Stanley the Capital of the Falkland Islands
If you’re making a port call in The Falklands chances are you’re going to get to see penguins. The islands are described as “one of the world’s great penguin capitals”. In fact, it’s believed that an estimated one million penguins arrive there every summer to breed.
Growing in popularity with cruise ships the Falklands are located over a thousand miles east of Argentina. The capital is Stanley which happens to be home to a majority of the three-thousand residents of the islands. The big attraction is the wild life with some of the worlds biggest concentrations of penguins along with seals and sea lions coming here to breed and raise their young in the Southern Hemispheres Summer. It is becoming a frequent stop for cruise ships on Antarctica itineraries.
Where Your Ship Docks
Stanley is located on a large natural double harbor. Unfortunately the docking facilities cannot accommodate most cruise ships so for almost everyone it is a tender port. The larger ships will most likely anchor in the outer harbor while the smaller ones can anchor closer to the towns boat landing.
There are no facilities right at the landing but there are restrooms at the visitors center only a block away.
Stanley is a very small town and there is little in the way of public transportation offered. Most visitors usually book tours out to see the wildlife. There are also local tours offered to visit battlefield sites and see the town and out to penguin beaches.
Since there are really very few tourists visiting, when you see penguins you can get really close to them. Be respectful of their space and keep a distance of at least 6 feet when visiting them.
Oddly the Falklands have their own version of the British Pound which probably cannot be exchanged outside of the Falkland Islands. The British government even warns visiting Brits to change it back before coming home. There are also no currency exchanges or ATMs in town. Fortunately many of the businesses in town will take Pounds, Euros, and US Dollars and we arranged with our guide ahead of the visit to pay with US Dollars.
As noted, the big attraction is the wildlife and taking a tour is highly recommended. You will also hear a lot about “the war” from the locals and there are a number of sites to visit. In town is a really nice Falklands National Museum and Christ Church Cathedral with a arch out front made of whale bones.
The Falklands War
Over forty years ago a war broke out centered on the Falklands. It has left a lasting impact on these islands and the locals will generally have much to say on the subject. Principally the war resulted in the severing of all links with the Falklands nearest neighbor, Argentina. No direct flights, Argentinians are allowed into the Falklands and trade has broken down completely. It also has left large areas on the islands mined and the dangerous removal process continues today (mine fields are clearly marked).
The Falklands War (In Argentine Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas) was a 10-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982 over the British dependent territories in the South Atlantic.
The conflict began on 2 April, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, followed by the invasion of South Georgia the next day. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died in the hostilities.
A Note of Caution – The Falklands were the focus of a war between Great Britain and Argentina in 1984. When the Argentine military seized the islands they installed over 30,000 land mines along stretches of the coast to stop the British from landing (it was useless). There is still an ongoing project to remove the mines and any marked areas are extremely dangerous and should be respected.