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Falkland Islands

Seven Island Circuit: Patagonia & Antarctica
Duration: 18 days
Group Size: 8 max
Begins, Ends In: Santiago, Chile
Tour Type: All inclusive

Trek through the most diverse wildlife habitats in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Take in the abundant seabird colonies of the western Falklands including Gentoo, Magellanic, and Rockhopper Penguins. Explore Sea Lion Island, the most species-rich site in all the Falklands with time to watch South American Sea Lions and observe Orcas patrolling for unwary Southern Elephant Seals. Witness Magellanic Penguins as they ride the surf in to the beach and then waddle to their underground burrows.

With three days on Steeple Jason Island – a place very few have the opportunity to stay – you’ll have ample time explore on foot and to sit quietly alongside the Black-browed Albatross colony and watch as they take off, land, court, and preen each other. Pebble, Bleaker, and Volunteer Point on East Falkland Island round out this complete Falklands wildlife experience.

Tour Details
Jan 31 - Feb 17, 2019

Guided by: Hugh Rose

This tour is booked through Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris. Please use the booking links above. Note pricing & itinerary may change from year to year.

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Tour Highlights

  • Island hop this wildlife-rich sub-Antarctic archipelago, staying multiple nights in comfortable country inns, while enjoying full days of wildlife photography and observation
  • Stand at the edge of the largest colony of black-browed albatross in the world (200,000+ pairs) while these magnificent and stately albatross with their 8-foot wingspan glide past only inches from your head, on the unforgettable Steeple Jason Island!
  • Sit on the beach at Carcass Island while Gentoo and Magellanic penguins surf up to your feet and march past you as they return to their nests with food for their young
  • Watch from the cliffs of Sea Lion Island as Orcas patrol the coastline hunting for southern elephant seals
  • Experience the curiosity of “Johnny Rook” (Striated Caracara) the rarest bird of prey in the world during a daily outing
  • Visit some of the museums and learn the history of the Falkland Islands in the historic seafaring town of Stanley
Seven Island Circuit
The Best of Patagonia & Antarctica

Itinerary Summary

Description Lodge Meals
Day 1 Depart home.
Day 2 Arrive in Santiago. Santiago Airport Holiday Inn, Santiago, Chile
Day 3 Fly to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands, then fly to Bleaker Island. Bleaker Island Lodge B, L, D
Day 4 Explore Bleaker Island’s Rockhopper Penguins, King Cormorants, and waterfowl. Bleaker Island Lodge B, L, D
Day 5 - 6 Fly to Sea Lion Island for introductory tour and enjoy the most wildlife diversity in the Falklands. Sea Lion Lodge B, L, D
Day 7 - 8 Fly to Pebble Island, explore its varied landscapes and wildlife habitats. Pebble Island Lodge B, L, D
Day 9 Fly to and explore Carcass Island, discovering a variety of bird species. Managers House, Carcass Island B, L, D
Day 10 - 12 Sail to Steeple Jason Island for three nights. Explore the world’s largest Black-browed Albatross colony. Steeple Jason Island House B, L, D
Day 13 - 14 Return to Carcass Island with one full-day boat excursion to West Point Island. Managers House, Carcass Island B, L, D
Day 15 Fly to Stanley for city tour and museum visit. The Malvina House Hotel, Stanley B, L, D
Day 16 Full-day excursion to Volunteer Point. The Malvina House Hotel, Stanley B, L, D
Day 17 Fly to Santiago to connect to flights home or fly to Punta Arenas if continuing on our Antarctic Peninsula voyage. B, L
Day 18 Arrive home, or if continuing on our Antarctic Peninsula voyage, optional day excursions in Punta Arenas.
Falkland Islands Vavilov

Day 1: Depart Home

Start your journey to Santiago, Chile.

Day 2: Arrive In Santiago, Chile

Arrive in Santiago, Chile. Transfer to our hotel for a free day to rest or explore historic and colorful Santiago.

Falkland Island Circuit Photography Tours

Day 3: Fly To Falkland Islands, Then Fly To Bleaker Island

Take the once-weekly flight from Santiago to Mount Pleasant Airport in the Falkland Islands (not included in trip cost). Upon arrival, you will be greeted with a packed lunch and escorted to your flight to Bleaker Island.

Falkland Islands Penguin

Day 4: Bleaker Island

You’ll spend your time on Bleaker hiking along this small, wildlife-rich island, including Long Gulch, which is just one of a number of the dramatic inlets in the rocky cliffs. The top of the cliff-top is bordered with tussock grass where about 9,000 pairs of Imperial (King) Cormorants group together and are joined by a colony of about 750 pairs of Rockhopper Penguins, a Bleaker Island highlight. Other highlights you may experience are a Gentoo Penguin highway, Magellanic Penguin burrows dotted across the island, and waterfowl at Big Pond.

Falkland Islands Photo Tour

Day 5 - 6: Sea Lion Island

Sea Lion Island is one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago (just five miles long and just over one mile wide at its widest point), and the most southerly-inhabited island. The sheer abundance of wildlife in such a small area makes it a must on any Falklands itinerary. Sea Lion Island hosts over 47 species of bird, including Rockhopper, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins; you will be graced by some of the 2,800 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguins with hatched chicks, and scatterings of Southern Giant-Petrels. Please give giant-petrels a wide berth, they can be very nervous and abandon their nests with minimal disturbance. Other birds you may encounter are South American Snipe, Rufous-chested Dotterel, the endemic Cobb’s and Sedge wrens, small birds that have recently been afforded protection from the tall grass that has been allowed to grow after the removal of sheep from the island. The biggest attraction is the large number of Southern Elephant Seals that breed here, principally on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. In February, the young pups and recently weaned are plentiful on the beach, making for great behavioral watching. Also not to be missed are the South American (or Southern) Sea Lions at East Loafers. Pods of Killer Whales are also often seen circling close offshore (usually a treat for the early risers) attracted by the prospect of penguins and seals.

Day 7 - 8: Pebble Island

Pebble Island is the third largest offshore island and is home to the longest sand beach in the Falklands. Pebble was named in the 1760’s after the beautiful semi-precious pebbles that were discovered on its western beaches. The landscape of Pebble Island varies greatly from pristine beaches, moor lands, and rocky peaks to an extensive area of ponds and wetlands, and dramatic coastal cliffs. All of these provide vital breeding habitats for an incredible list of resident bird species. The deep ponds on the east of the island, many of which are within walking distance of the lodge, are home to Chiloe Wigeon, Silvery Grebes, Black-necked Swans, and multitude of other wildfowl and wading birds. Many thousands of Gentoo, Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins breed on Pebble Island each summer.

Day 9: Carcass Island

Lying to the northwest of the Falklands archipelago, Carcass is one of the most picturesque outer-lying islands. In its 100+ years of habitation this island has had only three owners, all environmentally conscious, and an absence of cats and rats makes the luxuriant, well established hedges and trees an attractive home to many small birds such as the Cobb’s Wren, Black-chinned Siskins, and Austral Thrush. The sandy beaches, rolling hills and low cliffs are superb platforms from which to view the multitude of birds that either breed or feed on and around this island, which include Gentoo and Magellanic penguins, Yellow-billed Pintails, Falkland (or Flightless) Steamer-Ducks, Magellanic Oystercatchers, and Striated Caracaras. A growing colony of Southern Elephant Seals can be found at the far north west point of the island. Both the north and south of the island provide great hiking opportunities, taking in interesting flora, long white sand beaches (some good beachcombing), penguin colonies, and sheltered dunes which make great picnic spots.

Falkland Islands Bird Photo Tour

Day 10 - 12: Steeple Jason Island

Weather permitting; you will take a boat ride to Steeple Jason Island. We will do everything in our power to get the group there, but rough seas can delay or cancel this departure.

Steeple Jason is the outermost northwest island, now a reserve owned by Wildlife Conservation Society. Albatross are the main attraction, their nests thickly wrapping around the base of the striking island. More Black-browed Albatross nest here than anywhere else on earth, at least a quarter million birds! From a distance, the immense colony on the lower shores looks like freshly fallen snow. As you approach, you’ll see thousands of birds circling in the air and rafting on the water like tiny icebergs, and once ashore, maneuver through the tall, wispy tussock grass to arrive at the colony and experience albatross flying very close overhead.

Day 13 - 14: Return To Carcass Island With Boat Excursion To West Point Island

The freedom from predation and active habitat restoration work by owner Rob McGill has blessed Carcass with an immediately evident ambiance, different from anywhere else in the Falklands. You will have plenty of time to explore this very special island with our guide or completely at your own leisure as you choose.

On West Point Island, experience vast numbers of Black-browed Albatross, Rockhopper Penguins, and superb cliff scenery on our full day excursion. West Point lies off the most northwesterly point of West Falkland, west from Carcass about an hour by boat; during the transfer enjoy dolphins and birds swooping down to feed in the rich seas.

Once on West Point Island you are free to explore the picturesque settlement, stop in for tea, and make your way to Devil’s Nose Cliffs – the wildlife hotspot. A lift across the two miles of gentle track may be available via Land Rover. On the return journey, conditions permitting, we may circumnavigate West Point Island to give spectacular photographic opportunities.

Day 15: Return To Stanley For City Tour And Museum Visit

You’ll bid the outer islands farewell to return to Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. The timing of your charter flight depends on weather and other flight schedules, but will likely be around midday. With a population of around 2,000, Stanley is the smallest and most remote capital city in the world, in many ways like an English village from decades ago with the addition of a Government House, a cathedral, and a wide range of amenities and services. The city is built on a north-facing slope to catch the sun throughout the year, looking across Stanley Harbor with its wealth of seabirds and trickle of shipping. Stanley’s historical interest is associated with the great age of sail when rounding Cape Horn was the most daunting nautical passage on the planet. Some of those ships still lie in the harbor, abandoned after a Cape Horn battering. A self-guided Maritime History Trail has been set up in Stanley and guidebooks are available from local shops.

Stanley depicts a new vibrant Falklands, and is home to many successful businesses, with deep-sea fishing, tourism, farming and most recently oil prospecting being the principle earners.

Day 16: Excursion To Volunteer Point

After about a 2.5-hour drive by Landrover, you’ll arrive at the white sandy beach and turquoise waters of Volunteer Point, a destination with almost a Caribbeanesque feel to it, but the King, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins will bring you back to the Falklands. Discover the largest accessible King Penguin colony in the Islands outside of South Georgia, containing approximately 1,000 adults. You may also find other wildlife such as Long-tailed Meadowlarks, Austral Thrush, South American Snipe, and South American Tern, Blackish and Magellanic oystercatchers, and Upland, Kelp, and Ruddy-headed geese. Enjoy the spectacular scenery as you traverse the north of East Falkland.

Day 17: Flights Home

Leave Mount Pleasant Airport and transfer to international flights homeward in Santiago, or to Punta Arenas if you are joining our Antarctic Peninsula voyage.

Day 18: Arrive Home

Included in the price:

  • All leaders, transport, landing fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Internal flights in the Falkland Islands: Stanley to Bleaker Island, Bleaker Island to Sea Lion Island, Sea Lion Island to Pebble Island, and Carcass Island to Stanley.
  • Meals from breakfast on Day 3 through lunch on Day 17.
  • Accommodations for the nights of Day 2 through Day 16.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not included in the price:

  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $2,000–$2,500 from the USA to Mount Pleasant, depending on origin.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Gratuities: Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $10 per participant per day (total of $130 per participant) for guides and hotel staff.
  • We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but it is required for you to purchase.. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, and items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
Hugh Rose

Hugh Rose

Hugh Rose has photographed and lived in northern climates most of his life with the latter part of it in Alaska. Compelled by Alaska’s natural beauty, he left a 10-year…

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