Falkland Islands – November/December 2003 and 2007
The Falkland Islands, just off the tip of Argentina in the South Atlantic Ocean, comprises of two main islands – West and East Falkland, plus over 700 much smaller islands.
We flew from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, to the Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island for a refueling stop. There is then another 8 to 9 hours flight to the Mount Pleasant Airfield on East Falkland, when we are escorted in by one of the fighter jets as we approached. Quite an experience to see a fighter jet just off the wing tips of your aeroplane. The islands visited during our stay were Saunders, Bleaker, Carcass and Sea Lion. In addition, we had an overland trip by 4×4 to Volunteer Point.
Our biggest problem, pre-leaving home, was deciding what not to take. Going island hopping on the little Britten-Norman Islander aircraft meant that we had an official baggage weight limit of 14 kg each. We did go over a bit, and had to pay the appropriate fees. It is almost impossible not to exceed the limit when there is photographic equipment to take, plus backup bodies and lenses, and the 2 tripods. On top of that, we needed clothing for two weeks! Fortunately, anything we didn’t actually need on the Islands could be left at our hotel in Stanley.
Experience – Awesome!
For the local wildlife to allow us to walk around them is a privilege. To be able to sit among them, and to observe their normal behaviour is an unforgettable experience. We loved the Black-browed Albatross, very clumsy on land, but a joy to watch in flight. Also the little Rockhopper Penguins, nesting on the tops of high cliffs, and full of character. Then there is the Striated Caracara, a very rare bird of prey. You left bags unattended or opened at your peril, as the juvenile Striated Caracaras would nick anything they could take away.
Would we go back? We would love to have done one more trip, this time in January, to see the Albatross chicks, but don’t expect that to happen now.