Discovery penguins, seals, whales and the world's biggest albatross colonies!
- Cost: £5,690 per person (inclusive of all costs: internal flights, expedition vessels, guides, permits, food).
- Start Point: Stanley, Falklands.
- End Point: Stanley, Falklands.
- Dates: Saturday January 30th, 2021 to Saturday February 13th, 2021 (15 days / 14 nights). For more info email us.
- Group Size: 8-12
- Bespoke Tour: If you do not wish to join a group tour, we can customise a private trip to fit your dates and interests. Please email us for details and a quote.
This trip offers the very best wildlife highlights that the Falkland Islands have to offer, and in the greatest levels of comfort and ease possible. Staying in luxurious local accommodation, and using a combination of local flights and a charter yacht, we will access many sea bird and marine mammal breeding sites that most visitors do not get to see!
Join this adventure to witness waddling penguins up close, as well as playful seals, fluffy albatross chicks and so much more!
Nature’s Best Kept Secret
The Falkland Islands are home to the world’s largest albatross colonies, over a million penguins (King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic and Macaroni), sea lions, elephant seals, fur seals, and fifteen species of whales and dolphins! Several birds of prey are also found here, including most of the world’s striated caracara population, as well as 63 land bird species, of which, 16 of which are found no where else on Earth.
Much of this wildlife can be seen very easily, not least, because many native mammal and bird species are not habituated to mankind and so can be approached (carefully, quietly and at a responsible distance) to enable incredible photo opportunities and experiences!
This unique archipelago of nearly 800 islands harbours beautiful landscapes, fascinating history and friendly local culture. Many visitors leave agreeing that the Falkland Islands are among the world’s top “undiscovered” wildlife destinations.
Antarctic Wildlife without the Cost and Difficulty
Visiting the Falkland Island is far less expensive than the long (often uncomfortable) voyages across the rough Southern Ocean to Antarctica and South Georgia. Yet the Falklands are home to many of the same species observed at these destinations and sometimes in even greater numbers. This is especially true for several species of albatross, sea lions and even some species of penguins (e.g. rockhopper penguins).
Day 1: Saturday January 30th, 2021
The group arrives at Mount Pleasant Airport via LATAM airlines. Bus transfer to Stanley (approximately 1 hour). Anyone who arrived earlier on the RAF flights from Brize Norton are met in Stanley at their convenience.
Today we explore Stanley (a charming town at the end of the world), visiting the museum (fascinating exhibits including several skulls of the extinct Falklands Wolf), a walk to Government House and a stroll to see 19th century shipwrecks which dot the waterfront of Stanley.
Lunch (perhaps fish and chips) in a traditional Stanley pub. Then a visit to Stanley Green and the whale bone arch to hear stories of the Falkland’s unique position in the 20th century whaling industry that operated over the Southern Ocean. Overnight in Stanley and dinner at local restaurant.
Day 2: Sunday January 31st
Full day tour with driver/guide to Kelp Point, an off-road destination located on Fitzroy Farm, close to Mount Pleasant Airport. It is one of the most diverse flora and fauna sites in the Falklands, offering access to over 30 bird species (many of which visit a series of natural freshwater and brackish ponds). Along the shore, we see basking southern elephant seals, gentoo and Magellanic penguins and, with luck, the endemic Queen of Falklands Fritillary butterfly. Travelling time approximately 2 hours each way. Overnight in Stanley and dinner at local restaurant.
Day 3: Monday February 1st
Depending on the weather we will visit either Kidney Island (30 min journey by day-boat), or we will drive to Kidney Cove (about 1 hour each way). Both Kidney Island and the adjacent Kidney Cove are spectacular wildlife locations. If weather is suitable, Kidney Island is preferable.
Kidney Island offers a glimpse of the natural landscape of the Falklands, for, unlike most of the other islands in the archipelago, it is covered with tussac grass. We land on the East of Kidney Island, and walk across to the Western shore to see Southern Sea Lions, the endemic Cobb’s Wren, the Falkland’s Steamer duck, Southern rockhopper penguins, king penguins and king cormorants. But the real highlight comes at dusk. As the sun sets, 100,000 sooty shearwaters return to their nests amongst the tussac grass. As the flight of the birds climaxes, the air just above our heads seems to be full of shearwaters, almost turning the sky black! We depart before darkness and return to Stanley.
If weather for the boat trip to Kidney Island is not suitable, our back up plan of Kidney Cove (on the mainland opposite Kidney Island) is an excellent alternative, and offers a chance to see all five species of penguin that occur in the Falklands (King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic and Macaroni). Overnight in Stanley and dinner at local restaurant.
Day 4: Tuesday F February 2nd
Today we undertake a full day tour to Cape Dolphin. Situated on the north coast, this locality boasts beautiful beaches with great wildlife; three species of penguin (Magellanic, Gentoos and Rockhopper), storm petrels, black-necked swans, sea lions, the occasional whale. There are also large numbers of ducks and birds on Swan Pond, often including the endemic steamer duck. Travelling time to/from Stanley approx 2.5 hours. Overnight in Stanley and dinner at local restaurant.
Day 5: Wednesday February 3rd
After breakfast, we transfer to Stanley airport and board Falkland Island Government Air Service (FIGAS) aircraft and fly to Carcass Island, in the northwest of the archipelago (30 mins flying time).
We will land on Carcass Island in the afternoon. Our charter yacht will be anchored offshore near Carcass Island. We have several different-sized charter yachts under option. Depending upon our final group size (and which yacht that we use), we will either travel as one complete group to Steeple Jason, or divide into two sub-groups and alternate our activities on Days 6-7 and 8-9 (both sub-groups would visit the same sites on Steeple Jason and Carcass Island, just on alternate days). Below the itinerary is listed for us as one large group.
During the evening of Day 5, we will board our charter yacht. We dine and overnight on board our charter yacht, and while we are asleep, the yacht will sail 45 km from Carcass Island to Steeple Jason during the night.
Day 6: Thursday February 4th
We wake up at Steeple Jason. Land and spend the day visiting the key wildlife sites. Steeple Jason Island is one of the most important wildlife locations in the entire sub-Antarctic region.
It is home to the largest colony of black-browed albatrosses in the world (up to 200,000 pairs) - said to be the largest single albatross colony on Earth. It is also home to many other impressive bird colonies, including breeding sites for the southern rockhopper penguins, Magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins, slender-billed prions, caracaras and tussac-birds. Around the island’s shores, we can also see sea lions and fur seals. This is one of the best wildlife highlights of the Falkland Islands!
- Very few tourists are normally allowed to visit Steeple Jason Island. The island is uninhabited and there is no air strip, and no regular means of visiting.
- We have to take biosecurity extremely seriously when visiting Steeple Jason due to the global importance of the bird colonies here. All boots must be rigorously cleaned. All anti-rodent and anti-pest measures must be taken. Included in our expedition budget is a donation to support the conservation of Steeple Jason Island.
We return to the charter yacht before nightfall. We dine and overnight on board our charter yacht anchored near Steeple Jason’s landing cove.
Day 7: Friday February 5th
We have a second day to explore the wildlife sights of Steeple Jason Island. You will definitely want two full days to see Steeple Jason’s unbelievable wildlife sites!
In the early evening, we begin sailing back to Carcass Island. We have a good chance to see Commerson’s dolphins in the waters around Steeple Jason. This tiny black and white dolphin species are among the smallest of all cetaceans, growing to around 1.5 m. They are known as sea pandas and often jump playfully in the bow waves of vessels near to Steeple Jason Island. We can also whale-watch from the charter yacht. We dine and overnight on board our charter yacht, sleeping while the yacht sails back to Carcass Island.
Day 8: Saturday February 6th and Day 9: Sunday February 7th
These two days are buffer days in case bad weather delays our visit to Steeple Jason (we will have the charter yacht on standby for these days). Otherwise, we spend these days exploring the incredible wildlife sites of Carcass Island.
Carcass Island is owned by local couple Rob and Lorraine McGill, who have set up the island specifically for eco-tour visitors. The island is free of cats and rats, providing a haven for the endemic Cobb’s wren, Black-chinned siskins and Falklands thrush. The sandy beaches, rolling hills and low cliffs are superb platforms from which to view the multitude of sea and shore birds that either breed or feed on and around this island. These include Gentoo and Magellanic penguin, Yellow-billed pintail and Flightless steamer ducks, Magellanic oystercatchers, the rare striated caracara and red backed hawk. A growing colony of Southern elephant seals can be found at the far north west point of the island. We can explore these sites at our leisure.
Dine and overnight in accommodation on Carcass Island.
Day 10: Monday February 8th
After breakfast, we transfer to Carcass Island’s airstrip and await a FIGAS flight to Bleaker Island (in the south of the Falklands Archipelago). After landing on Bleaker Island, we enjoy a tour of the key wildlife locations on the island (most of which are very close to the accommodation). Dine and overnight in accommodation on Bleaker Island.
Day 11: Tuesday February 9th, and Day 12: Wednesday February 10th
Bleaker Island has much to offer. Highlights include: a colony of over 4,150 pairs of Imperial Cormorants, over 1,250 pairs of gentoo penguins, 720 pairs of Rockhopper penguins, and populations of Southern giant petrels, Magellanic penguins, black-throated finch, tussac birds, and Falkland Steamer ducks. There are also sightings of king penguins, Falkland grass wrens, black-chinned siskins, dark-faced ground-tyrants, Falkland pipits and thrushes, and long-tailed meadowlarks. Snowy sheathbills, Falkland skuas and dolphin gulls are often seen.
A series of ponds are popular with Chiloé widgeon, silvery and white-tufted grebe, speckled and silver teal, and black-necked swans, whilst the surrounding open areas are frequented by crested and striated caracaras, variable hawks, and large populations of ruddy-headed geese, two-banded plovers and white-rumped sandpipers. Adjoining coastal zones are favourite haunts of the Magellanic and blackish oystercatcher and crested duck.
It has been established that sooty shearwaters, grey-backed storm petrels and the endemic Cobb’s wren breed on islands in the Bleaker Island group. In total, 47 breeding species have been recorded on Bleaker Island. We may also see Southern sea lions, Peale’s dolphins, Commerson’s dolphins, and various whales (sei, southern right, and fin). 53 native plants occur on the island, including four endemic species: Lady’s Slipper, Clubmoss Cudweed, Vanilla Daisy and Coastal Nassauvia.
We can explore Bleaker Island leisurely and individually at our own pace. It is easy to walk around, and to access the key locations on the island. Each of us can focus on photographing or observing the abundant wildlife as we so wish. Below are some resources:
The official Bleaker Island website here: www.bleakerisland.com/
See a nice selection of photos here: http://tinyurl.com/gu2x35f
A detailed species assessment: http://tinyurl.com/gwbnfoe
And a recent bird survey report here: http://tinyurl.com/jxktsmh
And a bird checklist: http://tinyurl.com/zlxxbto
Day 13: Thursday February 11th, 2021
After breakfast, we transfer to Bleaker Island’s airstrip and await our FIGAS flight to back to Stanley.
Overnight in Stanley and dinner at local restaurant.
Day 14: Friday February 12th, 2021
During our final morning on the Falklands, we visit Volunteer Point with a driver/guide. Here we see a large colony of breeding King, Gentoo and Magellanic penguins. So far in our itinerary, we may not have seen large numbers of King penguins - this is our chance!
We might also see ruddy-headed geese, Falkland steamer duck, black-throated finch, dark-faced ground tyrant, Falkland pipit and thrush, Hudsonian godwit, stilt sandpiper, whimbrel.
During the afternoon, for those that are interested in history, we can organise an alternate activity of a Falklands War tour, led by an Islander who lived through the Argentinian invasion, and see the destroyed Argentinian planes and helicopters, observe minefields and pay our respects at the war graves. The eye-witness accounts of the invasion are fascinating. The Falklands War was a traumatic chapter in the Islanders’ story, but understanding it is key to understanding the history of the Falkland Islands, and the Islanders’ unique identity.
We return back to Stanley for a final dinner together, and overnight.
Day 15: Saturday February 13th, 2021
After breakfast, we transfer to Mount Pleasant Airport in time for the departing LATAM flight. We leave with memories to cherish for a lifetime!
Reaching the Falkland Islands is much easier than many people imagine. Please see:
Falkland Islands Tourist Board: https://bit.ly/2LwW8aP
Falkland Islands Government: https://bit.ly/2vO9F3d
In terms of flights, there are two main options:
1. LATAM (formerly Lan Chile) offers flights to/from the Falklands via Santiago (with connecting flights across the world). So it is easy to fly from Australia, the USA and Europe with just a flight change in Santiago. These flights arrive/leave on Saturdays. We have planned this trip to start and end coinciding with these LATAM flights.
2. Royal Air Force flights (from RAF base Brize Norton in Oxfordshire) to/from the Falklands. Bookings can be made via the Falkland Islands Government Office: firstname.lastname@example.org (available to civilians of all nationalities).
Adventure Rating: Moderate
The Redfern Team has set up a voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia to take place immediately after the Falkland Islands Wildlife Adventure. Please email us for details.