The Falkland Islands: a surprising holiday destination

February 14, 2013 5:25 pm


Falkland IslandsThe Falkland Islands are a group of 778 islands, over 400 miles of the east coast of Argentina and 850 from the Antarctic Circle. The two main islands are East Island (where the capital Stanley is located) and West Island. The Falklands are a United Kingdom Overseas territory; however the only involvement they have with the day to day running of the Islands are in defence and foreign affairs. Consequently, unlike in most other countries of South America, the official language is English.

 Weather

The weather of the Falkland Islands is colder than the UK weather, despite being as far south of the equator as London is north. The highest temperatures rarely top 25 degrees centigrade (74 Fahrenheit) even in the summer months between January and February, and in winter they drop to around -1 degrees centigrade (30 degrees Fahrenheit.) This range of temperatures means your holiday will never be too warm or too cold. The hours of sunshine are longer, too.

Falklands War

It is impossible to talk about the Falkland Islands without mentioning the war. On the 2 April 1982 the Argentinean military invaded the Islands and remained there for 10 weeks, until they were defeated by the British. The Argentinians surrendered on 14 June. This date is now known as Liberation Day. A ceremony is held annual to mark this event in the Falkland Capital, Stanley. Despite the conflict lasting only 74 days 255 British service personnel, the Falkland civilians, and 649 Argentinian troops lost their lives in the war.

San Carlos on East Falkland is where the British first landed in 1982, and is now the final resting place of some of the fallen. In addition, there’s a museum which houses items of historical importance. The Argentinian cemetery can also be found on East Falkland.

There are tours to important military sites, if you had friends or close relations who took part in the conflict. Fitzroy settlement has memorials to the Welsh Guards and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and a nearby farm can take you further afield if you wish.

Two other islands, Pebble Island and Sea Lion island, have tributes to other regiments. They aren’t large enough to spend your entire holiday on, but are definitely worth taking a trip to.

 

 

Stanley 

falklands mapThe capital of the Falkland Islands is Stanley. It is also the only city on the whole of the Islands. It is situated in the far east of East Falkland.

Stanley is full of history. The original inhabitants of the Falklands made their homes here, and their original timber built houses are still around today.

Government house is the most photographed in the city. Although the inside isn’t open to the public, the outside of the governor of the Island’s house is beautiful stonework. Other stunning architecture can be seen on Jubilee Villas, Stanley Cottage and Marmont Row.

Christ Church cathedral in Stanley is unusual because of the arch made of whale jaw outside it. It was built in 1933 to celebrate 100 years of the UK ruling the Falklands.

One of the more sombre tours to take part in in Stanley is the battlefield. Guides, many of whom were personally involved in the 1982 war, can tell you their first-hand memories and bring the land and sea battles to life.

Stanley is the shopping and sporting hub of the Islands. Teeing off to play golf here means you’ll be playing on the world’s most southerly golf course.

Every December there is a horse racing meeting. Other sporting activities you can participate in on your holiday are swimming, indoor tennis, full-bore target shooting, cricket, running, football, Bridge and amateur dramatics.

The sea winds make sailing, surfing, wind surfing and jet skiing a popular hobby for locals and tourists alike. You can easily sail round the smaller islands in a day, and get closer to the Falkland Island wildlife at the same time.

 

Agriculture

Farming is a very important source of income to many Falklands residents. Farmland makes up 90% of the total Falklands area.

Sheep farming has been on the islands for over 150 years. You can visit working farms to discover the reality of this profession. There are over 5000 sheep on the Islands in total.

 

Falkland penguinsWildlife

The wildlife on Stanley is one of the best on the whole of the Islands. Even from just standing on the beach you can see dolphins, porpoises and penguins swimming peacefully in the sea. The five different breeds of penguins are Rockhopper, Magellanic, Gentoo, King and Macaroni.

Another famous bird that has their home on the Falkland Islands is the albatrosses. 80% of the globes mating colony of Black Browed albatrosses are on the Falkland Islands. To see them you’ll have to travel to remote and sometimes other inaccessible places, but the traveling is worth it, as a glimpse of these, or of the Petrel birds  which are another endangered species, will surely be the highly of any avid bird watcher’s holiday.

If you’re really lucky, you might even spot whales. Their numbers have increased dramatically in recent years. The most common species are Sperm, Orcas and Sei Whales.

 

Sea Lion Island

Sea Lion Island is the place for sea lion spotting. Over 500 elephant seals descend on Sea Lion Island to breed every year. These adorable creatures occasionally travel from Antarctica to have their young. These are the Ross Seals and the Leopard Seals.

Fur seals are the rarest of all the seals, so you’ll have to travel to New Island to see these. Elephant Seals and Sea Lions are found on many of the Falkland Islands. These mammals are very photogenic, and as there’s so many, you’re sure to spot at least one on your holiday.

Fishing

The Falklands is a great place to visit if you’re after a fishing holiday. Because of the remote location of the islands, it is one of the few spots on earth which can be classed as “wilderness fishing.” Fish that weigh over five pounds are caught regularly. Brown Trout and Mullet are the fish to be found at the end of your hook in Murrell River in Stanley.

A holiday on the Falklands really is a home away from home, but without the unpredictable British weather and the large corporations such as Mcdonalds and Tesco that are the fabric of UK life. The Falkland cars drive on the left, the locals speak fluent English and they recognise the Queen as the head of state. Travelling here may bring back bad memories for some, but for everyone else, it will only create good ones.

 

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