Best time to visit the Falkland Islands

Best time to visit the Falkland Islands


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Most people visit as part of a once in a lifetime trip to Antarctica, so shipping schedules are often what dictate the best time to visit the Falkland Islands. Which means November-March generally, when the ice breaks up enough to let ships through. For wildlife watching, elephant seal pups are a big attraction in Oct-Nov, and adorable baby penguins are prolific around Dec-Jan. As nature’s needs must, they attract orcas and other cetaceans for feeding time too. Max temps in Dec-Feb are 15-28°C, dipping to 0-5°C in the southern winter.

Things to do in the Falkland Islands


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Things to do on the
Falkland Islands...


Wildlife watching is one of the main reasons for visiting the Falkland Islands as well as gaining an appreciation for these wild, untouched habitats. Traditionally, the islands were very farming orientated, but with the help of Falklands Conservation, awareness and appreciation of wildlife has taken hold of islanders, and also tour operators visiting the islands, with many local guides available to lead you to the likes of the sea lion colonies, elephant seals, five species of penguin and 200 species of birds, including the endemic Cobb’s wren and the flightless steamer duck. Whales and dolphins are, of course, the icing on the cake.

One doesn’t really associate the Falklands with island hopping and, with over 700 of them, it would take another Darwin to discover them all. He visited here in the 1830s for a zoological study, and must have been as amazed by the white beaches and eponymous inhabitants of Sealion Island, the birdlife on Carcass Island , including the somewhat vicious straited cara-caras, known locally as "Johnny Rooks", that take no prisoners, and may have something to do with the island’s name. Or Bleaker Island with three species of penguin, imperial cormorants, southern giant petrels as well as the rare flying steamer duck inland. A tailor made trip to the Falkland Islands will help you seek out your favourite island idylls.

Things not to do on the Falkland Islands...


Assume history is all about the 1982 ten week long Falklands War between UK and Argentina. The heritage ranges from the ranching gauchos of the early 19th century, the influx of Scottish sheep farmers in the early 20th as well as the, thankfully now history, proliferation of whalers. Not forgetting the history of Britain’s sovereignty first claimed in 1765. Most people refer to themselves as Falkland Islanders, rather than British; their families have lived here and maintained self-sufficient lifestyles for generations. So, it’s not just a matter of ‘don’t mention the war’, it’s remembering that island history stretches way back before it. And indeed, at the moment, with the controversial discussions around island oil reserves, history is possibly in the making once again.

Be an irresponsible wildlife watcher. These landscapes are as precious as the Galapagos in many ways, but with none of the wildlife police around to keep an eye. Do not approach wild animals, and always give them space. Be careful when hiking in grasslands for nesting birds, or indeed mother seals protecting cubs. Bring clean hiking boots with no imported bacteria on the soles and, of course, when hiking or exploring, adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace.

Falklands travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

Tips on when to see wildlife

Simon Evans from our leading Falkland Islands supplier, Chimu Adventures: “Although the Falklands are perhaps best known for their military past, they are home to a huge array of flora and fauna and provide some fantastic opportunities for nature lovers!. November to March is when the weather is more favourable”

Mary Curry, from our supplier Adventure Life: “I was in the Falklands in March, and people said – why are you here now? Our penguins are all ugly because they’re moulting, the elephant seals are all lounging on the beach, they’re really lazy. But March is really the best time to see whales, February and March are fabulous. My colleague was down there in March and she saw whales every single day. She saw a couple of blue whales, all kinds of species. But if you want to see the penguins busy nesting, if you want to see the elephant seals breeding, you want to go in the beginning of the season – October to November.”

Packing advice


Simon Evans from our supplier Chimu Adventures:

“As the Falklands are quite exposed it can get very windy and the weather can be changeable so I recommend taking a fleece and windproof jacket”

Going local


“These islands all need tourism to boost the economy and it is simply a matter of joining in with their ways of life, so nothing special is being built for tourists, but there is plenty of room, and plenty to see and do. Everything was memorable... Learning about the very different cultures in these places was something life changing and the welcome we received everywhere was the best I have ever known.” – Di Lammas, from our holiday reviews
Photo credits: [Aurora Australis: A. Sparrow] [Wildlife watching, penguins: RosyOnline Photography] [Local life, Penguin news: David Stanley]
Written by Catherine Mack
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