Monday, March 10, 2008

Falkland Trip: Stanley, East Falkland

Dirt road leading from "Camp" to "Town"
I've always loved the ocean and have had grand dreams of shipwrecks and pirates, of lonely lost shores and wind-swept coasts. As a child I read every copy of National Geographic I could get my hands on, watched every episode of The Wild Kingdom and worshiped Jacques Cousteau. I wanted to travel to the far flung reaches of the earth, meet the creatures that live in those remote locations and somehow share them with everyone I can reach. Now that I am an adult... I take every opportunity I can get.

Almost two years ago I was given the opportunity to go to the Falkland Islands. The waiting was the hardest part, the closer the date came the slower time seemed to pass. Finally, just after Christmas, I began the journey; SFO to Miami, to Santiago, Chile and then on to the islands.

View of Stanley from FIGAS plane

The Falklands are made of two larger island, East and West Falkland and many surrounding islands both small and large. Stanley, which is the capital and only city, serves as home for the vast majority of Falklands 2,379 residents. Since there is only one city, it's called "Town" and everything else is called "Camp". Many families live in settlements around camp and make their revenue through sheep ranching. In 1986 a conservation and management zone was established around the islands shifting the economy to marine fisheries rather than wool. Tourism is playing a growing role in the Falklands economy. Falklands Tourism

For now there are no huge resorts or Club Med owned Islands. Conservation is held in high esteem and some islands are even off limits to people entirely to allow the birds to breed without interference from man... though many of the birds we encountered couldn't care if we were there or not.
Lady Elizabeth wreck in the harbor
Whalebone arch outside church
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse

Our first stop was Stanley and I could have spent weeks just exploring town. Every direction you look there is something interesting, wrecks in the harbor, lighthouses, whalebone arches, lawn gnomes, colorful doors, pet sheep in some front yards and beautiful lupine blooms. For 5 pounds you can rent the key to the Cape Pembroke lighthouse and climb to the top for the spectacular view. I highly recommend making time to get out there. All too soon we were boarding a tiny FIGAS plane on our way to Carcass Island...

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