Dec 02, 2017 - National Geographic Orion
Today we awoke on the National Geographic Orion tied alongside the dock in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Although everyone was free to explore the town on their own, there were several guided activities that were available as well. In the morning, some chose to hike Mount Williams. This historically significant mountain was the site of one of the fiercest battles between British and Argentine soldiers and is rich with reminders of the 1982 war. It is also a beautiful trail over peaty camp and grass bogs that meanders through diddledee and wild strawberry and along stone runs, so even those who were less historically-inclined found it enjoyable.
Other guests chose to take a city tour of Stanley itself. The tour wound its way through the outskirts of the city, past wrecks of former shipping vessels and mine fields, and then on to downtown. Once in town, guests visited several notable landmarks, including the Government House and a 1914 Battle Memorial, and capped off the tour with a visit to the wonderful Britannia House Museum which offered even more information about the history of the islands than the tour provided.
In the afternoon, there were more activities available. One group of guests visited Long Island Farm, a 6th generation traditional Falkland-style sheep and cattle farm. There, they watched as peat – traditional fuel on the island – was cut and horses were geared. But mostly, they delighted in watching the sheepdogs energetically and determinedly corral the sheep that were to be shorn.
Guests who wished for more of a natural history tour chose to visit Gypsy Cove instead. From the bluffs above the cove, they watched Magellanic penguins stroll along the white sand beach while Falkland steamer ducks taught their young how to swim in the surf. The trail also passed by penguin burrows where it was possible to see adult penguins guarding their eggs inside. For those who waited patiently, the penguins would occasionally let out a soft baying call that was reminiscent of a muted donkey.
When dinner came, some guests decided to skip their gourmet meal on the Orion (confident there would be many more!) and opted for a traditional British supper – fish and chips with a proper British pint of ale – at one of Stanley’s local pubs. Sitting in these little pubs it was easy to imagine that we were back in England. But of course we were not, and soon the winds whipped up outside and reminded us that it was time to head back to the ship so we could shove off and get ahead of the incoming weather.