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This is Falkland Islands 🇫🇰| Ruled by Wildlife.

Falkland Islands, self governing territory of UK. There was a brief war in 1982 between Argentina and UK over the control of Falkland, known as Mini War. Although officially human are in control of Falkland, unofficially islands are ruled by wildlife. Countless seabirds and penguin colonies occupy most part of many islands, and when we say many, there are 740 islands. Falkland Islands are located off the coast of South America, just right above the Antarctic Peninsula.

Our Antarctic travel itinerary included two days visit around Falkland Islands after we left Antractica. Originally scheduled to some more popular islands, later changed to avoid those occupied by human. It was basically planned around COVID pandemic, so cruise-line guests do not come in contact with islanders, more specific human.

Day one, in the morning our first stop in Falkland was Bleaker Island, we arrived here from Antarctic Peninsula after cruising through Elephant Islands. One of the greatest story of exploration took place in Elephant Islands, you may look into Shackleton’s story. Coming back from Antarctica, temperature felt so good, no ice or snow on the ground, high wind was an issue. Returning to the ship on zodiac after onshore excursion was a bit of challange due to wind. On the island, some remote farming and wildlife, specially rockhopper penguins with newborns all around was stunning to watch. We made a long walk around the island, it was about three hours hike both ways leaving the ship.

In the afternoon when we were cruising around another island, Bull Point and planned to go onshore, Falkland wind defeated us. Excursion was cancelled. It is worth noting that visiting this part of the world there are no fixed itineraries. You are on the marcy of nature. Temperature, wind, ice/snow and sea conditions all factors to get onshore. One has to be very open minded to accept changes traveling through the region. We stayed on the ship for the afternoon, enjoyed time onboard while blue ocean blended with small islands were passing by.

Day two, a gorgeous day out and we landed in Saunders Island, one of largest island of Falkland. Our most up-close wildlife experience took place here. Island is ruled by penguins, their colonies are all over the island. Every direction, life was taking place, new borns were all around. Some hatching their eggs. As like every other life, there were sick and dead all around the island. Although funny looking, penguins are social and their struggle is nothing short from what we see around our own.

I have seen a new born, vulnerable, injured, perhaps beaten by some seabirds prey on penguin chick and eggs. The little one was probably orphaned, or mom/dad not around or haven’t returned from the sea. It tried to seek shelter from another adult, but denied. Heartbreaking, but we were just observers, standing in a distance watching. It was for few moments, we moved on. Events and stories were taking place all around the island, for us it was heaven, for them just another day in life.

On land waddle walk, cute little face of penguins may confuse most, but they are one of the toughest animal ever lived. Came from their ancestors about 65 million years ago, learned to live in subzero temperature. Lost their wings to become extreme swimmers and divers. They are the living torpedo in nature. When they propel them out of the water, something magnificent takes place. Before they jump out of the water, first they surface to collect air bubble under their tiny feathers. Dive again, coming back up they release air hidden under their feathers, it releases air bubbles, increases buoyancy, force them out of the water like torpedo. You can see this amazing work of adaptation on YouTube, it’s simply mind blowing.

On the island, we watched many other sea birds, countless nests of Albatrosses on the cliff rising from the sea. It’s a small island of its own little world, amazing life and stories taking place each moment.

In the afternoon, we made one final landing on Carcass island, it was all about taking a long hike, about 2.5 miles one direction. After 15 days on the sea, first we have seen civilization in Carcass. Few homes on the island, some live there. After a long walk, we came down to a beach where elephant seals were resting, leaving shore returning to sea. At the end we got on the zodiac returned to ship. It was kind of sad moment, this amazing trip was coming to an end. But the joy was, we have seen it. It’s now part of our life.

Next time when you see a penguin, I know you will feel happy. It’s hard to watch penguins and be angry or sad. But don’t just think they are funny little happy feet, they are marvelous, amazing powerful creature of nature. Their ability to live and thrive in nature is far beyond us, we arrived here just yesterday, they have been here since dinosaur left home planet. It is their home before us.

Falkland Islands is now 83rd on our list, we will keep going.


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