4th. & 5th.February, Ushuaia – Falklands
The Iberia flight from Zürich via Madrid to Buenos Aires was delayed nearly 2 hr. so that I was very late arriving at the small hotel near the international airport and had been up 24 hrs. The staff there were very helpful and took me back to the airport again at 5.00am. In the departure lounge an announcement was made that a flight to Trelew, which is between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia was cancelled because of ash from a volcano in the Andes, but my flight to Ushuaia was ok thank goodness, just 1 hr. delay again.
I still had time to visit the Maritime Museum which has many models of early Antarctic exploration ships and other artifacts of that time. Afterwards I looked at the thousands of penguins in all shapes and sizes in the souvenir shops and ate a king crab pizza before boarding the ship at 16.45.
There were only 54 passengers on the ship, which can take up to 100, and I was lucky to have a cabin to myself, although I had only booked a half-cabin. It was spacious and had its own washbasin, which I had not expected. The toilet and shower are just a few yards down the corridor. The food last night and at breakfast were fine, which I could not say for that on the flight. There is a queue for breakfast, which can best be avoided by getting there first.
The ship sailed about an hour later down the Beagle Channel and into the open ocean heading for the Falklands Islands. We all had to take part in a life-boat drill shortly afterwards. I was surprised how enclosed the lifeboats are. Entry is only through a fairly small hatch in the side, almost like a submarine. I suppose this makes them unsinkable in stormy seas.
The following day at sea I did not feel so well but was not actually sick. I took 2 pills and missed lunch. It was quite rough in the morning but a bit better in the afternoon. I was able to set up my laptop with the wifi connection on the ship. I opted for the cheaper version which enables e-mails to be sent, but not full internet access.
I went to lectures about the common birds of the area and the history of the Falkland Islands, given by Danish and Argentinian guides, but had to leave each one after about 10 minutes because of not feeling well. The briefing about the following day and the day after in Stanley I did survive and then went to collect my wellington boots on deck. These are issued for the ‘wet’ landings from the zodiacs (rubber boats), which turned out to include practically all the landings we made.
We arrived in the Falkland Islands late in the evening but it was already too dark to really see anything.