Recent history rises in stark relief below as we descended over the bunkers bounding Mt Pleasant Airport. The Falkland Island’s international airport is a Royal Airforce Station, home to the 1,500 military personnel positioned here to protect Britain’s Overseas Territory.
With our host for the first few days we set off on an interesting cross-country drive. While evidence of the 1982 war with Argentina litters the landscape, Derek tells us the locals prefer not to dwell on that traumatic period. Instead, they’re eager to share the islands’ treasured wildlife with the adventurers who have made it to this far-flung, self-governing outpost.
Arriving at Volunteer Point we are introduced to the islands’ Kings – penguins that is. It’s a stunning scene: 1,500 or so breeding pairs clustered in favoured sites across the low-lying hillside. With their golden yellow neck feathers the dignified and handsome birds are the the brightest among penguin species. At the nesting site the chicks are beginning to molt but they’re not yet ready to leave home or cease the ‘toddler tantrums’. Busy parents respond patiently to every demand. Down on the beach the regular committee meetings of adults deliberating on when and where to enter the waves are endlessly entertaining. The Kings share the Point with colonies of busy Gentoos and shy Magellanics so we’re happy photographers.
But the Falklands comprise almost 800 islands and we’ve got more to see. On Sealion Island we find the ungainly elephant seal. Whether lurking in the tussock or hauling from the surf, the hulking beast is grumpiness personified. Nearby, baby fur seals add the cuteness factor, while sea lions spat and spar. Bright-eyed Rock cormorants share the island’s southern tip with Rock Hopper penguins – oh, and one confused Macaroni penguin nesting with them. Capital Stanley adds the spice to the story. So much to see, so much to learn. Why not join us for the fascinating tale of the Falklands?