Chile and The Falklands
Fully guided exploration of the Andes foothills, Patagonia and the Falkland Islands
London • Santiago (Chile) • Andes foothils (Farellones & Valle Nevado) • Punta Arenas • Puerto Natales • Torres del Paine National Park • Punta Arenas • Stanley (Falkland Islands) • Sea Lion Island • Pebble Island • Stanley • Volunteer Point • Santiago • London;
Our new tour takes advantage of the weekly connection between Chile and the Falkland Islands with LATAM. Instead of using what is known as the “South Atlantic Airbridge” (the twice-weekly flight with the RAF out of Brize Norton) we fly from London via Madrid to Santiago in Chile. We've incorporated a full day birding in the foothills of the Andes around Farellones and Valle Nevado. We then have a night in Santiago before flying down to Punta Arenas in Patagonia — deep in the south of the country. From here we drive up to Puerto Natales and then spend a day in the amazing national park which is Torres del Paine. We return to Punta Arenas for our flight to the Falkland Islands.
We'll spend a week in the Falklands visiting Sea Lion and Pebble Islands as well as the islands' capital, Stanley, from where we'll take a day trip to see the fabulous King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point. Probably the most notable thing about the wildlife in the Falkland Islands is the fact that very few of the species we'll see — including hopefully all five species of penguin — are unafraid of man and we can therefore enjoy them in close proximity (always abiding by the principles of responsible tourism). The destinations we have chosen give us a great chance to see most of the main species to be expected.
When we get back to Chile we'll spend a night in Santiago and visit a really splendid wine farm for a tour, tasting and lunch before our homeward bound flight.
- Wildlife & Island Exploration
- Fully guided group tour
- 2018 departure: 28 October
- Nights: 15
- Fully inclusive cost: £5,955
- Single room supplement: £520
- Deposit: £850
- Meal Basis: See itinerary
- Activity level: Easy
- Tour leader: Simon Hopkin
- Maximum Group Size: 9
- Travel: LATAM
- Departs: London Heathrow
- Included in cost: International air fares and taxes, inter-island flights, transfers, Land Rover excursions, UK and local guides.
- Not included in cost: Travel insurance, tips, drinks and items of a personal nature.
- Chile Falklands Itinerary 2018
Your Tour Leader
Simon Hopkin first came to know and love the Falkland Islands when he spent two years there as military/civilian liaison officer. His job and his free time gave him the opportunity to visit most of the principal Falkland Islands where he enjoyed both the people and the wildlife. He has travelled extensively, especially in the South Atlantic and has a keen interest in the cultural and natural heritage of the countries he's visited, as well as the flora and fauna. And, on top of all this, he's an experienced tour guide and extremely good company.
Our LATAM flight leaves London Heathrow at 1850 hours and we change in Madrid for the onward journey to Santiago.
Having cleared immigration and customs we are met by our local guide and whisked off into the foothills of the Andes for a day's birding and to enjoy some spectacular scenery around Farellones and Valle Nevado. We'll be looking for endemics such as Chilean Tinamou and Dusky-tailed Canastero whilst higher in the mountains we'll hope to see the magnificent Andean Condors with hopes of Black-chested Buzzard Eagle and Mountain Caracara. During the day we'll have a picnic lunch and we'll drive back to Santiago to arrive with time to freshen up before dinner which will be at Hotel Fundador where we will be staying overnight.
We leave after breakfast to return to Santiago airport for our flight to Punta Arenas. We recommend that you have a good breakfast as lunch is not included and airport snacks are not very exciting. We fly over Chile's Lake District before landing at Puerto Montt. The final leg to Punta Arenas can be spectacular if you're on the left-hand side of the aircraft and the weather is clear as we fly over the glaciers with a view to Mount Fitz Roy. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas we transfer to our centrally-located hotel where there'll be time to freshen up before dinner in a local restaurant.
We check out after breakfast for the 3-4 hour drive to Puerto Natales. Our route takes us north through the steppe close to the Argentinian border. We'll be keeping an eye open for several species of birds including the ubiquitous Upland Goose, Crested and Chimango Caraca, Patagonian Crested Duck, the attractive little Austral Negrito, Chilean Flamingo and, if we're very lucky, the iconic Andean Condor. We recommend you take some water with you as there's nowhere for a coffee stop en route.
Upon arrival in Puerto Natales we'll have lunch at a local pizza/pasta place which used to be a tailor's shop! In the afternoon we'll visit the small museum before heading out of town to visit the Mylodon Cave (Cueva del Milodón), said to be one of the most important archaeological and palaeontological sites in the Americas. The cave itself has a wide mouth and there's natural daylight throughout, so no problem for those who tend towards claustrophobia! We return to the town and check into the Weskar Hotel for a two-night stay.
Today is possibly the highlight of our time in Patagonia as we'll be having a full day in Torres del Paine National Park. This iconic representation of Patagonia is renowned for its dramatic scenery, notably the massif which comprises three sharp granite peaks and the Nieto which is sedimentary rock. If we're lucky we'll see this dramatic vista in all its glory but, even if it remains shrouded in cloud, it still dominates the whole atmosphere of this unique landscape. During the 3-hour drive from Puerto Natales we'll pass through different phases of the landscape, from the Patagonian Steppe and through the transitional zone until we reach the deciduous forest of Nothofagus pumilio and the lakes and mountains. During our drive, as well as learning about the topography, we'll be looking out for animals and birds, hoping to see some of the species associated with this Park such as Andean Condor, Lesser Rhea and Guanaco plus lots more.
We'll make stops along the way to feast our eyes on the dramatic and varied scenery which surrounds us. We'll have a spot of lunch in a lodge overlooking the Grey Lake with its brilliantly blue icebergs before taking a walk through native woodland and beyond. On a good day this is one of the great experiences of a lifetime. If the weather isn't kind (and Patagonia does serious weather!) it is still wonderful with so much to experience. We return to Puerto Natales for dinner and overnight.
Today we retrace our steps, arriving in Punta Arenas at lunch time. Having checked in to our hotel, the afternoon will be free to explore the town or simply relax. Lunch today is at your own expense. We re-convene for dinner in a local restaurant.
A relatively early start as we leave for the airport at 0830 for our flight to the Falkland Islands which arrives at lunchtime. The drive to Stanley takes about 40 minutes. On arrival we check in to Malvina House Hotel where soup and sandwiches will be waiting for us. Afterwards we'll have the chance to visit the museum which is opposite the hotel and then takes walk along the waterfront to get the layout of the town and see a few of the birds which will become familiar during our stay in the Falkland Islands.
This morning we take a flight on the little 8-seater Islander aircraft to Sea Lion Island where we'll stay for two nights. Sea Lion is a small, flat island with much to offer. On arrival we'll have a familiarisation tour by LandRover (or equivalent) and thereafter we'll explore on foot. Right outside the lodge there's a colony of Gentoo Penguins while just a 10 minute walk away we find Elephant Beach with its elephant seals. The endemic Cobb's Wren hops around the lodge and, a little further away we'll find sea lions and a fresh water lake with species such as Tufted Greve and Silvery Teal. It's a super place and you can either join your expert tour leader or simply explore on your own.
Another day on Sea Lion Island exploring the multitudinous opportunities or simply sitting and watching penguins, sea lions or elephant seals.
Today we fly out west, our destination being Pebble Island which is very much larger than Sea Lion. There is much to see here — Rockhopper and Gentoo Penguins (sometimes with the occasional Marcaroni joining the former and King the latter), Variable Hawk (used to be known as Red-backed), Black-necked Swan and lots of other waterfowl. Relatively close to the settlement where we'll be staying there's a four-mile long beach from which we can often see Black-browed Albatross while species such as South American Tern and White-rumped Sandpiper are close to hand.
Depending on when we arrived yesterday we'll have a LandRover excursion or simply be on foot to enjoy the island. There's so much to see and enjoy – Pebble is a terrific island and the hospitality at the lodge is excellent.
Our final internal flight takes us to Stanley where we return to Malvina House. The afternoon will be free to catch up on what we didn't have time for on our first visit.
Volunteer Point is home to the Falkland's largest King Penguin colony which grows every year. Here we'll also see Gentoo and Magellanic (known locally as Jackass) Penguins. It's quite a long drive, much of which is off-road which is an experience. Our local guides are experts and enjoy sharing their knowledge and love of their islands with us. On the way they'll also point out important sites in the context of the 1982 war with Argentina.
All too soon it's time to leave. Our LATAM flight leaves in the early afternoon, getting us to Santiago in the late evening. Here we check into the hotel where we stayed at the beginning of our trip. Meals are not included today — it's what the airline gives us!
Our flight isn't until this afternoon so we take the chance to drive to a wine farm about an hour's drive from Santiago where we'll have a tasting and tour followed by lunch. We return to Santiago in time for our evening flight which arrives back at London Heathrow on Monday 12 November in the morning.
Please note that the itinerary can be changed without notice at the sole discretion of Island Holidays or your tour leader.