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The Falkland Islands - Travel

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Fly-Cruise Locations:  Antarctic Peninsula | South Georgia and South Sandwich | South Shetlands | Falklands | Leave from: NZ - Australia | UK | USA
      The Falkland Islands from space - photo - NASA

Falkland Islands - Overseas territory of the UK also claimed by Argentina
Location - Off the south east tip of South America, part of the "Scotia Arc"
Territory - 2 main islands (about 200 in total), West and East Falkland. 12173sq.km. total
Capital - Stanley (Port Stanley)
Population - approx. 2 900
Highest Point - Mt. Usborne 705m (2,312ft)
Languages - English
Ethnic group - British
Currency - Falkland Island Pound FKP



Port Stanley seen from the harbour
The Falkland Islands are one of those places that you're sure you've heard about, but would probably be hard pushed to actually say where they are. In that lies the charm of the Falklands.

The Falkland Islands may be included in a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, they will almost certainly be included in a trip that takes in South Georgia.

They are a place where the modern world has most certainly arrived, but that manages to maintain much of the lure and appeal of a time gone by. A place that seems somehow vaguely familiar but not quite in "that combination" of people, town, scenery, climate and wildlife. The Falklands are sometimes described as being "More British than Britain"

The Falklands are a place of wide open skies, beautiful long white sandy beaches and clear blue seas. Ask someone where the Falklands are and the answer you might get is that they are off the West Coast of Scotland, thousands of miles out in geographical terms, but very close in a lot of other ways.

Where they are not similar is that in the Falklands a walk along the beach may bring you in contact with five different types of penguin, elephant seals, sea lions an assortment of other South American and Antarctic birds such as albatrosses and petrels, and if you're lucky some dolphins or whales will be swimming off shore.

The Falkland Islands are fairly remote and definitely off the beaten track. They're not the kind of place that you end up visiting on your way to somewhere else unless you make a definite choice to do so. They are for adventurous trail blazer and for the traveller who relishes the idea of visiting a distant place that few before them have travelled to.

The capital of the Falklands and the only town of any size is Port Stanley. A charming settlement of houses on a gentle hillside overlooking the magnificent natural harbour. Like many islands the world over, the local availability of building materials dictates the character of the town and Stanley is first noted for the brightly painted corrugated iron roofs to most of the dwellings. There is a fine old church here with an arch made of the jaw bones of four huge whales that give a clue to one of the sources of the islands prosperity in the past.

While in the Falklands you will hear mention of a place called "The Camp". This is the entire rest of the Falkland Islands other than the less than 1% that is Stanley.

Physical environment

 


The Falklands are geologically a part of Patagonia and the Scotia arc that stretches from the southern tip of South America eastwards through the Falklands and on to South Georgia, before arcing south and westwards to the South Sandwich, South Orkney and South Shetland islands to join with the tip of the Antarctic peninsula.

There are two main islands in the Falklands group, they are roughly equal in size and make up almost the total land mass of the islands, others in the group are numerous but very small.

The islands have a cold maritime climate with an average of 2.8° C (37° F) in the winter and 8.3° C (47° F) in the summer. Humidity is constantly high, and rain falls on about 250 days of the year. November is the driest month.

The Falklands are very windswept, and have virtually no trees. The commonest vegetation being grasses and a small shrub with red berries known locally as "Diddle Dee". Attempts have been made to plant trees, but with little success, though some do grow in Stanley where they are able to derive shelter from the buildings.

The main Islands have coastlines that are very indented and provide many natural sheltered harbors, very similar to the Pacific coast of Patagonia.

There is very little pollution of any kind in the Falklands, the beaches  in particular are great clean expanses of pale sand that looks like it belongs in the tropics. Fresh air is almost the only kind there is and away from Stanley the loudest noise in the landscape on a still day can be the sound of your heartbeat.

Why visit the Falkland Islands?
Some Antarctic cruises take in the Falkland Islands and they offer a good introduction, straddling many of the characteristics of the lands and seas both to the south and the north.

Having said this, unless you are a particularly dedicated naturalist or have some other specific reason for visiting, while the Falklands are well worth a few days of your time on a cruise, they are not really worth staying around for much longer for the average tourist.

They have plentiful wildlife that is very approachable and they present in the main an unspoiled landscape.

The remoteness, difficulty of getting there not to mention the costs once there, mean that the Falklands come a second to many other places in the world as a destination in their own right.

Verdict

Well worth a visit if part of an organized cruise, especially if the ship is to visit more than than one location. A very desirable destination for serious birdwatchers.

As a place to visit, the Falklands are the "gateway" to Antarctica
- in between the world as you know it and the wild South.

Pictures of Stanley

 

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2014/15 Itinerary

Antarctic Peninsula, Falklands, South Georgia cruises

Peninsula Cruise
10 days from $5,995
Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula
Remote region
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Air-Cruise
Fly over the Drake Passage then join your ship in Antarctica. Fly both ways or fly one - sail one options
Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands
23 days from $15,995
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Fly / sail 11 days, active adventure
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Antarctica Cruise
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Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula
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9 days from $12,995

Antarctic Peninsula
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12 days from $6,295

Across the Circle
Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Circle, Historic Areas
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11 days from $7,100
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Antarctic Peninsula, Penguins, Seals, Whales, Historic sites
13 days from $11,073

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Ross Sea in the Wake of Scott and Shackleton
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30 days from $19,500
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