This weekend’s visit was to Volunteer Point, renowned for its king penguins, but also home to a large population of magellanic and gentoo penguins. I was planning to go out on Friday afternoon, but having arrived at the hospital to find that the Caesarian section I was going to attend had already taken place during the night, the surgeon suggested that I go out with the visiting specialists in the morning and take advantage of the extra time. Who was I to argue?!
There is a house you can stay at but I decided to camp, taking advantage of being able to borrow a tent and sleeping bag from Kay. I also had to take my own water for the weekend so I was heavy laden and had to conscript a fellow guest to help me carry everything down to the hotel where we were picked up.
Volunteer Point is not actually that far away from Stanley, but it takes about 2 and a half hours to get there as the final 10 miles or so are off road, and take about 90 minutes to cover. It takes an experienced driver to both tackle the terrain and to find their way. Having not seen a single road sign since I’d arrived in the Falklands, I was amused to see the number of signs for Volunteer Point, the last one pointing off into the distance as the road ends and the off road section begins!
Cake is very popular in the Falklands! This was at Johnson’s Harbour, the end of the road.
It’s a popular tourist destination, and when the large cruise ships come in forty or so rovers are required to transport passengers for their dose of penguin spotting. Fortunately it was a quiet weekend and there were never that many people about. I wasn’t the only one camping, by coincidence one of the physios from the hospital was camping too with her husband and a couple of friends which made for sociable evenings, particularly as they were generous with their tea and alcohol supplies!
My home for the weekend, amazing to go to sleep listening to the penguins.
We had fairly good weather, with mostly bright sunny days but unfortunately it was quite cloudy in the mornings and evenings and the sunrise/sunsets weren’t as good as we had hoped. It has a reputation for spectacular skies but it wasn’t to be on this occasion. The second night we had rain and strong winds and I woke up at 2.30am to find the tent trying to collapse in on me, which necessitated a speedy reorganisation of everything before I ended up with a lot of wet belongings. It settled eventually and I got back to sleep somewhere around 4am, still managing to drag myself up before sunrise.
The first morning, having been up at 5.30 in the hope of a good sunrise, we were just thinking of heading back to our tents for a little while when we spotted a sea lion coming into shore in the hope of nabbing himself some penguins for breakfast. In seconds all the penguins had fled the beach and left him disappointed. He made another landing further up but with no luck. The sun having gone behind a large cloud, all the penguins having fled and the sea lion back in the water we decided a bit more sleep was in order.
The main attractions for the weekend were, of course, the penguins but there were also a lot of smaller birds on the beach feasting on the abundant supply of insects. They were a mix of plovers and sandpipers and both moved very fast but I did manage to get some photos that I was pleased with eventually. Most of the penguin photos are in separate posts.
Falkland steamer ducks