The Falkland Islands : introduction
We have current Falkland Islands articles here: Ed's blog
The Falkland Islands (Isla Malvinas) are in the South Atlantic ocean, approximately 300 miles east off the Argentine coast (a one and a half hour flight from Punta Arenas in Chile). The islands are a self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, independent except for defence and foreign affairs (which remain the responsibility of the British Government). The people are mainly of British descent and traditionally live in small sheep farming communities.
The rich waters surrounding the Falkland Islands attract spectacular birds and wildlife, particularly penguins. King, Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins all breed on the islands (and you may see Macaroni penguins also). Sharing the white sandy beaches with the penguins are elephant seals and sea lions. There are also 200 species of birds, ranging from the tiny tussac bird to the black-browed albatross. There are also many striated caracaras (Johnny rooks), which are very rare elsewhere. Porpoises and dolphins are often seen in the bays, as are whales. Diddle-dee berries are endemic: these tiny, red, bittersweet berries grow on the Diddle-dee shrub which bears fruit in the autumn, and are often used to make jam.
Fishing in the Falklands is very rewarding. The native mullet can grow to over 20lb; brown trout were introduced to Falkland rivers in the 1940's and quickly established themselves - catches of over 10lbs are common - especially for sea trout. There is a resident zebra (or Falkland) trout which is protected. The trout season runs from 1 September to 30 April, and most areas operate a catch-and-release policy.
There are also places of interest related to the 1982 conflict.
LAN fly to Mount Pleasant from from Santiago via Punta Arenas once a week, on Saturdays only. The MoD also operates twice weekly flights from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Getting around the islands by air is with FIGAS' (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) 10-seater aircraft. On most islands there is only one place to stay, usually with limited rooms.
Climate and when to go
The best months to visit are October to March. The climate is cool and dominated by westerly winds - long periods of calm are rare except in winter. The height of the summer is when it is windiest, but days are longer. The Falklands are the same distance from the south pole as London is from the north pole but on average enjoy more sunshine than the UK. While the weather can be unpredictable temperatures vary little throughout the year.
“The trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica was exceptional, truly the holiday of a lifetime, and confirmed, for us at least, that going by small ship was exactly the right way to see these places. Although we were unlucky with the weather at times we were incredibly lucky when we needed to be and managed to land at two of the hardest places on the trip – Elephant Island (where Shackleton left his men while he sailed off to South Georgia to get help) and Baily Head (on the outside of Deception Island, where we saw 200,000 pairs of chinstrap penguins in a hidden arena). Thanks for making it all work so smoothly - we still need to sort through the 3,000'ish photos of penguins and other assorted animals and 13 hours of video that needs to be culled to half an hour!” - NM