (who he thought was Tasmanian – not Australian, so we informed him that he was indeed one of us after all).
After some impressive driving we soon arrived. We were met at the penguin rookery by a helpful ranger, who told us a bit about the wildlife – informing us that the penguins were currently malting so we had to keep a courteous distance (but the penguins did not have to reciprocate).
And then we were let loose in a penguin world. We began by admiring the small group of King Penguins – which were as royal and pretentious looking as penguins come (although I have never seen an Emperor). For all their beauty they were pretty dull so we soon began to walk further along the beach and meet the
gentoo’s. And these guys were fun.
Although most of them looked pretty depressed from malting many members of the group were running around like crazy, squawking at each other and every now and again poking on each other… Not quite as graceful as their neighbouring Kings…
For all their disgusting bird habits we loved them. They were young and fun and kind of friendly. We got approached and personally squawked at and we still loved them.
After a slow stroll down the beach we ended the day at The Sea Cabbage Café and Bluff Cove Museum which are tucked under a grass bank facing the beautiful long white sand beach. In their comfortable warm rooms, heated by a traditional peat stove, we were welcomed by complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate served with heaps of delicious home-baked cakes, cookies and scones with local diddle dee jam.
|Many cruise liners are offering our excursion as part of their shore excursion programme when visiting the Falklands.
Please book our tour through your ship.
Should you wish to get in touch with us, our contact details are:
Bluff Cove Falkland Penguins Tour
Bluff Cove Farm,
Contact name: Kevin and Hattie Kilmartin