Category: Americas

Life on a Cruise ship – Backpacker in the lap of luxury


To celebrate a joint 50th birthday, we were looking for a special trip.

I normally do overland trips, but we decided on cruise around South America.


It offered several advantages:

1. As the cruise started in Santiago, it would allow us to see Easter Island before the cruise started (one of the most incredible places on earth).

2. We’d be able to visit the Falkland Islands, which is practically impossible otherwise.

3. Multiple stop off’s in Patagonia.

4. Chance to follow the footsteps of great explorers with things like the Beagle Channel and the Magellan straits.

But how would this work, I’m a backpacker at heart (although I do wear Rohan and carry state of the art technology, it’s where my roots are).

Would a poncy G&T cruise ship work out, or would I feel out of place and just hide in my cabin ?. Time to find out.


After visiting Santiago, spending a few days in Easter Island and back to Santiago, it’s time to join our ship.

The ship leaves from Valparaiso, which is 120k from Santiago. Princess cruises offered to do a pickup, but it was £100.

Instead, we got 2 local buses and it was about £3.


Arriving at Valparaiso port, it felt quite industrial, and lacked a certain romanticism I was expecting.

With plenty of time to kill, we head up the hill. It gave a commanding view of the harbour and there was a superstore selling everything from soap to electric drills in case you’d forgotten anything for your trip.

Back down the hill, we found a nice cafe and I relaxed with a cold beer.


We arrive to be checked in. None of the “party at Buckingham palace” I’d expected.

We queued like refugees, the only positive thing is it had a roof so we were in the shade.


Sensibly, all bags are scanned through security, we’d be re-united with ours later.

We got to the check in desk. Our passports were handed over and we were photographed.

Then we each got a special card. I was really impressed. The whole boat is cash free, if you want something, you use the card and its put on your bill to be paid when you disembark.

Not just that, but when you leave or enter the boat, you swipe the card and it knows if you’re onboard or not. Also security see your picture on a monitor when you swipe, so if someone has stolen your card while ashore, they won’t get far.


At the dockside, some of the 900 balconies.

I’d done lots of research/reading on the Crown Princess, but to see it up-close was incredible.


I found a picture of our ship in dry dock before commissioning.

The Crown class cruise ship, Crown Princess.

Maiden voyage in 2006, a complete refit in 2018.

With 18 decks and a length of 290 metres, she’s bigger than the Titanic.


Were shown to our our cabin and our bags are already inside. Not massive accommodation, but plenty big enough for us and very comfortable.

It would also allow for an entirely different kind of travel. Instead of sitting on a bus for 4 hours, we’d travel while we slept.


Quite a large storage area, a spotlessly clean bathroom, a small sitting area, a desk and chair , and a balcony, I thought they’d done really well with the space available.

We like each other’s company, but it was a long trip. Sometimes, with 1 of us on the balcony reading and the other working at the desk it felt like we had 2 rooms.

Our concierge Geordie introduced himself. he’d take care of our room and provide room service etc.

He told us we would need to attend a safety brief in 30 mins. He was charming and friendly, but the safety brief clearly wasn’t optional.


There are 8 muster point on the ship and we presented ourselves at the Explorers lounge.

A demonstration of how to put on a life jacket and what to do in an emergency, then a quick chat about cruising for those that hadn’t done it before. The ships compliment is 3080 passengers and 1200 crew.

There were guests from lots of different countries (we put up our hand for UK) and staff on the boat are from 54 countries.

Our compère said I’m from Brazil, my colleague is from Argentina but we all get on fine. Why ? because we never discuss politics onboard.

You’re on holiday and free to do as you wish, but our advise is worth considering seriously for the well-being of all onboard.


With the briefing over, the launch party begins by the pool on the top deck.

I’m really excited to see what this floating city has to offer, so I head off exploring.


The Piazza, a 3-story atrium is the main hub of the ship. All the hustle and bustle of the ship can be experience as well as various shops, a coffee house and a wine bar we would come to know well.


A pool at the back of the boat, showing the wake. Most of the pools were open to everyone, but this was 1 of 2 that were for adults only.


We had a balcony, but the view from the top deck was incredible (your 165 feet above the water), especially when we were travelling around Patagonia.

In terms of preparation and equipment, it was the strangest sort of trip. On Easter Island, were were wearing shorts and T Shirts, travelling around the Cape Horne, softshell trousers and a down jacket.


One surprise for me was the massive up-selling philosophy I wasn’t prepared for.

It seemed to me, we’d paid a small fortune to be on this boat, in the lap of luxury and all that remained was to enjoy it.

In reality, the money you’ve paid for the cruise is just the start so far that they’re concerned. Here’s one examples, the shop sells chocolate bars, deodorant & sea sickness tablets.

There is nowhere to buy books and internet is expensive, so you might almost think they want you to be bored and spend money 🙂


The Calypso reef and pool on the top deck.

In the evening, they would show films. We’d normally wander around the top deck once it got dark, but to watch films, we normally went back to our cabin.


I’m always open to new idea’s and it’s strange some of the new things youre prepared to try on holiday.

On sailing days – when we were at sea all day (there were 5), I’d go to Horizon court (all day buffet dining), get a mid-morning coffee and sit with it in the Crooners Piano bar.

He played every day/evening for 14 days and I really enjoyed his music.


The Neptune’s reef and pool had nothing of interest to me from a water perspective, but as a culinary experience, the complete opposite.

On one side, Prego Pizza station, that cooked fresh pizza right in front of you. You could choose from one he’d just made, or he’d make exactly the pizza you wanted.

On the other side, The Salty Dog grill, serving burgers, hot dogs and chicken burgers just to your liking with every kind of sauce.

OK, certainly not health food, but I’m on holiday, this stuff is completely free, so why the hell not.


A map was posted and updated each day by the pool which showed a nautical chart and our progress.

I visited it each morning, to see where we were/where we’d been. I’m not sailor, but this was adventure on the high sea’s and I was totally engaged.


On sailing days, they were big on activities. But these activities usualy involved trying to sell you something.

So there would be 20% off all jewellry, an art auction and special promotions at Gatsby’s Casino. All of no interest to me, so I just did my own thing (and I really regret not taking more books, see stuff bellow, advice for cruising).

But where it did get on my nerves, was when I visited the gym. I just wanted to have a go on an exercise bike and as soon as I walked in they started selling me a personal trainer or acupuncture. I just got sick of the hassle and left.

But there were lots of other things to do as well like quiz’s and Spanish lessons, Motown afternoon and nightly Cabaret.


In the Princess theatre, there were talks and lectures about the destinations we’d visit.

The talks were top notch, with humour, relevance and the genuine charisma of the speakers.

One of the talks, showed the difference between cruise ships and ocean liners. It mentioned the average age of cruise ship guests was 47 (with number of mobility scooters on board I thought they should try adding 25 years to that number :).


One talk I really enjoyed was about Charles Darwin.

Darwinss discoveries – How a voyage to the Galapagos shocked the Victorians by Angela Kelly.

Later, I got to follow in his footsteps on my tour of the Beagle channel.


In the evening, lots of Cabaret, singing and othe activities. One I really enjoyed was a Tango demonstration by Fernando and Cecilia.

I was also a bit surprised at the evening dress code. Each evening was either formal or informal and the dress code was as follows.


Women: evening gown, cocktail dress or elegant pant suit.

Men: Tuxedo, dark suit or dinner jacket and slacks.


Women: Skirts, dress, slacks and sweaters.

Men: Pants and open-neck shirts.

Generally though, they were pretty relaxed about dress, and common sense prevailed, people didn’t walk into the restaurant in swimming trunks or anything silly like that. I was just frustrated that the one time my Rohan evening jacket would have been useful, I’d left it at home.


In the evening relaxing on our balcony.


Dining options were to say the least, extensive. We spent most evening in the Michelangelo dining room.

Sometimes on a shared table with a chance to meet new people, other times just the 2 of us.

In terms of quality, it was the sort excellent food I’d normally eat as a special treat on my birthday. But every night!.

Baked potato soup was my favourite starter.


Although all food was included with the cruise, some speciality dining options were available at additional cost.

We decided to try the Sabatini Italian restaurant, which was £30 extra for both of us.

An incredible experience, 5 courses, our table had its own exclusive waiter with an assistant for drinks.

Across the room we saw that Captain Manfuso and his wife were there as well. We enjoyed it that much, that we did it again a few nights later.


The Crown Grill steak house was another speciality option we tried.

It was £50 this time for both of us. They had a vegetarian option for Nikki, my steak was superb as I’d expected and the sommelier recommended a nice red to go with it.

This was living like James Bond.


We had an interesting talk and tour on the ship’s kitchen.

Suffice to say, it can cater for over 4000 people so it was enormous.

Broken down into small teams and units, every kind of cooking utility and spotlessly clean.

Here, a cake with an ice sculpture prepared for a guests wedding anniversary.


So where did we drink. I found the Wheelhouse bar to be quiet most of the time with plenty of space, so I sat with my kindle and a bottle of Bud.

At £8.50 a bottle, it was expensive but I wasn’t there to get drunk, just to relax after all.


Any trip with Nikki is going to involve a winebar.

We spent most of our evening here trying nearly every wine they had. The staff were very friendly and we soon settled in.


We saw the winestore on our tour of the kitchen.

It’s value is never less and $1,000,000.


The last night of our cruise.

Sat at the wine bar at 10:30pm, most of the Piazza is empty.


The following morning, watching the sunrise from our cabin.

My final memory of our cruise. Although sceptical at first, I really enjoyed that trip.

Conclusions: my recommendations for cruising, what would I do differently.


  • Get active – With loads of food options and every opportunity to relax, you need to get organised. Dismiss the sales people and spend at least an hour in the gym each morning. Alternatively, there is a running track on the top deck, or just go for a long walk.
  • Treats – If you like chocolates or sweets, take your own, they are fantasticaly expensive onboard.
  • Kettle – Hot drinks can be delivered to your room, but a better option is to take your own travel kettle, some plastic cups and in my case lots of sachets of nice hot chocolate.
  • Coffee – You normaly have to pay for coffee from the coffee shop, but in the buffet, it’s free. If you take one of those cups that keeps coffee warm, a fill-up at the buffet will set you up for mid morning.
  • Books/Films –  When you’re collecting firewood, work out how much you think you’ll need and double it. Take a kindle loaded with books and use the same forumula (and at least 1 paper book, technology can fail). A laptop loaded up with tv & films you’ve not seen is also usefull.
  • TV – One thing to note, is that the tv in your room is “locked”. The old trick of connecting your laptop to a hotel TV with HDMI lead won’t work here. They had some excelent films for free that we really enjoyed.
  • Plan each day. “Patter” magazine is delivered each evening. It has “news” and the following days activities and talks. Lots of stuff going on so go through it and mark the things your interested in. Take it with you the next day when your wandering around the ship.
  • Formal clothing – Next time I’d take a formal jacket and some darker shoes (the shirt and polo shirt I had was fine, but desert boots didn’t work that well in evenings.
  • Lectures/Talks – Attend every lecture you get the chance too. No matter how much you’ve researched your destinations, there’s going to be something interesting in there.
  • Find your place – Initialy, cruise traveling is amazing but Cabin fever can set in. Find somewhere you are comfortable and make that your place.
  • Go ashore – Not to sate the obvious, but some people like cruising for the boat expirience alone (we met people doing their 32nd cruise). Try to remember it’s a vehicle for adventure travel so spend as much time onshore as you can.
  • Where to cruise – Some places are well suited to cruising like South America and the Caribean, but remember you usualy you get 1 day in each and you only get to see the outside of a place.
  • Stairs/Lifts – Try to use the stairs and burn some calories. Be carefull of lifts, when the doors open, people can fly out on mobility carts and if they hit you, it will really hurt.
  • Wifi – Expensive @£1 per minute. Each morning I’d connect and quickly read bbc news, while email, whatsapp and facebook were downloading. Disconnect, read and send replies. If you do this each day, it will keep costs down.  Best wifi options are bars in Port.
  • Comunication –  They have an app you can install on your phone that allows you to message friends onboard for free. It also has a map of the ship and lists activities for the day.
  • Calls/Texting – Unlikely to get a phone signal for most of the trip. Don’t be  too connected anyway you’r on holiday.
  • Health/Medical Care – Don’t get on the ship, without insurance. Sick bay has an operating theatre and everything you’d expect to find in a hospital – but it’s all chargable so only use in a crisis. For non urgent, use your first aid kit and local pharmacies when in Port.
  • Laundry – They offer a pickup and return laundry service, but we used the coin operated washing machines, which were much cheaper.
  • Flowers – A bit of a daft one this, but the first night of our trip was valentines. The cheapest flowers I could find were £120. So I got a magician’s wand think that turned into flowers. It went down quite well, and entertained the other guest’s at our table. Cost £7

Buenos Aires – First trip to Argentina (1/2)


Our cruise comes to an end in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

When I was 13, the UK was at war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.

In the community I grew up in, “Argentina” was mostly footballers with std’s and everyone else was looked a villain from a cowboy film.

30 years later, my common sense told me this couldn’t all be true, so I was quite excited to arrive to see what the place was really like.


After a well organised disembarkation from our boat at 7am and were wheeling our bags from the port towards our hotel.

On the way we see the Torre Monumental clock. Originally named the Tower of the English, it was a gift from the British Government using imported British “Red” brick.

After the 1982 war, the name Tower of the English was changed and everyone refers to it as the Torre.


Arriving at our hotel, our hosts are friendly and helpful and we’re shown to our room.

We’d left the boat quite early, so decided to dump our bags and head out for some breakfast.


We find somewhere for breakfast and tuck in.

But what’s this on the tv ? There seemed to be some sort of March with horses going on somewhere.


We realised to our surprise that at that moment, the horses, security and all the regalia were passing the cafe outside where we were sitting !


We carried on exploring and could see a number of protests taking place. Something was happening and this part of the city was being locked down.

Various road and streets were closed by the police and security services with barriers being erected. People with riot shields started appearing!.

I won’t lie I was a bit nervous, and we briefly considered going back to our hotel.

But if we headed in the other direction, I reasoned we could carry on exploring and keep out of trouble.


We had planned to join a free walking tour that started at The National Congress Building.

We worked our way around various closed road and eventually to our destination.


Only to realise, that the horses etc, were all converging on the Congress Building (it was the final destination of their Parade, we found later that the President was addressing the occupants of the building in some sort of capacity).

With our tour cancelled, time for plan B. My guidebook to Buenos Aires listed 10 must see sights. Theatre Colon was one of them so off we went.


Constructed 1908 it symbolises the Golden era or Buenos Aires.

A time when “wealthy as an Argentine” was a phrase often used in Paris and New York.


Tours have to be booked well in advance normally, but we were lucky and booked onto one starting an hour later.

It was quite expensive, but they had a nice wine bar in the waiting area, so we tried some Argentine Merlot.


The tour begins, and we head upstairs for our 90-minute tour.

Nothing short of Palatial (as you’d expect, it ranks among the worlds top 10 opera houses).

Italian marble, French stained glass, Venetian mosaics.


Inside the main auditorium.

Performances are pre-booked months into the future. It fills up every night, as it has done for over 100 years.


The view with the stage behind me.

I was struck by the lighting and how atmospheric it was.


In the ceiling, what looks like a light actually contains a powerful speaker.

This contributes to its world renowned,  near perfect acoustics.


I got to hear them first hand, as some joiners were preparing the stage and the sound of hammering and sawing reverberated throughout the arena.


We wander towards Plaza de Mayo, the Political, spiritual and cultural centre of Buenos Aires.

It’s here that the people danced after World Cup victory in 1986.


Casa Rosada – The Pink house, the President’s official offices (unlike the White House, the President doesn’t actually live here.

Eva Peron addressed the people from its Balcony’s.


The Cabilda, in its classic colonial style.

Once used as a local town hall, but today used as a museum of the May revolution.


La Catedral Metropolitana, the main Catholic church in Buenos Aires.


There were queues for everything, but we were able to get inside the Cathedral and that choice was rewarded.


Further inside, the Mausoleum of General San Martin.

Guarded by statues representing Argentina, Peru and Chile.


Banco. Well, it’s a big bank.

More seriously, its associated with the economic riots in 2001 which were part of the “Argentine great depression from 1998 – 2002.

Corral policies were instituted which stopped people withdrawing cash from banks and pensions were not paid.

Rioting and protests started almost immediately, President Fernando de la Rua resigned, replaced by President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa who resigned less than 12 days later.

In total it cost 39 civilian lives, 9 of which were minors.


Monument to General Belgrano.

It’s a name that’s well known in the UK as the Argentine flagship, sunk in the Falklands War (controversially at the time, but Prime Minister Thatcher has since been vindicated by a book written by it’s Captain Hector Bonzo).

But actually was General Belgrano. Described as an economist, politician and military leader, he was involved in the independence of Argentina.


Les Madres – The mothers. I borrowed this image from a Guardian article.

Between 1976 and 1982 many people were “disappeared” by the Military Junta.

Their mothers and other relatives protest peacefully in the square, seeking information about their loved ones.


Piramide de Mayo – constructed in 1811, it’s the oldest monument in Buenos Aires.

We leave Plaza de Mayo and head for another of the top 10 tights.


Cementerio de la recoleta.

Nicknamed city of the dead, it houses mausoleums and graves of generals, presidents, celebrity and Eva Peron.


It’s so large and elaborate that there’s even a map to find your way around.


You can see why it’s called the city of the dead. Everything is in rows side by side in streets and avenues.


One of the more elaborate mausoleums, but it has to be said, there are hundreds just like it.


The thing that most people come to see – the family mausoleum of Eva Duarte de Peron.

She died of Cervical cancer in 1952. Even in death she was a threat to some people. Her body disappeared for 3 years, afterwards she spent time buried under a false name in Milan.

She was finally returned to Argentina and interned in her family mausoleum in 1976 , but not with her believed husband Juan Peron.


She was (and still is) revered by the working class people of Argentina, who she called the Descamisados – The Shirtless ones.

I remember some of the people visiting were playing Evita on their phones. Up to the individual how they deal with grief, but I found it intrusive.

The inscription translates to: Eternal in the soul of your fire.


A sobering morning.
Many of the mausoleums date back to the 1800’s but this one is dated 1970 and it caught my eye.
Iliana Crociati de Szaszak was only 26 when she died in an avalanche in Innsbruck, while on her honeymoon. Shown with her beloved dog, Sabu.

Buenos Aires – First trip to Argentina (2/2)


After the seriousness of the Cementario, it’s time to remember that were actually on holiday.

A nice cold  beer and a snack in glorious sunshine.


Nearby, the famous Jacaranda tree.

A bit difficult to see in this picture, but this thing is enormous.

A strategically positioned statue appears to carry the tree.


We wander down this street. Looks perfectly normal to me.

Turns out, it has more plastic surgery’s than any other street anywhere in the world. Buenos Aires is the world capital of plastic surgery.

In many countries, it’s not uncommon for some company’s to offer private healthcare, inclusive in your employment contract.

In Buenos Aires its highly common to have a plastic surgery allowance in your contract of employment !.


Buenos Aires is an enormous city so travelling around is easier on the underground.


With upto 7 lanes in each direction, the Avenida 9 de Julie is probably the largest single road of any big city in the world.

An entire city block wide, pedestrians need to cross 3 sets of lights to get from one side to the other.

The main spectacular sights of the city are either on or next to the Avenida (including theatre Colon, which we’ve seen already).


The Obelisk. Constructed in 1936, by German company Siemens in just 31 days.

On the site there had previously been a church where the Argentine flag had been raised for the first time.

It has Inscriptions on all 4 of its sides,and you can actually go inside (there are windows at the top).


The famous French Embassy.

Said to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Buenos Aires, construction of the Avenida required it to be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere.

The French government refused. So the Avenida was move to facilitate this.


Ministry of Public Works is the only major building positioned directly on the Avenida.

It’s famous for this picture of Eva Peron.


Museo de la Dueda Extema, museum of foreign debt. My guidebook described it as:

“Tucked in the basement of the city university’s economics building, this sober yet absolutely vital mini-museum tracks Argentina’s roller-coaster 20th century economy through 2001 loan default with sensational montages”.

It did indeed explained the financial crisis but was all in Spanish so we left after 3 minutes.


Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes – The Palace of running water.

It’s literally a water pumping station, but it’s elaborate beauty, marks it out, even in a city of amazing buildings.


Plaza San Martin.

A popular square where local people go to relax and have lunch.


The Kavanagh building built in 1936.

Considered a pinnacle of modernist architecture, and my favourite building in the whole city.

Wandering further around Lavelle square and the green space around it.


General Juan Lavelle who the road is named after.


Palace of justice, where the supreme court sits.


In 1992 a suicide bomb ripped through the Israeli embassy, killing 27 people.

One wall of the building still remains as a backdrop. The rest of the site has been converted into a memorial park.


The Evita museum.

Although not very large it had many artefacts and possession and told the story from the young girl in the countryside to the wife of the President of Argentina.


Unfortunately, you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, but I found these on the internet.

The show her evolving dress style throughout her life and career.

Other parts of the museum carry on her legacy, and help women in trouble, across the world. There was a room with harowing anonymous essays written by people who’d been helped by the initiative.


I like to buy small souvenirs when I travel. I put them in my house to remind me of the places I’ve been.

I purchased this small music device (you turn the wheel and it plays the music to Evita).

As we sat in the cafe for coffee I started to play it, Nikki thought it was a bit naf but I really liked it.


Time to get outside.

The 860-acre Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, hidden behind Puerto Madero’s glitzy skyscrapers, is an abandoned development that’s been left to “rewild”.


It stretches for miles with these rough tracks and paths with tree’s everywhere. After wandering around a big city for days, just what I needed.


Thousands of different types of tree’s and plants.


Considering the size of the area, this map wasn’t the most detailed I’ve every used, but we managed to see everything we wanted to.


Next to the park, the River plate, famous from the battle.


Great to be out in the open air, but really warm and I was exhausted.

We stopped briefly for a sit down. I fell asleep and had to be woken up by Nikki.


The wetlands and swamps within the park.


I don’t speak any Spanish, but this sign in the window of a small museum was pretty clearly saying watch out for snakes.

Daft thing is, it tells you how to identify the snake by it’s pattern.

Surely a better strategy is to avoid “all” snakes 🙂


Lots of locals visit the park, here some children were playing with a ball while their parents prepared a barbecue.


As we leave the park we get this “Crocodile Dundee” shot featuring Puerto Madero in the background.


Puerto Madero is a newly developed area with lots of skyscrapers housing multinationals companies.

It also has exclusive apartments.


But on the other side, has this docklands style front with nice cafe’s and bars.


Out in the dock, we admire this classic sailing ship.


We relax next to the water with some nice wine.

Were due to fly home early the next day, and there’s just one thing left of on my must do list.

I’d already done my research on the internet so I know which restaurant to go to.


Our final meal of the trip at estaurant Ill Gatto (which in Italian, means The Cat)

No expense spared on 3 courses and wine.

Just what I wanted, a perfect Argentine steak eaten in Argentina.


We wander along the waterfront.

We’ve been away for 3 whole weeks and now it’s time to head home.

Patagonia – Adventure wilderness (1/2)


Still on our cruise around Cape Horn, we visit Patagonia.

But when you’re on a cruise ship, you stop at destinations and you usually only get to spend a day there. Not to state the obvious, but it would be hard to see much of Patagonia in 1 day.


So, I’ve taken several day trips and put them into 1 section. What you’re about to read is made up of day visits to Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacacabuco and Ushuaia (Tierra del fuego). I’ve also included the Amalia Glacier, cruising around Cape Horne and a catamaran trip through the Beagle Chanel.

We had been deliberating a 1-day trip to Antarctica that they offered for £3000 each from Punta Arenas. In the end we decided not too. Not only expense, but I really want to see Antarctica, and when I do it will be for at least a week, so its on the special AHP (after house paid for) list.

As it was, it worked out for the best, as we didn’t visit Punta Arena due to bad weather.


In Puerto Montt, we signed up for an official tour, organised by Princess Cruises. They are expensive (comparatively) but the argument is always made that on an official tour, if something goes wrong, the cruise ship will wait. We found later, that this is flawed for 2 reasons.

1. Independent tours, know how important it is to be back on time, they’ve been doing this for years, have backup vehicles etc so the odds of getting stuck are pretty slight.

2. The idea that a cruise ship with 3000 guests and 1000 crew will wait in port and pay 100’s of thousands of pounds to delay the trip and stay overnight for a coach with 40 people on it is a fallacy (the staff told us this). If the coach breaks down, they’ll just put you on a plane to the next destination anyway.

We did both official and independent tours and found them all to be informative, interesting and very professionally run.


Our first stop is to visit the Petrohue waterfalls. We arrive at the Vicente Peres Rosales National Park and  are taken to a sort of museum. You could book canoeing trips and treks. They also sold souvenirs, but best of all coffee, so I had a look around and drank some coffee.


We head outside to explore the park.


They have obviously staggered coach parties so for about half an hour, there were only our group there.

There were lots of well-worn trails to explore.


Once out of the trees I got to see the kind of beautiful untouched wilderness that makes Patagonia so popular as an adventure travel destination.


We cross a bridge and getter a better view of the canyon and the Petrohue river.


And the main thing we’ve come to see, the Petrohue waterfall.

Nothing like as powerful as the things I’ve seen in Iceland but impressive all the same.

The other thing that needs to be said is how clean the water was. If you’re good enough at bushcraft, you could live out here indefinitely.

space building

Heading to Osorno Volcano, up the V-613 highway we see this sort of  bar/restaurant with a space age feel to it (and unfortunately closed).


Considering your driving up a mountain, the journey is very comfortable.


A sort of Ski resort at the top.

And then the big reveal. Were not actually going to visit Volcano Osorno.

We’re going to visit Mnt. Calbuco, which offers the optimal viewing point of Volcano Osorno.


You have the option to walk to the cable car and stand on the top of Calbuco, but with the time we had, that didn’t seem a good idea

Instead, we wandered around exploring. The peaceful country air and the mountain silence were a welcome change from a busy cruise ship shared with thousands of people.


After an hour, we’ve still got 45 minutes, so we head to the restaurant and have some glasses of Chilean Merlot while looking at the view.


The view.  Across a sea of clouds, Osorno volcano. A spectacular sight.


The final stop on our trip, Puerto Varas on the shores of lake Llanquihue.


Puerto Varas was colonized by German settlers and is known for it’s German traditions, beer, seafood, natural scenery and luxurious hotels.


We’d seen a talk the previous day on Puerto Varas and been told about this fire station.

Now disused, it’s the oldest building in the town.


Much had been made of traditional German beer, and I was looking forward to trying some, but the town was full with coach parties so at that moment, every pub was packed.

I managed to find somewhere with free space at the bar. I couldn’t really relax in a pub that busy, so I only stayed 10 minutes. I still can’t remember which beer I had, but it was very nice.


Nikki wanted some coffee, and we found that the coach station sold café and it practically empty.

I took this picture of the waiting room. In these times, when everyone throws things away, they had re-used old coach seats as waiting room benches!.


From the shore of the lake, the perfect cone of Osorno Volcano and the snow-capped peak of Mnt. Calbuco

Back to our boat, another day of exploring complete.


Our next destination – Puerto Chacabuco on the Aysen Fyord.

This time we’d chosen an independent trip and glad we did. It was nice to meet the local people and know that we’d contributed in some small way to their livelihood.

The port was busy and noisy (as I suppose ports are) so we decided explore.


We were told to walk up the hill and meet our tour group at the “white domes”. Although they look like they’re for farming or suchlike, they are put there by the town council and stalls inside sell local arts and crafts. It was still an hour before the tour was due to start, so we went in search of refreshments.


There is only 1 hotel in Puerto Chacabuco (and it’s 5 star !).  The Loberias Del Sur is where a lot of science and research expeditions begin and end. Nothing so “David Attenborough” for us, we had some coffee and bagels.


Our tour begins (2 comfortable mini-buses) and we visit the town of Puerto Aysen.

We stop at the town. We told to have a look inside the visitors centre and it’s possible to get a free map.


I have a look around the visitors centre and collect my map (picture above) and then we just drive off. To this day, I’m unsure what the point of that exercise actually was.


As we drive along, we get this incredible view of the Simpson River.


A highlight of the day was the Cascada Velo La Nova waterfall.


The great thing was, with 2 minibuses we were able to stop in a lot of places where a coach couldn’t.

We disembark and have an hour wildlife trek in the Parque Alken del sur by the Simpson river.


The Presidente Ibáñez Bridge. At 210 metres, it’s the longest suspension bridge in Chile.


It’s getting to late afternoon. To see how the locals actually live, we visit this working farm (where they grow all their own vegetables).


We all sit down for our Pangal lunch. The atmosphere is amazing and all the food is grown on the farm or localy sourced.

It’s 1 bottle of delicious Chilean Merlot between 2. But once it’s gone, a replacement is only £5 a bottle !.


The pork barbecue in the outhouse, where our food was cooked (although there was lots of other stuff and vegetarian options).


Traditional Chilean Huasos dancing performed by a farmer and his daughter.

Huasos are Chilean cowboys. I’m not normally big on traditional dancing, but it was a really relaxing environment and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.


After 2 hours of fun, we head outside to see the Lama farm.

Not at all what I’d expected, but an amazing day when I got to experience what it would be like to live in Puerto Chacabuco.

Patagonia – Adventure wilderness (2/2)


Phase 3 of our Patagonia adventures and we visit Ushuaia and Tuera del Fuego.


As our boat pulled into the port, you could see the Patagonia mountains in the distance.


Ushuaia is the closest port to the Islands Argentina call the Malvina’s and which they claim as occupied unlawfully by the British. The staff on the cruise ship very diplomatically referred to location to Port Stanley, avoiding causing offence to either nation.

As we pulled into port, the ships tannoy said not to wear any overtly British clothing or symbols so as not to cause offence to the local population.

I don’t normally travel with a bowler hat, so that presented no problem for me. I’m proud of my country, but I’m an adventure traveller, I don’t go to other people’s countries looking to make a point.

This sign was the first thing you saw as you walked along the causeway (I’ve put it up, as I’ve shown similar signs with the opposite view on my section on the Falkland Islands). It was also obvious, that someone had tried to vandalise it.


On a more adventure travel note, this is the main port for ships visiting Antarctica, so the harbour was completely full.


Wandering around, it felt a bit like Blackpool.


And looking out to Sea, superb views of the Beagle Channel and the mountains beyond.


We found this sign, about the sinking of the Argentine ship General Belgrano on the 2nd of May 1982.

323 men died after a torpedo attack by HMS Conqueror. The site is now designated a war grave.


We carry on wandering, the place is quite colourful and the people were certainly friendly, even though they could tell we were English.


A remembrance garden to people who were “disappeared” by the Argentine Junta, and in the corner a section dedicated to the beloved Eva Peron.


Finally, this memorial to people killed during the Falklands conflict.

After a sobering moment of reflection, we head to the meeting point to join our first tour of the day Tierra del Fuego National Park.


Our first stop is the Rio Lapataia river.


Overlooking it, the Alakush visitors centre – the familair museum, cafe & souvenir format.


Our guide spots this rare, Black Necked Swan on the river outside.


In Zaratiegui bay, the post office at the end of the world.

They call Ushuaia the town at the end of the world, as its the most southern place in South America.


On the bank of the Acigami lake.


The lake was very popular, and even had this “1 way” system to reduce congestion.


A 40 minute countryside walk with our guide.

Not many animals to see, but she tells us about the history of Yaghan people, the original indigenous people of the region.


We stand at the end of the Pan American highway.

Running 19,000 miles from Prudhoe bay in the United States to Ushuaia.


A 45 min walk through a sub Antarctic forest.


With views across the beagle channel.

More of a fast hit tour than the ones were used to with lots of “see for 10 minute” sights. But I suppose that’s the only way a half day tour of all these things can work.

Main reason we’d picked the half day tour, was to fit in a boat trip to the Beagle channel. So back on our bus heading for Ushuaia docks .


What we call The Beagle Channel is basically, the straits between Chile and Argentina its 150 miles long and 3 miles wide. It was made famous by Charles Darwin is something I’ve wanted to experience all my life and I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.


We board our Catamaran.

A group of older Americans were sat near us. One chap in particular was really loud. I realised his hearing aids hadn’t been configure properly.

He couldn’t hear himself accurately, so was shouting all the time. I thought for a moment about offering advice, and then thought better of it.


In Nao Victoria Museum in Punta Arena, they have an actual size replica of HMS Beagle.

Their exploratory mission was so isolated, that the first captain committed suicide. He was replaced by Robert FitzRoy on the 2nd voyage of the Beagle, but this time took Charles Darwin who had funded his own passage.


A recreation of Darwin’s tiny cabin, which he shared with 2 other people.

It was so small that he had to remove a draw from one of the cupboards so he could lie down to rest and recover from sea sickness (which affected him frequently).

It’s in this cabin where the ideas of Evolution through natural selection and his first book On the origin of species were formed.

And his most famous quote (which has inspired me throughout my life) “It is not the strongest of the species, nor the most intelligent  that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change” must have been coined.


We cast off. At this point, I’m very conscious, that were in the “footsteps” of Charles Darwin.

The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan and the Drake Passage are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.


Nikki prepares her binoculars and I get a glass of red wine (ok, were embarking on an adventure, but no reason not to enjoy ourselves while were doing it).


One of the little islands (which actually, are just rocks) and the mountains in the background.


Les Eclaireurs lighthouse. Sometimes called the lighthouse at the end of the world, an iconic symbol.


We visited so many Islands, that I lost track. The one I do remember, is this one, Sea Lion island.


We pull up on an island loaded with wildlife.

Nikki decides to leave the sanctity of cabin and the smell is atrocious.


Time for our Catamaran to head back. Retracing the steps of one of the definitive explorations of all time.

My lasting memory, this Island with just 1 seagull on it.


Some parts of Patagonia, we were able to see from our Cruise Ship. As we sailed through the Bernardo O’Higgins national park we got to see this incredible sight.


But it came at a cost -we had been told the night before, that we would pass by the Glacier around 6am in the morning.

I’ve never known a trip where one minute I’m wearing shorts and next a -10 down jacket. But it was that cold !.


A bit closer, the Amalia Glacier up close.


Another famous location, the Cape Horn, located 56 deg south and 67 deg west, the meeting of the Atlantic an Pacific Oceans.

But there’s not actualy anything there, we only knew it’s significance, as the bridge (using GPS) were able to tell us where we were.


That’s what causes most of the confusion. Next outcrop along, there are buildings and the like.

This is actually a Chilean Naval Station and Lighthouse, manned all year round. But, even though you can visit it, it’s not the Cape Horne.


Elsewhere on the rock, is an  albatross shaped monument to the 800 ships and 10,000 mariners lost at sea in this region.

I’d love to get a Land Rover and spend 2 weeks exploring Patagonia. But since I haven’t won the Lottery, nor sold a Kidney, I think I’ve seen a lot off cool stuff, in 3 days 🙂

Montevideo – the birthplace of corned beef


Continuing on our Cruise around South America, we stop at Montevideo in Uruguay.

Nice thing about this stop, was the boat could dock, so we could just wander on and off it rather than having to use tenders.


We arrived at about 7:30am, so the streets were pretty quiet.

Word had spread that a cruise ship was arriving, so there were quick a few beggars and pan handlers. Once we got further into the town, the pretty much disappeared.


Solis theatre, opened in 1856.


Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral.


I could write loads of stuff here, but lets face it, its a Cathedral, so you know what it’s all about.

We find somewhere to relax and get a coffee to kill time until 9am.


The thing I most wanted to see in Montevideo, was the Andes museum.

A bit of a strange name, as it wasn’t a museum about the Andes specifically, rather the 1972 plane crash in the Andes immortalised in the film Alive.

The visit begins with a 30 minute video with English subtitles.


The story of the plane crash, the tragedy and the rugby teams escape and rescue is told with lots of artefacts (including large sections of the plane).


There are lots of interesting newspaper articles and memorabilia. While reading about it, I was struck by just how hopeless the whole situation must have felt. They had a radio and knew after 8 days the search for them was called off. In temperatures of -20 centigrade,  13 of the original passengers who survived the the crash.

Those that remained resorted to eating the dead.


Two survivors hiked over mountain terrain for 10 days to civilisation and after 72 days the remaining passengers were rescued.

One section of the museum I thought was really good were these small children’s shoes. They had been bought before the flight as a christening gift.

When the 2 men set off, they took 1 of the shoes and left the other behind. A simple ritual, but they were determined that the 2 shoes would be re-united.


The main square, Plaza Independencia.

You can see that the weather was fantastic.


Quite an impressive square, the “man on a horse” statue is Jose Gervasio, nicknamed the father of Uruguay.

Underneath the statue, is the Artiga Mausoleum you can visit, where his remains are interned.

It’s here that we joined the “free” tour and would be shown around the city.


We stop in Zabala square where out guide gives us an orientation talk and tells us about the history Montevideo and Uruguay.

I’m always surprised by these free tours. They are not technically free, as you are only expected to pay what you think the tour was worth.

It always shocks me at the end of a 2.5 hour tour that people will hand over 1 Euro. I always give at least 10.


Zabala Square has another horse statue, Bruno Mauricio, who founded the city of Montevideo (that’s, the rider, not the horse).


Plaza Matriz with it’s fountain.

The oldest Plaza in the City.


They had Market stalls selling all sorts of cool stuff (I nearly bought a uniform from the Nepolionic wars).


Some colourful Murals around the town.


With the tour now over, we wander around exploring. It’s a very slow paced, polite and friendly city.


De los Pocilos beach.

I’m always envious of city’s next to the ocean.


Heading back to the port, we visit Mercado del Puerto (basically, the port Market).

They had loads of nice food and wine to drink and we hung around here for about 3 hours visiting different places.


I check my watch and its time to go.

As we wander back to the port, I look out across the water. The first sea battle of world war 2 took place here.

The famous battle of the river plate. The Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled here by her captain, and lies at the bottom of the ocean in the harbour.

Easter Island – somewhere I really thought I’d never see (1/2).

e island 2

As a youth, I never thought I’d get to travel, but I was always inspired by James Bond and the far away places he went to.

In later life, I got the travel bug, had a reasonable job, so I could travel and see some amazing places.

But even in later life, there were some places I thought I’d never see. Easter Island (otherwise known as Rapa Nui) is one of them.


Although it’s part of Chile, it’s 2300 miles from the capital, Santiago.


The flight took 5 hours, and I was able to watch 3 films.


As a visitor, you need to get a permit to stay (maximum of 30 days).

We decided to get one on arrival. You also have to be staying at accommodation registered with the tourist board (so no wild camping).

One of only two times (the other one being Corfu) we were able to walk from the Airport to our accommodation.

On the way we had a look around and saw this Catholic church.


After checking into our accommodation at the Aukara b&b, we wandered down to the beach, had a swim, a few drinks and dinner.

In the morning we had breakfast then a day tour our hotel had arranged for us.


Our guide Leonardo Pakarati, local guide and documentary director.


The full day tour lasts from 6 to 7 hours and you can visit the main places of interest of the island: Rano Kau Volcano, Orongo Ceremonial Village, Akahanga Village, Rano Raraku Volcano and Quarry, Tongariki Altar and Anakena Beach.


Its possible to tour the island by bicycle (more about that later) instead we travelled around in a 4×4 as there was so much to see and time was limited.

Wild horses wander around everywhere in Rapa Nui.

Leonardo pointed at one with a white face. He said it had been a gift to the Island from Native Americans.


First was Anakena Beach. Right out of Hawai 50.


Our first sight of Moa heads “in the flesh”.

Leonardo was passionate about the island and it’s history.

He said the stones are our ancestors. They would be built to face the village so people would know they were being watched over.

He argued that they are not simply statues, but religious artefacts and living things and for this reason, the one in the British museum should be returned (more about that later).


A celebration of some kind was being prepared.

Something I’d read about in the SAS survival handbook, in this case, incorrectly called a Maori oven.

I’d seen one on a bushcraft course in the lakes. You heat rocks by a fire, then dig a hole. Put the stones in the hole, wrap the food in leaves to make parcels, places them on the stones, then cover it all over until the food is cooked.

You might wonder why you’d go to all that trouble. The key is, it requires no cooking utensils and you can cook for 50 or 100 people this way.


We continue on to Ahu Tongariki.

We park nearby, but before we walk over to see the other Moa, I get a quick photo of this mountain behind us with its clear blue sky.

I was sad that we wouldn’t have enough time to climb it, but it was beautiful all the same.


The heads with their backs to the ocean, facing the ancient village.


A shot capturing the whole vista.


The first settlers arrived in canoes which they fashioned into this basic form of shelter.


Our next location Rano Raruku.

From this hillside many of the Moa were carved out of the rock, so its nicknamed the head factory.


But it’s lunchtime and we decide have some lunch.

A chicken Empanada and a bottle of beer made on the Island.

Easter Island – somewhere I really thought I’d never see (2/2).


Rano Raruku, a wide open space with trails to wander around.


Leonardo shows us one of the heads that was half constructed lying down to get an idea of how they were made.


Standing three feet from these amazing objects was a breathtaking experience.


I even got to see these two guys. Featured on the front of travel guides and airport posters, they are the iconic image of Easter Island.


Rano Kau a 324m high extinct volcano.

It’s possible to walk all the way around it.


Orongo ceremonial village.

Soil floors and low doorways. They were reconstructed in 1974.

The main occupants were part of the Birdman cult, but more about that later.


At the village, a small museum.


Inside, this image of the 4 ton Hoa Hakananai’a one of the most spiritual of the Moa, being loaded onto HMS Topaze to be transported to the British Museum.

Leonardo had visited the British Museum while making one of his documentaries. He had spoken to the curator, who had produced a receipt and said that the Museum “owned” the statue.

It’s quite an emotional matter for the people of Rapa Nui, I found an article about it here.


Looking out from the village is this small island Motu Nui.

The Birdman cult was based around the Tangata Manu competition. There would be a race to the Island to retrieve a Manutara bird egg.

Many would die climbing the high cliffs or be eaten by sharks while swimming. But the winner who arrived back first with an intact egg, got to be leader of the tribe.

As I write this, here in the UK, we have an imminent general election. I have to wonder if this isn’t a better form of leader selection.


After a fantastic day, we are dropped back at our room for a shower and change, before heading out for the evening.

A perfect steak and a glass of red wine at La Taverne du Pecheur with a table overlooking the ocean.

The end to a perfect day.


After breakfast. We still have a full day and fly back to Santiago in the morning.

So we decide to rent some mountain bikes and explore the coast.


Ahu Tahai overlooking Cook Bay.


Two hours ride later, and were still seeing Moa and the coast.


We stop off at the Rapa Nui museum.

Crime is so rare on the Island that nobody locks up bikes, so we do the same.


Inside, lots of interesting things to see and loads of stuff about the history of the Island.

The most interesting thing for me was this display.

I had no idea that the indigenous people of New Zealand and Hawaii are linked to the people of Rapa Nui.

Their estate is made up of this triangle, and people would have been sent out in canoes to find far away places to set up villages.

Sort of early colonisation if you think of it.


It’s thirsty work riding a bike in the sunshine, so we stop for some refreshments.


One slight problem is that the salty air had corroded the gears on my bike.

I think if I was going again, I’d take some WD40.

We pedal back along the coastal trail.


We pass by this music festival on our way back.

Nikki loved it, I thought it was audible vandalism but I got a drink and enjoyed myself all the same…

Hand back the bikes and walks  back to our hotel with a goodbye dinner planned by the ocean.


With sadness, we head back to the airport.

I pop into the souvenir shop and buy a miniature Moa for my mantle at home.

But like Nikki said, at least we’ve been and not everyone can say that.


If your going to be sat in an airport lounge for two hours, I don’t know a nicer one than this 🙂

A truly incredible place, highly recommended by everyone here at (basically me).


Santiago – first trip to Chile and the Andes.

pedro de valdivia

On the 1st leg of our South America trip, we fly into Santiago in Chile.

I’ve lead with this iconic statue of a man on a horse.

In this case, its Pedro de Valdivia, the founded the city of Santiago.


Our flight had taken 14 hours. A seat with extra leg room, was £60 extra, which I honestly consider the best investment I’ve ever made in air travel.

It’s easy on a trip to upgrade things and add on luxury’s here and there. The problem is, on a trip with so many moving parts, its easy for costs to rise and get out of hand.

So instead of a taxi from the airport, we got a bus (after 14 hours flying !).

I always love how a disaster can turn into an opportunity. Turned out, we got off the bus about a mile and a half before our correct stop.

That enabled us to walk down Bernardo O’higgins street and really get a feel for the place (and the weather was fantastic).


One we checked into our hotel and got cleaned up, we headed out to explore.

Santiago de Compostela cathedral is right in the centre of the city near Plaza de Armas square.


Inside, its quite spectacular (if only churches were my thing).


Plaza De Armas square with its palm trees.


Wandering around the square, this classic image of 2 people playing chess outdoors.


There had been some unrest (although we found the place to be very safe and we were comfortable the whole time).

That being said, if this is the best they’ve got in crowd control, its just as well there aren’t a lot of demonstrations.

In the UK, this would be in a museum.


More wandering around the streets, we stop for coffee and get some replacement sims for our mobile phones.


A few of the classic sites.

The Municipal Theatre. I wish we’d had longer in Santiago so that we could have watched a show there.


The Bibleotaca public library.


One of the iconic rows of buildings with a more modern structure in the background.


La Moneda Palace.

The former presidential palace where the infamous General Pinochet resided.

It’s here, that the incumbent president Salvadore Allende killed himself on September the 11th, 1973 as General Pinochet took over ruling the country.

He committed suicide so he could not be coerced into backing Pinochet.


Entering from the side, there is an amazing area underneath the palace.

It has a superb coffee shop and lots of interesting things about Chile.


Including this archaeological museum.

We head back to our hotel and enjoy an evening of good food and wine.


With Santiago being so close to the Andes we didn’t want to miss out.

We had arranged a tour and were delighted when our driver and guide arrived at our hotel, and we were the only guests (so a private tour for the price of a public tour).

Our guide is from Chile and since her father is American, her English was superb.


Our first stop on the tour is to a winery and our first look at the Andes mountains.


The San Esteban vinyard shop.

Inside we were supposed to have a wine tasting but as there were only 2 of us,  it wasn’t worth them running one.


Disappointing, but Instead they gave us the 2 bottles of red wine to take away (more of which later).


We head up the hill to relax and enjoy the view. Lots facinating plant life here and several walking trails, like so often I wish there was more time.

Our tour included complimentary Empanadas and the idea was to eat them on this beautiful hillside spot washed down with Chilean wine (unfortunately, we had no glasses, so couldn’t drink the wine, but everything else was perfect.)


We were shown various Petroglyphs, drawings in stone by the Aconcagua people  in the rocks nearby.

They have all been scientifically catalogued and most are at least 10,000 years old.


Now were off to the high Andes.

We drive along the highway connecting Chile and Argentina and stop near the top for a photo opportunity.

It features 29 bends and is nicknamed the snail by the locals.


We arrive at Hotel Portillo – In winter its a ski resort (the oldest one in South America).

The staff lend us some glasses and were able to wander around outside with spectacular views of the Torres del Payne national park.


After this, we sit down for lunch. In my case, its a delicious steak, and were already into our 2nd bottle.

As usual I offered to buy lunch for our guide and driver, but they declined.


The view outside through the window, The Portillo Inca Lagoon. An image that will stay with me to the end of my days.

We head home. The guide and myself both drift off to sleep. The end of another fantastic day, and were only 3 days into our 3 week trip.


Our last day in Santiago and we’ve got a couple of hours free.

We wander around and see this colourful street.


Our target for the morning is Santa Lucia hill.


The fountain in Patio Circular.


We walk up the hill (230 steps), there are forts and ramparts throughout.


An arcade road at the top has shops and nice places to sit.

We have an ice cream and then head back down the hill.


But it’s not all fun.

After this, we get the bus back to the airport.

Our room was clean, the food was nice, but no matter what they do, airport hotels are normaly quite dull (see the view out of our bedroom windows !).

Next day, we fly to Easter Island.

Falklands – Small Island in the middle of no-where (1/2)



When I was 13, Britain was at war with Argentina over control of the Falkland Islands (which the Argentines call the Malvinas).

Every day when I got home from school and turned on the TV, there would be reports of bombing raids, interviews with soldiers and stuff like that.

I don’t glorify war, but it was a key moment in my “growing up”. When I found out the cruise I was on, would visit the Falklands, I was was excited about seeing some of locations I’d seen on the 6 oclock news all those years previously.


Additionally, about 2 years after the war, was a drama over 2 evenings called Tumbledown.

It told the story of the Scots guards and their attack on mount Tumbledown (which once taken would secure a victory for Britain)

So, with 1 day in the Falklands, I decided to split my day with the morning exploring Tumbledown and battle sites with a local guide, and in the afternoon, seeing a bit of the town and finding out what life is like on an isolated Island.


The boat arrived at the Islands (we were visiting East Falkland, though its possible to visit West Falkland as well) around 6am in the morning.

The Falklands are really difficult to get to. The only other route I know, is on a military transport stopping at Ascension Island, and for civilians, it costs about £2000 return.

With 18 decks, our ship was to big to fit in the harbour. So we were transported ashore by tender.


At the main landing point, loads of poeple were milling around (tourism is a major industry in the Falklands and lots of people had booked day trips to see Penguins and the like).


Considering the war was 37 years previous, you would think it was last year.

There are signs everywhere defiantly protesting the independence of the Falklands.

People of the Falklands are called Kelpers (after the seaweed), have their own defence force (very well equipped the the Stayer AUG) and are governed by a council elected from the islanders (Britain maintains a massive military force on the Island but they largely run their own affairs).


For parity, I’ve included this sign which is on show at the harbour of Tiera del Fuego in Argentina (you can see that someone had tried to damage it).

Many of the people on our cruise ship were Argentinian as well as British. Both call the Islands by a different name and using the “wrong” name in front of the “wrong” person can call grave offens. I was very impressed by the cruise staff who refereed to our destination as Stanley (Port Stanley is the capital of the Islands) a compromise that doesn’t offend anyone.


Most of the cruise organised, battle site tours had been booked so I got in touch with a local guy Tony from Discovery Falklands.

I explained the things I wanted to see in an en email a few weeks before our arrival and he was able to assist.

He picked us up and we drove off towards the hills (and since he had a 4×4, we drove a fair way into the hills as well).


We head off and start seeing the area around Tumbledown Mountain (It overlooks Port Stanley)


We saw some Argentine mobile kitchens, left over from the war.


You can see from this picture how bleak the terrain is.

If the weather turns bad here, there is literally no cover. In freezing wind and rain, it mus have been awful.


Tony showed us some ammunition left over from the war.


Some of the improvised “caves” used by the Argentine soldiers who were dug in to defend the mountain.


Technology has moved on. Modern armed forces would use encrypted short wave radio, but back then they used field telephones to communicate between their positions and the wire is still there.


We were showing the route 42 Commando took, along with other area’s like wireless ridge.

It was incredible to be standing in the places I’d seen on tv almost 40 years previously