Its setting often compared with the moorlands of Scotland’s outer isles, fast-growing Stanley claims to be the “world’s smallest capital.” It’s modernizing rapidly as commercial fishing, tourism, and (tentatively) oil supplant wool in the Falkland Islands’ economy. The sweet scent of smoldering peat no longer permeates the evening atmosphere, as heating oil now warms the houses and fuels the cookstoves of most aging stone cottages and newer kit constructions alike, and streets once lined with utilitarian Land Rovers now sport shiny new SUVs.
While few Islanders work directly in the fishery, their joint ventures with overseas fishing companies and local government’s infrastructural investments have, since the 1982 South Atlantic conflict, transformed a forlorn-looking village into a much more presentable place. Many local residents have remodeled and repainted their houses, or built new ones; many continue their tradition of self-sufficiency by tending tidy kitchen gardens even though more commercial produce is now available.
Getting to Stanley
For several years after the 1982 war, the only way to reach the Falkland Islands was an expensive Royal Air Force flight from England via Ascension Island. That route still exists, with an irregular schedule, but for the last several years LAN (www.lan.com) has offered Saturday flights to and from Punta Arenas (US$664 round-trip); one flight per month picks up and drops off passengers in the Argentine city of Río Gallegos (where the fare is only US$207).
Once you reach the Island, FIGAS (tel. 27219, tel. 27303 at check-in desk) flies 10-seat Norman-Britten Islanders to grass airstrips around the Islands on demand, but clients may need to be flexible; it now takes credit cards. Stanley Airport is about four kilometers east of town.
For international flights, Falkland Islands Tours & Travel (tel. 21775, fitt [at] horizon [dot] co [dot] fk) offers door-to-door bus service (£15 pp) to Mount Pleasant International Airport. The Falkland Islands Company (tel. 27633) does it for one pound less.
Bonner’s Taxi (tel. 51126) and Town Taxi (tel. 52900) provide service around town; the average fare is about £3, but Stanley airport transfers cost £6.
For rental cars, try FIC Automotive (Crozier Place and Hebe St., tel. 27680), Stanley Services (tel. 22622), or Raymond Poole (tel. 51037). Rates start around £38 per day.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition