West Point Island

West Point Island is the first sighting of land while sailing east from the southern tip of the South American continent. It took us from about 6pm on Day 1 until 10am on Day 3 to cover the some 500 kilometers between Ushuaia and West Point, the western tip of the Falklands Islands (the Malvinas to those of you from Argentina). As we approached, we couldn’t help but think that the West Point cliffs resembled the Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride.

Coming ashore and marching a few kilometers in our rubber boots across the spit to West Point seemed, according to Mark, like a hike through the Scottish Highlands. It was wet, damp, barren, and bleak.

We had been told that the highlight of West Point was seeing the nesting black-browed albatross. We were looking forward to seeing them closer than we had off the back of the ship, but little did we know we were in for much more – it was the first of several dozen wonderful surprises that this trip had in store for us.

As we trudged down the hills towards the cliffs that meet the water, we began to traipse through what’s called tussock grass — it’s almost like big balls of grass growing several meters high. Because the tussocks are so tall, you can’t ever see what’s around the next corner. As we continued down the incline, though the tussocks, we stumbled across . . .

Wouldn’t you want to take a few home, even the mangy ones (?) . . .

Doesn’t it look like the albatross has on mascara?:

And, of course, what would it all be without our first penguins? These are rockhoppers:

During our walk back to the boat, we were filled with the excitement of having stood amongst hundreds of nesting albatross and penguins. From this point forward in our voyage, we would frequently catch each other’s eye, in awe of the experiences we were sharing, giving a quiet thanks for the privilege.

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