Much To See On A Wander In Stanley Falkland Islands
After our great day in Punta del Este in Uruguay, we headed south and took the time to wander in Stanley Falkland Islands on our visit for the day. And we did not leave before we saw penguins on our stop in Stanley. We were sure excited when we moved into this exciting part of our cruise around South America.
It was a rough two day cruise south from Uruguay to the Falkland Islands. Many cruise ship passengers never got to see the Falkland Islands because the seas were too rough and the tender couldn’t make it into the port. We watched the weather and were happy when the captain of Oceania Cruises Marina announced that the weather was good for our visit.
Even if the skies were grey, the winds were calm. The tender boat ride into Stanley was uneventful. Although it was a little rougher on the way back to the ship. We were happy we went in early and had a chance to wander in Stanley Falkland Islands before our excursion. And our trip to visit Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins was a huge success.
Falkland Islands History
The Falkland Islands was historically a spot used as a stopping point before the trip around Cape Horn. When the Panama Canal was opened, much of the ship traffic no longer had to do that trip. So businesses in the Falkland Islands floundered.
Over time, many different nations governed the Falkland Islands, including France, Spain, USA and Argentina. But, although legally governed by British since 1833, the Argentinians believed this set of islands belonged to them. The population was loyal to the Queen when in 1982, Argentina executed a surprise invasion of the island to wrest control from the British.
After a deadly war, the island remained in the hands of the British. In a 2013 referendum, an overwhelming 99.8% of the Falkland residents voted to remain British citizens. Although Argentina still believed Islas Malvinas was theirs. When we visited it was still occupied by a British Army Garrison of about 1200 personnel.
As we walked in Stanley, we stopped at the 1982 Liberation Memorial. This memorial was installed to commemorate the British Forces, lead by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, that fought in the Falklands War. That war saw the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 refitted to be a military troop carrier. And resulted in almost 1,000 dead.
We learned about the various facilities the Stanley residents built to support the garrisoned troops. The history of the Falkland Islands was interesting to hear from the locals as we toured and visited Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins in Stanley.
Walking Around Town
The ship was anchored in the bay and the tender docked just outside the small town of Stanley. We donned our rain ponchos and explored the town. Everywhere we looked, there were signs and reminders that we were in penguin land.
But on a wander in Stanley Falkland Islands the strong British heritage in this town was very easy to see. We saw many iconic sights we remembered from visits to London.
Visiting The Churches In Stanley
Our first stop was the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral from 1892. We took the iconic photo of the church with the Whalebone Arch. A reminder of what part of the world we visited.
Big signs outside the church welcomed the Oceania Cruises Marina guests. We went in and admired the many beautiful stained glass windows.
A woman played on the large organ as we wandered. There were well written headstone-like plaques on the inside walls to read.
We moved along the main street and passed the austere St Mary’s Catholic Church. This one was closed so we did not go inside.
Other Sights On A Wander In Stanley Falkland Islands
All along the main street we stopped and looked at the sights. Colourful houses with flowers still in bloom greeted us.
Views out over the harbour drew us in to look at the cannons and the old ship’s mizzen mast from the multi-masted sailing vessel “Great Britain”. We wished we had time to visit the maritime museum.
We had enough time to find “The Narrows” pub for lunch. Of course we had the local fish and chips. But were a bit disappointed when the locally brewed beer Falkland Beerworks, made next door, was all sold out. We missed out on beers with names like London Pride and Rock Hopper made by probably the world’s most remote microbrewery. Lunch was extra enjoyable as Oceania’s Cruise Director Paul joined for some camaraderie.
We enjoyed a wander in Stanley before we visited Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins.
Drive From Stanley To Bluff Cove Lagoon For Penguins
At the port, we were divided into 16 person groups and put in mini buses. The drive from Stanley to Bluff Cove Lagoon for the penguins took about 45 minutes. Along the way we learned more about Stanley and the Falkland Islands. Mini buses from the company passed by regularly as they headed back to Stanley after their penguin excursions.
We were surprised when we learned that there were more than 500,000 sheep on the island. And as many as one million penguins nested on the island in season. These numbers far outweighed the local population of about 3,500 and the tourist population of about 7,000. Along our drive we saw birds and horses. But not a single sheep. The farms were on another part of the island.
On our drive, our guide pointed out Boot Hill. At one point, one lone boot was found and put on a stake. Over the years, many other boots were added.
The islands had a fascinating geology. It was explained that the Falkland Islands used to be part of the African continent. So many of the geological features were similar to sights we saw when we visited Africa. There were rough and ragged mountain peaks along the spine of the island.
It was great to see more of the island on our drive to visit Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins in Stanley.
Off Road To The Bluff Cove Lagoon
When we left the main highway, we drove along a rough road. On each side of the road we saw fields of large stones. This was called the River of Rocks (or Stone River) when Darwin visited the Falkland Islands. The stream of angular blocks of quartzite was said to be caused by freezing-thawing cycles. It was interesting to see accumulations of boulders with no finer material between them.
When we arrived at a parking lot at Bluff Cove Lagoon, we were transferred to small Land Rover jeeps in groups of four. The jeeps took us right to the penguins.
So Many Penguins At Bluff Cove Lagoon
We saw so many penguins at Bluff Cove Lagoon as we moved about the site. The first very large group of Gentoo Penguins ran about on the grass seemingly for our entertainment.
It was great that a group of King Penguins were still resident on the island and we saw them tending the young.
When we wandered to the cove, we found yet another group of Gentoo Penguins as they frolicked by the water.
We were delighted when we found so many penguins at Bluff Cove Lagoon. We just wished our visit was longer.
Plan To Wander Stanley Falkland Islands
It was great to have some time to wander Stanley Falkland Islands. It ensured we learned a little more about this area. And we were so happy we booked an excursion to visit Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins in Stanley. We saw so many more penguins than we expected.
Our visit to the Falkland Islands was a great stop on our cruise around South America. We pulled anchor and headed next for a trip around the Cape Horn and a visit to Terra Del Fuego from Ushuaia in Argentina.
Did you wander in Stanley Falkland Islands? Or did you head straight out for an excursion?
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