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Black browed Albatross at West Point, Falkland Islands - Photo by Nicky Souness

Falkland Island Cruises & Expeditions

Population
2,921
Size
4,699 square miles (12,170 square km)
Highest Elevation
Mount Usborne, 2,313 ft (705 meters)
Terrain
Rocky, mountainous, undulating plains, some bogs
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Overview

From Magellanic penguins to military history! The Argentines call it Islas Malvinas. To the British, this south Atlantic archipelago is known as the Falkland Islands. While it’s the southern-most point of South America, the Falklands are a bastion of British culture and traditions. Located about 400 km northeast of Tierra del Fuego, the Falklands are known for their wildlife (penguins and bird species are plentiful) as well as their dramatic history. Sovereignty disputes between the United Kingdom and Argentina led to the 1982 Falklands War. The Falklands, consisting of East and West Falkland which are separated by Falkland Sound, are a popular stop for travelers on their way to Antarctica.

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Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Destination Highlights

Port Stanley

Port Stanley, also called Stanley, located on the island of East Falkland, is the capital of the Falkland Islands. Like any quintessential British town, Stanley offers a smattering of pubs, churches and small museums. Stanley appeals to culture and wildlife enthusiasts. Its major attractions include Mount Tumbledown, the site of a major battle in the 1982 war between Argentina and Britain, and the Magellanic penguin colony at Gypsy Cove.

Beaches of the Falkland Islands

Travelers don’t always expect white sandy beaches in sub-Antarctic islands. The numerous beaches of the Falkland Islands surprise many polar travelers—especially if they’re on a voyage that includes the Antarctic Peninsula. Elephant Beach on Pebble Island stretches 4 miles (6.4 kilometres), and is frequented by dolphins. Volunteer Beach, on East Falkland, is a 2 mile (3.3 kilometre) stretch of sand that's home to the largest colony of King penguins in the Falkland Islands. Visitors also enjoy relaxing strolls on the white sandy shorelines on Carcass Island off the northwest corner of the archipelago.

World’s largest black-browed albatross colony

About 70 percent of the world’s population of black-browed albatross inhabit Steeple Jason Island, which lies northwest of West Falkland, making it the largest colony of this species on the planet. But it’s not the only winged creature by any means: By experts’ estimates, there are 63 species of breeding birds and 23 migrant species in the Falklands. Some of the most sought-after include the Inquisitive Striated Caracara, often called Johnny Rooks, which apparently likes to steal shiny objects.

Top Things to See

Bird-watching, Falkland Islands

Bird species of the Falkland Islands

For bucket-listers keen on maximizing their penguin time, the Falklands should top the list. The largest population of Gentoo penguins in the world (more than 121,000 pairs) is found here. This penguin species are recognized by their bright orange beaks and white bonnet-like stripes that stretch from eye to eye. Magellanic penguins, which have a broad crescent of white feathers extending from just above each eye to the chin, are able to migrate between the nutrient-rich Patagonia Shelf and their breeding grounds across Chile, the Falklands, and Brazil. The Rockhopper are tiny, quirky looking penguins with a spiky yellow crest of feathers and beady red eyes. The King penguin, at 39 inches (99 cm) high, are the largest penguins in the Falklands. And Macaroni penguins are identifiable by their orange head feathers.

Interior of Dockyard Museum

Historic Dockyard Museum

Port Stanley is the perfect stopover for anyone keen to learn more about the maritime history of the Falklands. The Historic Dockyard Museum chronicles the Falklands’ maritime history, island life from the time of the first settlers, and the dramatic events that unfolded during six-week Falklands War of 1982 when Great Britain and Argentina fought for control over the Falkland Islands, and its territorial dependency, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Exhibits include models, artefacts and relics from ships stranded in the Islands, as well as records of unforgettable seafaring tales.

Points of Interest

Passenger taking a photo of Magellanic Penguin
Carcass Island

Carcass Island, which lies northwest of the Falkland Islands, has a varied terrain of rocky ridges, white sand beaches, steep cliffs, hidden coves, open plains and plentiful swaths of tussock grass (over 30 species at last count) which provide excellent habitation for birds. In fact, some of the Falkland Islands’ most elusive winged species, such as the endemic Cobb's Wren and the Magellanic Snipe, are found on Carcass Island, which was named after a ship that visited the region in the 18th-century. Other birder species include Gentoo and Magellanic penguins (which tend to rest on the beaches), the oft-sighted Falklands Flightless Steamer Ducks (which are easily spotted as they bath in the waves) and bright red long-tailed meadowlarks (which spend their time feeding in the grass).

Passenger taking a photo of Magellanic Penguin
Passengers taking photographs of Albatross
West Point Island

West Point Island, in the north-west corner of the Falkland Islands, has some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the Falklands. At least one of its west-facing cliffs reaches 380 metres high (1,250 feet). The island is small in size (5.67 square miles/1,469 hectares) and in terms of human population (estimates range from 2 to 4 people). Birders have long valued the island as a special place to observe the black-browed albatross and rockhopper penguin. Other sought-after bird species include Falkland Steamer Ducks, ruddy-headed geese, southern rockhopper penguins, Magellanic penguins, striated caracaras and Cobb's wrens. Commerson's dolphins frequent the surrounding waters.

Passengers taking photographs of Albatross
Bleaker Island Landscape
Bleaker Island

Bleaker Island is anything but bleak. In fact, it was originally known as Breaker Island because of the huge waves that came crashing onto its shores. The long sandy beach known as Sandy Bay is home to diverse birdlife. Gentoo penguins congregate on the north end of the bay, and the island is also popular among bird enthusiasts who come to visit the huge imperial cormorant colony.

Bleaker Island Landscape

When to Go

Preferred Season

The best time to visit Antarctica is from late spring to early fall, which in the southern hemisphere is from October to March.

Special Insights from Our Guests

Almost everything about the trip was spectacular. The ship itself was spacious. The itinerary of Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica and all their parts were so interesting. We were full of anticipation when nearly landing on the South Orkney Islands. Crews who helped us get in and out of the zodiacs and those who assisted with wet landings were incredible, knew how to offer help safely, were supportive and enthusiastic; bravo to all of them! It was a marvelous, fulfilling cruise, and the wildlife we were able to experience up close and among us was a dream fulfilled, with the excellent educational lectures timed with information to round out our rich adventures. I send the crew mental thanks again and again!

— Guest
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Discover Your Next Adventure

Description
The Falkland Islands are waiting to be explored. Browse all of our expedition options to this sub-Antarctic archipelago.