East Falkland

Overview

Introduction

Visitors to the island of East Falkland can choose between Mother Nature's finest and mankind's worst: Choices range from wildlife tours to battlefield visits. Home to the majority of the population, East Falkland is also site of Stanley, the capital and largest city in the colony. It's a relaxing little place—allow a day or two there. A visit to the Falklands Museum at Brittania House provides an excellent introduction to the island's history (including the 1982 war), as does the century-old Christ Church Cathedral. In the rolling countryside outside Stanley, much of which is tundra, sheep outnumber people.

Day trips can be taken by Land Rover to Bluff Cove Lagoon to see seals, gentoo penguins and king cormorants. The hardy may opt to walk the 8-mi/13-km round-trip trail from Stanley to Gypsy Cove (there's a shorter route as well) to see Magellanic, or jackass, penguins.

At least three of the five species of penguins on the islands may be seen at either Kidney Island or Volunteer Point, both on the eastern side of East Falkland. To get to Kidney Island, request permission from the Falklands' Secretariat or the Customs and Harbour Department in Stanley.

Also check with the new Falklands Conservation Centre (at the Jetty Visitors Centre, phone 22247), that often has the islands' most up-to-date information on flora and fauna-related activities. Then hire a boat. You can camp at the government hut, though only the adventurous will want to stay overnight. Bleaker Island, another private island with accommodations, features Magellanic, gentoo and rockhopper penguins, as well as giant petrels and sea lions.

Sea Lion Island lies south of East Falkland and has an exceptional lodge, elephant seals, sea lions, four species of penguins and the rare striated caracara.

Battlefields from the Falklands War include Goose Green, Choiseul Sound and San Carlos (the principal landing site and scene of Argentine air raids). An even older military outpost can be seen at Port Louis, which dates from the French occupation in the 18th century. Plan at least two nights on East Falkland.

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