One of the more remote places in the world, 480km off the east coast of South America, the Falkland Islands are about the same size as Wales or Connecticut but home to less than 4,000 people. The vast majority live in Stanley, the main (only) settlement of size on the islands, which is basically a small British town. It’s a fascinating place to visit, quite surreal to have been so aware of it (mainly due to the 1982 Falklands War) but have no idea what to expect.
We got lucky with the weather, relatively little wind (very unusual) and it only rained once! Larger cruise ships can’t make it into the harbour itself, instead anchoring in Blanco Bay, with tender boats used to get people ashore. It’s an interesting landscape, pretty flat, devoid of any trees and home to houses with colourful roofs.
The town is small, with the majority of things of interest along a 1km stretch of the waterfront on Ross Road. The first thing that caught my eye from the dock was this row of Victorian houses from 1887 which wouldn’t be out of place in most British towns. I lived in one very similar during my time at university.
A derelict pier juts out before Victory Green, home to cannons from the early 1800s, the mizzen mast of SS Great Britain, which was wrecked in Stanley for decades before being taken back to Bristol in the 1970s and restored, and behind it colourful houses on Marmot Row, originally a hotel and cottages built in 1854.
Out back was a 4WD, which is the only way to get around the islands outside of Stanley, and therefore almost every vehicle in town was a 4WD. It’s telling that the only car showroom I saw was for Land Rover…
There were a lot of shipwrecks in Stanley, with many ships damaged making it round Cape Horn and abandoned in Stanley when the cost of repairs were too high. The only ones remaining visible in the harbour are the Jhelum, which has been there for over 145 years, and in the other direction, toward the airport, the more intact wreck of the Lady Elizabeth.
The Falkland Islands are renowned for their wildlife, particularly bird life including many penguins, which seemed to be the main attraction for most of the people on the ship. I was more interested in the history and landscape of the place but still saw a few birds in town and a sea lion by our ship.