Every house has a view at Port Howard, West Falkland’s only surviving large farm and the starting point for an improving road system. Most of the island’s wildlife sites are a bit distant, but a visit here offers insights into how the large sheep stations worked. Since its sale to former employees in 1987, though, hard times in the wool industry have caused unemployment, population has fallen from 40 into the twenties, and the school closed because there was only a single school-age child (served by a traveling teacher and radio instruction).
One of Howard’s outstanding features is the former manager’s house, now a visitors’ lodge. In its present state, this is a gem, but in the past it could also be a burden. According to one experienced observer, a large house was not necessarily a luxury, especially as labor became more scarce and expensive:
Managers’ houses have tended to be large not for the convenience of the managers —rather the opposite. They have been used as free hotels by official visitors —OK when servants were obtainable but a burden on wives in particular since in general they were not.
Still, as it grazes 42,000 sheep on about 200,000 acres, Port Howard offers possibilities for hiking near Mount Maria, fishing in the Warrah River, golf on a nine-hole par-three course, and highway and off-road tours. Occupied by a thousand Argentines in 1982, it saw no serious combat, but there’s a small war museum here, and the British military’s occasional live-fire exercises are a reminder of the continuing territorial dispute.
Port Howard Lodge (tel./fax 42187, porthowardlodge [at] cwimail [dot] fk, £90 pp with full board, discounts for children depending on age) provides a glimpse into the apparent comforts that came with privilege—spacious, well-furnished bedrooms with private baths, a large sitting room that now serves as a bar, a dining room that’s now the restaurant, and a sunny conservatory that yields luscious grapes in summer. The operators have preserved historic features like the antique crank telephone exchange (since replaced by a digital network); a handsome assortment of gaucho-style horse gear adorns the walls.
In addition, Howard Lodge offers farm tours (£5 pp) and eight-hour four-wheel-drive and wildlife tours (£40 pp, with a two-person minimum).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition