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jorgesanchez Stanley - A travel report by jorge
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Stanley,  Falkland Islands - flag Falkland Islands
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jorgesanchez's travel reports

one week in Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands

  22 votes
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I flew with the airline Lan Chile to Stanley from Punta Arenas, and spent eight days there because of the weekly regularity of the flights. Before landing the pilot ordered us to hide our cameras and videos. We were entering militarized islands

These whale bones, besides the Cathedral, are a landmark of Stanley
These whale bones, besides the Cathedral, are a landmark of Stanley
I took a bus to the capital of the islands, Stanley, at 50 kilometres of the airport through a very bad road. During the journey I saw iron fences and signs advising of the 30.000 mines still active in the archipelago, put there during the 1982 war between Argentineans and British. Stanley is a nice small town. I saw a street named Margaret Thatcher and a monument devoted to the 250 English soldiers who died in the 1982 war. According to the United Nations, both denominations are official: Falkland Islands and Islas Malvinas. Thanks to my regular visits to the Public Library, I learnt that the Spanish expeditionary Esteban Gomez, after deserting the Magellan fleet in 1520, returned to Spain from Tierra de Fuego and discovered in his way the Islands. Then, in 1592, an English pirate called John Davis sighted the islands, and 2 years later another English pirate, the sinister Hawkins, also sighted the archipelago. In 1600, the Dutch Sebald Van Weelt saw the islands and baptized them Sebald. In 1690 the English captain John Strong named Falkland to the channel between the two main islands because of the Scottish county from where a friend of him was vice-earl. In 1764 French colonists from Saint Malo arrived to one of the two main islands and named them Maluinas, and later Malvinas. Some years later the English occupied the other main island. In 1770 Spain bought the island to the French and expelled in 1774 the English basing this act in the Treaty of Tordesillas from 1494. Finally, in 1816, when Argentina got independence from Spain, they inherited the nearby Spanish islands, such as Malvinas, Georgia del Sur and Sandwich del Sur. Some years later Americans whalers used the Malvinas for illegal fishing. The Argentineans expelled them and USA replied sending soldiers to drive out the Argentineans gauchos living there and brought the whalers back to work. Seeing that there was no Argentinean control in the islands, the English returned in 1833 to remain until now.

Favourite spots:
two macaroni penguin friends
two macaroni penguin friends
The animal life is the best in Malvinas/Falkland! At one hour walking distance of Stanley you start seeing macaroni penguins walking in the mines area without any danger because their weight is very light. Birds are seen everywhere. For sighting whales and sealions you have to go at least to Volunteers Point. The travels agents organize excursions there or you can rent a land rover (or hitch hike, as I did). There are 800.000 lambs in the archipelago and many ranchos, like the Argentineans gauchos before being removed, which constitutes the main economy of the territory. The surface of the islands is about 12.000 square kilometres but the nature is poor owing to the cold and strong wind which prevents the existence of the trees.

What's really great:
Magical Torres del Paine, south of Chile
Magical Torres del Paine, south of Chile
Back in Chile I advise to take a ship from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt through the channels and fiords of Chilean Patagonia. That journey is marvellous! I would say that is the second most fantastic boat trip in South America, only after the one from Belem to Iquitos, via Manaus, in the Amazonas. Apart than from Chile, you can also get to these islands by a RAF military plane from Brize Norton (Oxfordshire) in England, via Ascension Island.

There are about ten guest houses in Stanley. Prices start from 30 pounds a night in a single room including breakfast. You need to have a booking in one of them before passing through immigration, otherwise, in theory, they can send you back to Chile in the same airplane that you flew in. Camping is not allowed.

gull with chiks
gull with chiks
I used to drink beers at night in the several pubs, and to frequent the sailors club, in the port, with nice atmosphere, books, internet, cheap lunches and free tea.
Drinking beers and playing darts in one of the pubs of Stanley I made friendship with many foreigners working in the islands. They compared Malvinas/Falkland with Kuwait for the high salaries. I met fishermen from South Korea, Japan, Chile and Spain, service employees from Ascension Island (drivers, cookers, etc.), plus some Russians, Polish, Austrians, New Zealanders, South Africans, etc., and, of course, several British.
The soldiers, around 3000, live around the airport, in Mount Pleasant, and rarely mix with the locals due to an unclear incident of the past not yet resolved. In fact, during my stay in the islands, I only saw a few of them in Stanley buying drinks in the supermarket.

sealions near Volunteer Point
sealions near Volunteer Point
Stanley is small, under 2000 inhabitants. There is a large supermarket where you can buy food, and several restaurants open for dinner. But I preferred the seamen club where they serve good food in pleasant ambience.

Other recommendations:
In short:

Out of the last remnants of the British Empire, I consider Saint Helena Island as being the most interesting for a traveller, followed by Tristan da Cunha, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla and Cayman. Ascension is still more boring than Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands, in Turks and Caicos you have just beaches, and in Pitcairn there live only about 45 people involved in child abuses. Diego Garcia atoll, in Chagos archipelago, is forbidden, while in Gibraltar you are so close to Spain that many people cross to Andalucia for action.

Published on Thursday July 7th, 2005

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Sun, Jan 24 2010 - 05:13 PM rating by frenchfrog

Great report, I am thinking to go there in 2011! I would love to see penguins!!!! Thanks for sharing Jorge!

Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 09:21 AM rating by krisek

This is a great report. I will make sure I will take it with me, when I eventually go to the Malvinas - they have been sitting in my to-do-list for a while...

Mon, Jul 11 2005 - 05:30 PM rating by magsalex

Some wonderful wildlife pics to go with this report! Great stuff.

Fri, Jul 08 2005 - 01:41 PM rating by davidx

Me faltan las palabras para escribir algo nuevo sobre este 'report'. Solamente puedo decir excelente.

Fri, Jul 08 2005 - 08:52 AM rating by gloriajames

Bravo... love reading your reports! Keep up the good work. 5*

Fri, Jul 08 2005 - 02:32 AM rating by britman

Most interesting report, beautifully illustrated and a great read with lots of information. Congratulations

Thu, Jul 07 2005 - 04:56 PM rating by christianj.

Hi Jorge,

already these pictures are worth 5* - together with your report: WOW!

Thu, Jul 07 2005 - 04:49 PM rating by rangutan

It must be an experience and adventure just getting to these places. This, wow, very first GLOBO report on a remote place again, well done. (I'll ask staff to add the missing British Flag next to the title).

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