The Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory, is an archipelago that lies 490 kilometres east of Patagonia in the South Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by decades of controversy, the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas as they are known in Argentina) have been settled and claimed by France, Spain, Britain and Argentina.
The Falkland Islands are largely unknown gems that offer an abundance of wildlife - they are a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. Although often primarily remembered for the Falklands War between the UK and Argentina in 1982, the archipelago is a haven for wildlife. There are 5 species of penguin found here as well as vast populations of black-browed albatrosses, large colonies of elephant and fur seals, Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins, orcas and a myriad of bird species.
Our itinerary will be dictated by the weather but we will make daily excursions and shore landings, exploring by Zodiac, hiking and maybe even kayaking. We may visit Carcass Island that abounds with birdlife or Saunders Island, home to the black-browed albatross, breeding imperial shags, and 4 species of penguin (rockhopper, king, Magellanic and gentoo). West Point Island also hosts a large black-browed albatross population and rockhopper penguins. On Pebble Island there are opportunities to see colonies of 4 species of penguin, king and rock shags, giant petrels, striated caracaras, black-necked swans and ground nesting birds plus an aircraft wreckage from the 1982 conflict. At Grave Cove there are excellent hiking opportunities and a nesting gentoo penguin colony. Volunteer Point is home to the largest king penguin rookery on the Falklands and Sea Lion Island is home to the largest breeding colony of southern elephant seals in the archipelago, with up to 2,000 individuals on the northern beaches. Orcas and Commerson’s dolphins can often be seen from the shoreline.
We will visit Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, a quaint town with colourful houses, waterfront promenade and English-style pubs. The town was established in the early 1840’s and attractions include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, a cathedral with impressive whalebone arch, a war memorial, quality gift shops and views of shipwrecks in the harbour. Southern giant petrels often fly close to the shore, the endemic Falkland steamer ducks abound on the shorelines while kelp gulls and dolphin gulls can often be seen flying overhead. Other frequent visitors to the Stanley area include black-crowned night herons, red-backed hawks and peregrine falcons. Turkey vultures are regularly seen on top of any prominent building.