Falkland Islands Gallery
Photos by Katie Townsend

Darwin & Goose Green

     Darwin and Goose Green are situated less than a mile apart on the narrow neck of land that joins the southern Lafonia section of East Falkland to the northern Wickham Heights region.
     Darwin, a 35-minute drive from the Mount Pleasant airport, is a wonderful place to begin a Falkland Islands adventure. The modern, six-room Darwin House Lodge and Holiday Cottages offer comfortable accommodations, gourmet dining and a glimpse of life in "camp." Explore corrals dating back to the days when gauchos tended cattle in the area. A walk over the gorse covered heath offers a chance to spot ruddy-headed and upland geese, oystercatchers and, of course, sheep.

     Darwin Lodge owners Bonnie and Ken Greenland welcome you with homemade cakes and tea. Dinner's in the oven and the enticing aroma fills the lodge. Also on the greeting committee is a 10-day-old lamb the Greenlands have rescued. She's happy to share the garden with Polly, the year old ewe they bottle-fed last year. On chilly nights she sleeps in a box in the conservatory.

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Darwin House Lodge from FIGAS Island Hopper

View of Choisel Sound from Darwin Lodge rooms

Orphaned lamb waiting for its morning bottle
Goose Green
     From the lodge it's an easy walk down the gorse-lined road to Goose Green. This settlement is typical of the communities that dot the islands and are home to the workers and managers of the huge sheep farms that drive the local economy, in this case the 300,000 acre Goose Green farm. A peaceful village today, Goose Green was the site of the first land battle of the Falkland Islands' war with Argentina in 1982 and there are several reminders nearby. The Community Hall, where 114 local residents were imprisioned for almost two months by the Argentines, as well as the Argentine Cemetery where fallen occupying soldiers were buried are easily visited.
     Bodie Creek, a 15-minute Land Rover drive from Goose Green, is the site of the now-unused Bodie Suspension Bridge. Built from a kit imported from England in 1824-25 to shorten the distance sheep needed to be driven from southern Lafonia to the shearing sheds in Goose Green, it is still an incredible sight.

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Historic Goose Green Community Hall

Goose Green Quay

Goose Green settlement

Bodie Creek suspension bridge

Corral south of Goose Green

Curious sheep
Port Howard

     Port Howard, on West Falkland Island, is one of the last remaining large farming settlements in the Falklands. Port Howard farm covers 200,000 acres and supports 47,000 pure bred Corriedale sheep. The Port Howard Lodge is a convenient and comfortable place to begin a vacation in the islands. The Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) will schedule a flight to transport guests arriving at the Mount Pleasant airport to one of the two airstrips at Port Howard. Managers Gwen and Jim Hunter welcome guests with tea and an introduction to Port Howard. Noted for its excellent trout fishing, there is golf nearby and plenty to explore within the settlement. The sheep shearing sheds and jetty are an easy walk from the lodge. Those wishing to venture farther afield can engage a Land Rover and driver for the half-day trip to view penguins at Fox Bay or the full day across the island to Hill Cove and Turkey Rocks with a chance to view the only British miniature horses in the Falklands.

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Port Howard settlement

Port Howard jetty

Typical settlement house

Sheep shearing shed

War Museum

     West Point Island is a destination accessible only to those lucky enough to cruise the Falkland Islands on one of the several ships that have added this unique stop to their itinerary. The island's spectacular cliffs are home to huge colonies of black-browed albatrosses. Rockhopper penguins also breed among the rocks and Commerson's dolphins favor the waters surrounding the island.
     Visitors arrive at the jetty in peaceful West Point Harbour just below the settlement. It's a short walk to the farmhouse where owners Lily and Roddy Napier welcome you. The island has belonged to Roddy's family since the 1860s and he delights in sharing his knowledge of the islands and its wildlife with guests.
     Land Rovers shuttle visitors across the island to Devil's Nose where hundreds of black-browed albatrosses nest. Rockhopper penguins also roost there, using their sharp claws to make the journey from the sea up the steep cliff wall to their nests among the albatrosses. It's an easy walk back to the settlement where afternoon tea is waiting.
     Those seeking a more strenuous walk should head for the summit of Mt. Ararat for the spectacular view. Here dozens of one of the world's rarest birds of prey, the striated caracara, (known locally as "johnny rooks,") keep watch.
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West Point Beach

Lily and Roddy's Home

Orphaned Lamb

Black-browed Albatross

Rockhopper Penguins

Rockhopper Penguins

Mount Ararat Lookout

Striated Caracaras

West Point Settlement

Devil's Nose cliffs

Nesting Albatrosses

Upland Goose

     Sea Lion Island is the most southerly populated island in the Falklands and also one of the most popular destinations for visitors. Eight miles off the coast of East Falkland, this small island is home to breeding colonies of southern sea lions and elephant seals. The burrows of megellanic penguins line the track from the lodge to the closest beach. Large colonies of gentoo penguins roost on the long sandy stretch at the top of the beach. Harems of elephant seals line the shore and it's possible to quietly sit and watch the dynamics as young "batchelor" males challenge the dominant male's position. Visitors can get close enough to take amazing photos following several simple rules -- don't block a seal's access to the sea, don't get too close to a female with a young cub, and don't go anywhere near the dominant male.
      The gentoo penguins are also great fun to watch. During the Spring and Summer mating season, at about 5 p.m. each day, hundreds of gentoos return from a day of hunting in the sea and scramble to shore to parade back to their colony to trade duties with their mates. As they land they seem to shake themselves dry and socialize among themselves much like workers after a shift change. The line of penguins making their way to their roosts at the top of the beach is an awesome sight. Some stop at a freshwater pond for a bath before returning home.
      Near the west end of the island huge colonies of rockhopper penguins roost together with king cormorants. It's easy to see how the rockhopper got its name by watching the small penguins make their way up the rocky ledge to their nests in the cliffs.
      The wildlife highlights of Sea Lion Island can be experienced in a two or three day visit. However, many guests opt for a longer stay in order to roam the island and explore it more fully. Some happen upon nests of the many bird species that breed on Sea Lion and check back every day to see if eggs have hatched. Earthwatch, the worldwide organization that places volunteers in environmental studies around the world, has been tracking the habits of elephant seals at Sea Lion Island for years. The Sea Lion Lodge is special not only for the fine accommodations and excellent food, but also for the chance to get to know other people who have made the journey to this remote outpost.
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Gentoo Penguins


Magellanic Penguin

Rockhopper Mates

Elephant Seals

Elephant Seals

Blue-eyed Cormorants


Steamer Ducks


Photographing Rockhoppers

Photographing Gentoos

      A trip to Volunteer Point is a must for any visitor to Stanley. A huge colony of king penguins is the highlight, but getting there is also an adventure.
      Accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles, the journey to Volunteer Point is a 90-minute drive east from Stanley on a graded road that leads through cascades of rock dating to glacial times and crosses several farms, necessitating the opening and closing of pasture gates, as often happens in the Falklands.
      The road ends at Johnson's Harbour and the drive continues over the boggy heath made up of white grass and diddle-dee. Several new "bridges" (solid wooden planks) make crossing the gullies easier, but it's still another 90 minutes to Volunteer Point. The ride is safe and fun and puts flight simulater rides at theme parks to shame -- this is the real thing!
      Although several species of penguins reside at Volunteer Point, the king penguins are the main attraction. Adults make their way from the colony to the sea and young penguins share the territory with grazing sheep. It's possible to sit still and wait as the large, furry, gray chicks approach curiously.

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Juvenile King Penguins

Shared habitat

Snow Flurry

      The most remote and probably the smallest capital city in the world, Stanley is a true British outpost. The town has experienced much growth since the 1982 war with Argentina, but has managed to retain its frontier ambiance. Visitors will find that much of Stanley's history is measured as either before the 1982 war or after it. Early Stanley enjoyed a booming economy during the California gold rush as unseaworthy ships were forced to take shelter there. Many were repaired and provisioned at Port Stanley and others were abandoned and their remains are still visible in the harbour.
      The completion of the Panama canal reduced shipping traffic in the Falklands. Tne cattle herds tended by the Argentine gauchos were replaced by huge sheep farming interests that put "Falkland Wool" on the map and life in the Falklands was an easy mix of time spent in the town of Stanley and time spent in "camp" -- anywhere outside of Stanley.
      The brunt of the occupation by the Argentine army in early 1982 fell upon the citizens of Stanley. This small town survived the brutal war with spirit and dignity. Monuments and well-marked mine fields are reminders of the 74 day war.
      The Falkland Islands and Stanley are now emerging as a new destination for adventurous tourists. Two first-class hotels and a number of bed & breakfast establishments comfortably accommodate visitors to this capital city. Shops are within an easy walk, the Falkland Islands Museum creatively displays the area's past, the pubs are friendly and plentiful and the people are genuinely glad to share their corner of the South Atlantic with visitors.
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Falkland Wool

Jubilee Villas

Falkland Museum Display

Catholic Church

Gilbert House

Sparrowhawk House

Visitor's Centre

The Boat House

Kay's Gnome Garden

Christ Church Cathedral

Whalebone Arch

Falkland Museum Display

Residential Street

Interesting Road Sign

No School?
     The Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) holds the key to exploring the islands. The eight-passenger planes carry passengers and cargo between remote locations in the islands each day. Every evening a schedule of the following day's flights is drawn up based on requests for travel. The schedule is broadcast that evening on the radio and is also made available via fax-on-demand.     When a flight is scheduled to land at a settlement airstrip, someone from the settlement must arrive at the airstrip 10 minutes before the scheduled arrival time, hang up the windsock and hook the fire wagon to their Land Rover. When the plane is sighted they sit in the vehicle with the engine running until the plane has landed safely. They follow the same procedure for take off. Sometimes two vehicles are required -- one to man the fire wagon and one to chase flocks of birds off the airstrip. This is usually where hosts from the lodges welcome new guests.

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FIGAS Island Hopper

Flying to Port Howard

Airport fire wagon
Photos by Katie Townsend