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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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