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The superb light, unforgettable sunrises and sunsets, fantastic scenery and amazingly approachable wildlife make this dedicated photographic trip to the Falkland Islands are treat for any photography enthusiast.

The itinerary has been designed to maximise the area’s photographic potential, with visits to colonies of gentoo, rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, a colony of black-browed albatross, plus sea lions and elephant seals hauled out on beaches. Weather permitting, we enjoya boat trip to photograph species such as sooty shearwaters and albatrosses skimming low over the waves, where they are truly in their element. 

Starting from Darwin on East Falkland, we visit Sea Lion Island, where we stay in the most southerly wildlife lodge and photograph endemic species such as the small Cobb’s wren, plus one of the rarest (and tamest!) birds of prey in the world - the striated caracara. Bleaker Island offers superb accommodation with many photographic wildlife locations within easy walking distance, whilst Saunders Island is famed for its colony of black-browed albatross. Finally, we visit Pebble Island, which which takes its name from the unusual and attractive pebbles found there, before ending our tour in Stanley where we head to Volunteer Point and the world’s most accessible colony of king penguins - a photographic opportunity not to be missed!

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: Arrvie Santiago, Chile, and overnight

    On arrival in Santiago we transfer to a hotel right beside the airport terminal. The remainder of the day is free to relax after the flight, or possibly head into the city to explore.

    Accommodation: Hotel in Santiago, 1-night

  3. Day 3: Fly to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands, drive to Darwin

    We continue our journey with an early morning flight, via Punta Arenas in the south of Chile, to Mount Pleasant international airport in the Falkland Islands. From here we transfer to our hotel in Darwin, roughly one hour’s drive away.

    In the late afternoon/early evening we walk the shoreline to look for Magellanic and blackish oystercatcher, black-crowned night-heron, rufous-chested dotterel, kelp and ruddy-headed geese and our first Magellanic penguin.

    Accommodation: Darwin House Hotel, 1-night

  4. Days 4-6 : Sea Lion Island

    Today we transfer to nearby Darwin airstrip for a flight to Sea Lion Island, the most southerly inhabited island of the archipelago.

    Just five minutes walk away is a colony of breeding southern elephant seals. Although the huge beachmaster males will have finished their monumental battles by this time, there should still be up to 100 impressive juveniles on the beach. However, the breeding season of the island’s eponymous southern sealions will be in full swing by now.

    During our stay we visit colonies of gentoo and rockhopper penguins, with their ever-present blackish cinclodes (known locally as tussac-birds), snowy sheathbills and brown skuas. Land birds include the endemic Cobb’s wren, and we will do a walk after dinner to look for short-eared owl, listen to drumming South American snipe and do some star-gazing. Offshore cetaceans may include orca.

    Accommodation: Sea Lion Island, 3-nights

  5. Days 7-8 : Bleaker Island

    We fly to Bleaker Island, which has a good gentoo penguin colony, and several Magellanic penguin and king cormornat colonies – offering fantastic photographic opportunities.

    Accommodation: Bleaker Island, 2-nights

  6. Days 9-11 : Saunders Island

    We fly on to wildlife-rich Saunders Island, the site of the first British settlement in the Falkland archipelago, which is now one large farm of around 30,000 acres.

    During our stay, we occupy a cottage in the settlement and take day trips to The Neck and elsewhere. We also visit The Rookery, a superb location that offers an opportunity to photograph the rockhopper “shower”, a natural spring where the resident penguins line up at the end of the day to wash the salt from their feathers before continuing up the cliff to the main colony.

    Accommodation: Saunders Island, 3-nights

  7. Days 12-14 : Pebble Island

    This morning we transfer to Darwin airport for a flight to Pebble Island, home to more than 40 species including gentoo, rockhopper, macaroni and Magellanic penguins, imperial cormorant, waterfowl and black-necked swans. The eastern end of the island has wetlands and large ponds with many waterfowl and wading birds.

    Accommodation: Pebble Island, 3-nights

  8. Days 15-16 : Fly to Stanley, Volunteer Point penguin colony

    We fly to Stanley, situated in the northeast of East Falkland, and check into our hotel.

    Weather permitting, we take an afternoon boat trip from Stanley to Kidney Island, during which we chum for seabirds. We hope to attract some of the South Atlantic seabirds, especially shearwaters and petrels including, with luck, Wilson’s storm petrel, which are hard to see from the shore. This trip also provides a wonderful opportunity to photograph the tiny capital – with its brightly-painted houses and attractive coastline – from the sea.

    The following day a three-hour Land Rover drive takes us to one of the biggest penguin colonies of the Falklands, at Volunteer Point. At this time of year the king penguin chicks are just hatching.

    We will also have an opportunity to explore Stanley, the Falkland Islands capital, with its beautiful Christchurch Cathedral, Whalebone Arch and various memorials to the 1982 conflict.

    Accommodation: Hotel in Stanley, 1-night

  9. Day 17: Fly to Santiago, Chile, and overnight

    An early departure from Stanley to Mount Pleasant airport to catch our flight via Punta Arenas to Santiago where we overnight near the airport before the journey back to London.

    Accommodation: Hotel in Santiago, 1-night

  10. Day 18: Depart Santiago

  11. Day 19: Arrive UK

You should note: Itinerary is subject to minor changes depending on internal flight schedules. An optional 5-day extension is available to Patagonian Chile, visiting Torres del Paine National Park

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 19 days from £7,495 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 17 days from £6,145 pp
  • Single supplement: From £760
  • Group size: 7
  • When to go: Dec-Jan
  • Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
  • Included in the price/package:
    • Domestic flights
    • 15 nights hotel/lodge accommodation
    • Meals (except in Santiago)
    • Transfers
    • Services of a naturalist leader
    • Guided activities
  • Activities available:
    • Birdwatching
    • Photography

Expert leader

Mike Read

Photo of Mike Read

Mike is a man of many talents: an experienced tour leader, an author and, as he is probably best known, a superb wildlife photographer.

He has a number of books to his name including ‘The Barn Owl’, ‘Red Kite Country’ and ‘The New Forest National Park’. Mike’s friendly and easy-going style of leadership and his abilities as an all round naturalist add immensely to the tours he leads in Europe and elsewhere.

Featured locations:

Pebble Island

One of the largest in the West Falklands, Pebble Island combines grassy plains and wetlands in the east with moorlands and mountains in the west. Its sandy beaches and rocky cliffs provide shelter to sealions and penguins – it is the only place in the Falklands to see the erect-crested penguin.

  • Where: West Falkland
  • Ideal for viewing: black-necked swan, erect-crested penguin, South American sealion, peregrine falcon, Commerson’s dolphin
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Penguin watching, Birdwatching

Saunders Island

Saunders Island is the second largest and was the site of the first British settlement in 1765. The north is made up of two peaks, divided by a thin strip of sand known as the Neck which is considered one of the best wildlife sites of the Falklands. The Neck is home to large colonies of Magellanic and gentoo penguins.

  • Where: West Falkland
  • Ideal for viewing: black-browed albatross, king shag, king penguin, falkland steamer duck, gentoo penguin
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Penguin watching, Birdwatching

Sea Lion Island

The most southerly inhabited island, featured in many prize-winning photos, is only eightkms long, so easy to explore. Much is covered with tussock grass, creating a perfect habitat for colonies of elephant seal and sealions. The sandy beaches, cliffs, freshwater ponds and heathland are home to 47 bird species.

  • Where: East Falkland
  • Ideal for viewing: elephant seal, leopard seal, orca, South American sealion, sooty shearwater
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography

Bleaker Island

This isolated, low-lying island off the south-east coast of East Falkland has wide sandy bays and sheltered coves – it is small and flat, so walking between bird colonies is easy. Of interest is its large colony of rockhopper penguin (over 750 pairs), and its many pools are home to large numbers of waterfowl.

  • Where: East Falkland
  • Ideal for viewing: gentoo penguin, king cormorant, magellanic penguin, rockhopper penguin, striated caracara
  • Excellent for: Penguin watching, Birdwatching


The islands’ capital is located on East Falkland around a picturesque harbour, and is a lively small, historic town, with a distinctly British feel. It’s a pleasant place to relax or perhaps visit nearby sites such as Volunteer Point, with its large colonies of king, Magellanic and gentoo penguins.

  • Where: East Falkland
  • Excellent for: City stopover

Santiago de Chile

Chile’s capital and its largest city is located in the central valley, with the snow-capped Andes to the east, and the coastal range to the west. A lively and dynamic place, it is one of Latin America’s most sophisticated locations, and here is lots to see in the city and surrounding Andes.

  • Where: Santiago Metropolitan Region
  • Excellent for: City stopover, History & culture
Featured accommodation:

Bleaker Island Settlement

Home to only two inhabitants, Bleaker is an isolated island, ideal for those who want to discover the Falklands off the beaten track and fully appreciate the unique environment. The wildlife is conveniently located close to the settlement where two of the four houses accommodate visitors.

Malvina House Hotel

Situated in the heart of Stanley, Malvina House is considered the town’s premier hotel, and offers beautiful views overlooking the natural harbour. It has 36 en suite rooms, a large bar-lounge area, spa and sauna and is only a few minutes’ walk from shops, pubs and historic sites and monuments

Pebble Island Lodge

Pebble Island Lodge is a comfortable friendly accommodation which was formerly the farm manager’s house and focal point of this 22,000 acre estate. Your hosts will lead off-road tours in 4x4 vehicles, and boat trips to neighbouring islands offer an opportunity to see ocean birds such as black-browed albatross.

Saunders Island Cottages

Accommodation consists of two houses in Saunders Settlement – the Main House and Stone House - offering eight rooms, on either a full-board or self-catering basis. In addition, there are two self-catering cabins, one at The Neck and the other near the Settlement, home to albatross and rockhopper penguins.

Sea Lion Lodge

The only purpose-built tourist lodge in the Falklands Islands, Sea Lion Lodge is one of the most luxurious places to stay on the archipelago, and affords some spectacular views of the South Atlantic. It offers a level of comfort and amenity you might not altogether expect in such a remote location.