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Overview

Surrounded by the wild South Atlantic, the wind-whipped but wildlife-rich Falkland Islands have become a surprise destination for round-the-Horn cruise ships but the handful of independent travelers see them best. Arriving from southernmost Chile, an hour-plus away by air, passengers glimpse rolling moorlands punctuated by low stony peaks, with scattered sheep farms and a single substantial settlement, the capital of Stanley. Stanley has its charms, but it's the shoreline birds — including six penguin species — and marine mammals that excite visitors with their abundance, accessibility, and a tameness comparable to the Galápagos or ...

Surrounded by the wild South Atlantic, the wind-whipped but wildlife-rich Falkland Islands have become a surprise destination for round-the-Horn cruise ships but the handful of independent travelers see them best. Arriving from southernmost Chile, an hour-plus away by air, passengers glimpse rolling moorlands punctuated by low stony peaks, with scattered sheep farms and a single substantial settlement, the capital of Stanley. Stanley has its charms, but it's the shoreline birds — including six penguin species — and marine mammals that excite visitors with their abundance, accessibility, and a tameness comparable to the Galápagos or Everglades. On East Falkland, one of the two main islands, Volunteer Point features a huge king penguin colony. Most of the best sites, though, are on smaller offshore islands, with comfortable wildlife lodges, reached by air taxi. Sea Lion Island, for instance, has four penguin species, including the amusing rockhopper, while Saunders Island has huge breeding colonies of the stunning black-browed albatross and ruins of an 18th-century British fortress. Along with homey Carcass Island, another major wildlife site, they also have numerous marine mammals including elephant seals and sea lions.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to April, but December to February best for wildlife