The Galapagos Islands are probably one of the best known – if not the best known – areas for wildlife in its natural and pristine state. With this justifiable fame comes the ever increasing concern of its protection and over exposure as travelers tread the shores of the famous archipelago every year.
Goway believes that we have “discovered” an equally amazing and pristine destination to offer those wanting a “garden of Eden” wildlife experience or for those who have marveled at the Galapagos and are now seeking an equally un spoilt, unique and beautiful destination – the Falkland Islands.
The “ownership” of the Islands is as convoluted and diverse as is the wildlife that populates the Islands today. In what would turn into an armed conflict in 1982, England and Argentina have been laying claim to the Islands for as long as man knew they existed.
The first record of the Islands is claimed by Englishman John Davis when he sailed past them in 1592. Then John Strong landed in 1690, officially claiming them for England. The islands are named after the treasurer of the British navy, Viscount Falkland.
By the nature of their location, the islands then receded into a forgotten state by an ever expanding British Empire whose focus was turned to South Africa, India, the Pacific and Australia.
Always nipping at the empires heel the French founded a colony in 1764 at which time they named the Islands Iles Malouines as the expedition set out from St Malo. The following year a British expedition under John Byron (grandfather of Lord Byron the poet) established a fort at Port Egmont on the tiny Saunders Island north of West Falkland. Byron again claimed the islands for Britain unaware that the French were on East Falkland. The right British hand not knowing what the left French hand is doing!
This all became redundant as the French ceded their settlement on East Falkland to Spain.
Spain, adapting the French name, christened the Islands Las Islas Malvinas and Spain, in its endeavor to conquer the world took a serious run at their colony on these remote islands. First steps were to force out the British which in 1774 they were finally able to do.
For the next sixty years the islands remained under peaceful Spanish rule but with Argentina winning independence in 1816 from Spain they laid claim to the islands.
Britain, spotting an opportunity returned once again in 1832 reasserting their claim to the Falklands in words and a year later by sending troops. The British settlement began again.
With the British settlements the islands limited prosperity gained momentum and to this day cattle and sheep remain at the heart of the economy.
In 1982 the ongoing dispute of ownership between Argentina and Britain came to a head as a beleaguered and unpopular Argentinean military leader, General Galtieri looked for a way to divert attention from worsening economic issues in Argentina and also to regain popularity. Most dictators fall back on conflict to divert attention and with that in mind Galtieri challenged Britain, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, over the sovereignty of the Islands with the end result being an armed conflict.
Britain came out eventual winners in the war with both sides suffering substantial losses in men and machines. However, to this day the Argentineans still lay claim to the island with signs dotted all over Argentina stating “Los Malvinas son Argentinas” The Falklands are Argentinean!
Today the Falkland Islands are one of the last untouched wildlife wonders of the World. Unspoilt beaches, islands and cliffs provide a natural safe-haven for hundreds of species that have made the Falklands their home.
Watch albatross soar gracefully through the air against a backdrop of beautiful blue sea and sky, elephant seals sparring on the beach, the tiny Cobb’s wren hopping along the shoreline, killer whales circling offshore in pursuit of a meal or sit patiently alongside king penguins and wait for the fluffy chicks to come and take a look at you! The possibilities for enjoying the wildlife experience are endless, as are the photographic opportunities.
But there is more to the Islands than wildlife. Join in with the World’s most southerly marathon, play a challenging game of golf, hike across hills for panoramic views or fish for sea trout in the estuaries, rivers and streams. Exploring “camp”, the name given to anywhere outside the Islands’ capital Stanley, is a “must” for any visitor.
If this pace sounds too hectic, simply relax in the comfort of the Islands’ hotels, farm houses and lodges. Experience the Falkland way of life on a small island, farm or in Stanley. Discover the history of the Falklands; from the geological perspective of the “stone runs” or through the evidence of human discovery, maritime travel and, of course, the conflict of 1982. Stroll around the shops in Stanley and taste the delights of Falkland food in a restaurant, hotel or public bar.
Travelling around is fun in itself, fly with the Government Air Service in an 8-seater twin-propeller aircraft (included in our two Falkland itineraries), charter a boat to explore offshore or hire a guide to overland in a 4WD vehicle.
The Falkland Islands are serviced by LAN airlines, who fly to the Falklands every Saturday morning from Santiago and flying via the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas where you can also board or disembark for Southern Chilean experiences.
Depending on international connections, it is usually necessary to spend a night in Chile (in Santiago or Punta Arenas) on both south-bound and north-bound flights. Goway Travel has many great stop over options to choose from including wine tours, visits to Easter Island or a stop in the famous Chilean Lakes District. LAN is a oneworld partner.
Wherever you choose to stay in the Falkland Islands you will receive a warm welcome from your hosts. Falkland Islanders are proud of their heritage and keen to show visitors the sights and sounds that make the Islands such a special destination as is Goway with our two all encompassing itineraries.
Falklands Wildlife takes in the best of the amazing cross section and diversity of the endemic wildlife found on the Falkland Islands in a comfortable 8 days.
Wildlife and Battlefields covers both the natural history of the Islands as well as the man made history with a focus on the battles of the Falkland Islands in 1982 where Britain and Argentina battle over the sovereignty of the Islands.