I walk along a clifftop and catch sight of a massive sea lion sitting majestically on a rock, his mane glistening in the crashing waves. On the beach his wives and pups lie fast asleep. A magnificent spectacle, surely, but more significant is the possibility—probability—that no other human has ever seen him before.
This is the Falklands—a treasure trove of wildlife, solitude, excitement, and, ultimately, inspiration. To rise at 4:30 a.m. and watch a beach gradually come alive can only be described as magic. Pairs of sandpipers perkily nip along in search of breakfast and a thousand penguins march in a straight line toward the sea, their breasts bright pink as they reflect the richness of the rising sun. Killer whales come close to shore to try and feed on unsuspecting baby seals. This is nature at full throttle; it is stressful and dazzling at the same time.
During the summer the weather is sunny and windy and the air so fresh you want to bottle it. To go to bed with the window slightly open and hear the distant sound of penguins is so comforting, you sleep like a baby.
After my first visit last January, I returned to London in such an excited state. Exhilarated, calm, and rested, I realized I had experienced one of the greatest escapes of my life. I would definitely go back and I so wanted others to enjoy it, too. It will never be an easy place to reach. I flew to Santiago de Chile, on to Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia, and from there to the Falklands. To arrive somewhere after a short flight is so easy, so ordinary. What a thrill it is to go off on what is a true adventure.
Gordon Campbell Gray, proprietor of London's One Aldwych and Antigua's Carlisle Bay, plans to open a small wildlife lodge in the Falklands.