Thanks to its isolated position in the South Atlantic Ocean, on the fringes of Antarctica, the Falkland Island’s rugged mountain-scapes and avian attractions have remained largely untouched by crowds. But with new flights halving the price of reaching this region, that could be about to change.
Starting in the Islands’ capital of Stanley, head north to Volunteer Point for an encounter with the undoubted stars of the Falklands show – the vertically challenged horde of king penguins that waddle down the Point’s pearl-white strip of beach year-round.
It’s the site of their largest breeding group, but you’ll also stumble across gentoo and Magellanic colonies vying for space on the beaches in their crèches in January, too. You can get another nature fix at the easily accessible Gypsy Cove, located only a short drive from the capital.
Even budding birdwatchers would find it hard to miss the long-tailed meadowlarks and oyster catchers at home in the bay, while Magellanic penguins are often glimpsed burrowing underground to nest, emerging hesitantly in February.
In spite of all this wildlife, it’s hard to ignore the impact of the 1982 conflict with Argentina on the landscape; even today, beaches are being de-mined. Book an expert to see the 74-day conflict from a local eye.
A good place to start is the museum on San Carlos in East Falkland – code named ‘Blue Beach’ by the British troops who first alighted here – where you can take in the war’s impact on islanders and soldiers’ families first-hand.
Finish your trip in peace by going west to Carcass Island. If you’re looking for solitude, this remote outpost is the obvious choice – sheep outnumber the humans settled here. Breathe in the fresh air on any number of hiking trails, but for views from the island’s highest point, trek up Mount Byng (213m) and feel as though you’re standing at the edge of the earth.