The Falkland Islands Tourist Board has released its July newsletter in which it gives an update of what everybody is expecting to be a great summer season after a hiatus of two years because of the pandemic.
It begins by inviting people to visit the Falklands via South America, mentioning the return of the weekly Latam flight to the Islands from Chile. Every Saturday a flight comes from Santiago de Chile to Stanley city and returns that same day.
However on describing Independent Travel, it points out that an independently organized holiday to the Falkland Islands is easily achievable but there are some important points to note.
LATAM is the only international airline that services the Islands. Connect through Santiago or Punta Arenas in Chile to travel on to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands. Use the code MPN to search for Mount Pleasant Airport, Falkland Islands, flights are every Saturday. On the second Saturday of each month the southbound flight calls additionally at Rio Gallegos, Argentina; on the third Saturday each month the flight stops there on the northbound trip. This enables one-week visits to be made from Rio Gallegos.
Alternatively, you can book the midweek flight with LATAM which operates a flight every Wednesday from São Paulo (GRU) returning the same day. Once a month the flight stops in Cordoba, Argentina (COR). The inaugural flight was on Wednesday 20 November 2019. This flight is waiting to be re-launched, which is expected to happen closer to the summer season.
Travelling from UK
If you are travelling from the UK, the MOD operated flight from Brize Norton may appeal as an alternative option. With just one re-fuelling stop in Cape Verde, this provides a faster route directly from the UK. Contact the Falkland Islands Government Office, FIGO, in London for more information about this route and to make a booking. If you would prefer to fly via Santiago with LATAM, International Tours and Travel will be able to assist you.
Visitors should have accommodation booked in advance. Creating an itinerary before arrival also means that you will get the best from your trip as many locations have just a small number of rooms and very little late-availability in the high season, December to February.
Contact accommodation providers, work out your plan and make bookings. Once this is complete, you will need to arrange transport between places. If you have an island-hopping itinerary, simply contact the Falkland Islands Government Air Service, FIGAS, with your dates and destinations and they will do the rest. Seek advice from accommodation providers if you wish to travel by land. Vehicles are available for hire from Stanley. Drivers and guides offer transport and tours to many locations. Plan to be on East Falkland for the final night of your trip so you can connect to Mount Pleasant Airport in good time
Bus services are available from Mount Pleasant Airport to Stanley but there are no scheduled services elsewhere in the Islands. Buses provide drop-off and pick-up to and from your accommodation. This requires booking in advance for arrival and essential for departure!
Cruise ships are back
As said in the introduction the Falklands will be welcoming cruise ships back to the Islands again for a full tourist season. Starting from September 30th to the end of March the Islands are looking to have a footfall of around 80,000 pax, if cruise ships are at full capacity.
The Falkland Islands feature on itineraries for many cruise companies. Ships visiting the Islands vary greatly in size from small ice-breaking yachts to large, luxury vessels with passenger numbers from as little as ten to as many as three thousand.
Small vessels usually include the Falklands as part of an Antarctic route incorporating South Georgia and the Antarctic peninsula. Most will call in to one or more of the outlying islands, offering fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities and exhilarating walks along hills, cliff-tops or around the shoreline. Zodiac craft (inflatable small boats) provide transport from ship to shore.
Large ships generally tour South America with a stop in the Falklands en route around Cape Horn.
Stanley and the Visitor Centre
All vessels have the Island’s capital Stanley, scheduled as part of the tour. Passengers may arrive ashore by tender, inflatable zodiac or disembark directly at Stanley’s floating dock facility. The Visitor Centre is the ideal starting point for any visit, providing information about the city and connecting visitors with tours and transport. Tenders arrive at pontoons directly in front of the Centre. The floating dock is a short bus-ride with courtesy transport provided.
Shore excursions can be booked on board ship which is the recommended option for anyone keen to take a tour. The range on offer is tremendous from various trips to penguin colonies and farms, Stanley’s highlights by bus, battlefield and walking tours.
Small buses run regularly to the nearby penguin colony at Gypsy Cove and the city is easy to explore on foot but to get the best from your visit, a tour with a local guide is highly recommended. Stanley’s population is relatively small and many hands turn-to when a large ship calls. Some guides can be found at the Visitor Centre but advance booking is essential to guarantee an excursion on a busy day.