The archipelago 290 miles off the coast of Argentina consists of two main islands, East and West Falkland. It’s a large landmass with most of the 2,000 inhabitants living in the capital city of Stanley, which receives cruise visitors in the high season, many of whom head straight for Volunteer Point, a 4X4 excursion away, where one is as likely as not to learn the meaning of “getting bogged down” in the mossy, spongy land. But those who make the trip get to see king penguins (with their rainbow-accented chests) from very close up.
Aside from the odd trip out of Stanley, most long-distance trips are by the tiny red Falkland Island planes, with flights coordinated and announced on the radio on a daily basis, which your hosts advise you of sometime around breakfast. Highlights on the island include Saunders Island’s “The Neck” where a giant rockhopper penguin colony squawks, preens and hops daily, and Sealion Island, which has Magellanic penguins, the odd Marconi, many other birds (visible from hides) and of course, a plentiful (and redolent) sealion population.
Air access to the Falkland Islands is from Punta Arenas, Chile once a week, once a month from Rio Gallegos, Argentina or once every ten days from the UK. Cruise ships to Antarctica often pass through here, though if the weather is bad, they may not make a landing. Getting to these islands can be challenging, but they’re one of Matador’s top locales for penguin-spotting.