East Falkland has the islands’ most extensive road network, consisting of a good highway to Mt Pleasant International Airport and Goose Green. Only slightly larger in area than West Falkland, East Falkland’s population is much larger, though once you’re out of Stanley things are pretty quiet.
The first British garrison on the Falklands was built in 1765 at Port Egmont. In 1767, after France ceded its colony to Spain, Spanish forces dislodged the British from Saunders and nearly precipitated a war between the two countries. After the British left voluntarily in 1774, the Spaniards razed the settlement, including its impressive blockhouse.
Elongated Pebble, off West Falkland’s northern coast, has varied topography, a good sampling of wildlife and extensive wetlands. There are also more than 10,000 purebred Corriedale sheep. Pebble is thought to be named for the beautiful agate stones found on the beaches at the island’s west end.
The Falklands’ most westerly inhabited island is also a unique wildlife area, with large colonies of penguins, albatrosses, petrels and seals. The island comprises two properties. New Island South is cared for by the New Island South Conservation Trust, which promotes the study of ecology and conservation.
Stretching 65km off the west coast of West Falkland, this chain is among the westernmost in the Falklands. The Jasons take their name from HMS Jason, dispatched to survey the Falklands in 1766. The archipelago’s largest islands are Grand Jason, 11km long and about 3km across, and, to the west, Steeple Jason, 10km long and 1.5km wide at its broadest.
Despite its off-putting name, Carcass is a scenic little island with a good variety of wildlife, including a small gentoo rookery and large colonies of Magellanic penguins, which even nest beneath the home of Rob and Lorraine McGill, the owners. Because the island has never had cats, rats or mice, small birds are abundant.
Port Howard is West Falkland’s oldest farm, dating back to 1866, and also the largest privately owned farm in the Falkland Islands. About 25 people live on the 81,000-hectare station, which has 40,000 sheep and 800 cattle. Port Stephens’ rugged headlands, the most scenic part of the Falklands, are open to the blustery South Atlantic.
This popular excursion from Stanley boasts the largest king penguin colony in the Falklands, where the photogenic kings are at the northern limit of their range. King penguins were reported here in the early 18th century, but by the late 1800s they had been virtually wiped out in the exploitation of the Falklands’ wildlife.
The Falklands’ oldest settlement, Port Louis dates from the French foundation of the colony by Louis de Bougainville in 1764. One of its oldest buildings is the ivy-covered 19th-century farmhouse, still occupied by farm employees. Scattered nearby are ruins of the French governor’s house and fortress and Louis Vernet’s settlement.
After the Falklands War, British military personnel were housed in and around Stanley until RAF Mt Pleasant was completed in 1986. At its post-1982 peak, the base staff numbered more than 2000 and even today there are about 1200, making it the second- biggest population center in the islands. Some visitors arrive and depart via the Mt Pleasant International Airport.