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FALKLAND ISLANDS

 

  
 
Coast View

 

This series of islands, two main and 700-plus smaller, 350 - 400 miles southeast of the South American coast, represents one of the few remaining outposts of a once mighty Great Britain.  The Falkland Islands are a UK Overseas Territory.  Seven out of ten permanent residents are of British descent.  Falklanders enjoy full British citizenship. 

 

The Falklands enjoyed relative obscurity until April 2, 1982, when Argentina, claiming sovereignty over the Falklands, created a conflict with the United Kingdom by engaging in a short-lived invasion.  The conflict lasted ten weeks.  England responded seven weeks later.  On arrival, the British discovered several islanders imprisoned.  Argentina surrendered on June 14, 1982.  Argentina’s casualties totaled 649 soldiers and Great Britain, 255.

 

The citizenry chose to continue under British rule when threatened by Argentina.  Great Britain maintains a presence of military force for defense purposes.  To this day, there is only one daily flight from Punta Arenas, Argentina.  Shipwrecks litter the coastline. 

 

  

 

The Falklands are rich in wildlife, possess stunning natural beauty scenery, and are in many respects superior to Antarctica in wildlife quantity and diversity.  The islands are a popular cruising stop during the summer months. 

 

The Falklands are scarcely populated with only 2,379 residents plus 1,200 military personnel, grossly outnumbered by the 700,000 penguins and 600,000 sheep!  Talk about a safe place to visit: there is virtually no crime.  Overall, the islands are virtually untouched and unspoiled by tourism.  The people are hospitable, there are many excellent white sand beaches, the scenery spectacular, and the wildlife extraordinary.  Tourism has been slow to develop due to limited island infrastructure.

 

The majority of the Falkland’s annual visitors arrive via cruise ship (60,000-plus annually).  Less than 2,000 visitors annually arrive by flight and visit as exclusive, land-only based tourists. 

 

DOCUMENTATION: Valid, in force U.S. passport and proof of having medical evacuation insurance.

 

 

 

Believe it, this is one locale where you do not want to become seriously ill.  You are 3,000 miles from the nearest major medical hospital.  $200,000 is the MINIMUM cost of an aeromedical emergency medical evacuation.  Unless you wish to sell the farm, purchase adequate and proper medical insurance protection before even remotely considering a visit. 

 

LANGUAGE: English

 

CURRENCY: British pound or the Falkland standard pound.  U.S. currency is widely accepted. 

 

THE TIME OF DAY: The Falklands are the same as Eastern Standard Daylight Savings Time. 

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS: 

June 14: Liberation Day

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS: 

Most events occur in late December, sporting events. 

 

THE BEST TIME TO VACATION IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS: 

PEAK SEASON: October through April, the Falkland’s summer months, provide long daylight hours.

 

December and January are the best months for wildlife viewing.

 

   

 

November to February is the best bird watching season. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS: 

The island’s road system is quite limited.  Be vigilant and avoid the fenced, well-marked active mine fields - there are 101 of them for national defense purposes around the island. 

 

Dress in the Falklands is casual: dress appropriately for outdoor adventure activities with good comfortable walking shoes or boots.  It can get mighty cold here - leave your bikinis home, and instead bring blankets! 

 

British influence is everywhere: Union Jack flags, British vehicles, red double-decker bus, red-telephone booths, and colored tin roofs.

 

Commercial fishing is the main industry. 

 

Naturalists will be pleased by checking out the abundant wildlife: 700,000 penguins, fifty species of birds including the world’s largest colony of black bowed albatross, cormorants, commerson’s dolphins, jackass penguins, in fact, five types of penguins including magellanic penguins, rockhopper penguins, huge colonies of king penguins, also visitors can view various seals species including the elephant, fur, leopard seals, and killer whales.  And let’s not forget the 600,000 sheep.  


King Penguin on a sheep farm

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Visit Bluff Cove Lagoon with its museum of the Falklands history and culture.  It is also the home to over 2,000 Gentoo, Rockhopper, King and Magellanic penguins. 

 

King Penguins

  

 

You may wish to visit Shackleton’s Grave. 

 

Much of the island is devoted to the raising of cattle. 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS: 

Falkland stamps are very collectible.

 

 

 

PORT STANLEY (EAST FALKLAND):

 

  

 

Port Stanley is a quiet English seaside village of a fish and chip stand and souvenir shops.  It is the southernmost capital of the world.  No traffic rush hour problems here: the town’s population is under 2,000.

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN PORT STANLEY: 

Everywhere outside of Stanley is referred to as “the Camp.”  Most of the attractions are within walking distance of the public jetty and cruise dock. 

 

The UK maintains a military presence in and around Port Stanley. 

 

Stanley Harbor is quite picturesque.  The brightly colored cottages, pubs and red telephone boxes create a small town feel - appropriate considering the space population. 

  

Few wildlife species are more adored than the comical penguins. 


Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) walking on the beach.

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: Penguin Paradise: A variety of guide-led, day excursions are offered to view the dolphins and birds.  The penguins (King) are at Volunteer Point.  Volunteer Point is also a birders destination.

 

Cormorant, king, rockhopper, macaroni, and gento penguins are present at Cape Tamar and Bluff Cove.  Magellanic penguins are found at the National Nature Reserve of Stanley Common and Cape Pembroke. 

 

The penguins are not the only wildlife act in town: they share the Falklands with elephant seals, sea lions, and an estimated 80% of the world’s black-browed albatross.  There are even turkey vultures! 

 

When not engaged in wildlife viewing, you might wish to try your luck at fishing or go hiking.

 

TASTY (?) DINING IN PORT STANLEY: 

Cafes are proud of their home-baked cakes, tea, and crumpets: tea breaks.

 

 

 

Falkland’s Brasserie serves lamb (duh - you might expect considering the island’s 600,000 sheep population), upland goose pate, beef, mutton, squid (yuck), and locally-caught Patagonian toothfish (?), hake, mussels, oysters, squid, snow crab and salmon. 

 

Chilean wine is popular - notice, not Argentina wine.  Organic locally grown vegetables are available.