Some places in the world have that certain “aahhhhh!” factor—a simple, wholesome and timeless quality that lets you abandon your troubles for a time, and lose yourself in its unspoiled beauty. The Falkland Islands are such a place—seemingly stuck in the 19th century and content to remain that way!
"Loved being land-based on the Falklands. Especially great on Sea Lion Island where so much was in walking distance and you could be truly independent. Would have loved to have had a lot longer time in the Falklands. "
Lying 300 miles east of southern South America in the nutrient-rich, cool waters of the South Atlantic, the Falklands are a wildlife magnet. The scenery is often reminiscent of the Scottish islands with the added flavor of the tempestuous Southern Ocean.
A visit to the Falkland Islands provides wonderful photography opportunities for shooting the archipelago’s verdant, bucolic landscapes, as well as numerous sub-Antarctic and temperate zone species of birds at the energetic height of their breeding season. Images of throngs of rockhopper and Magellanic penguins feature among the many trip highlights.
Some of the best bird photography in the world is found in the Falkland Islands because of the unusual variety of species and their highly unwary demeanor. There is little to compare with the excitement of sitting next to a lively penguin colony, waves crashing against rocky cliffs, while envisioning compositions galore—with no time pressure. Action photography is outstanding as penguins launch themselves from breaking waves and scramble ashore. And just when you think it can’t get any better, you find yourself engulfed—point blank—by these curious and feisty birds in their tuxedo-like plumage!
In addition to the photogenic penguins, we photograph nesting black-browed albatrosses; kelp, upland, ruddy-headed and ashy-headed geese with their young in tow; Falkland flightless steamer ducks; crested ducks; rock and imperial cormorants; striated caracaras; variable hawks; southern giant petrels; Magellanic and blackish oystercatchers; several species of plovers; beautiful white-tufted and silvery grebes; kelp and dolphin gulls; black-crowned night herons, and a variety of songbirds. Our trip participants typically photograph as many as 25 species of birds, and many can be effectively captured with only a 300mm lens! At this time of year, most birds have newly-hatched chicks and wildflowers are in bloom. Southern elephant seals and South American sea lions are the most noteworthy mammals we photograph—but orcas regularly patrol these seal colonies within photographic range!
All of this comes with the convenience of staying in comfortable and cozy lodging within hiking distance of the best photography—and without throngs of other visitors. Here we have the option of either being dropped off by Land Rover at a remote location and walking back to our lodge or walking from our hotel to close-at-hand photo opportunities. Long late-spring days allow flexibility for personal photography well into the evening.
Few travelers have experienced the 5-star photography of these southern emerald isles. Come with us to the rolling heath and rocky headlands of the Falkland Islands. Sit awhile in the company of penguins, gaze at a roiling seascape from atop an oceanside cliff, or take a stroll on a wild beach where whale bones are more common than human footprints.
Depart from home.
Day 2 (Nov 16)
Arrive in Santiago, Chile. Overnight at our Santiago airport hotel—hotel included in tour fee. (D)
Fly to Stanley in the Falkland Islands and continue by air to Sea Lion Island. (B, snack onboard flight, D)
We fly between three islands during our stay.
- Sea Lion Island, the most isolated of the Falklands’ inhabited islands. Exploring this fantastic place on foot for six days (or you can be dropped off by Land Rover at distant locations and walk back to our lodge), we photograph three species of penguins, cormorants, grebes, nesting gulls and terns, shorebirds, caracaras, southern ducks and geese, an abundance of elephant seals, sea lions and, with luck, killer whales—a 5-star experience! (BLD)
- Saunders Island, just off the northwest coast of West Falklands, is a short flight from Carcass Island. An hour’s drive from the airfield is The Neck, a site known for its high concentration of wildlife, including four species of penguins—gentoo, rockhopper, Magellanic and a small colony of king penguins. Other wildlife includes a bustling colony of black-browed albatross. (BLD)
- Carcass Island, located in the northwest of the archipelago is one of the most picturesque outlying islands. Thanks to the careful stewardship of its landowners, Carcass is free of invasive predators, and the resultant abundance of songbirds gives the island a surreal natural ambiance. Shorebirds, including gentoo and Magellanic penguins, and marine mammals, including elephant seals, are some of the island’s wildlife highlights. (BLD)
Fly back to Stanley and spend the night. Depending on our flight schedule there may be time this afternoon to explore the town and its wildlife-rich harbor. Kelp and dolphin gulls are easy photo subjects, as well as Falkland steamer ducks, crested ducks, cormorants and oystercatchers. Explore the quaint architectural details and gardens of this homey English-style village with your camera. (BLD)
The morning is free. We leave for the Mt. Pleasant airport in midmorning and fly to Santiago, arriving in late evening. We stay at our familiar airport hotel—hotel included in tour fee. (B, Lunch—pre-made sandwiches—for purchase at the airport departure lounge on your own, Dinner snack on the flight)
Day 18 (Dec 2)
Depart Santiago for home. (B)
“Falkland Islands were outstanding. Excellent photo opportunities every day.”
“My expectations are pretty high since Van Os tours are always fabulous. The Falklands exceeded my expectations. There was more opportunity to interact with and photograph wildlife in the Falklands because everything was so close at hand.”
- One of the best seabird photography locations in the world rivaling Galápagos and Iceland
- Seclusion, spectacular wildlife and an absence of tourists
- Photograph three species of penguins—gentoo, rockhopper and Magellanic—during the height of the nesting season
- Walk to nearby beaches, ponds and cliffs for fantastic wildlife and landscape photography
- Meet the hospitable landowners living on these remote islands in the Southern Ocean
Nov 15 - Dec 03, 2018
Fee: $9,995 from Santiago, Chile