Seabourn’s Antarctica Revisited – Part VI (The Falklands – It’s Ain’t Over Till Seabourn Says It Is Over!)
My second journey to Antarctica on the Seabourn Quest and its wildlife and awesome beauty highlighted that “Antarctica is not a once in a lifetime experience, but rather an experience of a lifetime.”
Last year when the Seabourn Quest…and me emotionally kicking and screaming…departed Antarctica I became quite melancholy. What I thought would be a “once in a lifetime” experience was over and I wanted for it to continue and continue and continue. But now I know better. And I also knew that I would have one, and probably two, days of additional penguin and other wildlife experiences because – weather and waves permitting – we would have two days in The Falkland Islands.
|Seabourn Quest in New Island, Falklands|
With the Drake Passage once again being kind, with not quite a Drake Lake, but most certainly not a Drake Shake…but instead a Drake Shimmy, we head toward and made it to New Island, Falklands. This island is rarely visited, but is not only one of Captain Alex’s favorite ports of call, but also of penguin expert Brent Houston. It’s beauty and contrast of the easily accessible opposing coasts, along with its wildlife and views, made it obvious.
Here we had an opportunity to view Rockhopper Penguins, Black Browed Albatrosses and Imperial Cormorants intermingled with each other. It was quite the contrast between the rather comical small Rockhoppers
|Rockhopper Penguin and Chick|
|Rockhopper Penguins have very unique and high pitched squawk.|
and the elegant large black browed albatross.
|Black Browed Albatross and Chicks|
|Black Browed Albatross flying over hundreds of nests|
|What the inside of an Albatross mouth looks like!|
I truly enjoyed the albatross runway…or should I say “run rock”. They casually put out their wings and just take off without so much as a flap of their wings. Landing, however, in high winds is a bit more of an adventure and all of that elegance gives way to looking like an awkward duck coming in for a crash landing. More than one attempt is aborted, but somehow they do eventually just land.
And we cannot forget the Imperial cormorants!
|Imperial Cormorant feeding her Chick|
I won’t bore you with the other birds we encountered.
The next morning we sailed into Stanley, Falkland Islands with the Falklands having a total population of about 3,900 people. It was a beautiful day, though a bit windy, and time for the Ensemble Travel Group Experience shore excursion to Volunteer Point to see King, Magellanic and Gentoo penguins. I hosted this complimentary shore experience for those Seabourn guests who booked their cruise and chose this extraordinary experience over the other option of a $150 per person onboard credit. As I had hosted this excursion a year earlier I knew it would be outstanding…and a great value as Seabourn was charging $399 per person for the same tour!
We were broken up into groups of four and assigned a 4×4 vehicle and driver for the 2.25 hour drive to Volunteer Point over paved, then gravel, roads and then for the majority of the time true 4-wheeling over huge peat bogs. You might ask if it is worth such time and, for some, discomfort not only to get there, but to return the same way? I assure you: Absolutely!
When we arrived we were greeted not only by over 1,000 penguins, but a tremendous amount of wind. But it was most certainly worth the “suffering” both upland and on the absolutely beautiful beach!
|King Penguins strolling on the beach – Volunteer Point, Falklands|
|King Penguin -Very Young Chick|
|King Penguins do not build nests, but carry the eggs on their feet.|
This one is readjusting the egg before tucking it back into the brood pouch
|King Penguins returning from sea|
|Gentoo Penguins – You move! No you move!|
|Very rare headless King Penguin couple|
What a great way to end the Expedition portion of my second journey to Antarctica on the Seabourn Quest!
Look for my articles on the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team, Kayaking, Expedition Cuisine and more!
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