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Island Holidays
Established 1987

Falkland Islands Exclusive

A unique expedition cruise offering the best of the Falklands and its wildlife

A Black-browed Albatross with photography group in the background

Locations in this tour typically include: Puerto Madryn • The Falkland Islands (Steeple Jason Island • Carcass Island • Saunders Island • West Point Island • Stanley • Bleaker Island • Sea Lion Island) • Ushuaia;

Island Holidays has been taking people to the Falkland Islands for 30 years and the destination remains as enchanting as ever.

The new expedition voyage, operated by our friends and colleagues, Oceanwide Expeditions, offers an opportunity to visit places not normally accessible to regular tourists and we have a feeling that a lot of people who have been before but didn't want to go back to the same islands will be jumping at the chance.

One of the highlights is the proposed visit to Steeple Jason which is home to the largest Black-browed Albatross colony in the world. From the map below you can see that we do an almost complete circumnavigation of the archipelago in a voyage which takes nine nights starting in Puerto Madryn and ending up in Ushuaia.

As well as penguins and albatross there are many other species of birds to be enjoyed and perhaps the early spring flowers will be given an extra dimension. And, of course, while at sea we will be in the company of Commerson's and Peale's Dolphins in the waters around the islands.

Route map

Falklands Expedition Cruise Route

The above route/s is/are representative for this cruise and may not exactly match the itinerary of every departure available. Please check the PDF itinerary download/s for the exact route/s.

Key facts

The ship

M/v Ortelius was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was originally named Marina Svetaeva, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. Read more about Ortelius

M/v Ortelius

Your itinerary

Please note that the itinerary below is representative and may not be that of all cruises listed under the same title, since they can vary slightly in their route, duration, destinations or activities and can be different from year to year. Note also that during the cruise the programme may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. Please check the PDF itinerary downloads above for the precise itinerary and route of your chosen season and departure date.

Day 1: Ushuaia
In the afternoon, we embark in Puerto Madryn and sail towards the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is world renowned for their visiting Southern Right whales and we have a good chance to see them as we head towards open ocean.

Days 2 & 3: At sea
The ship is followed by several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters and diving petrels.

Days 4 – 8: Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands (Malvinas) offer a wide variety of wildlife, which with caution is easily approachable. In many ways, the islands are largely an unknown selection of wildlife gems mainly known to the wider public for the war between the UK and Argentina in 1982. Not only various species of birds occur here, but chances are great to see both Peale's dolphin and Commerson's dolphins in the waters around the islands. Our itinerary will aim at offering the best of the Falklands and may include: The rarely visited Steeple Jason Island. It is a wild place dominated by wind and waves and the weather and swell conditions will dictate our success. Steeple Jason is the home of the largest Black-browed albatross colony in the world is located (app. 113.000). Carcass Island is rodent free and hence has a bounty of birdlife from breeding Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, to numerous waders and passerine birds including several endemics to the islands such as the Cobb's wren and the Tussack bird. On Saunders Island, we can see the majestic Black-browed albatross and their sometimes-clumsy landings near their nesting site along with breeding Imperial shags and Rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and Gentoo penguins are also present here. West Point Island is equally inhabited by a great number of Black-browed albatrosses and Rockhopper penguins, whereas Grave Cove offers relative shelter and many nesting Gentoo penguins along with excellent hiking opportunities. The large white sandy beach at Volunteer Point is rather exposed but offers a large King penguin rookery along with a plentiful birdlife. Alternatively, Sparrow Cove/ Kidney Cove on the northeast shore of Berkeley Sound not far from Port Stanley offers a great hike to enjoy the views of Kidney Cove and Port Stanley from Mt Low (204 m/671 ft). In Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, we can experience Falkland culture, which has some South American characteristics as well as Victorian charm; colourful houses, well-tended gardens, and English style pubs. In Stanley and the surrounding area, we can see a number of stranded clippers from a century ago. They bear witness to the hardships of sailors in the 19th Century. The small, but very interesting museum is well worth a visit. Approximately 2,100 people live in the small capital in which all passengers are free to wander around on their own. Admission fees to local attractions are not included. One the northwest side of Bleaker Island we may land at Sandy Bay. Nearby, Big Pond offers excellent wildlife opportunities such as Dark-faced ground-tyrant and Magellanic snipe. There is also easy walking to both Gentoo penguins, Magellanic penguins, Rockhopper penguins, and King cormorants. Sea Lion Island is very exposed and luck is required to make landfall here. It is the home of the largest breeding colony of Southern elephant seals in the archipelago with approximately 2000 individuals on the northern beaches at this time of year. A good hike will lead to a Southern sea lion haul out. A reasonably easy walk from the landing next to site Coffin's Harbour at the New Island South Wildlife Reserve will bring rewards such as nesting Black-browed albatrosses and Rock-hopper penguins. A more strenuous hike to Landsend Bluff may offer great views of South American fur seals. The site of only land based whaling station on the Falkland Islands is located to the south of the landing beach. Landing at the New Island North Nature Reserve requires a special permit. That pending we may make an afternoon landing in this spectacular place with a last visit to Black-browed albatrosses, South American fur seal, and several other species of birds that call the Falkland Islands home.

Day 9: At sea
We head west towards South America followed by numerous sea birds.

Day 10: Ushuaia
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.

Disclaimer: This itinerary is dependent on sea and ice conditions. The final itinerary will be decided by the ship's captain and your Expedition Leader to maximize opportunities.