Things to do
So much to see and do
Swarming with an abundance of wildlife and surrounded by unpolluted, clear blue skies and stunning beaches, the Falkland Islands offer a truly exceptional experience that never fails to impress.
There are so many things to see and do but below we offer our suggestions for how to spend your time on the islands.
Stanley is a small town with an attractive waterfront lined with buildings with colourful roofs and paintwork. The new museum is well worth a visit and there are memorials to the battle of the Falklands in the First World War and, of course, to the 1982 war. It is not a city for browsing the shops, but they are available for souvenirs and essential purposes. Good quality food can be enjoyed in hotels and cafes and there are a small number of typically British pubs, which are especially lively at weekends, when many servicemen from the military base come to town.
There are three walking trails covering historic Stanley, central area and a climb up to Sapper Hill and one along the waterfront to east Stanley. Each of these provides the visitor with a different aspect of the town and is useful for both exercise and orientation!
Lots of birds can be seen in Stanley, especially upland geese, steamer ducks, rock and king cormorants, meadowlarks, Falkland thrush, siskins, dolphin gulls, turkey vultures and southern giant petrels. Variable hawks, black-crowned night-herons and even peregrines are also regular visitors.
Close to Stanley
There are several places that can be visited in a day from Stanley, usually by 4 x 4 with a driver guide - WILDFOOT can give recommendations and suggestions.
Cape Dolphin is at the far north west of East Falkland and is at the end of the main road from Stanley, about 2.5 hours away. It is an area of beautiful scenery and beaches and great wildlife including, apart from penguins and other birds, offshore sightings of Commerson's and Peale's dolphins and sei and southern right whales. Accommodation is limited to camping on site or self-catering back down the road at Elephant Beach Farm. A 4 x 4 is essential in this area and a guide is strongly recommended.
Gypsy Cove is just four miles from Stanley and provides super views across Yorke Bay, although parts of the area are fenced off because of minefields. A prominent feature are the remains of WWII guns, making an interesting photographic subject. Lots of birds to be seen here, including sea and land birds as well as gentoo and Magellenic penguins.
Kidney Cove is also close to Stanley, just seven miles
away and, as well as having wonderful scenery, enjoys panoramic views
back to Stanley itself. After reaching the settlement at Murrell Farm,
visitors go overland by Land Rover to gentoo penguin colonies and the
over to Sparrow Cove, the resting place of the SS Great Britain before
it was transported back to Bristol for restoration. Apart from gentoo,
there are also king, Magellenic and rockhopper penguins, which attract
predators such as skuas, peregrines and turkey vultures, especially late
in the year when eggs and chicks abound
Volunteer Point is two hours or so from Stanley by road and rough terrain reached by 4 x 4 vehicle, but well worth it. Behind the white quartz beach here can be seen the islands' principal king penguin colony with more than 500 breeding pairs. There are also hundreds of gentoo and Magellenic penguins and many other birds, such as meadowlarks, Falkland thrush and pipits, ground tyrants and many more.
There is a lodge at Volunteer Point and an overnight stay is well worthwhile to fully absorb the unique atmosphere of this amazing spot.
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On April 2nd 1982 Argentine Forces invaded the Falkland Islands, but Britain responded quickly by dispatching a task force of ships to the South Atlantic, and after all diplomatic attempts failed to reach a satisfactory solution British forces carried out their first retaliatory action on May 1st when a single Vulcan Bomber dropped 21 1000lb bombs on Stanley Airport, having flown almost 4,000 miles from Ascension Island to do so!
Further attacks on Stanley airport and other targets around the Islands followed by the Harrier aircraft from HMS Invincible and Hermes. The unique capability of the Harriers played a significant part in the military actions undertaken to recover the Falkland Islands. On May 14th, D Squadron of the elite SAS carried out another successful operation when they landed at night on Pebble Island and put all Argentine aircraft based there out of action and then quickly withdrew again to re join the Task Force leaving a trail of destruction behind them.
May 21st 3 Commando Brigade landed at San Carlos and Port San Carlos, but shortly after most troops had disembarked Argentine air attacks on the British fleet began which inflicted considerable damage to British ships, although many Argentine aircraft were also downed in the ensuing action .
The main elements of 3 Commando Brigade then had to cross East Falkland on foot after the transport ship Atlantic Conveyor was hit and seriously damaged by an exocet missile with the loss of all helicopters on board except one Chinook. A series of land battles then followed which finally led to the surrender of all Argentine forces on June 14th.
Today more than thirty years later it is still possible to see remnants
of Argentine weaponry and personal effects spread particularly over the
seven main areas where the land battles were fought.
The first of these took place at Darwin and Goose Green on May 28th then on the night of June 11th three more battles were fought on Mt Longdon, Two Sisters and Harriet followed by what proved to be the final battles on Mt Tumbledown and Wireless Ridge, on the night of June 13th and also included the capture of Mt William and Sapper Hill shortly afterwards.
On the morning of June 14th the two combined Brigades of British Forces were then in command of all high ground surrounding the Islands Capital Stanley, and were in position to fight one last battle if necessary, but thankfully after a cease fire was initiated and held throughout the day all Argentine forces on the Falklands surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore by 9.30 pm local time that night.
Full or half day guided tours are offered to all the 1982 battlefield sites where it is possible to follow the exact routes taken as each battle progressed and to hear detailed accounts of these actions whilst following in the steps of the many soldiers who fought so bravely to restore peace and freedom to the population of the Falkland Islands .
The terrain is often boggy and there are challenging hilly sections which also include the distinctive 'stone runs', a geological feature of rocks and stones deposited as the glaciers receded millennia ago. Care should also be taken to avoid minefields left as a legacy of the 1982 conflict: these are clearly marked but do often cover large areas.
All routes provide superb opportunities for viewing birds and other wildlife as well as discovering varied and extensive flora.
Principal routes include:
- Town trails - see section on Things to do, Port Stanley
- Coastal Paths. There are two longish routes (14 and 17 km) starting and finishing in Stanley and one short trail of just 3 km close to Stanley Airport
- Moody Brook trails of 2-3 hours out of Stanley into the foothills. Easy to moderate walking with excellent views.
- Hills and Battlefields. Routes cover the main battlefield areas in the hills approaching Stanley - Two Sisters, Wireless Ridge, Mounts Harriet, Longdon, Tumbledown and William. There is also a full day route taking in a series of solar system sculptures: this starts with a drop-off at the top of Mount Tumbledown and ends on the sea front in Stanley and is notable for its superb views.
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