Where: The main islands and beyond
Why: Wild, remote and wildlife-rich with a unique British flavour, there’s nowhere quite like the Falkland Islands, or Malvinas, the South Atlantic outpost due east of Argentinian Patagonia.
One Ocean Expeditions will offer Antarctic cruises from the Falklands from 7 November, when it launches its charter flight service to the capital, Stanley, from Santiago, Chile. Rainbow Tours’ new 18-day tour to see the eclipse in Argentina’s lake district in December 2020, led by Hilary Bradt of Bradt Guides, will feature a week in the Falklands, including Christmas Day.
West Falkland and East Falkland, home to Stanley and RAF Mount Pleasant airport, respectively, are the two biggest islands but there are hundreds of smaller ones, such as Bleaker and the Jason Islands.
The wild, weather-worn archipelago is a photographer’s dream, known for its penguins and home to the world’s largest colony of black-browed albatrosses. It also offers excellent hiking. One interesting option is to hike the seven or so miles from Stanley to the Falklands’ most easterly point, Cape Pembroke, with its attractive lighthouse. More adventurous options include scaling Mount Usborne, the territory’s highest point at almost 3,000ft.
Locals have also turned the offering of cosy comfort into a local artform, from homely cottage stays to a traditional smoko, where visitors are plied with hot drinks, cakes and other treats whenever they arrive.
Pair it up
The Falklands are a staple of small-ship expedition cruises, alongside Antarctic wildlife havens such as South Georgia, home to the world’s densest wildlife population (from penguins to southern elephant seals). South Georgia also offers fascinating human heritage, from former whaling stations to the grave of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.
How to do it
One Ocean Expeditions’ new 17-night Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica — Mega Colonies voyage aboard RCGS Resolute uses the operator’s new flight service from Santiago to RAF Mount Pleasant. The 31 December 2019 departure is priced from $21,195 (£16,300), plus $495 (£380) for flights.
Q&A: Simon Evans, UK Manager, Chimu Adventures
What makes this such a great destination?
Most people associate the Falklands with conflict, and the tensions between the UK and Argentina, but the islands are also a wildlife haven, home to fascinating birdlife.
What to see on a visit there?
You can find king, gentoo, adelie and rockhopper penguins, as well as colonies of black-browed albatrosses and a vast array of other birdlife. Visits can be land-based, staying in the limited accommodation options on the islands, or via an expedition cruise, although these will also make calls at South Georgia and Antarctica. Chimu Adventures currently offers a cruise from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia via the Falklands, departing in October 2020 aboard Ocean Endeavour, from £3,705 per person.