Falkland Islands

When to go

Best months to visit are October to April; some places to stay are only open in these months. This is the best time for most wildlife watching, too. The islands are in the same latitude south as London is north. The climate is cool and oceanic, dominated by persistent westerly winds which average 16 knots. Long periods of calm are rare except in winter. Though not always inclement, weather is very changeable but temperatures vary relatively little. At Stanley, the capital, the mean temperature in summer (January/February) is 15.4°C, but temperatures frequently exceed this on the islands. In winter (June/July/August) 4.9°C. Stanley's annual rainfall of about 600 mm is slightly higher than London's. In the drier camp, outside Stanley, summer drought sometimes threatens local water supplies. A dusting of snow may occur at any time of the year. Always wear water and windproof clothing; wear good boots and a peaked hat to protect the eyes from rain or hail. Sunblock is essential.

Best time for wildlife

For wildlife enthusiasts, especially ornithologists, the Islands are an exceptional destination. King and some gentoo penguins are present the year round. Rockhoppers are on land October to May, magellanic penguins September to April. The black-browed albatross breeding season is September to May. Elephant seals are ashore September-December, with a January-March moult. Sea lions can be seen December-March. Sei whales usually arrive in Falkland waters in January/February and remain till May/June. Other whale species may be seen in the same period, but not usually close to shore. Orcas are best seen on Sea Lion Island when sea lion pups are going to sea. Commerson's and Peale's dolphins are present the year round, but the former are less evident in winter. The most common birds are upland geese; other frequently-seen geese are kelp and ruddy-headed. The flightless steamer duck (logger duck) can be seen in many places, as can Falkland skuas, southern giant petrels, Patagonian crested duck, speckled teal, grebes, shags, gulls and shorebirds such as magellanic and blackish oystercatchers. The rarest bird of prey in the world, the striated caracara (Johnny Rook) can easily be seen in several places (Sea Lion, Carcass, Weddell). Smaller birds that are easy to see include the striking long-tailed meadowlark, dark-faced ground tyrant, Falkland thrush and pipit. In islands unaffected by introduced predators you'll see the friendly tussacbird and the rarer Cobb's wren. There are many other common bird species and, for botanists, plants of interest. For wildlife calendar, booklists, checklists and reports: Falklands Conservation, www.falklandsconservation.com.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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