The Falkland Islands
A slice of Old England 8,000 miles from the UK
Information about The Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands (known in Argentina as Islas Malvinas) is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean. Most people may be familiar with them because of the conflict that was fought here by armed forces from Argentina and the UK in 1982, but there is so much more to the Falklands.
Inhabited since 1764, these remote islands have been colonized and claimed by many countries - France and Spain have claimed them (and Argentina since its formation and former Spanish colony) although it’s the British descendants who make up the majority of the islands’ 4,000 population. As a British Overseas Territory, the Falklands are self-governing, but the UK is responsible for defense and foreign affairs. Argentina still disputes the sovereignty of the islands they call the Malvinas.
Made up of two large islands (East and West Falkland) and over 700 smaller islands and islets, the Falklands are as beautiful as they are rugged and remote. Despite its history as a base for South Atlantic whalers and sealers, and more recently extensive sheep farming, the Falkland Islands have retained great biodiversity, and modern conservation has ensured many previously struggling wild species are now returning.
The Falklands is home to important populations of albatross, having some of the largest breeding sites in the world. They are also home to the rare striated caracara, 63 species of nesting land bird, and 5 penguin species. Seals, whales, dolphins, and other marine life are also abundant. Finally, the rugged landscape itself has a stark beauty, and the islanders, although hardy, offer everyone the warmest of welcomes, usually accompanied by a hearty Falklands Tea.
Fishing and farming account for the vast majority of the Falklands Islands income, although tourism is increasingly important. Many of the farms on the islands are now managed with wildlife conservation in mind, and the Falklands is a wildlife management success story.
Although most ships visit Stanley (usually for a day), the main focus on 'expedition' cruises are the outer islands with all the wildlife, and some of the special breeding birds like Black-browed Albatross and Southern Rockhopper Penguins and some Patagonia specialists like the Striated Caracara. Also bear in mind, with cruises that also go to South Georgia and the peninsula, only 2 or 3 days are normally spent in the Falklands, although some cruises spend longer here.
Interesting facts about The Falkland Islands
The Falklands is home to 5 species of penguin. You're bound to spot Magellanic, Rockhoppers, and Gentoos, as well as King Penguins in the world at a few locations. Macaroni Penguins also breed at a few locations.
But also appreciate the range of other wildlife that can be encountered and, before you join the cruise, try learn about the range of species that can be encountered, including marine mammals, seabirds, shorebirds, birds of prey, and terrestrial songbirds. With the range of birds birders should consider bring a filed guide to the Falklands.
The Falklands has the largest breeding Black-browed Albatross population at various locations, Southern Rockhopper Penguins, as well large breeding colonies on rat free islands of the Sooty Shearwater.
The outer islands are one of the best place to see the Straited Caracara or Johnny Rook, that is difficult to see in the rest of Patagonia, restricted to isolated islands. It is a bird of prey that has the niche of a crow. They are very inquisitive and may come up and tap you with their feet is you sit on the ground. But do not leave anything lying on the ground, such as that favourite toy mascot you brought with you. They are likely to fly off with it!