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Chile and the Falklands Wildlife Holiday: Penguins and albatrosses

14 days from £5421pp

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Chile and the Falklands Wildlife Holiday: Penguins and albatrosses:
Trip Dossier

The Falkland Islands lie off the coast of Argentina in the South Atlantic. However, very few people know about the wilderness beauty of this remote island archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean. The islands have an unpolluted environment with vast open spaces and white sand beaches. A huge variety of wildlife has adopted the Falkland Islands as their home: the bird and animal population (sheep, and penguins) outnumber the human inhabitants by 10-1. At least 5 species of penguin are found on the Falkland Islands and elephant seals, sea-lions and seals, an abundance of birds and minke and killer whales can be spotted here. The islanders remain British in outlook and descent, adhering to British laws and buying British goods.

Most travellers to the Falklands visit for only a day or two as part of a cruise. Our holiday includes a whole week discovering the highlights of the islands. We’ll take you to Port Stanley, the capital, which looks like a small English town fifty years ago. The remains of ships abandoned 100 years ago are still to be seen in the coves, testament to an era when the islands were a safe haven when all ships passed this way before the Panama Canal opened. You’ll also travel to rural outposts by road and light aircraft.

 The holiday also features a few days in Chilean Patagonia the vicinity of Torres del Paine National Park, exploring this true wilderness where just a few rough roads cut through a frost-bitten landscape of glaciers, luminous lagoons, icy pinnacles and wind-strafed steppe.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Santiago. Transfer to hotel in the capital.

Day 2

Guided excursion to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar.

Day 3

Fly to the Falklands Islands, transfer to Darwin; visit war sites.

Days 4-5

Fly to Pebble Island, home to huge penguin colonies.

Days 6-7

Fly to tiny Sea-Lion Island, famed for its abundant wildlife.

Day 8

Fly to Mount Pleasant and continue to Port Stanley.

Day 9

Visit Volunteer Point.

Day 10

Fly to Punta Arenas in Patagonia, by road to Puerto Natales.

Days 11-12

Excursions from the hotel, including to Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 13

Transfer to Punta Arenas and fly to Santiago.

Day 14

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Santiago. Transfer to hotel in the capital.

Your hotel in Santiago's in the pleasant residential and commercial quarter of Providencia. Santiago is set in a broad valley between ranges of the Andes, with majestic snow-capped peaks, and a smaller coastal range with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Santiago is a huge metropolis, a mix of the old and the contemporary, with quarters of tree-lined avenues and affluent tranquillity and others full of commercial bustle. 

Santiago Chile

Day 2

Guided excursion to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar.
Take a guided day trip to the Pacific port of Valparaiso and the beach resort Viña del Mar. Valparaiso was a commercially important port until the Panama Canal opened.

It has long retained a certain tumbledown charm and plenty of character, making it one of Chile's most interesting and photogenic cities: however nowadays it is having a bit of a renaissance, its peeling façades receiving a colourful facelift. Steps, winding lanes and a series of funicular railways connect the upper and lower city.

From Valparaiso, it's a short drive north along the coastal road to Viña del Mar, the main seaside resort serving Santiago with a very different feel from its larger neighbour. Once a glamorous town attracting celebrities, its charm is now rather parochial but the casinos, resort hotels and the beaches are very popular at weekends.


Day 3

Fly to the Falklands Islands, transfer to Darwin; visit war sites.
Today, you’ll fly from Santiago to Mount Pleasant, the islands’ airport on East Falkland.

Still most commonly visited as a day’s excursion from Antarctic cruises, the islands are growing in popularity in their own right. A week’s visit allows you to observe a good sample of sub-Antarctic wildlife - enough to satisfy those who do not have the time to cruise to Antarctica. You’ll stay in farmhouses or small owner-operated lodges and travel by light aircraft and 4WD vehicle.

It’s a drive of less than an hour to the old settlement of Darwin, named after naturalist Charles Darwin who visited the islands in the 1830s. The place relates a narrative of the Falkland Islands’ history. There is plenty to see from the 1982 conflict, and there are also vestiges of the gauchos' occupation in the 1800s. While staying at Darwin House, a converted farmhouse built in typical Falkland’s style, you can spot birds from its waterfront location: night heron, blackish oystercatchers, ruddy-headed and upland geese visit the environs of the property.

Darwin was once the largest settlement after Port Stanley but it now has a permanent population of just 7 and serves as a sheep-farming location as is nearby Goose Green, famous for its role in the 1982 conflict. If available, the owner of the guest house will escort you on an informative tour of the battlefields and memorial sites.

Darwin House, Falklands

Days 4-5

Fly to Pebble Island, home to huge penguin colonies.
Fly by the Falkland Islands Government Air Service’s 8-seater Britten Norman Islander to Pebble Island on the tip of West Falkland (30 mins). On a clear day, the relatively low- altitude flight provides you with exceptional views of the Falkland’s coastlines and inland scenery.

Pebble Island is one of the larger outlying islands, with a varied landscape of large ponds, moorland, long sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. The western side of the island is mountainous and the eastern side flat with wetlands and tussock grass. The only settlement is located on a narrow isthmus close to Elephant Beach, the longest sand beach on the Falklands at just over 7km.

Pebble Island is renowned for its wildlife: it is home to large gentoo, rockhopper and Magellanic penguin colonies. It is one of the premier bird-watching destinations in the Falklands: thanks to the wetlands, it is a major wildfowl breeding site; not only are there 42 Falklands species, but also many visiting birds from South America and beyond. Species include king cormorants, giant petrels and black-necked swans.

Pebble was used by Argentina as an airbase during the 1982 war and was made famous after a successful SAS raid to destroy aircraft. There is no material evidence of this today but there are 2 Argentine crash sites which can be visited and a memorial to HMS Coventry sunk by the Argentines with 11 fatalities.

It’s a very picturesque island with a beautiful 7km stretch of white sand (Elephant Beach), perfect for hiking. The island is named after the translucent colourful pebbles found on some of the beaches and used to make jewellery.

Pebble Island Cormorants

Days 6-7

Fly to tiny Sea-Lion Island, famed for its abundant wildlife.
Fly to Sea-Lion Island, one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago, a top destination owing to the sheer mind-boggling abundance of easily observed wildlife. The endangered striated caracara, Antarctic skuas, southern giant petrels, and a host of passerines can be spotted.

Not to be missed are the southern sea lions at East Loafers, and the elephant seals which bask on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. The latter are close enough to be seen from the Sea Lion Island Lodge bar! Keep an eye open as there is the odd killer whale to be spotted off shore as well.

The island was formerly a sheep-farm but farming activities are no longer practised. Being small and flat it is easily explored on foot. The settlement consists of your friendly lodge (the only purpose-built Lodge in the Falklands, close to the airstrip) plus a few other old farm buildings which now accommodate staff from the lodge and research scientists. There are two landing strips (1 earth and 1 grass).

There is a memorial to HMS Sheffield which was sunk by Argentine forces in 1982 as well as graves of one of the 3 civilians killed during the Conflict.

Day 8

Fly to Mount Pleasant and continue to Port Stanley.
Fly to Port Stanley and proceed to your hotel overlooking the harbour.

Port Stanley is the capital of the Falklands and the only settlement on the island of a substantial size, with over 2,000 inhabitants. There are several places of interest easily explored on foot including the 1982 Liberation Memorial, Falkland Islands Museum and Lady Elizabeth shipwreck in Stanley Harbour.

Alternatively, wander around and admire the unique Anglo-Falklands architecture which dominates the centre and harbour front, Victorian-style brick or stone houses with brightly painted woodwork and corrugated iron roofs (known affectionately locally as 'wriggly tin'). This is the best place to shop or buy gifts.

Day 9

Visit Volunteer Point.
The 3hr drive by 4WD to Volunteer Point (mostly off-road) can be bumpy, but the scenery is very interesting.

You pass minefields, through 'stone runs' (geological features resembling giant dry river beds descending from near the mountain peaks), small farm settlements (including Port Louis, the first settlement on the islands), round beautiful Barclay Sound and alongside some of the many ponds which are a typical feature of the Falkland’s landscape.

Volunteer Point has a white sandy beach and is home to large colonies of king, Magellanic and gentoo penguins.

There is a host of other wildlife to be seen along the beach and on the lagoons.

Volunteer Point

Day 10

Fly to Punta Arenas in Patagonia, by road to Puerto Natales.

Fly to Punta Arenas, southern Chile. Continue (3hrs) by lonely road to Puerto Natales, a small town with a memorable setting, right on the shores of photogenic Last Hope Sound. The road takes you across inhospitable plains, battered by perpetual winds.

Puerto Natales looks out over icy sea and snow-capped peaks. The grids of one-storey wooden houses and small shops still have a frontier-town feel.

Your luxurious and innovative hotel, the Singular, retains parts of the original abandoned structure of an early 20th century refrigeration plant, built in what is now called Post Victorian Industrial style. The lofty ceilings, bits of restored machinery and little museum keep alive the memory of when the sheep was King.


Days 11-12

Excursions from the hotel, including to Torres del Paine National Park.
Choice of excursions from the hotel.

A choice of excursions is included such as glacier cruises, guided trekking, kayaking, biking and bird watching.

A highlight will surely be a visit to Torres del Paine National Park, dominated by a granite massif of smooth rock towers and icy pinnacles. Milky blue and gem-sharp emerald lakes, sinuous rivers, glaciers and wind-scoured steppes have created a remarkable and unique environment. The area is a natural habitat of over 150 species of birds (flamingos, condors, eagles and ostriches) and 25 species of mammal (including guanacos, armadillos, silver foxes and pumas).

Day 13

Transfer to Punta Arenas and fly to Santiago.

Transfer back to Punta Arenas airport (3hrs) and fly to Santiago (4hrs), overnight.

Day 14

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

Essential information


5 flights (longest 7hrs); 2 road journeys in Patagonia, short road journeys in the Falklands Islands.


You stay in a well located mid range hotel in Santiago, cosy family-run guest houses in the Falkland Islands and a first class hotel with excellent facilities just outside Puerto Natales, Patagonia.


Breakfast daily, dinner day 3, 10; full board days 3-8, 11, 12.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

  • Santiago: Valparaiso and Viña del Mar.
  • Excursions to observe wildlife and visit sites of historical interest in the Falklands Islands.
  • Patagonia:  Guided excursions from your hotel.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Santiago 2; Falkland Islands:  Darwin 2, Pebble Island 2, Sea-Lion Island 2, Port Stanley 1; Patagonia 3; Santiago 1.

Included in the journey price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office.
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
  • All land and domestic air transport.
  • Accommodation as specified.
  • Meals as specified.
  • Excursions as specified, with entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

  • Insurance.
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Meals other than specified.
  • Optional excursions.


The unit of currency in Chile is the peso. In the Falklands it is the Falkland Islands pound. The pound sterling is accepted throughout the islands.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it


In South America, tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found at Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This is a fully comprehensive holiday with travel or excursions on most days but none are especially arduous. 

This holiday is suitable for all able-bodied, reasonably fit visitors. In other cases, e.g. if you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.


In the Santiago area expect a Mediterranean type climate though it can snow in winter (June-August). In October, November, March and April  temperatures range between 15°C  and 25°C and there’s a good deal of sunshine. January and February are hot, around 30°C or higher. 

The Falkland Islands have a chilly climate characterised by strong winds, particularly in the spring (Sep-Oct). Rain falls on approximately 180 days per year, but totals are small. Expect daytime highs of around 10°C in Sep-Oct and Mar-Apr, whilst the islands are at their warmest in Jan, the mid-point of the southern summer, when daytime temperatures hover in the range of 15-20°C. . A little-known fact is that the islands are bathed in the same number of sunshine hours as southern England. Visitors benefit from long hours of daylight October to March.

The weather in Chilean Patagonia is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year. During the southern hemisphere summer (October to March), be prepared for everything from a blizzard to a heat wave. Strong winds and rain are possible at any time but especially in spring and autumn and it can get very cold with snow in winter, but seldom much below freezing.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Warm clothing, a sun hat and a hat to protect against cold and wind are essential. A wind proof fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex (or similar) outer shell make a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. Strong, comfortable footwear is essential. You might take swimwear for the hotel pools or Jacuzzi at the Patagonia hotel.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - If flying to the US or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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