Member Postcards

Dispatch from the Falkland Islands

Indagare member Roger Fishman recently returned from a vacation in the Falkland Islands and recounts his impressions from the trip.

The Falkland Islands are like Scotland meets the Galapagos. It is a virtually untouched and wide-open place full of amazingly kind, generous people. The proximity to wildlife is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It all results in creating an incredible peacefulness. As a professional photographer, I travel often and go to a range of different places, and the Falkland Islands is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. I love wildlife, hiking, taking photographs and creating artwork from my experiences, so for me, the Falklands were exquisite. The pictures I took on this trip, specifically of the king penguins, are my favorite I’ve ever taken.

Visitors need to be adventurous and flexible, especially when it comes to living conditions. You’re 600 miles off the coast of South America in the middle of the ocean, and of the 3,000 residents, 2,500 live in one town, so there are essentially 500 people scattered across an area the size of Connecticut. There is no cell phone connection, and the Internet is slow, expensive and inconsistent. The flip side is that the people are consistently wonderful and the experience is spectacular and rewarding. If you go into a trip to the Falklands with an open mind it will be a transformative experience. Most importantly, you have to be comfortable with nature and with yourself.

I landed in Mt. Pleasant and then flew around to the different islands in small commuter planes (most flights aren’t longer than fifteen minutes.) The pilots are amazing and the airlines felt more than safe, despite grass airstrips. Upon landing, I was picked up by the owners of the islands; its really as intimate and personal as it could be.

I stayed in three entirely different and fantastic accommodations: a private home, a brand-new four-bedroom cottage and a carriage house that just recently got 24-hour electricity; it is still heated by burning peat. Each place felt distinctive and special. In some places I was given a sleeping bag and slept in a bunk bed. It was incredible, but you have to have the right mindset.

I saw five different types of penguins, sea lions, elephant seals and gorgeous birds including terns, petrels and albatrosses. The region is rich with both land-based and water-based wildlife. Best of all, if you’re respectful of the wildlife, you are able to have tremendous proximity to them.

The kinds of people that come to the Falklands are quite eclectic and wonderful. You get really like-minded individuals. Some people are going for the walking and hiking, some are going for the solitude of the place and some are photographers. Many of the residents are 6th, 7th or even 8th-generation Brits. The New York Times listed the Falkland Islands as one of their top 46 places to visit this year, and they mentioned the “quirky” locals. I found the people to be wonderful; they’re fun, kind and smart. Their patriotism is palpable and they love to share their home with visitors. The nature of the place—being so difficult to get to—attracts visitors who are equally passionate about seeing it.

The land was completely inspiring and transformative; even seeing it from the air didn’t prepare me for what it would be like. Every morning I would get up at the crack of dawn, collect a pack lunch and hike up to ten miles. Sometimes I would go hours without seeing another person. The sense of perspective is humbling and a reminder of where we are on the planet.

Before a trip to the Falklands it is imperative that you suspend all expectations. Before I left, someone who has visited four times told me, “it will be better than what you expect.” And he was right.

Published onJanuary 8, 2014

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