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My Introduction, and a trip to the Falkland Islands

My Introduction, and a trip to the Falkland Islands

Old Jan 14, 20, 12:43 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2018
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My Introduction, and a trip to the Falkland Islands

Hi all,

I've read through pages and pages of this website and have received countless pieces of advice that have genuinely helped me become a more savvy traveller and have helped me navigate a world of airports, lounges, credit cards, hotels and booking systems that otherwise I would have struggled with! I want to give something back and share my experiences with you all so hopefully you can benefit/ enjoy my world, and what it has become over the past 5 years or so. I'm one of those road warriors you see- one of those people that spend over half their lives away from home, living in hotels and spending more time on aeroplanes in a year than most people do in a lifetime.

I recently looked back at the places I've been and the thing's I've seen and thought it would be nice to share some of them and hopefully inspire others to travel more- I genuinely believe it broadens the mind. A little bit about me to start with.... I'm 31, unmarried, no kids and live in the UK. I work for a small consultancy within the airline and airport industry and, as you may have guessed, travel a lot! Sometimes it's the 'normal' places,and sometimes its the slightly more interesting. Not only will I share my travel experiences, but thought I would 'blog' a little bit about life as a 'road warrior'- warts and all- so you can decide if this is the life you imagine!

So I begin.

A recent requirement to visit the Falkland Islands mean't organising flights and accommodation to one of the most remote British Territories in the world. At the time of writing, there are basically 2 options to get to Mount Pleasant- the capital. Firstly, there is a weekly commercial flight from Santiago operated by LATAM which arrives and departs on a Saturday (sometimes stopping in Rio Gallegos), or there is my chosen option- the British Royal Air Force! The RAF have a bi-weekly flight from RAF Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant operated by AirTanker on a military registered Airbus A330-200MRTT. Until a couple of years ago, the flight stopped to refuel on the equally remote Ascension Island, however, due to refurbishment works, the flight now refuels on the island of Sal- Cape Verde.

On arriving at Brize Norton- heightened security checks culminated in all 100 or so passengers waiting in a basic 'terminal' with limited facilities before being called forward to board. On these flights, only a limited number of 'civilian' seats are made available, with the majority of passengers being RAF service personnel on their way to their first overseas posting. Costs for the flights are fixed, and currently retail for over £2000 ($2600) for a return journey. Boarding is called forward by rank....rather than by loyalty card status(!!!) which was a first for me, and proceeded in the most orderly manner I've ever seen. Flight time to Cape Verde was just under 6 hours, and after 45 minutes in a desolate terminal at 3am, the flight took off for the long journey south with a flight time of around 10 hours. Interestingly, given the military nature of the flight, our routing had to take us over international waters all the way- something I didn't think about!

The Falklands are barren, with a population of only 4000 or so, resulting in one of the lowest population densities on the planet at only 1 person per square mile! My accommodation for the week was a lonely single room in the contractors building of the RAF Camp... not exactly 5* but comfortable, functional and definitely welcomed after the long trip.

I only visited for around 5 days, however, in those days, managed some well deserved R&R time, both within the camp, and exploring what the Falklands has to offer. I managed a couple of days exploring Stanley, and of course, saw the customary penguins which the island is so famous for. I was surprised to learn that Stanley is twinned with one of my favourite English towns- Whitby in North Yorkshire!

There are many things to see within a short drive of Stanley- notably the famous Totem Pole or the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth- a ship built in Sunderland (UK) which ran aground back in 1936. Along the road between Stanley and Mount Pleasant is also Boot Hill- a mysterious collection of shoes, boots and other footwear which has now become something of a local legend! Some stories shared are that of retired employees heading to the airport leaving a lasting memento, and other, darker stories tell of a landmine victim during the conflict of the 1980's! ...I'll leave that one to your imagination!!

Evenings were either spent in the local bar, where a bottle of UK exported beer cost a measly 50p, or challenging the British Forces' finest at a game or two of pool or cards! There are a number of active B&B's on the island, and transport can be arranged from the Airport to Stanley. The drive is around 45 minutes and i'd thoroughly recommend using your time to explore this amazing series of Islands. There are a limited number of internal flights operated by the local airline FIGAS, however, my short trip didn't gift me the opportunity to explore further!

Penguins and seals are abundant on the island at certain times of year, however, access to the beaches is extremely limited given the still current risk of landmines from conflicts gone by. These can however be seen from the various viewing points, countryside trails and walks along the coastline.

A trip far too short, however, I hope this has given some insight into a trip maybe less well documented on this site, and hopefully more to come! One final recommendation would be the locally made Scurvy Grass Falklands Gin by the Tumbletown Distillery- a must for any well stocked drinks cabinet!

The flight home was interrupted by the famous 'rotors' which are a wind phenomenon well documented on the islands. We checked in our luggage the night before, however, an early wake up call 6 hours before the flight left, we were told to get to the airport as the flight was leaving as soon as possible! One aborted take off later, and a tense 15 minute wait on the apron while the UK Meteorological Office were consulted on what to do left the half full A330 slightly nervous as the captain announced 'We'll try another take off'! Back via Cape Verde again, and finally home to Brize Norton ended an amazing trip, and one I would love to do again- hopefully with more time to explore this amazing place!

Over and out for now- but keep an eye out for more!

Talesfromtheroad is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 2:43 am
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Very enjoyable TR, Talesfromtheroad.

Interesting that the flight has to use international airspace, I guess due to the disputed nature of the islands? Or for military flights in general?
DanielW is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 5:47 am
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Brilliant report.

This is a place I've always wanted to visit and maybe will one day.
Dover2Golf is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 8:30 am
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Welcome and congratulations on your first TR!!
What an interesting destination, and only 50p for a beer
roadwarrier is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 1:20 pm
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Lovely TR.

I spent a year working in the Falklands and went back to see my friends a couple of years ago. Hoping to head back again next year - wonderful place. Next time if you’re going back take a FIGAS Island Hopper to the West Falklands - so beautiful
our_kid is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 2:38 pm
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Great Trip Report. You've inspired me to get my photos from a trip to another British Overseas Territory, Saint Helena, sorted out and on here.

Funky Spike is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 3:12 pm
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Evening all,

Thank you for the kind replies! I didnt know whether anyone would like this kind of thing- these reports are never doing to be a 'First Class to Dubai' type of report, but I will hopefully give you an insight into what I do, the places I visit and how someone can live this kind of life!

I'd love to see St Helena! Many of the guys working here are from there, and make the long journey to the Falklands (via Johannesburg and London!!)

Funky Spike and nequine like this.
Talesfromtheroad is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 3:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Talesfromtheroad View Post
I didnt know whether anyone would like this kind of thing
Why not? Travel has many faces and all are interesting!
offerendum is offline  
Old Jan 15, 20, 5:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Talesfromtheroad View Post
Thank you for the kind replies! I didnt know whether anyone would like this kind of thing- these reports are never doing to be a 'First Class to Dubai' type of report, but I will hopefully give you an insight into what I do,
I'm looking forward to following along! Thank you for taking time to share.
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Old Jan 17, 20, 9:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Talesfromtheroad View Post
Evening all,

Thank you for the kind replies! I didnt know whether anyone would like this kind of thing- these reports are never doing to be a 'First Class to Dubai' type of report, but I will hopefully give you an insight into what I do, the places I visit and how someone can live this kind of life!
Personal opinion, and personal taste, but I find trip reports like yours to the rarer, far flung exotic locations of the world more interesting reading than reviews of the in-flight Dom P. on another EK F report! Keep it up!
Catweazle is offline  
Old Jan 18, 20, 3:04 pm
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Thanks for doing this report and I would like to encourage you to keep going with them. Personally, I find these reports to be far more interesting than some on here as they mirror perhaps my own travel in a way.
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Old Jan 20, 20, 9:52 pm
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Great report. Can't wait to visit the Falklands someday. Also LAN now flies on Wednesdays from GRU-MPN.
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Old Jan 21, 20, 4:17 am
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Great report! So cool to see what this remote place looks like, and to hear about the experience of flying there on the RAF shuttle. What were the seats on board their A330 like? Just regular economy seats? How was the seat pitch and inflight service?
mad_atta is offline  
Old Jan 21, 20, 4:31 am
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In response to the seating on the A330- the flight is operated by a company called AirTanker who charter these aircraft to other commercial carriers too. Although painted grey on the outside, the interior was actually in Jet2 colours (another UK charter Airline) as this was used for their summer operations. The in flight 'entertainment' on these flights is famously poor- with 4 meals over the 2 legs all consisting of the same thing and no films/ TVs of any kind so make sure to bring your own!!
Talesfromtheroad is offline  
Old Jan 21, 20, 2:58 pm
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A330 seating - can speak of the Cyprus trooper, where the seating was economy width with a reasonably generous pitch (more than BA short haul). There were child-friendly films on the overhead IFE, and simple ear buds or headphone adaptors handed out. Noise levels towards the rear were high, not so bad further forward. Cabin crew were civvie and friendly, flight deck were RAF (either Regular or AirTanker Reserve, not sure). Food was ok, no personal electronic devices to be on for take off/ landing - flight mode was not sufficient. Hope that helps a bit!
Tocsin is offline  

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