Penguins, seals, and albatross, oh my! The remote Falkland Islands are home to a veritable menagerie of wildlife, and you'll be able to view them easily, uninhibited by viewing platforms, hundreds of jostling people, or swaths of concrete. Your days are spent exploring the white sandy beaches and rolling grasslands, or visiting the small communities, historic sites, and local farms. You'll spend your evenings in cozy farmhouses-turned-guest lodges, mingling with the locals and eating delectable home-cooked meals.
Arrive Mount Pleasant Airport early afternoon, transfer by private vehicle to Darwin, a drive of approximately 35 minutes.
For the rest of today and Day 2, enjoy exploring Darwin and the surrounding area. Visit the cemeteries and battlefields from the 1982 conflict between Britain and Argentina, walk on the world's southernmost suspension bridge, learn about the area's long history of sheep farming, and begin your life wildlife watching by looking for night herons, ruddy-headed geese, and blackish oystercatchers. A visit to the nearby Gentoo penguin colony at Newhaven is also a possibility.
Darwin House, where you will spend your first two nights in the Falklands, is a modern farmhouse whose bedrooms boast views of Choiseul Sound, the picturesque settlement, and Wickham Heights.
After breakfast, transfer by Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) 8-seater Britten Norman Islander aircraft to Pebble Island, where you'll spend the next two days. The relatively low-level flying provides passengers with exceptional views of the Falklands' coastlines and inland scenery.
Pebble Island is one of the larger outlying islands of the archipelago, and the landscape varies greatly from large ponds and moorland to long sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. The deep ponds on the east of the island, many of which are within walking distance of the lodge, are home to Chiloe wigeon, Grebes, Black-necked swans and a multitude of other wildfowl and wading birds. The half and full day guided tours in 4x4 vehicle offer ample opportunity to see the abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery further afield from the settlement, as well as to hunt for the semiprecious stones that give the island its name. Pebble Island also has interest for historians, with some 1982 conflict debris and several memorials.
In the evenings, relax in the comfortable lodge, previously the farm manager's house, which offers views across the island to Elephant Beach.
Morning transfer by FIGAS to Saunders Island, and then overland to The Rookery.
This 30,000-acre island is still an active sheep farm and is important historically for being the site of the first British settlement in 1765. However, the attraction to the wildlife enthusiast is undoubtedly the Black-browed albatross colony, which stretches along the north coast to the narrow sandy isthmus known as The Neck. This is unquestionably one of the Falklands’ best wildlife sites with King and Rock shags, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic, King and—if you’re lucky—a few Macaroni penguins to be seen as well as the albatross.
Stay at the fully equipped but isolated self-catering style accommodation. Pre-prepared meals are provided . For those who prefer to be less isolated, cottage accommodation is available in the settlement.
Enjoy two days on one of the most picturesque of the outer-lying islands, with its luxuriant, well-established hedges and trees attracting many small birds such as the Cobb’s wren, Black-chinned siskins and Falklands thrush to nest around the two cottages that accommodate visitors. 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 Carcass Island. This destination gives you the opportunity to explore completely at your own leisure, as there are no fixed excursions on this small island.
Your accommodation will be in the Manager’s House, which will give you a wonderful opportunity to mingle with true Falkland Islanders and sample their organic vegetables, meat, and dairy products.
You will also be able to enjoy the settlement gardens which have an almost a tropical feel with their Monterey cypress trees, New Zealand cabbage palms and flax and colorful array of flowers.
Morning transfer by FIGAS to wildlife-rich Sea Lion Island.
Sea Lion Island is the most southerly inhabited island and one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago, but it is still a prime destination due to the sheer abundance of wildlife found in such a small area.
Upon arrival, a 2-hour orientation tour by vehicle will acquaint you with the principle areas of interest. During the rest of your time on the island, you’ll be able to explore on foot, as most of the sites are within walking distance of the lodge.
Forty-seven different species of breeding birds make their home on Sea Lion Island, including the internationally-endangered Striated caracara, Antarctic skuas, Southern giant petrels, and a host of passerines. But birds aren’t the only wildlife here! Southern sea lions play in the waters around East Loafers, and the Elephant seals bask on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. The latter are close enough to be seen from the lodge bar! If you keep your eyes open, you may be fortunate enough to see a killer whale off shore as well.
Your two nights on the island will be spent at Sea Lion Lodge.
Day 12: Stanley, East Falkland
Morning transfer by FIGAS to Stanley on East Falkland.
Following arrival at Stanley Airport and prior to your arrival at your hotel, a city tour will take in both the historic and most modern parts of this small and remote capital city, as well as a visit to the museum and the Magellanic penguin colony at Gypsy Cove.
Day 13: Explore Stanley
Today, you have two options to choose from to explore Stanley.
A full-day guided battlefield will take you around some of the Stanley Mountains such as Tumbledown, Two Sisters, Mt. Harriet, Sappers Hill – some of the places that became household names during the 74 day conflict in 1982 between Argentina and England over the sovereignty of the Falklands. Experienced guides will really bring these events to life.
A full-day guided excursion in 4x4 vehicle to Volunteer Point will be a highlight of this trip. With the white sandy beach and turquoise waters this destination has a Caribbeanesque feel to it, but the King and Gentoo penguins will bring you back to the Falklands. There is a host of other wildlife to be seen along the beach and on the lagoons, as well as spectacular scenery as you traverse the north of East Falkland.
Day 14: Free day Stanley
Spend another free day to explore Stanley.
Day 15: Return Home
This afternoon, transfer to Mount Pleasant Airport by private vehicle. Your route will take you past many of the 1982 battlefields, and, more historically, relics from the gaucho era of the 1800s. Return to Chile and continue home or on to further South American adventures.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!