Located north of the Polar Front, the Falkland Islands are not considered sub-Antarctic, but are a common stop for many Antarctica travels. The total population of the islands is about 2,500; over half of the residents live in the Falklands' capital of Stanley. English is the official and preferred language of the region. The islands have a rich history, but since the end of the Falklands War in 1982 - United Kingdom's troops fought off an Argentinian invasion - the islands have remained culturally British. East and West Falkland make up the majority of the total landmass, but there are over seven hundred islands to explore in the area, including the tiny Sea Lion Island. The climate is quite mild; even in the winter months temperatures are frequently above freezing. The Falklands' main attractions include wildlife viewing, trekking, horseback riding, fishing, and scuba diving. Stanley also offers swimming in its public pool.
Stanley, the islands' capital, is found on East Falkland. The village is filled with charm and character; some of the area's homes are pieced together by salvaged wood from shipwrecks. The Government House is located in Stanley and home to the London-appointed governor. The town, however, did not gain its political position through seniority. The oldest settlement on the island is actually Port Louis, located about 20 miles northwest of Stanley. It contains the island's oldest buildings, a great visit for any amateur or studied historian during their Antarctica travels.
Volunteer Beach, located east of Port Louis, is home to 150 breeding pairs of penguins. Fur seals and elephant seals can also be seen in the distance. East Falkland contains the most extensive road network in the area. Travel between locations can be done by car or an adventurous day-long trek.
Sea Lion Island
This small island is less than a mile wide, but if filled with wildlife. Hundreds of elephant seals crowd the beaches, while sea lions find places to bask on upper ridges of the southern coast. Over five species of penguins find room to nest on Sea Lion. The island also has one of the only working Falkland farms, sporting native tussock grass. Wildlife zealots should not miss a trip to this region.
Comparable in size with East Falkland, the West contains only one substantial road. The island is scattered with farmland, the oldest is found at Port Howard. About 40 people share the farm with 42,000 sheep and 800 cattle. West Falkland's main temptation is its wildlife viewing. Before making the hike to the site seeing locations, make sure to ask the local farmer's permission to cross their land. The trek to the southwestern end is worth it. The coastline is covered in thousands of rockhoppers and a number of other seabirds. Groups of gentoo penguins can also be seen in West Falkland.