Falkland Islands Travel Guide
The Falkland Islands are a remote archipelago of 778 Islands situated in the South Atlantic. Famed for their incredible birdlife, the Falklands are a must see for any wildlife watcher or bird spotter.
Place: Falkland Islands
Where: South Atlantic Ocean 300 miles from the coast of southern Patagonia.
Remoteness: 8 / 10
Overview: A British overseas territory which consists of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland. Numerous small islands surround them. The territory is disputed with Argentina who fought a short but bloody war with the UK in 1982.
200 species of bird can be found here. This includes 400,00 mating pairs of penguins. The climate of the islands is cold and windy with interchangeable weather. I witnessed 4 seasons in one day regularly.
The population of the Falkland Islands is 3,398 (2016). Stanley is the capital where the main population lives. Outside of Stanley is rural and is referred to as ‘camp’ by the locals.
A deserted beach (apart from the hundreds of Gentoo penguins I encountered) on Sea Lion Island
Personally, the main draw of the Falkland Islands is the abundance of wildlife to be encountered here. Although the popularity of the Falklands as a tourist destination is increasing, it still receives only a small amount of visitors per year. These are predominately from cruise ships who tend to do shorter stays. I found it possible to escape the other visitors with ease. On Sea Lion Island I found myself on a deserted beach observing penguins, elephant seals and sea lions. To be able to get that close to nature was a dream come true for me.
Get up close to King Penguins at Volunteer Point
The islands are home to five types of penguins (King, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Gentoo and Macaroni). The Falklands have the largest population of Black-browed albatross on the planet. There is also incredible marine life including killer whales, dolphins, southern elephant seals, sea lions, whales and leopard seals.
You can see some of the wildlife I was lucky enough to encounter in this video. The Falkland Islands shots run until 00:37 and show King Penguins, Gentoo Penguins and elephant seals.
The history of the 1982 war is also an attraction for visitors. It is possible to do guided tours of the battlegrounds on the hills above Stanley. A lot of the military equipment was abandoned after the war and is still visible to see.
Abandoned military equipment from the 1982 war
What to do on the Falkland Islands
- Take a day trip from Stanley to Volunteer Point and visit the largest breeding group of king penguins on the islands.
- Take the FIGAS plane from Stanley out to Sea Lion Island and see Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, elephant seals, sealions and if you are lucky killer whales.
- Find the Bodie Creek Bridge which is believed to be the world’s most southerly suspension bridge (hint: it’s few miles southwest of Goose Green and you might have to ask a local to help you find it.)
- Hike to the Cape Pembroke Lighthouse seven miles to the east of Stanley.
- Visit the war memorials on Mount Longdon behind Stanley.
- Check out the display of whale skeletons created by anti-whaling campaigner Mike Butcher. (Located on Dairy Paddock Road, Stanley).
The Bodie Creek Bridge
A FIGAS plane that interlinks the islands
A stone run made up of hard quartzite blocks which is unique to the geology of the Falkland Islands
How to get to the Falkland Islands
Option 1: LATAM airlines operates a flight once a week from Santiago in Chile via Punta Arenas to Mount Pleasant Airfield on East Falkland. Santiago is well connected with direct flights to Europe. This is the most cost effective way of flying to the Falkland Islands but is also the most time consuming. Once a month LATAM fly via Rio Gallegos in Argentina.
Option 2: The fastest but most expensive option is to fly directly from the UK on the Ministry of Defence operated flight. This operates twice a weekly flights from Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. It is possible to book on this flight as a civilian. Please contact the Falkland Islands Government Office for booking. The return fare is currently listed at £2,222.00 for a return.
It is possible to visit the Falkland Islands on a cruise ship often as part of a longer journey around the chilean fjords or Antartica. Please check back shortly for my Falkland Islands Cruise Guide.
Surf Bay – the nearest beach to Stanley
How to travel around the Falklands
The most exciting form of transport is the small FIGAS (Falkland Island Government Air Service) plane. This connects East Falkland and West Falkland to the outer islands. It offers fantastic views. You can do a round robin flight which is a great way to see the islands from above if you are short on time. You can find out more on their website here
A vehicle ferry connects East Falkland to West Falkland. You can find fares and schedules here.
It is possible to hire a vehicle from here. The roads on the Falklands are largely unpaved and 4 x 4 driving experience is recommended before hiring a vehicle.
An unpaved road outside of Stanley
The Falklands is known for its interchangeable weather
When to go:
The Falkland Islands have a temperate climate. The best months to visit are November until February which is the summertime in the southern hemisphere. The average high temperature is 13°C. I visited once in February and experienced great weather for a few of the days.
It is still possible to visit in March and April which is the autumn. Some of the wildlife will be starting to leave at this time.
The winter is May through until September. I have also visited in August and I wouldn’t recommend it. The weather is wet and windy and there isn’t much wildlife to be seen.
October is the spring and is still cool with an average high of around 9°C.
Even in the summer months the weather is interchangeable and windy so come dressed prepared.
The Falklands in August
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse in the summer
The silhouetted wreck of the Jhelum in Stanley dates back to 1870