Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas

The Falkland Islands, 500 km (310 mi) east of the Argentine Patagonia coast, are a somewhat unlikely paradise, but for adventurous travelers who love to explore virgin land full of wildlife they are. With more penguins that people – almost 500,000 breeding pairs of penguins to a mere 2,967 people – along with lots of other migratory and mammals, both on sea and land, the Falkland Islands provide plenty of chances to hop off the tourist track and do a bit of independent discovery.

Despite a small populace, the Falkland Islands have a turbulent history and the marks of which, in the form of landmines, still remain a sad reminder of the tug-of-war between the United Kingdom and Argentina. Land disputes have raged since 1766. Today, Argentina claims the islands their own, leading the United Nations to recommend use of both their Spanish and English name. The war between Argentina and the UK on the islands ended in 1982 but the dispute was never settled.

People and Economy
The population is English-speaking and the cost of living is similar to that in the UK. You will find Falkland Islanders to be incredibly friendly and welcoming. The two main industries are fishing and wool production. You can buy hand-spun and knitted garments in the capital. Deep-sea fishing is incredibly popular, and fishing licenses are now being soldto tourists. The income from license-sales is a major part of the economy.

Of the over 200 islands, the two biggest and the most populated are East Falkland and West Falkland. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland along with the international airport. There are four other airports, one of which is paved, on other islands. Flights are expensive, but the only way to reach some of the more remote spots on the islands. Otherwise you can travel by boat.

The Camp
Outside of the capital, the islands are referred to as the Camp. Tourist facilities are scarce and pricey, but some farms have opened up rooms to serve as bed and breakfasts.

Wildlife is best seen in ‘the camp’. There are five penguin species that regularly breed on the islands: the Magellanic, rockhopper, gentoo, macaroni and king. Other birds include gulls, hawks, black-browed albatross, falcons, peregrine, oystercatchers, striated and crested caracaras, sheld geese, steamer ducks, swans and more. Sea mammals like elephant seals, sea lions, fur seals, six species of dolphin, killer whales, and orca whales have all been spotted on or around the islands.

Climate and Weather
The best time to visit the islands is from October to March when the temperatures slightly heat up – the highest it ever gets is 24°C (75°F) and daylight hours stretch on and on. The weather is always damp and winds are always strong, so dress wisely, using waterproof clothing like fleece, Gortex or polypropylene.

All information on Falklan Islands/Islas Malvinas was written and researched by Dawn Wohlfarth