Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flying FIGAS to Sea Lion Island

Our plane and pilot for Sea Lions
From Stanley we caught a flight to Sea Lion Island, which is at the South Easterly edge of the islands.  Flights here are provided by FIGAS, which is the Falkland Islands Government Air Service.  They have a small fleet of Britten-Norman Islander planes, each of which can take up to six passengers.  The scheduling of the flights is based on demand, but generally one plane goes around some of the islands clockwise and another anti clockwise, picking up and dropping off at different islands along the way.  They often then do a second trip, normally going via different islands again.

We had booked our place on a plane some months ago, but the flight itself was only confirmed the night before.  We discovered which one we were on by listening to the radio at 18:15, when they announce the flights for the next day, reading out the names of who is being picked up and dropped off at each stop.  We were on the second set, so had to check in at 10:30.

Although some FIGAS flights do stop at the Mount Pleasant Airport, Stanley has its own little airstrip closer to town.  When we arrived a the building we were checked in, weighed, and given little luggage tags to identify that our bags were going to Sea Lion Island, all by the same woman. A couple of guys were baggage handlers, taking all the bags and any extra cargo, and driving it over to the plane once it arrived.  We were met by the pilot who took us out to the plane and made sure we were all buckled in.  And this was the big and busy terminal!

Sea Lion Island from the plane
There were just the two of us on this flight and we were headed directly to Sea Lions.  Thirty five minutes later, having travelled over sea and very flat and desolate islands with little signs of life, we reached the shoreline of Sea Lions and could see lots of little blacks and white speckles on the beaches - our first sighting of the penguins.
As we approached the grassy airstrip next to the lodge, a couple of horses were ambling along the edge, but the pilot made a good landing and we were there. The lodge manager, Jenny, met us at the plane and took our bags.  It was obviously rush hour here, as another plane was coming in to land from the other direction with four other new guests.

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