Seven Island Circuit
January 31 - February 17, 2019
Visit seven different islands, the best of Patagonia and Antarctica combined into one, to see penguins, albatross, seals and more. Trek through the most diverse wildlife habitats in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Take in the abundant seabird colonies of the western Falklands including Gentoo, Magellanic, and Rockhopper Penguins. Explore Sea Lion Island, the most species-rich site in all the Falklands with time to watch South American Sea Lions and observe Orcas patrolling for unwary Southern Elephant Seals. Witness Magellanic Penguins as they ride the surf in to the beach and then waddle to their underground burrows. With two days on Steeple Jason Island – a place very few have the opportunity to stay – you’ll have ample time explore on foot and to sit quietly alongside the Black-browed Albatross colony and watch as they take off, land, court, and preen each other. Pebble, Bleaker, and Volunteer Point on East Falkland Island round out this complete Falklands wildlife experience.
• Visit seven diverse islands: Carcass, West Point, Sea Lion, Steeple Jason, Bleaker, Pebble, and East Falkland Islands.
• Two days and nights on Steeple Jason Island for up-close views of the earth’s largest Black-browed Albatross colony.
• Discover the largest accessible King Penguin colony outside of South Georgia along the turquoise waters of Volunteer Point.
Itinerary Updated: October 2018
FAQ Print Trip Safari Options
|Jan 31||Depart home.|
|Feb 1||Arrive in Santiago.||Santiago Airport Holiday Inn, Santiago, Chile|
|Feb 2 - 4||Fly to Stanley, Falkland Islands, then fly to Sea Lion Island. Enjoy the most wildlife diverse island in the Falklands.||Sea Lion Lodge||B, L, D|
|Feb 5 - 7||Fly to Bleaker Island. Explore Bleaker Island’s Rockhopper Penguins, King Cormorants, and waterfowl.||Bleaker Island Lodge||B, L, D|
|Feb 8 - 9||Fly to Pebble Island. Explore its varied landscapes and wildlife habitats.||Pebble Island Lodge||B, L, D|
|Feb 10 - 11||Fly to Carcass Island. Sail to Steeple Jason Island to explore the world’s largest Black-browed Albatross colony.||Steeple Jason Island House||B, L, D|
|Feb 12 - 13||Discover Carcass Island’s variety of bird species. One full-day boat excursion to West Point Island.||Managers House, Carcass Island||B, L, D|
|Feb 14||Fly to Stanley for excursion to Volunteer Point.||The Malvina House Hotel, Stanley||B, L, D|
|Feb 15||Stanley city tour and museum visit.||The Malvina House Hotel, Stanley||B, L, D|
|Feb 16||Fly to Santiago to connect to flights home or fly to Punta Arenas if continuing on our Antarctic Peninsula voyage.||B, L|
|Feb 17||Arrive home, or if continuing on our Antarctic Peninsula voyage, optional day excursions in Punta Arenas.|
Our Trip Leaders
Expedition and Trip Leader, Naturalist, Geologist, and Photographer, Hugh has over 20 years of professional guiding experience. The vast landscapes and incredible wildlife of Alaska and the Polar Regions are his subject and passion, evident in his inspired leadership and stunning professional photos. Hugh receives unending praise for his amazing knowledge, delightful and accommodating personality, and attention to every trip detail.
A glimpse into our journey
Arrive in Santiago.
Arrive in Santiago, Chile. Transfer to our hotel for a free day to rest or explore historic and colorful Santiago.
Fly to Falkland Islands, then fly to and explore Sea Lion Island
Feb 2 - 4
Take the once-weekly flight from Santiago to Mount Pleasant Airport in the Falkland Islands (not included in trip cost). Upon arrival, you will be greeted with a packed lunch and escorted to your flight to Sea Lion Island.
Sea Lion Island is one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago (just five miles long and just over one mile wide at its widest point), and the most southerly-inhabited island. The sheer abundance of wildlife makes it a must on any Falklands itinerary. Sea Lion Island hosts over 47 species of bird, including Rockhopper, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins; you will be graced by some of the 2,800 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguins with hatched chicks, and scatterings of Southern Giant-Petrels. Other birds you may encounter are South American Snipe, Rufous-chested Dotterel, the endemic Cobb’s and Sedge wrens, small birds that have recently been afforded protection from the tall grass that has been allowed to grow after the removal of sheep from the island. The biggest attraction is the large number of Southern Elephant Seals that breed here, principally on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. In February, the young pups and recently weaned are plentiful on the beach, making for great behavioral watching. South American (or Southern) Sea Lions are found at East Loafers, and pods of Killer Whales are also often seen circling close offshore (usually a treat for the early risers) attracted by the prospect of penguins and seals.
Fly to and explore Bleaker Island
Feb 5 - 7
You’ll spend your time on Bleaker hiking along this small, wildlife-rich island, including Long Gulch, which is just one of a number of the dramatic inlets in the rocky cliffs. The top of the cliff-top is bordered with tussock grass where about 9,000 pairs of Imperial (King) Cormorants group together and are joined by a colony of about 750 pairs of Rockhopper Penguins, a Bleaker Island highlight. Other highlights you may experience are a Gentoo Penguin highway, Magellanic Penguin burrows dotted across the island, and waterfowl at Big Pond.
Fly to and explore Pebble Island
Feb 8 - 9
Pebble Island is the third largest offshore island and is home to the longest sand beach in the Falklands. Pebble was named in the 1760’s after the beautiful semi-precious pebbles that were discovered on its western beaches. The landscape of Pebble Island varies greatly from pristine beaches, moor lands, and rocky peaks to an extensive area of ponds and wetlands, and dramatic coastal cliffs. All of these provide vital breeding habitats for an incredible list of resident bird species. The deep ponds on the east of the island, many of which are within walking distance of the lodge, are home to Chiloe Wigeon, Silvery Grebes, Black-necked Swans, and multitude of other wildfowl and wading birds. Many thousands of Gentoo, Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins breed on Pebble Island each summer.
Fly to Carcass Island, then sail to and explore Steeple Jason Island
Feb 10 - 11
Fly to Carcass Island, and weather permitting, sail to Steeple Jason Island. We will do everything in our power to get the group there, but rough seas can delay or cancel this departure.
Steeple Jason is the outermost northwest island, now a reserve owned by Wildlife Conservation Society. Albatross are the main attraction, their nests thickly wrapping around the base of the striking island. More Black-browed Albatross nest here than anywhere else on earth, at least a quarter million birds! From a distance, the immense colony on the lower shores looks like freshly fallen snow. As you approach, you’ll see thousands of birds circling in the air and rafting on the water like tiny icebergs, and once ashore, maneuver through the tall, wispy tussock grass to arrive at the colony and experience albatross flying very close overhead.
Return to Carcass Island with boat excursion to West Point Island
Feb 12 - 13
Lying to the northwest of the Falklands archipelago, Carcass is one of the most picturesque outer-lying islands. In its 100+ years of habitation this island has had only three owners, all environmentally conscious, and an absence of cats and rats makes the luxuriant, well established hedges and trees an attractive home to many small birds such as the Cobb’s Wren, Black-chinned Siskins, and Austral Thrush. The sandy beaches, rolling hills and low cliffs are superb platforms from which to view the multitude of birds that either breed or feed on and around this island, which include Gentoo and Magellanic penguins, Yellow-billed Pintails, Falkland (or Flightless) Steamer-Ducks, Magellanic Oystercatchers, and Striated Caracaras. A growing colony of Southern Elephant Seals can be found at the far north west point of the island. Both the north and south of the island provide great hiking opportunities, taking in interesting flora, long white sand beaches (some good beachcombing), penguin colonies, and sheltered dunes which make great picnic spots.
The freedom from predation and active habitat restoration work by owner Rob McGill has blessed Carcass with an immediately evident ambiance, different from anywhere else in the Falklands. You will have plenty of time to explore this very special island with our guide or completely at your own leisure as you choose.
On West Point Island, experience vast numbers of Black-browed Albatross, Rockhopper Penguins, and superb cliff scenery on our full day excursion. West Point lies off the most northwesterly point of West Falkland, west from Carcass about an hour by boat; during the transfer enjoy dolphins and birds swooping down to feed in the rich seas. Once on West Point Island you are free to explore the picturesque settlement, stop in for tea, and make your way to Devil's Nose Cliffs – the wildlife hotspot. A lift across the two miles of gentle track may be available via Land Rover. On the return journey, conditions permitting, we may circumnavigate West Point Island to give spectacular photographic opportunities.
Return to Stanley for excursion to Volunteer Point
You’ll bid the outer islands farewell to return to Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. The timing of your charter flight depends on weather and other flight schedules, but will likely be around midday. After about a 2.5-hour drive by Landrover, you’ll arrive at the white sandy beach and turquoise waters of Volunteer Point, a destination with almost a Caribbeanesque feel to it, but the King, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins will bring you back to the Falklands. Discover the largest accessible King Penguin colony in the Islands outside of South Georgia, containing approximately 1,000 adults. You may also find other wildlife such as Long-tailed Meadowlarks, Austral Thrush, South American Snipe, and South American Tern, Blackish and Magellanic oystercatchers, and Upland, Kelp, and Ruddy-headed geese. Enjoy the spectacular scenery as you traverse the north of East Falkland.
Stanley city tour and museum visit
With a population of around 2,000, Stanley is the smallest and most remote capital city in the world, in many ways like an English village from decades ago with the addition of a Government House, a cathedral, and a wide range of amenities and services. The city is built on a north-facing slope to catch the sun throughout the year, looking across Stanley Harbor with its wealth of seabirds and trickle of shipping. Stanley’s historical interest is associated with the great age of sail when rounding Cape Horn was the most daunting nautical passage on the planet. Some of those ships still lie in the harbor, abandoned after a Cape Horn battering. A self-guided Maritime History Trail has been set up in Stanley and guidebooks are available from local shops.
Stanley depicts a new vibrant Falklands, and is home to many successful businesses, with deep-sea fishing, tourism, farming and most recently oil prospecting being the principle earners.
Leave Mount Pleasant Airport and transfer to international flights homeward in Santiago, or to Punta Arenas if you are joining our Antarctic Peninsula voyage.
Visit the Falkland Islands – seven different islands, the best of Patagonia and Antarctica combined into one.
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Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip cost, double occupancy||$9,950|
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed throughout the safari.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||March 1, 2018||$2,000|
|Final||September 1, 2018||Remaining Balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
- All leaders, transport, landing fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
- Internal flights in the Falkland Islands.
- Meals from breakfast on February 2 through lunch on February 16.
- Accommodations for the nights of February 1 through February 15.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $2,000–$2,500 from the USA to Stanley, Falkland Islands, depending on origin.
- Passport and visa fees.
- Gratuities: Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $200 per participant for the lodge staff, drivers, sailors, and local guides throughout the safari.
- We can arrange extra hotel nights in Santiago for an extra cost.
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but it is required for you to purchase. Read more about travel insurance.
- Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, and items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
Daytime temperatures are generally 40 to 50°F (4 to 10°C). Wet, penetrating cold is not usually a problem, but you will need to protect against almost constant wind and sea splash, especially when riding in the Zodiacs. Mittens, warm hat, layers of clothing, parka, and waterproof outer garments are necessary.
This safari requires the ability to hike moderate distances, perhaps up to three miles, with small elevation gains. To visit Steeple Jason, you must be able to easily get in and out of a Zodiac and climb over boulders while carrying your gear.You must be able to get into and out of a Landrover. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
International airfare is not included in trip costs, but internal flights in the Falklands are included. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Santiago, Chile (SCL) by February 1. Continue to Stanley, Falkland Islands (MPN) via Punta Arenas, Chile on February 2 on the once-weekly LAN Airlines flight. Depart Stanley on the once-weekly LAN Airlines flight on February 16 to Punta Arenas for flights home. If you are joining the Cheesemans’ Antarctic Peninsula expedition, arrive in Punta Arenas by 4:00pm on February 17.
Flights we book for you: Flights from Stanley, Falkland Islands to Sea Lion Island, Sea Lion Island to Bleaker Island, Bleaker Island to Pebble Island, Pebble Island to Carcass Island, and Carcass Island to Stanley. The cost of these bookings is included in the tour cost.
What is the difference between the ship-based and the land-based safaris?
Our land-based and ship-based Falkland Islands safaris both offer unique and thorough explorations of this remote archipelago. With a prearranged itinerary, our land-based safari takes you through a seven-island circuit by Land Rover, bus, small boat, and plane, staying at some of the best wilderness sites and lodges these islands offer, giving you ample time and freedom to explore. For our ship-based safari will travel by sea on a 12-passenger vessel, including 13 full landing days, offering a more flexible itinerary based on conditions and best wildlife opportunities. Visiting by ship allows you to make landings in seldom-visited sites that are inaccessible by land.
Will I see different wildlife at different times of the year?
The best time to visit the Falkland Islands is between October and April. During these months, the weather is warmer, and the wildlife is more abundant. Beginning in September, much of the wildlife begins its mating season. By October, penguins and albatross have returned to their colonies and are building nests and laying eggs; gentoo penguins can be quite the spectacle as they steal each other’s nest-building materials. October is also the best time to see elephant seals as they are giving birth. In November and December, most birds are incubating their eggs as sea lions and elephant seals continue hauling out to establish colonies and mate. Once January and February arrive, you’ll find many young fluffy newborn chicks discovering their surroundings, including Magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins, king penguins, and albatross. Sea lion pups are also most abundant in January. As March and April’s declining temperatures show the first signs of the approaching winter, penguin chicks have reached different stages of fledging, and sea lions have finished hauling out. By the end of May, most birds have departed for the sea or for South America, although some small birds and roughly half of the gentoo penguins winter on the islands.
The accommodations vary among the islands and outside communication is limited. We cannot guarantee private rooms/baths in our lodging on Steeple Jason, as the lodging consists of three rooms with various group sleeping arrangements and two bathrooms shared with the other Cheesemans’ travelers and leader. Be prepared to help with cooking and cleaning, loading your luggage, etc.
Motion sickness is usually not an issue, but you have a full-day boat excursion, sail to and from Steeple Jason weather permitting, and fly on small aircraft. The key to avoiding motion sickness is to take action before you experience nausea. As with all medications, do your own research and consult with your doctor before taking any drugs (even if they are over-the-counter) and especially if you are taking other drugs. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.
You’ll travel by bus, Landrover, small boat and small plane. Repacking and leaving some luggage temporarily in Stanley may be necessary as there will be strict luggage weight limits and space on flights. More information will be provided in the Trip Materials.
- Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
- Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
- Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
- Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
- Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
- Use of Drones/UAVs on Tours:Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.