October 29 - November 7, 2018
Discover the secret wildlife treasures of the Falkland Islands on this voyage.
People talk about this remote archipelago as being "more English than England," and it really can feel that way at times (between the weather, sheep ranches, stone walls, afternoon tea and cakes, and fish & chips in the pub). The archipelago, and there are nearly 700 islands in the group, only 15 of which are inhabited, is located in the South Atlantic over 300 miles east of South America.
The diversity of wildlife here makes the Falklands a wildlife enthusiast's paradise! The islands are home to several species of penguins, including King, Rockhopper, Gentoo and Magellanic. The largest colonies belong to the Black-browed Albatross, numbering in the tens of thousands. Petrels, shags, geese and ducks also nest here, including the endemic Falkland Steamer Duck. Various land birds thrive here as well, including caracara, finches, pipits and the endemic Cobb's Wren. The seas are also rich in wildlife with dolphins, seals and whales often sighted in the waters surrounding the islands.
Today most voyages are in the Falkland Islands for a day, or maybe two, essentially selling this wonderful archipelago short. This special voyage includes 5 full days in the Falklands, visiting a mix of central islands and rarely visited and exquisite sites in the outer islands.
This is a rare opportunity to delve into the wonders of the Falkands, and at a great discount (more on that in a moment)...
10-days / 9-nights aboard the expedition ship.
The expedition begins in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, and completes in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY:
October 29: Sandy Argentine Beaches
This voyage begins in Puerto Madryn, a 90-minute flight south of Buenos Aires.
Optionally: If you have the time the Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdez region are well worth a couple of days prior to boarding the ship - this is one of Argentina's top wildlife destinations and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. At Punta Tombo walk among thousands of nesting Magellanic Penguins. Nearby are colonies of Elephants Seals and Sea Lions. Orca are frequent visitors to the local waters.
We board the ship in Puerto Madryn this afternoon, with our next landfall in the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is renowned for its visiting southern right whales, so you have a good chance of spotting them as we sail toward the open ocean. This time of year mothers and their calves are often in the bay.
October 30 & 31: Sea life & sea birds
Though you're now at sea, there's rarely a lonesome moment here: multiple species of sea birds follow the vessel southeast, such as albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
November 1 - 5: Falkland Islands
The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife, easily approachable - with caution. These islands are largely unknown gems, primarily remembered for the war between the UK and Argentina in 1982. Not only do various species of birds live here, but chances are great you'll see both Peale's dolphins and Commerson's dolphins in the surrounding waters.
WHILE IN THE FALKLANDS WE HOPE TO VISIT MANY OF THE FOLLOWING SITES:
Steeple Jason - Home to the world's largest black-browed albatross colony (roughly 113,000 strong), Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by the wind and waves. The surrounding kelp beds are enjoyed by sea lions and fur seals. Weather and swell conditions dictate the journey here.
Carcass Island - Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic and gentoo penguins to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb's wren and the tussock-bird) live here.
Saunders Island - Here you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoo penguins are also found here.
West Point Island - West Point boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the Falklands. A clifftop colony of black-browed albatrosses here is shared by rockhopper penguins - the rockhoppers having made a dizzying climb up the rock face to reach their nesting site. The Napier family often host visiting groups to English tea in their farm house.
Grave Cove - Grave Cove is home to several bird species: the crested duck, speckled teal, Falkland steamer duck, upland goose, and ruddy-headed goose. The largest gentoo penguin colony in the Falklands is here, with over 5,500 pairs. Smaller colonies of rockhoppers and Magellanic penguins are also found here, as well as a small black-browed albatross colony.
Volunteer Point - Located on East Falkland, Volunteer Point is home to the largest king penguin rookery in the Falklands (1,000 breeding pair). Because of the long breeding cycle of kings chicks are seen here year round. Birdlife International has recognized Volunteer Point as an Important Bird Area with over 40 bird species recorded here. Falkland steamer ducks, ruddy-headed geese, long-tailed meadowlarks, Magellanic snipes, Falkland pipits, dark-faced ground-tyrants, and white-bridled finches are confirmed breeders on Volunteer Point. A large white-sand beach landing area is somewhat exposed making potential landings weather dependent.
Sparrow Cove/ Kidney Cove - The hike up Mt. Low (204 meters, 669 feet) affords great views of Kidney Cove and Port Stanley.
Port Stanley - The capital and seat of Falkland culture, Port Stanley has some South American traits mixed in with a little Victorian charm: colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English-style pubs. You can see several century-old clipper ships in the surrounding area, silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the early days of the settlement up to the Falkland War. Approximately 2,100 people live in the capital, where you're free to wander at will - though admission fees to local attractions are not included.
Sandy Bay - Nearby Big Pond offers excellent wildlife opportunities, featuring the dark-faced ground-tyrant and Magellanic snipe. There's also an easy walk to see gentoo penguins, Magellanic penguins, rockhopper penguins, and king cormorants.
Sea Lion Island - Very exposed, so you need some luck to make a landing here. If a stop is possible, it's well worth the trip: Sea Lion Island is home to the largest breeding colony of southern elephant seals in the archipelago, with approximately 2,000 individuals on the northern beaches this time of year. A decent hike leads you to a southern sea lion haul-out.
Coffin's Harbour - This location is a reasonable walk from the landing site at the New Island South Wildlife Reserve, providing views of nesting black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins. A more strenuous hike to Landsend Bluff may also show you some South American fur seals. The site of the only land-based whaling station on the Falkland Islands is south of the landing beach.
New Island North Nature Reserve - Landing here requires a special permit. If received, you can make a farewell visit to the black-browed albatrosses (among other bird species) and South American fur seals that make the Falklands their home.
November 6: Once more at sea
You're westward bound, sea birds trailing you all the way to South America.
November 7: Ushuaia: the southernmost city in the world
Early this morning the ship will enter the fabled Beagle Channel. Soon we will see the southernmost city in the world - Ushuaia - spread along the shores of the channel, beneath the towering snowcapped Andes. The memories you've made on this expedition will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies. It should be possible to catch a midday flight to Buenos Aires, connecting to an international flight to the U.S. today, if you wish.
With this sailing just 5 months off we have been offered the remaining cabins at a savings of 20% off the regular rates (this offer is available though May 2018, or until spaces are sold). Twin cabins with private bath are now starting at just $4,680 per person (regularly $5,850). Quad and triple cabins, as well as suites, are also 20% off currently. This is a rare opportunity to experience the best of the Falklands at a price unlikely to every be repeated!
All prices are listed in USD. If traveling alone the ship will attempt to match you with another travel of the same gender - if no roommate is found you will have the cabin to yourself at the shared rate.
EXPEDITION COST INCLUDES:
Shipboard accommodations 9 nights, including daily housekeeping; All breakfasts, lunches, afternoon tea, and dinners on board the ship throughout your voyage; Coffee, tea, and cocoa, available around the clock; All shore landings and Zodiac excursions per the daily program; Leadership throughout the voyage by the experienced Expedition Team, including shore excursions and presentations aboard the ship; Baggage handling aboard ship; All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges while aboard the ship.
NOT INCLUDED IN THE EXPEDITION COST:
Any airfare; baggage fees; visa and passport fees; governmental arrival and departure taxes; pre-cruise or post-cruise hotel accommodations; airport transfers except as noted; items of a personal nature including laundry, postage, communications or medical expenses; sodas and alcoholic beverages; excess baggage charges; travel insurance (evacuation coverage at a minimum is mandatory); gratuities to the staff and crew.
The vessel for this voyage is the comfortable 116-passenger M/V Ortelius.
PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. Average cruising speed of m/v Ortelius is 10.5 knots.
All photos by Mark Grantham / Galapagos Travel