What do you associate with the Falkland Islands? For many people, it's the 1982 war between the United Kingdom and Argentina for the control of the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Despite the Argentine invasion, the status quo of British control remained in the region after the war – although neither country has changed its position on sovereignty. This stability has allowed the Falkland Islands to become a great place for Aurora Expeditions to visit.
As part of many of our expeditions, including the Sub-Antarctic Safari, we take you onto the Falkland Islands to learn more about its rich history and the wildlife that call this rugged environment home. Here's what you have to look forward to!
Read more: A brief history of South Georgia
Exploring the capital, Stanley
On the Sub-Antarctic Safari, you'll first fly east from Santiago, Chile to Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Upon arrival, there is one thing that will stand out – how Stanley looks very similar to towns you'll see in the United Kingdom.
It might only be home to 2,000 people, but the small community is a classic slice of British culture. There are four pubs, three restaurants, a fish and chip shop and even the southernmost Anglican cathedral (Anglican Christ Church Cathedral) to explore as we enjoy a short tour of the town.
However, there are reminders of the past. Outside the cathedral, there's the whalebone arch which commemorates the centenary of continuous British administration. This also symbolises the island's ties to whaling and fishing over many centuries. It's also poignant to visit the Falklands War Memorial which honours the British Forces and supporting units that served in the war.
During the two-month war, more than 900 soldiers from both sides as well as three civilians lost their lives. As such, across Stanley and the wider Falkland Islands, there are countless memorial sites and plaques to pay tribute to these brave people.
Read more: Top myths about travelling in Antarctica
Rarely-visited Steeple Jason Island
From Stanley, in the east of the island group, we plan to travel to Steeple Jason Island – located on the opposite side, in West Falkland. Steeple Jason Island is subject to strong sea conditions and winds, making the coastline rugged and even impossible to land sometimes.
We will do our best to make a landing on Steeple Jason Island as the reward is pretty special, the world's largest colony of black-browed albatross! The Jason Island Group is perfect for albatross as the high rocky peaks offer protection from the winds for nesting and the surrounding ocean is rich with food. It's thought that over 70 per cent of the world's black-browed albatross travel to the Falkland Islands to breed – it's certainly a sight to be seen.
Read more: Top things to photograph in South Georgia
These large birds aren't the only ones that take advantage of this environment. You could also have the opportunity to see a variety of penguin species including southern rockhopper, gentoo and magellanic as well as slender-billed prions, caracaras and tussac-birds. Make sure you have your camera ready for Steeple Jason Island as there is nowhere else on the planet that is quite like it!
The sheep farm, Saunders Island
Mother Nature can be rough sometimes and this means the plans of your Sub-Antarctic Safari can change. If we can't get to Steeple Jason Island, don't worry, we'll make our way to Saunders Island instead!
As the fourth largest island on the Falkland Islands, Saunders Island's rich soil is mainly used as a sheep farm. However, we're not here to visit the sheep!
Saunders Island is identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and is home to many endangered and rare species. This includes several penguin species (gentoo, southern rockhopper, king and macaroni), ruddy-headed geese Falkland steamer ducks and white-bridled finches. The island also attracts thousands of black-browed albatross pairs so you won't miss out if we can't get to Steeple Jason Island.
Heritage-listed Carcass Island
Although Carcass Island sounds like something out of a horror film, it was actually named after HMS Carcass, which surveyed the island during the 18th century. As the largest island in the West Point Island Group, Carcass Island is another option for when weather conditions prevent landing at Steeple Jason Island.
Much like Saunders Island, Carcass Island is mainly used as a sheep farm. However, thanks to its slightly different geography with substantial trees and duneland, it's a unique haven for Falkland Island ground nesting birdlife. This includes the endemic Cobbs's wren, tussac bird, ground tyrant, pipit, thrush, long-tailed meadowlark and grass wren. Gentoo and magellanic penguins also nest on the shoreline.
Exploring the Falkland Islands with Aurora Expeditions
The Falkland Islands remains one of the most fascinating locations that we travel to. With its well-documented history, ongoing sovereignty, awe-inspiring landscapes and friendly (fluffy) locals, the Falkland Islands have something to offer everyone.
If you're keen to see this part of the world on your next adventure, get in touch with our expert team today – we look forward to speaking with you!