The Falkland Islands is an archipelago of some 750 islands lying at 52°S in the South Atlantic, some 350 miles NE of Tierra del Fuego. With a population of around 3,000 it is a self-governing independent Overseas Territory of the UK. It is an island paradise, where the wildlife comes to you, and that’s why we visit! In some ways it is remarkably similar to Orkney: friendly locals, a windswept, treeless landscape, with great scenery and sea-scapes, big skies, and lots of wildlife.
You can expect to see four species of penguin (gentoo, Magellanic, king and rockhopper, with macaroni as a potential bonus) with ease at extremely close quarters with six metres being the recommended distance. But in reality if you sit still, rockhopper penguins will come much closer to you than that, so bring your wide-angle lens! Other birds that are unusual include the two endemic species – Cobb’s wren and the Falkland steamer duck (called Logger locally), but there are an additional 12 sub-species of birds unique to the Falklands.
The Falkland Islands is responsible for much wildlife of global importance: over 65% of the world’s black-browed albatrosses; and the world’s largest populations of gentoo penguins (30%) and southern giant petrels (40%). It is also critically important for the conservation of striated caracara (called Johnny Rook locally), ruddy-headed geese, white-bridled finches and tussac birds, all of which are either seriously threatened or have very restricted distributions in South America. There are 175 native species of higher plants with 14 endemic species; and even wingless insects adapted to the windy environment and found nowhere else.
One reason we visit, however, is to watch and admire the sea mammals and cetaceans.
You are guaranteed safe but close views of both sea lions and elephant seals, and if you are lucky you may see both Commerson’s and Peale’s dolphins and even Sei whales and orcas. On Weddell Island you may get close views of the (introduced) Patagonian fox.
We visit a series of islands – usually four – and the capital and main town of Stanley. You will visit both East and West Falkland, and enjoy flying across the archipelago in small Islander aircraft (as used in Orkney) operated by FIGAS, the Falkland Island Government Air Service. Accommodation in ‘camp’ (the islanders’ term for the wider countryside, from the Spanish word ‘campo’) is simple but surprisingly comfortable. Our itineraries are put together by our partners at Falkland Island Holidays, with advice from Falklands Conservation. We use a combination of island guides plus myself to help you to get the most out of your visit to a unique destination.
Group size is only 4-6. Cost £3,995 per person excluding RAF ‘Airbridge’ flights (around £2,000 return from RAF Brize Norton to Stanley). A single supplement of £315 will apply if applicable.
For further general information on the Falkland Islands see www.falklandislands.com
To find out more about the work of Falklands Conservation, to join, or even to adopt a penguin see www.falklandsconservation.com
Enquire here for a detailed itinerary or for an informal chat please phone Steve on 01856 831240.