The Falkland Islands are a stylish addition to many Antarctic voyages, but they’re well worth exploring on their own for their magnificent seal, penguin, and albatross populations. Enclosed by the South Atlantic, the islands lie 490km north-east of Patagonia. Two main islands, West Falkland and East Falkland, and more than 700 smaller ones cover 12000+ sq km. Alternately claimed and settled by Spain, France, Britain, and Argentina, the Falklands have been an overseas territory of the U.K. since 1833.
About 60% of Falklanders are native-born, some drawing their ancestry back five or more generations. Today more than 80% of the 3000 Falklanders live in Stanley, and about 1200 British army lives at Mt Pleasant base. The rest of the islanders live in ‘Camp,’ the name assigned to all of the Falklands outside Stanley.
Flora and fauna in the Falkland:
The most prevalent reason to visit is for the spectacular beauty and flora and fauna. Protection is high on the Islands’ agenda. Marine and bird species are the most widespread fauna and include five penguins species, four seals, petrels, albatross, Logger Duck (the Falkland Flightless Steamer duck), other duck species, hawks, geese, and falcons. The (Johnny Rook) Striated Caracara is a unique bird of prey found only on the Falkland Islands. Dolphins and Porpoises are often sighted with the occasional sighting of whales.
How to reach the Falkland Islands?
International flights arrive at the Mount Pleasant airport, an army base, and about 56 km from Stanley. The only carrier to use this airport is LATAM (formerly LAN, LanChile) on a regular flight from Santiago de Chile via Punta Arenas, Rio Gallegos (once a month). The Royal Air Force also engages 2 flights weekly from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire in the U.K. on the South Atlantic Airbridge; Flights are subjected to military priorities, though civilians can purchase tickets for available seats.
Big cruise ships stop at Stanley’s port during the summer. These boats may also halt at some of the remote islands. While cruise ships can arrive at Stanley, be prepared to come aground on a zodiac, also called a rigid inflatable boat, when arriving on most other islands. It is also common for expedition ships en route to Antarctica to stop at the Falkland Islands.
Things to see in the Falkland Islands:
Falkland Island Wildlife
People visit Falkland Island for Flora and Fauna. Colonies of albatrosses and penguins, sea lions, over a dozen species of whales, dolphins, and an extensive variety of birds (approximately 150 species) can be seen throughout the isles. The Cobb’s Wren and the Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck are both unique to the Falklands.
Probably the most popular are the six species of penguins – including the Gentoo, King, Macaroni, Rockhopper, Magellanic, and Royal – which can be observed in several locations across the islands.
There are also some bizarre insects, including the Queen of the Falklands Fritillary butterfly and 150 native flowering plants, 12 of which are found nowhere else globally.
1914 Battle of the Falklands Memorial
This column, just past Government House, celebrates a WWI naval engagement. On the 8th of December, 1914, nine British ships, carefully refueling in Stanley, immediately responded to five German cruisers’ sightings that had confused them earlier in southern Chile. The British sank four of the German ships in the battle, in which 1871 Germans sadly lost their lives.
Perhaps Stanley’s most illustrated landmark, sprawling Government House, has housed London-appointed governors since 1845 and was temporarily occupied by Argentine commander Menendez during the 1982 invasion. Government House is introduced back about 50m from Ross Rd West by a green flower garden overlooking the glassed-in conservatory. The house has a fascinating architectural history with various revisions.
1982 Falklands War Memorial
In front of the Secretariat on Ross Rd, this wall bears the 252 British service personnel names and three Falklands noncombatants who died in the Falklands War. Created by a Falkland Islander living overseas, it was paid for by state subscription and built with volunteer labor. Beautiful ceremonies are held here every on the 14th of June.
What to eat and drink in the Falkland Islands?
Meals in the Falklands are traditionally British. Roast Beef, Fish and chips, tea, and mutton are standard fares. There are some Argentinian influences, such as Cazuela and Milanesa. While in camp, many of the lodges cater home-cooked meals in substantial portions, and their food is usually better than is found in Stanley’s eateries and pubs. However, Stanley does have decent restaurants.
While most items in the Falklands are costly due to import costs, there are zero taxes on alcohol, making beer prices reasonably cheap. Lodges and pubs offer a large-scale selection, although most drinks usually come from a bottle or car rather than a tap.