25 January 2012
Passage to Tristan da Cunha

We have just returned from an amazing 32-day cruise, organised by Noble Caledonia on board the 5-star expedition ship Island Sky. It took us and 90-odd lucky passengers to places I certainly never thought we'd be able to visit.

We flew out to join the ship on the Cape Verde islands, with a day to explore Santa Antao.  A few days at sea took us to Ascension – a fascinating island, sadly changed hugely by human impacts but still with lots of interest.  The we sailed on for two days on St Helena, a beautiful island to which I'd love to return – preferably before the airport is built, because that will change it beyond recognition.

We were scheduled then to have 5 days on Tristan da Cunha, the remotest inhabited island in the world.  The weather truncated that slightly to 3 days, but we were able to land on Nightingale Island and see Northern Rockhopper Penguins, Fur Seals and breeding Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, and had two days to explore Tristan itself.  I had the huge privilege and pleausre of being Santa Claus to the Tristanian children, before joining our friends on the island for an amazing feast of stuffed mutton.

We then set off for South Georgia, but had to abort this because of unseasonally severe weather, and headed towards the Falklands instead (celebrating Hogmanay in style at sea, which was a first for me). We had an extra day on the Falklands, so as well as time in Stanley we were fortunate to visit Saunders, Carcass, New and West Point Islands, and see loads of Black-browed Albatrosses, Imperial Shags, and Magellanic, Gentoo, Southern Rockhopper and King Penguins, as well as a solitary Macaroni Penguin, bringing our species tally to 6.

It was an utterly memorable trip, which produced hundreds of photographs, some of which I will put onto www.above-and-below.com at some future date.

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