Sailing the Archipelago

Falkland Islands

October 17 - November 3, 2019
Cost: $10,695 - $13,695
Leader: Tom Murphy and Tom Hart
Group Size: 12
Days: 18

Safari Overview

Sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience penguins, albatross, seals, and more during 13 landing days. Tom Murphy will help you improve your natural history knowledge and photography skills, and Tom Hart will teach you about penguin biology while you actively participate in his research. The islands are rich with wildlife and each landing will have something special to offer. We aim to explore the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world at Steeple Jason, and visit colonies of 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. You will benefit from the ease and flexibility of getting such a small number of travelers ashore, likely visiting sites rarely or never accessed by larger tour vessels. Come share the wildlife treasures that this special archipelago offers.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Marvel as you sit quietly alongside the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world, observing as they take off, land, court, and preen each other.
• Explore seldom-visited corners of this archipelago, traveling with a freedom increasingly more difficult in our crowded world.
• Enjoy the flexibility and serenity of being aboard a small, 12-passenger vessel.
• Take ample time to create your best photographs, and/or discover the joy of participating in scientific research.

Itinerary Updated: November 2018



Ship Info FAQ Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Oct 17 Depart home.
Oct 18 Arrive in Santiago. Santiago Airport Holiday Inn, Santiago, Chile
Oct 19 Fly to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands and board ship. Onboard the Hans Hansson B, L, D
Oct 20 - Nov 1 Explore the Falkland Islands during 13 landing days. Onboard the Hans Hansson B, L, D
Nov 2 Disembark and fly to Santiago, Chile and connect to flights home. B
Nov 3 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Tom Murphy

Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars for nearly 30 years, specializing in engaging locations such as Yellowstone National Park, Antarctica, and Africa. He travels and photographs extensively throughout Yellowstone and has hiked thousands of miles and skied on hundreds of extended overnight trips in the backcountry. Much of his work in Yellowstone was highlighted in a popular PBS Nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books. His passion and talent is photographing wildlife in their environment to tell the story of life and survival. He is a popular teacher, known for his easy-going attitude, helpful demeanor, and one-on-one style of instruction.

Dr. Tom Hart

Tom has a passion for wildlife in extreme environments and is working hard to conserve them in a changing world. His PhD involved tracking macaroni penguins to understand penguin foraging behavior. Since then, he expanded into genetics and image analysis to monitor wildlife in remote places. He runs the Penguin Lifelines project at Oxford University through which he seeks to understand changes in Antarctic wildlife using time-lapse cameras, volunteer photos, and population genetics to effectively create protected areas and manage fisheries.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Depart home

Oct 17

For most traveling to Santiago, you will need to leave home today.

Arrive in Santiago, Chile

Oct 18

Arrive in Santiago, Chile. Transfer to our hotel for a free day to rest or explore historic and colorful Santiago.

Fly to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands

Oct 19

Rockhopper Penguins

Take the once-weekly flight from Santiago to Mount Pleasant Airport in the Falkland Islands (not included in trip cost). Then, you will transfer to San Carlos to board the Hans Hansson and begin your journey amid the Falkland Islands.

Explore the Falkland Islands

Oct 20 - Nov 1

Black-browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island

The Falkland Islands, approximately 300mi east of South America and 700mi north of Antarctica, have a temperate, but sometimes foggy climate. At this time of year, we hope to enjoy some of their rare Austral summer sunshine. Out of the 300 or more islands in the Falklands, we plan to land on those best for wildlife viewing and photography. Many of these islands are privately owned and open to ecotourism on a very limited basis, putting wildlife conservation interests above development.

Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; our itinerary depends on the conditions. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible.

Carcass Island and West Point Island
Contrary to what its name suggests, Carcass island hosts many charismatic animals and a variety of habitats. As you explore the surroundings of the main settlement, discover Magellanic penguins nesting nearby, and with just a short walk, you will stumble upon a gentoo penguin colony. Southern elephant seals, imperial cormorants, striated caracaras, black-crowned night-herons, and short-eared owls are also found throughout the island. As the island is cat and rat free and an Important Bird Area, a global standard set by Birdlife International, you’ll find many ground nesting birds including the endemic Cobb's wren and other songbirds such as blackish cinclodes, dark-faced ground-tyrant, correndera pipit, austral thrush, long-tailed meadowlark, and sedge wren. Weather permitting, we'll also visit the nearby West Point Island and spend the day photographing rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatross at the Devil's Nose Cliffs.

Sea Lion Island
The sheer abundance of wildlife in such a small area makes Sea Lion Island a must on any Falklands itinerary; it is one of the smallest islands in the Falklands archipelago (just 5mi long and 1mi wide at its widest point). It hosts over 47 bird species, including rockhopper, gentoo, and Magellanic penguins; you will be graced by some of the 2,800 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins and scatterings of southern giant-petrels on nests. Other birds you may encounter are South American snipe, rufous-chested dotterel, and 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. However, perhaps by far 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. Also, not to be missed, are the South American sea lions at East Loafers. You may also witness pods of orcas circling close offshore (usually a treat for the early risers), attracted by the prospect of penguins and seals. The proximity of much of this wildlife and the easy walking terrain makes it a great destination.

Award-winning, world renowned photographers have adorned books and magazines with their prize-winning shots of the wildlife on Sea Lion Island, but even with the most basic equipment you can take away images to treasure.

Jason Islands: Steeple Jason and Grand Jason
This small group of islands forms a rocky-ridged chain with some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife you can imagine. The island names ("Steeple," "Grand," "Elephant," and "Flat,") conjure alluring and romantic images. Steeple Jason Island is now a reserve owned by Wildlife Conservation Society and is a haven for bird lovers. As you approach the island, you will see a series of dramatic rocky peaks rising steeply from the shore, the highest at 952ft, with an isthmus separating two main areas of land. There, you will immerse yourself into the world's largest colony of black-browed albatross containing at least a half million birds! From a distance, the immense colony on the lower shores looks like freshly fallen snow. These beautiful birds soar gracefully on the sea breezes, occasionally performing a clumsy landing onshore. Amongst the albatross are rockhopper penguins and imperial cormorants. Striated caracaras nest nearby with skuas, displaying their aggressive breeding behaviors. Enjoy watching these fascinating, inquisitive birds from a suitable distance. They may even come to you! Similarly, respect the breeding areas of southern giant-petrels, the largest of all petrels, which you’ll see flying elegantly along the shoreline. It's likely that the large numbers of birds here were noticed by early explorers who saw the penguins as an excellent source of oil. A few remnants of these dark days, such as large rusting trypots, can be found in the sheltered harbors. Today, these practices have stopped, and the island is an uninhabited nature reserve, a birding paradise.

Bleaker Island
Far from being bleak, you will approach this island’s protected coves to discover gentoo, rockhopper, and Magellanic penguins traversing back and forth from the inviting sandy beaches up to Penguin Hill. A short hike up from Sandy Bay to Long Gulch will reward you with good sightings of many Falkland breeding birds including southern caracaras, brown skuas, and ruddy-headed geese. This Important Bird Area is also home to other species including imperial cormorants, sedge wrens, blackish cinclodes, and the rare flying steamer-duck. Because the island is also a sustainably managed farm, you’ll find sheep and Hereford cattle grazing on the prairies meandering through wildflowers like dog orchid, yellow orchids, as well as the beautiful endemic red and yellow calceolaria, known as the lady’s slipper.

George and Barren Islands
George and Barren Islands lie at the southern entrance to Falkland Sound, the channel of water dividing East and West Falkland. As you approach their sheltered, sandy coves, you may notice odd sandstone sculptures that were shaped over the last Ice Age. Amongst these sculptures, a multitude of bird colonies have established themselves including sooty shearwaters, Cobb's wren, and striated caracaras. On the shores, keep a look out for the magnificent southern giant-petrels camouflaging themselves into the ground to roost. Amongst the other wildlife, witness over 10,000 pairs of gentoo and Magellanic penguins going about their daily routines. Both Islands also contain large colonies of South American sea lions plus southern elephant seals.

Beaver Island
One of the few places in the Falklands with an airstrip and coincidentally owned by Jerome and Dion Poncet, former owners of the Hans Hansson! Here, you will encounter wildlife including gentoo penguins, South American gray foxes, peregrine falcons, southern and striated caracaras, guanacos, fur seals, and many seabirds. This Important Bird Area is home to 40 recorded species, with 34 known to breed here. The island also has a farm with large reindeers that blend beautifully with this unique landscape.

Saunders Island
Saunders is both an ecologically and historically rich island. The first British settlement on the Falkland Islands, Port Egmont, was built here in 1765. You can visit the vestiges of this early settlement with a short walk from the present settlement. You will also explore the island’s exceptional wildlife and varied terrain from rocky hills to sweeping shorelines. This Important Bird Area is one of the few islands where you can find all five breeding species of penguin along with black-browed albatross and many other birds! To the northwest, you will reach a narrow isthmus nicknamed "The Neck." The Neck is named for the broad sandy beach lying between Mount Harston and Mount Richards. This location boasts a diverse array of seabird species and spectacular landscapes that will leave you in awe. As you gaze through this unique landscape, find gentoo and king penguins nesting on the beach in between the mountains. Further up, you will see extensive Magellanic penguin burrows buzzing with activity, with predatory caracaras on the grassy hillsides. Two southern rockhopper penguin rookeries are within easy walking access, plus more black-browed albatross nesting areas. Here, you may witness particularly spectacular sunsets, as the setting sun bathes the gentoo colonies on the beach with warm golden light.

Pebble Island
Named for the attractive, unusual pebbles found on some of the beaches, you will quickly learn that this island has much more to offer. Elephant Beach, a stunning 4mi long beach (the longest in the Falklands), is beautifully contrasted by First Mountain, which reaches 909ft. You can also hike to ponds and lakes in the east, which are home to waterfowl including the largest concentration of black-necked swans. In this Important Bird Area, you can also observe gentoo, Magellanic, and rockhopper penguins; the latter occasionally interspersed with macaroni penguins.

Volunteer Point
This broad, mile-long sandy beach is home to a large king penguin colony plus nesting gentoo and Magellanic penguins. Depending on the schedule, you may experience the incredible sunrise and sunset at Volunteer Point, when thousands of penguins head out to sea to feed in the morning and return to their nests at dusk.

Cape Bougainville
Once you arrive in the northern reaches of the Falklands, you will find the Salvador Farm, also known as Gibraltar Station, located in this picturesque site with stunning cliffs and white sandy beaches. It is home to a range of wildlife including rockhopper and a few macaroni penguins which sometimes interbreed to produce hybrid offspring! Many other birds inhabit the shores including southern giant-petrel and various species of gulls. You may also encounter South American sea lions gazing at you inquisitively as they bask in the tussac grass.

Bull Point
On the opposite southern end of the Falklands is an area that can only be reached by a long off-road journey or by boat, making it a remote and well-preserved wildlife sanctuary hidden within the North Arm Farm. Here, you will enjoy walks amongst both gentoo and Magellanic penguin breeding grounds. This Important Bird Area will also provide you with some of the most accessible wildlife including upland geese, kelp geese, Falklands steamer-ducks, finches, blackish cinclodes, long-tailed meadowlarks, dark-faced ground-tyrants, and austral thrushes. Interspersed amongst them, you may even spot the occasional striated caracaras or a variable hawk. South American sea lions and southern elephant seals sometimes haul out on the coast. As you explore, don’t forget to look down for the many native plants that grow in the area including the rare Antarctic eyebright.

Darwin Settlement
Named after Charles Darwin, who carried out a zoological survey of the Falklands on the Beagle's second voyage, the settlement of Darwin was founded approximately a quarter of a century after Charles Darwin's visit. It was known occasionally (and still is from time to time) as Port Darwin. Here, you will find a corral, the Galpon building, which was home to 19th century gauchos, the Argentine Military Cemetery, and extensive birdlife both in the Sound and the pond. A small racecourse is also here, for local amateur and hobby horse riders.

Port Stephens
As you make your way through a large open harbor, you will approach this port tucked away in a tiny corner. Port Stephens offers fantastic wildlife and walking opportunities. You can see all five species of penguins here, including macaroni, gentoos, kings, rockhoppers, and Magellanic all breeding at Wood Cove and Stephen’s Peak, along with many other species of birds. Marine mammals are also frequently seen here. Nearby, you can visit a geological phenomenon named "Indian Village" which consists of a series of unusual rock formations which characterize a section of the local farmland.

New Island
Here, you will indeed encounter something new as this island’s terrain is one of the most varied and impressive of the archipelago, with spectacular cliffs, white sand beaches, secret coves, rugged hills, and small open plains. You will find New Island rich with wildlife immediately upon landing, greeted by fascinating Falkland steamer-ducks, ruddy-headed goose, caracaras, shorebirds, blackish cinclodes, dark-faced ground-tyrant, long-tailed meadowlark, white-bridled finch, peregrine falcons, and gentoo, Magellanic, and rockhopper penguins. You will have amazing views of black-browed albatross courting atop their conical mud nests along the cliffs. You may also encounter South American fur seal. Other highlights include both Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins that occasionally bow ride with the ship or even alongside the Zodiacs going from ship to shore and back.

Disembark and fly back to Santiago, Chile

Nov 2

You will dock at Stanley, Falkland Islands by early morning. After breakfast, you will disembark the Hans Hansson and transfer to the Mount Pleasant airport to fly back to Santiago, Chile and connect to international flights homeward.

Arrive home

Nov 3

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.

Falklands

Sail the Falkland Islands and observe penguins, albatross, seals, and more.

-51.685672, -57.777644

Ship Information

Hans Hansson

The Hans Hansson was originally built for the Norwegian Lifeboat Association and in 2005 underwent a major refit, including renewing the interior to provide comfortable accommodations for our twelve passengers. She is ideally suited for extended voyages in comfort and safety anywhere in the world. Our vessel is a solid workboat, yet she boasts a comfortable main saloon and library/recreational area.


More Information

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Description Cost Per Person
Twin shared Bottom deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, desk, wardrobe, couch, washbasin, and shared bath facilities. $10,695
Superior private Middle deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, office, wardrobe, washbasin, and private bath facilities. $13,695

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including international airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

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 will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 90% over the listed cabin cost. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $1,500
Second September 15, 2018 $4,000
Third December 15, 2018 $4,000
Final May 1, 2019 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.


Cancellations

Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $1,000 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.

Dates Forfeited Amount per Person
On or before February 28, 2019 $1,000
March 1 to March 31, 2019 10% of tour cost
April 1 to April 30, 2019 40% of tour cost
On or after May 1, 2019 100% of tour cost

Included

  • All leaders, transport, permits, landing fees, passenger fees, and port taxes.
  • Accommodations for the nights of October 18 through November 1.
  • Fourteen nights on board the Hans Hansson.
  • Meals from breakfast on October 19 through breakfast on November 2 (NOTE: Due to the expedition nature of this trip and the vessel size, we cannot accommodate vegan and gluten-free diets as meals are all prepared together in one small area. Lunch is usually vegetarian, but dinner is usually non-vegetarian (usually containing beef) with a vegetarian side dish).
  • Airport transfers on October 19 and November 2 between the airport and the ship.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages plus wine and beer during dinner while aboard the Hans Hansson.
  • Rubber boots on loan while aboard the Hans Hansson.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All Airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $800–$1,200 round trip from the USA to Santiago, Chile, plus approximately $1,200 for the Santiago and Mount Pleasant round-trip flights.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities for the ship’s crew. Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting $10 to $15 per participant per day for October 19 to November 2 aboard the Hans Hansson ($150 to $225 total per participant). Tom Murphy and Tom Hart do not expect a tip.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance 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.

Climate

In the Falkland Islands, average temperatures range from nighttime lows of about 35°F (2°C) to daytime highs of 50°F (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.

In Santiago, the average temperatures range from nighttime lows of about 45°F (7°C) to daytime highs of about 75°F (24°C).

Fitness Level

Participating in this voyage does not require a high level of physical fitness, but please be sure that you can: (1) stay without medical assistance for the duration of the trip, (2) swim or float, (3) be sufficiently stable on your feet that you can, for example, stand on a bus/train in normal conditions without (or minimally) holding on, (4) get in and out of a Zodiac on a beach with a little swell, (5) walk 10 blocks without getting exhausted, and (6) climb a 6ft vertical ladder. Once on shore, you can walk for short or long distances (within specified guidelines); it is up to you. Landing details will be given in advance of each landing. Please contact us if you have any health or fitness concerns that may make this trip challenging.

Flights

Airfare is not included in trip costs. 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 as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Santiago, Chile (SCL) by October 18. Depart from Santiago (SCL) in the afternoon on or after November 2.

Flights we book for you: Round-trip flights between Santiago (SCL) and Mount Pleasant (MPN). The cost of this round-trip booking will be added to your final trip balance.

FAQ

How will I get to participate in science?

In addition to travelling to unique, amazing, and remote destinations, our voyage advances the scientific understanding of ecosystems we care about. Dr. Tom Hart, of the University of Oxford (https://oxfordoceanresearch.org/people/dr-tom-hart/), will join our expedition to collect samples, make observations, and record data to help contribute to his ongoing research. If you wish, you may help him as he establishes and services remote field cameras that remain in place year-round. These cameras, deployed extensively in the Antarctic, South Georgia Island, the South Sandwich Islands, and the Arctic, are very effective at revealing unexpected patterns in seabird breeding biology, such as penguins visiting their otherwise abandoned colonies in the middle of winter. Why do they do this? Join us and learn from Tom!

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.

Accommodations

Seasickness

Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness at www.cheesemans.com/seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.

Transportation

Conditions

  • 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.