The Falkland Islands consist of two main islands and several hundred smaller islands in the south Atlantic Ocean, off the east coast of southern South America. They are a United Kingdom Overseas Territory, but nearby Argentina claims jurisdiction under the name Islas Malvinas. Most visitors to the islands come between October and March (Southern Hemisphere Summer) to enjoy the spectacular wildlife and quaint rural lifestyle.
Life in the Falklands can be divided between living in Stanley or living in camp. The two main islands of the territory are East Falkland and West Falkland, with numerous smaller islands providing additional destinations.
"Town" is a relative term in the Falklands. While the population of Stanley hovers near two thousand, the populations of other settlements usually range from the single digits to perhaps twenty people with a noticeable increase during the busy sheep shearing times. Bear in mind that the average medium sized village located in the United Kingdom has a population of only around 3,000 and this is nearly the total population of the entire Falkland Islands.
The Falklands are a UK Overseas Territory and are an associated territory of the European Union. The Falklands are also claimed by Argentina as the Islas Malvinas and were the site of a major conflict between the two countries in 1982.
Although first sighted by an English navigator in 1592, the first recorded landing took nearly a century more by an Englishman in 1690. The French established a settlement later still in 1764 that was later given to Spain. The French called the islands les îles Malouines, after the port of Saint-Malo in Brittany, from where the Falklands' first settlers originated. It is from the name that the Spanish name, Malvinas, is derived.
A British settlement followed shortly in 1766 and the islands became the subject of ongoing territorial disputes between Britain and Spain, which subsequently became a dispute between Britain and Argentina. Although the islands have a complex history of settlement and abandonment by various nations, it is generally accepted that since 1833 the islands have been under British control. During most of the 19th century who did or should govern the islands was a non-issue in Argentinian and international politics, and there are even some semi-official maps from that era that show the islands as British. However beginning in the 20th century, nationalist voices in Argentina demanded the islands to be "given back" to Argentina based on the tenuous Spanish claim, that Argentina claimed to have "inherited" and an even shakier claim of Argentinian administration and settlement of the islands prior to 1833, that was violently ejected according to those Argentinian claims.
Open conflict between Britain and Argentina began on 2 April 1982 when Argentina's military junta ordered the invasion of the islands. The British responded with an expeditionary force that landed seven weeks later. After fierce fighting in what is often known as the Falklands War, the Argentine occupation force was forced to surrender on 14 June 1982. Nonetheless, today Buenos Aires still refuses to give up Argentina's claim to the territory, and continues to push for a peaceful transfer of sovereignty, though most Falkland Islanders consider themselves to be British with no apparent interest in joining Argentina.
The economy of the Falklands used to be based on agriculture (mainly sheep farming) but today fishing contributes the bulk of economic activity. Income from licensing foreign trawlers totals more than US$40 million per year with squid accounting for 75% of the fish taken. Agricultural activities mainly support domestic consumption with the exception of high grade wool which is exported. Surveys have revealed oil deposits within a 200 mile oil exploration zone around the islands and exploratory drilling is under way. The British military presence provides a sizeable economic boost.
Tourism is being actively encouraged and increasing rapidly with about 66,000 visitors in 2009; a large part of the increase is from visiting cruise liners. The majority of visitors are from the UK but efforts are being made to encourage wildlife and adventure tourism. The main season is November to March but angling for sea trout is most favourable outside of this period.
The most popular reason to visit is for the scenic beauty and the flora and fauna. Conservation is high on the islands' agenda. Bird and marine species are the most prevalent fauna and include five species of penguin, four species of seal, albatross, petrels, the Falkland Flightless Steamer duck (Logger Duck), other duck species, geese, hawks and falcons. The Striated Caracara (Johnny Rook) is a rare bird of prey found only on the Falkland Islands and some islands off Cape Horn. Porpoises and dolphins are often sighted with the occasional sighting of whales.
The terrain is rocky and hilly, with some boggy terrain. Peat is found throughout the islands, leading to potentially dangerous fire conditions; once ignited, a peat fire can burn for months. The deeply indented coast provides good natural harbours. The highest point in the islands is the 705m Mount Usbourne.
Strong westerly winds are a constant in many parts of the islands. It is more likely to rain in the southeastern part of the islands with the far western islands getting very little yearly precipitation. Temperatures are cool and snow may occur at any time except for January and February, although accumulation is rare. Most visitors come to the islands between November and March.
The Falklands is a victim of the Antarctic ozone hole, so it is important to wear sunscreen on sunny days during the early summer.
With the exception of those arriving by cruise ship who will not be spending a night on land, all visitors to the Falklands must show that they have a return ticket, accommodation and sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the islands. A major credit card will be accepted as proof of funds. A departure tax of £22 is charged when leaving the territory from Mount Pleasant airport.
A visa is required except in the following cases:
Most international flights arrive at the Mount Pleasant (IATA: MPN) airport, which is also a military base. The only international carriers to use this airport are LanChile on a weekly flight from Santiago de Chile via Punta Arenas (Chile), Rio Gallegos (Argentina) (monthly) and the UK Royal Air Force who carry commercial passengers direct from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. Flights from the UK last eighteen hours including a stop on Ascension Island en route. The RAF contracts two flights per week which are subject to military priorities. There is also an airport in Stanley (IATA: PSY) but it has a smaller runway and is used primarily for flights within the Falklands.
It is expensive to get off the islands and a return flight to Santiago (the nearest airport interchange hub) costs approximately £800 per person and is a 7-hour flight. It costs £1600 for a return ticket to the UK if you are eligible for discount (you need to be a FIG employee) otherwise it costs £2100.
The Mount Pleasant airport is 56km (35 miles) from Stanley. Falkland Island Tours & Travel (Tel: 21775, email@example.com) operates a shuttle bus that meets all flights and that can take visitors to and from the capital for £15 per person (one-way). Taxis also take passengers to and from the airport - these must be booked.
Large cruise ships stop at Stanley's port throughout the island's summer months (October - April). These boats may also stop at some of the outlying islands. While cruise ships can dock at Stanley you should be prepared to come ashore on a zodiac (also called a rigid inflatable boat - RIB) when landing on most other islands. It is also typical for expedition ships en route to Antarctica to include a stop at the Falkland Islands in their itinerary.
Travelling between islands in the Falklands is generally done using the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS). The planes are Britten Norman Islander aircraft, capable of carrying eight passengers plus pilot. Be aware however, that passenger load may be reduced depending on the condition of the airstrips being visited. With the exception of Stanley and Mount Pleasant, all airstrips in the Falklands are either dirt strips or grassy fields. Be prepared for slight delays while livestock is cleared from airstrips prior to takeoff/landing!
FIGAS flights leave twice daily from the airstrip just outside of Stanley and travel to a variety of locations throughout the islands. There is a baggage limit of 20 kg per person which is strictly enforced; you and your baggage will be weighed prior to boarding in Stanley. There is an additional charge of £1 per kg, space permitting. Note that unless the plane is flying to an island with a very poor landing strip there are almost never weight constraints that would prevent travelling with a few extra kilos of baggage.
Reservations are required for travel and should be booked at least 24 hours in advance. Booking reservations can be done either by calling the airport (Tel: 27219), emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the airport in person when it is open (hours vary depending on flight schedules but mid-morning is usually a good time). Flight schedules are announced the night before departure and are also available via a fax service. Most lodges will post the schedule as soon as it is announced.
Flights can be paid for in cash or with credit card. Fares vary by destination but sample fares (one-way) from November 2009 were:
While it is theoretically possible to get around the Falklands by boat, as of March 2010 there was no regular service available to tourists travelling in small groups to the outer islands; (contrary to reports in guide books, the Golden Fleece does not taxi passengers around the islands). For large groups it may be possible to charter a boat in advance thus providing a great way to visit some of the less-travelled islands. Be aware that per-passenger landing fees are charged on many of the islands; contact the island's owner before visiting.
However there is a regular passenger ferry between New Haven, 2 hours car journey from Stanley to Port Howard. Ferry tickets must be booked in advance from Workboat Services on 22300. As of December 2008 example prices were: Foot Passage single £10; Car Passage single £25.
Large cruise ships are the most common means for people to visit the Falklands, and most will make several landings at various islands. Note that aside from Stanley all landings from cruise ships are done using zodiacs (small inflatable boats), and in many cases the lack of docking areas will require a quick wade from the zodiac onto shore.
Within Stanley there are two taxi services that can be hired for travel throughout the town and surrounding areas, including the Mount Pleasant airport.
Land Rover rental may be possible from Stanley. Contact either the Falkland Islands Company or Stanley Services (email@example.com) for information. Roads in Stanley are paved, but elsewhere road conditions range from well-maintained dirt roads to boggy mud streams. Unless your travels specifically require having your own vehicle, renting a Land Rover is neither necessary nor a particularly good idea.
Falklanders speak the British variety of English. There are a handful of words that are unique to Falklands English. Despite the islands' proximity to the South American continent, Spanish and Portuguese are not spoken except as foreign languages.
The official Falklands currency is the Falkland pound(FKP) whose value is set equivalent to that of one British pound (GBP).
Money can be exchanged at the only bank in the islands which is located in Stanley across from the FIC West store. British pounds will generally be accepted anywhere in the islands and within Stanley credit cards and United States dollars are also often accepted. On the outlying islands credit cards will probably not be accepted, although British and United States currency may be taken; check with the owners in advance to determine what is an acceptable payment method.
It is nearly impossible to exchange Falklands currency outside of the islands, so be sure to exchange all money prior to leaving the islands.
Meals in the Falklands are primarily traditional British. Fish and chips, roast beef, mutton and tea are standard fare. There are some Spanish influences such as Milanesa and Casuela. While in camp many of the lodges provide home-cooked meals in very generous portions and their food is generally better than is found in Stanley's pubs and cafés. However, Stanley does have a few good restaurants.
It is difficult to find fresh fruit and vegetables, and they are generally very expensive. A banana will cost £1 and a small orange or one single plum will cost 90p. Cabbage and cauliflower costs around £4.50 for half a portion. Half a portion of lettuce costs around £3.50 and a small cucumber costs £4. Tomatoes for some reason are very expensive, if you buy 2 small tomatoes that will set you back £2.50! There is no fresh milk available and all milk is UHT/long life milk. The only fresh meat on sale in the supermarket is mutton. A frozen chicken costs around £12 for a 2kg bird.
Local specialities include diddle-dee jam, made from red crowberry or diddle-dee (empetrum rubrum), which grow wild on the heaths.
While most items in the Falklands are expensive due to the cost of importing, there are no taxes on alcohol making beer prices fairly reasonable. Pubs and lodges offer a wide selection, although most drinks will usually come from a can or bottle rather than a tap.
Accommodation in Stanley includes numerous bed and breakfasts as well as a handful of hotels. Buildings are generally older and the warm hospitality also seems to come from a bygone age. While in camp lodging includes everything from old farmhouses to lodges built specifically for tourism. Camping may be permitted with permission of the landowner. Many places are self-catering meaning supplies will need to be purchased in either Stanley or from a local source, if one is available. When in camp it is essential that lodging be reserved in advance; in Stanley it is generally possible to find lodging without a reservation but it is still recommended that reservations be made.
A work permit is required for any foreign national, including UK citizens, working in the Falklands. Work permits should generally be applied for prior to coming to the islands and will require an employer's sponsorship.
Like everything in the Falklands, living expenses will be very high. Kerosene (the only form of heating available to most housing here) costs £200 to £300 or more per month to heat a small 3 bed house. The internet is very expensive and it costs around £80 per month for a limited data package of 4GB per month. Overall the cost of living is at least 3 times higher than the UK.
Crime is relatively unknown in the Falklands, although one should still take the normal precautions of not leaving items unattended or travelling alone late at night. If problems are encountered the police force should be helpful.
Unexploded ordnance from the 1982 conflict, including land mines, are still found in the islands. No civilians have been harmed by landmines since the conflict ended, and the remaining minefields are all well marked and clearly cordoned off. It is a criminal offence to enter a minefield or to remove minefield signage.
Many animals in the islands can be dangerous when cornered or with young. Elephant seals, sea lions and fur seals are probably the most dangerous; keep a safe distance when viewing these animals. A general rule is that if the animal seems to notice your presence, you are too close.
The Falklands, being located at a far southern latitude, may be affected by the Antarctic ozone hole from August until December. During this time be sure to wear sunscreen on sunny days, as the risk of sunburn is increased significantly. During other months of the year the ozone hole shrinks and the danger from the sun is not significantly greater than anywhere else on the planet. However, it is wise to wear sunscreen as the burning effect of the sun is often under-estimated by visitors to the islands.
There are no special medical requirements for visiting the Falklands. There is a large hospital in Stanley, but outside of the capital there are no medical facilities. For serious injuries, the costs of being airlifted out of the islands are very high. Your travel insurance must cover the costs of medical evacuation.
Since the population has British roots, customs tend to follow those of the United Kingdom, although in many ways the islanders are more conservative than Britain. Drugs are not tolerated and travellers should be aware that among some residents there is still a mistrust of Argentines stemming from the 1982 conflict between the UK and Argentina. You should never refer to the islands as Argentine. In a 2013 referendum, 99.8% of the turnout voted to remain British, and many residents were there during the 1982 war. This should give you a good idea of how likely you are to cause offence, as calling the islands Argentine is virtually guaranteed to irritate and potentially start a fight, unless used sarcastically (which, as a rule of thumb, should not be a subtle joke and instead should be very clear of what you actually mean).
In addition to the above concerns, there exists a Country Code that should be followed by visitors to the islands:
For all emergencies, including Police, Fire, Ambulance and Bomb Disposal, dial 999 free of charge.
The country code for dialling the Falklands is +500.
The local phone company, Cable & Wireless, sells phone cards which can be used throughout the territory but international calls cost £0.90 per minute. Broadband internet access now exists island-wide although speeds are much closer to dialup, 56 Kbps or less. Several hotels, as well as the visitor centre offer computers that accept Cable & Wireless internet cards and there are an increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots. Both phone and internet cards can be purchased from the Cable & Wireless office in Stanley (located on the hill past the War Memorial), as well as in some of the stores in town. The larger lodges will also sell phone cards and may have internet cards. More recently a GSM cell phone network has been made available but works only for Stanley, Mount Pleasant and a few other locations on East Falkland.
The postal service in the Falklands is reliable and letters can be mailed easily from Stanley and most settlements. The main post office is located in Stanley town centre across from the FIC West store.
The world calls The Falkland Islands harsh and isolated. The Carters called it home… In 1982, war brought The Falkland Islands into the spotlight. When Jennifer and her family put down roots in an unspoiled community on West Falkland, they can’t help but see the unruly climate and the close proximity to a frozen wasteland. How could a place like this be worth fighting for? The Carters quickly learn that the Falklands way of life is friendliness and self-sufficiency. Their new life becomes one of abundant wildlife and growing their own food, but it never strays from the island’s true British identity. Part homesteading, part off-the-grid, and all charm, this loving testimony to the resilient people of the islands will have you adding the Falklands to your bucket list in an instant. My Falkland Islands Life is the story of one family’s adventure in a British territory 8,000 miles from the United Kingdom. Whether you live on the islands, plan to travel there, or enjoy fascinating travelogues, you’ll love Jen Carter’s engaging memoir of a charming life at the bottom of the world. Buy My Falkland Islands Life to discover the true Falklands today!
This fine map in the excellent "Ocean Explorer" series covers the Falkland Islands region. Produced in the same format as the previous maps in the series, one side provides a detailed map of the islands with key areas identified, while the other side presents information of the areas wildlife, geography and history, along with providing a town plan to Stanley.
Now packed with even more breathtaking color photographs, wildlife descriptions, and detailed area maps, this updated edition to a bestselling Antarctica travel guide includes fascinating, full accounts of interesting places, spectacular landscapes, and local plants and wildlife—from penguins and other birds to whales, seals, and myriad mammals. A definitive field guide to Antarctica, this book caters to South Pole visitors traveling by luxury liner, adventure cruise, or private boat. Written by experienced Antarctic travelers who are recognized experts in the continent's wildlife, conservation, and political history, every page offers gorgeous color photographs of the great white south. This third edition pays special attention to explaining the threats to Antarctic conservation, including global warming, and includes tips on how visitors can minimize their own impact and help preserve this unique continent.
A girl, a laptop, and a waddle of penguins. In this witty and genre-defying memoir, a young writer can travel anywhere she wants to finally finish her novel—and ends up on a frozen island at the bottom of the world. Twenty-seven-year-old Nell Stevens was determined to write a novel, but life kept getting in the way. Then came a game-changing opportunity: she won a fellowship that would let her live, all expenses paid, anywhere in the world to research and write a book. Would she choose a glittering metropolis, a romantic village, an exotic paradise? Not exactly. Nell picked Bleaker Island, a snowy, windswept pile of rock in the Falklands. There, in a guesthouse where she would be the only guest, she could finally rid herself of distractions and write. Before the spring thaw, surely she’d have a novel. And indeed, other than sheep, penguins, paranoia, and the weather, there aren’t many distractions on Bleaker. Nell gets to work on a charming Dickensian fiction she calls Bleaker House—only to discover that total isolation and 1,085 calories a day are far from ideal conditions for literary production. With deft humor, the memoir traces Nell’s island days and slowly reveals details of the life and people she has left behind in pursuit of her writing. They pop up in her novel, too, and in other fictional pieces that dot the book. It seems that there is nowhere Nell can run—an island or the pages of her notebook—to escape the big questions of love, art and ambition. Terrifically smart, full of wry writing advice, and with a clever puzzle of a structure, Bleaker House marks the arrival of a fresh new voice in creative nonfiction.
Seasoned travel writer Wayne Bernhardson covers the best sights and adventures that Patagonia has to offer, from visiting Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, to viewing the jagged peaks of Cuernos del Paine and hiking on Argentina's Moreno Glacier. Bernhardson also offers unique trip strategies including The Andean Lakes Loop and The natural History Tour. Complete with details for exploring the penguin-dotted Falkland Islands, staying in guest ranches in the Patagonian outback, and whale watching at the World Heritage Site of Península Valdés, Moon Patagonia gives travelers the tools they need to create a more personal and memorable experience.
Since its discovery, Patagonia has lured adventurers to the literal ends of the earth. Its staggering landscapes include igneous pinnacles, grinding rivers of glacial ice, and wildlands that are stilltruly wild. In this book, expert traveler Wayne Bernhardson tells you everything you need to know to make this trip possible.Suggested routes for road trips along the coast and through the Andes, with mileage, driving times, and recommendations on the best places to stopWhere to see wildlife, including penguins, whales, dolphins, and sea lionsHow to choose guides, tours, and means of transportation, including plane, car, bus, and boatHow to get there and how to get around, including information on stopping over in Buenos Aires and Santiago
Plucky penguins and regal albatrosses, awe-inspiring fjords and magnificent icebergs, convivial pubs and captivating shipwrecks - the Falklands and South Georgia Island make for an unforgettable adventure. Written by Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, our one-of-a-kind guide steers you through the heart of this remote and spectacularly rugged landscape.Go Wild - our natural history chapter brings you closer to the islands' fascinating bird and marine mammal communities.Take a Hike - in-depth coverage of island walks, including a trek following Shackleton's footsteps over icy South Georgia IslandGet Beneath the Surface - soak up the area's fascinating shipwreck legacy on Stanley's Maritime History TrailSleep Tight - from cosy B&Bs to secluded portacabins, accommodations to suit every tasteGo Beyond - the only guidebook with comprehensive coverage of South Georgia Island
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
The crime rate is very low. Exercise normal precautions and ensure that your personal belongings, passport and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Unexploded landmines from the 1982 conflict with Argentina remain on the Falkland Islands. All mine fields are fenced off with barbed wire and identified with red warning triangles. Do not enter the mine fields and do not damage or remove the fences or signs. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Seek local advice for more information.
Most roads are paved in Stanley but they are unpaved on the rest of the islands. Therefore, a four-wheel drive vehicle is required to visit the islands.
Taxis are widely available but do not have meters. Taxi fares should be negotiated prior to departure.
While there are no public transportation services, a shuttle bus is available between Stanley and RAF Mount Pleasant Airport. You can easily rent a car or hire a tour guide or driver.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.
Canada and United Kingdom are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in United Kingdom to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and British authorities.
Photographing of military installations, including the RAF Mount Pleasant Airport, is prohibited.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
You can drive with your Canadian driver’s licence for up to 12 months.
Traffic drives on the left.
The currency is the Falkland Island pound (FKP). It is at par with the pound sterling (GBP).
Credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) are accepted in most shops, hotels and restaurants in Stanley, but it is easier to pay cash in the countryside. The GBP is accepted as a legal tender throughout the Falkland Islands. There are no automated banking machines (ABM) but the Standard Chartered Bank, which is the only bank in the Falkland Islands, can provide you cash advance if you use Visa or Mastercard.
The weather conditions are unpredictable and can change rapidly.