Sher of Sher She Goes recently returned from the trip of a lifetime: cruising around the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. We’ve always wondered what a journey to the 7th continent looks like so today’s post is a look at the first stop: the Falkland Islands!
The Falkland Islands
Located roughly 300 nautical miles east of Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina the Falkland Islands are divided by the Falkland Sound into two large island masses named, simply enough, West and East Falkland.
Here are 5 epic places to explore in the Falklands, whether you enjoy landscapes, city life or adorable wildlife!
History of the Falklands
Written accounts suggest the Falkland Islands were first sighted during the early 16th century, perhaps as early as 1520 following a voyage by famed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
The next 300 years or so were remarkably unstable for the Falkland Islands as the English, French, Spanish, Argentines, and American whalers variously laid claim to political or, in the case of the whalers, de facto control of the Falklands.
In fact, for 10 months in 1765, the British and French were developing settlements on and had declared sovereignty of the Falkland Islands with complete ignorance of the other’s existence!
When the other imperialist nations gradually became less enthusiastic about their settlements, the British seized their moment and officially declared the Falkland Islands as British territories in 1833.
Why Visit the Falklands
Today, the Falkland Islands remain under British control and are famous for their rich history, stunning landscapes, and incredible amount of bird and marine mammal biodiversity.
Getting to the Falkland Islands isn’t easy – most visitors arrive via cruise ship or the weekly flight from Santiago, Chile – but, once you’re there, the incredible amount of sights belies the territory’s modest size. We visited by way of an Antarctic cruise with Poseidon Expeditions, journeying 20 days around the most uninhabited places of the world.
Having completed the journey, here are 5 of the most fantastic sights in the Falklands!
1. West Point Island
Located in the archipelago’s far northwest corner, West Point Island offers quintessential Falkland Islands scenery: deep blue seas, towering cliffs, and more birds and penguins than you could possibly ever count!
After landing via Zodiac boat and hiking for about 20 minutes, we stumbled upon something that left us speechless: thousands of black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins crowded near a cliff overlooking the shimmering South Atlantic.
Despite standing mere inches from each other, the albatrosses and penguins couldn’t be more different. Whereas the enormous albatrosses (whose wingspans average over 7 feet) are calmly sitting, the rockhopper penguins, which rarely stand taller than 2 feet, are invariably waddling, hopping, or cutely bickering with each other!
2. Carcass Island
Named for the British Royal Navy vessel that first surveyed the island in 1766, Carcass Island lies just north of West Point Island.
Carcass Island is only accessible via Zodiac boat (expedition cruise vessels visiting the Falkland Islands typically have several Zodiacs onboard), but those lucky enough to visit will witness an incredible amount of wildlife around every corner.
The white sand beaches of Carcass Island are where several Magellanic and gentoo penguin colonies call home. Because Carcass Island is much flatter than West Point, visitors can draw much closer to the penguins (while still maintaining a respectful distance), who can often be seen swimming, marching, and huddling for warmth.
Carcass Island is also a birder’s paradise, as photographers can capture the variety of ducks, geese, falcons, wrens, finches, ovenbirds, and albatrosses that populate the island’s beaches and hills!
3. Port Stanley Post Office
Overflowing with brightly-colored homes, shipwrecks, and historical monuments, the bustling metropolis of Stanley (population: 2,460) is the capital of the Falkland Islands.
If you’re visiting the Falkland Islands, odds are you’re far away from home – which is exactly why you should visit the Port Stanley Post Office and send your loved ones a postcard they’ll never forget!
Providing normal postal services as well as souvenir stamps and placards, the Port Stanley Post Office is the perfect place to either contact home or acquire unforgettable keepsakes from your sub-Antarctic journey.
4. Gypsy Cove
With blinding white sand and crisp azure seas, the landscape evokes the Caribbean tropics far more than the remote sub-Antarctic.
Such is the magic of Gypsy Cove, a wildlife haven lying roughly 5 miles outside Stanley. Sheltered from the harsh Falkland Island winds, Gypsy Cove supports colonies of Magellanic penguins, oyster catchers, herons, plovers, ducks, and geese.
While the Falkland Islands may sound like little more than birds and penguins, nothing could be further from the truth. The area immediately surrounding Gypsy Cove proves this, as remnants of World War II weaponry and the shipwreck of the 223-foot British barque Lady Elizabeth lie just short walks away.
5. Christ Church Cathedral
Due to the Falkland Islands’ size and remote location, most of the island’s infrastructure relies heavily on imported raw materials.
These hurdles apparently didn’t faze Sir Arthur Blomfield, who designed the world’s southernmost Anglican cathedral 126 years ago and exclusively used locally-sourced stone and brick during construction.
While the cathedral’s interior – complete with historical artifacts, looming stained-glass windows, and a gorgeous clock tower – is worth the visit on its own merit, the true gem of Christ Church lies outside.
On the eastern end of Christ Church cathedral sits a lawn that, while neatly manicured, would otherwise be unremarkable. That is, until you notice the towering whalebone arch made from the jaw bones of 2 blue whales.
Because blue whale sightings are increasingly rare, I would definitely recommend taking the time to visit the whalebone arch – it may just be the closest you get to our planet’s largest animal!
Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.