Sailing the Northwest Archipelago
October 24 - November 3, 2019
Sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience penguins, albatross, seals, and more during six landing days. The islands are rich with wildlife and each landing has something special to offer. You’ll focus on the northwest islands of the Falklands to explore the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world at Steeple Jason, and visit colonies of gentoo, Magellanic, and rockhopper penguins. Witness Magellanic penguins ride the surf onto the beach and waddle to their underground burrows. You will benefit from the ease and flexibility of getting such a small number of travelers ashore, likely visiting sites rarely or never accessed by larger tour vessels. Come share the wildlife treasures this special archipelago offers.
• Marvel as you sit quietly alongside the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world, observing as they take off, land, court, and preen each other.
• Explore seldom-visited corners of this archipelago, traveling with a freedom increasingly more difficult in our crowded world.
• Enjoy the flexibility and serenity of being aboard a small, 12-passenger vessel.
• Take ample time to create your best photographs, and/or discover the joy of participating in scientific research.
Itinerary Updated: June 2019
Ship Info FAQ Print Trip
|Oct 24||Depart home.|
|Oct 25||Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile.||Hotel Jose Nogueira, Punta Arenas|
|Oct 26||Fly to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands and board ship.||Onboard the Hans Hansson||B, L, D|
|Oct 27 - Nov 1||Explore the Falkland Islands during six full landing days.||Onboard the Hans Hansson||B, L, D|
|Nov 2||Disembark and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile and connect to flights home.||B|
|Nov 3||Arrive home.|
Our Trip Leaders
Joe has had a passion for natural history, especially birds, since childhood. He has worked and traveled extensively throughout the Americas, the Pacific, Australasia, and Madagascar, gaining a broad understanding of biology and conservation. Joe is co-director and biologist for the non-profit organization Common Coast Research and Conservation. He is an expert on the many exciting birds that you will encounter on this expedition and is ready to identify and talk about them.
A glimpse into our journey
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. Transfer to your hotel for a free day to rest or explore this quaint city.
Fly to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands
Take the once-weekly flight from Punta Arenas to Mount Pleasant Airport in the Falkland Islands (not included in trip cost). Then transfer to San Carlos to board the Hans Hansson and begin your journey amid the Falkland Islands.
Explore the Falkland Islands
Oct 27 - Nov 1
The Falkland Islands, approximately 300mi east of South America and 700mi north of Antarctica, have a temperate, but sometimes foggy climate. At this time of year, you may enjoy some of their rare Austral summer sunshine. Out of the 300 or more islands in the Falklands, plan to land on those best for wildlife viewing and photography. Many of these islands are privately owned and open to ecotourism on a very limited basis, putting wildlife conservation interests above development.
Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; our itinerary depends on the conditions. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible.
Carcass Island and West Point Island
Contrary to what its name suggests, Carcass island hosts many charismatic animals and a variety of habitats. As you explore the surroundings of the main settlement, discover Magellanic penguins nesting nearby, and with just a short walk, you will stumble upon a gentoo penguin colony. Southern elephant seals, imperial cormorants, striated caracaras, black-crowned night-herons, and short-eared owls are also found throughout the island. As the island is cat and rat free and an Important Bird Area, a global standard set by Birdlife International, you’ll find many ground nesting birds including the endemic Cobb's wren and other songbirds such as blackish cinclodes, dark-faced ground-tyrant, correndera pipit, austral thrush, long-tailed meadowlark, and sedge wren. Weather permitting, you'll also visit the nearby West Point Island and spend the day photographing rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatross at the Devil's Nose Cliffs.
Jason Islands: Steeple Jason and Grand Jason
This small group of islands forms a rocky-ridged chain with some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife you can imagine. The island names ("Steeple," "Grand," "Elephant," and "Flat,") conjure alluring and romantic images. Steeple Jason Island is now a reserve owned by Wildlife Conservation Society and is a haven for bird lovers. As you approach the island, you will see a series of dramatic rocky peaks rising steeply from the shore, the highest at 952ft, with an isthmus separating two main areas of land. There, you will immerse yourself into the world's largest colony of black-browed albatross containing at least a half million birds! From a distance, the immense colony on the lower shores looks like freshly fallen snow. These beautiful birds soar gracefully on the sea breezes, occasionally performing a clumsy landing onshore. Amongst the albatross are rockhopper penguins and imperial cormorants. Striated caracaras nest nearby with skuas, displaying their aggressive breeding behaviors. Enjoy watching these fascinating, inquisitive birds from a suitable distance. They may even come to you! Similarly, respect the breeding areas of southern giant-petrels, the largest of all petrels, which you’ll see flying elegantly along the shoreline. It's likely that the large numbers of birds here were noticed by early explorers who saw the penguins as an excellent source of oil. A few remnants of these dark days, such as large rusting trypots, can be found in the sheltered harbors. Today, these practices have stopped, and the island is an uninhabited nature reserve, a birding paradise.
Saunders is both an ecologically and historically rich island. The first British settlement on the Falkland Islands, Port Egmont, was built here in 1765. You can visit the vestiges of this early settlement with a short walk from the present settlement. You will also explore the island’s exceptional wildlife and varied terrain from rocky hills to sweeping shorelines. This Important Bird Area is one of the few islands where you can find all five-breeding species of penguin along with black-browed albatross and many other birds! To the northwest, you will reach a narrow isthmus nicknamed "The Neck." The Neck is named for the broad sandy beach lying between Mount Harston and Mount Richards. This location boasts a diverse array of seabird species and spectacular landscapes that will leave you in awe. As you gaze through this unique landscape, find gentoo and king penguins nesting on the beach in between the mountains. Further up, you will see extensive Magellanic penguin burrows buzzing with activity, with predatory caracaras on the grassy hillsides. Two southern rockhopper penguin rookeries are within easy walking access, plus more black-browed albatross nesting areas. Here, you may witness particularly spectacular sunsets, as the setting sun bathes the gentoo colonies on the beach with warm golden light.
Here, you will indeed encounter something new as this island’s terrain is one of the most varied and impressive of the archipelago, with spectacular cliffs, white sand beaches, secret coves, rugged hills, and small open plains. You will find New Island rich with wildlife immediately upon landing, greeted by fascinating Falkland steamer-ducks, ruddy-headed goose, caracaras, shorebirds, blackish cinclodes, dark-faced ground-tyrant, long-tailed meadowlark, white-bridled finch, peregrine falcons, and gentoo, Magellanic, and rockhopper penguins. You will have amazing views of black-browed albatross courting atop their conical mud nests along the cliffs. You may also encounter South American fur seal. Other highlights include both Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins that occasionally bow ride with the ship or even alongside the Zodiacs going from ship to shore and back.
Disembark and fly back to Punta Arenas, Chile
You will dock at San Carlos, Falkland Islands by early morning. After breakfast, you’ll disembark the Hans Hansson and transfer to the Mount Pleasant airport to fly back to Punta Arenas, Chile and connect to international flights homeward.
Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.
Sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience penguins, albatross, seals, and more during six landing days.
The Hans Hansson was originally built for the Norwegian Lifeboat Association and in 2005 underwent a major refit, including renewing the interior to provide comfortable accommodations for our twelve passengers. She is ideally suited for extended voyages in comfort and safety anywhere in the world. Our vessel is a solid workboat, yet she boasts a comfortable main salon and library/ recreational area. The ship is equipped with two Zodiacs and enough kayaks to accommodate six people.
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Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Description||Cost Per Person|
|Twin shared||Bottom deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, desk, wardrobe, couch, washbasin, and shared bath facilities.||$4,200|
|Superior private||Middle deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, office, wardrobe, washbasin, and private bath facilities.||$6,600|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including international airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 90% over the listed cabin cost. Single rooms are subject to availability.
Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$1,500|
|Final||May 1, 2019||Remaining Balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $1,000 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.
|Dates||Forfeited Amount per Person|
|On or before February 28, 2019||$1,000|
|March 1 to March 31, 2019||10% of tour cost|
|April 1 to April 30, 2019||40% of tour cost|
|On or after May 1, 2019||100% of tour cost|
- All leaders, transport, permits, landing fees, passenger fees, and port taxes.
- Accommodations for the nights of October 25 through November 1.
- Seven nights on board the Hans Hansson.
- Meals from breakfast on October 26 through breakfast on November 2.
- Transfers from the airport to Hotel Jose Nogueira on October 25 and back to the airport on October 26.
- Transfers on October 26 and November 2 between the airport and the ship.
- Non-alcoholic beverages plus wine and beer during dinner while aboard the Hans Hansson.
- Rubber boots on loan while aboard the Hans Hansson.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- All Airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $800 – $1,200 round trip from the USA to Punta Arenas, Chile, plus approximately $1,200 for the Punta Arenas-Mount Pleasant round-trip flights.
- Passport and visa fees.
- We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
- Gratuities for the ship’s crew. Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting $15 to $20 per participant per day for October 26 to November 2 aboard the Hans Hansson ($120 to $160 total per participant).
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but it is required for you to purchase. Read more about travel insurance.
- Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, and items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
In the Falkland Islands, average temperatures range from nighttime lows of about 35°F (2°C) to daytime highs of 50°F (10°C). Wet, penetrating cold is not usually a problem, but you will need to protect against almost constant wind and sea splash, especially when riding in the Zodiacs.
In Punta Arenas, the average temperatures range from nighttime lows of about 37°F (3°C) to daytime highs of about 51°F (11°C).
Participating in this voyage does not require a high level of physical fitness, but please be sure that you can: (1) stay without medical assistance for the duration of the trip, (2) swim or float, (3) be sufficiently stable on your feet that you can, for example, stand on a bus/train in normal conditions without (or minimally) holding on, (4) get in and out of a Zodiac on a beach with a little swell, (5) walk 10 blocks without getting exhausted, and (6) climb a 6ft vertical ladder. Once on shore, you can walk for short or long distances (within specified guidelines); it is up to you. Landing details will be given in advance of each landing. Please contact us if you have any health or fitness concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) by October 25. Depart from Punta Arenas (PUQ) in the afternoon of November 2.
Flights we book for you: Round-trip flights between Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) and Mount Pleasant (MPN). The cost of this round-trip booking will be added to your final trip balance.
How will I get to participate in science?
In addition to travelling to unique and amazing destinations, our voyage advances the scientific understanding of these remote ecosystems we care about. Active research will be conducted on board to help contribute to the ongoing Citizen Science Projects – FjordPhyto and Happywhale. As a participant, you will have many opportunities to collect samples, make observations, record data, and learn about the research and mission of these projects.
What is the difference between the ship-based and the land-based safaris?
Our land-based and ship-based Falkland Islands safaris both offer unique and thorough explorations of this remote archipelago. With a prearranged itinerary, our land-based safari takes you through a seven-island circuit by Land Rover, bus, small boat, and plane, staying at some of the best wilderness sites and lodges these islands offer, giving you ample time and freedom to explore. For our ship-based safari will travel by sea on a 12-passenger vessel, including six full landing days, offering a more flexible itinerary based on conditions and best wildlife opportunities. Visiting by ship allows you to make landings in seldom-visited sites that are inaccessible by land.
Will I see different wildlife at different times of the year?
The best time to visit the Falkland Islands is between October and April. During these months, the weather is warmer, and the wildlife is more abundant. Beginning in September, much of the wildlife begins its mating season. By October, penguins and albatross have returned to their colonies and are building nests and laying eggs; gentoo penguins can be quite the spectacle as they steal each other’s nest-building materials. October is also the best time to see elephant seals as they are giving birth. In November and December, most birds are incubating their eggs as sea lions and elephant seals continue hauling out to establish colonies and mate. Once January and February arrive, you’ll find many young fluffy newborn chicks discovering their surroundings, including Magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins, king penguins, and albatross. Sea lion pups are also most abundant in January. As March and April’s declining temperatures show the first signs of the approaching winter, penguin chicks have reached different stages of fledging, and sea lions have finished hauling out. By the end of May, most birds have departed for the sea or for South America, although some small birds and roughly half of the gentoo penguins winter on the islands.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness at www.cheesemans.com/seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.
- Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
- Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
- Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
- Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
- Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
- Use of drones/UAVs on tours: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.