Georgina Strange – Wild Falklands Photo Tour
OUR SUGGESTED PROGRAM, (SUBJECT TO CHANGES)
03 November 2018 and other dates on request
04 to 07 November 2018 and other dates on request
09 to 15 November 2018 and other dates on request
15 to 17 November 2018 and other dates on request
17 November 2018 and other dates on request
About your guide, Georgina Strange
Georgina is a local Falkland Islander who grew up on a small, isolated island nature reserve, subsequently managing the island and its conservation activities for the wildlife conservation Trust that her family founded there. A professional photographer, many times finalist in renown competitions such as BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and currently expedition photographer for polar cruise company Poseidon Expeditions, Georgina has a huge passion for the nature she captures in her images. Educated in England and Australia and world-traveled, the draw of the Falklands has always been present and now she is leading others to share in her passion for these wild islands. Accredited Tour Guide, Falkland Islands Tourist Board, 2018.
Carcass Island 51° 16’ S, 60° 33’ W. Named after HMS Carcass, which surveyed the island in 1766. Carcass Island lies in the north west of the Falklands’ archipelago and is one of my favourite childhood places! Its settlement is probably one of the most picturesque in the Islands, with the Manager’s House sheltered by huge trees and beautiful gardens, with enchanting little pathways leading down to the beach. Carcass is renown for its abundance of passerines, including the endemic Cobb’s wren which can easily be seen amongst the boulders along the shoreline. Stunning white sand beaches, like Leopard Beach, where the Gentoo penguins come and go from the sea near their breeding colonies, are another striking feature of Carcass Island. With such white sand and clear waters, you’ll see why the Falklands is alleged to have some of the best beaches in the World! On the rocky hilltops you can find Red-backed buzzards and the Falklands’ best-known bird of prey, the Striated caracara, can be encountered just about anywhere on the island including sitting on the doorstep of our accommodation!
Accommodation on Carcass Island: Island owners Rob and Lorraine McGill will host us in their large and comfortable house where we will have cosy, en-suite rooms. All meals are all included here and we won’t go hungry! The food at Carcass is wonderful and the homemade cakes and biscuits are even better! Dining is a communal experience where everyone dines together around a large table. We will also have the option to take pack lunches and eat our sandwiches out with the penguins if we wish!
West Point Island 51° 20’ S, 60° 41’ W. Orginally known as Albatross Island. We will take a day’s boat trip across the short stretch of water between Carcass and neighbouring West Point Island, most likely encountering the playful Commerson’s dolphin along the way. Here on West Point there is not only incredible scenery with towering sea cliffs, but there are nesting Black-browed albatross mixed in a colony with Rockhopper penguins! These birds are completely at ease with our presence and can be approached for amazing photo opportunites. West Point is also rich in many other species and has a very beautiful and typical style Falklands settlement.
Sea Lion Island 52° 26’ S, 59° 05’ W
A National Nature Reserve, Important Bird Area and Ramsar site, Sea Lion Island is probably the most wildlife-rich island in the Falklands, and everything here is so easily accessible from the lodge – the Gentoo penguins nest so close to our accommodation that you can hear them calling and chattering whilst you’re sitting having breakfast! Magellanic penguins nest in their thousands here, making their burrows all over the island, and there is a colony of Rockhopper penguins nesting alongside thousands of King cormorants.
The main attraction of Sea Lion Island is the huge number of breeding Elephant seals – just ten minutes walk from the lodge you can sit and enjoy watching these incredible animals go about their daily business. At this time of the season the seals will have pups and the males will be actively defending their harems along the beaches. The Orcas which usually reside around the coast of Sea Lion Island are often seen hunting for the seals and we may be lucky enough to observe ‘Puma’, the female Orca, teaching her calves how to sneak into a shallow rock pool just meters away from our viewing point to look for young Elephant seals. This is one of the most incredible wild animal behaviours you will experience anywhere!
Sea Lion Island is also a rodent-free reserve and hence there are passerines to be seen everywhere – especially the beautiful Black-throated finch and the two species of wren. Snipe are also very common here and offer great photo opportunities. The island is also home to Short-eared owls and many, many other bird species, including grebes and other wildfowl on the Island’s ponds. The name Sea Lion Island of course derives from the Southern Sea Lion which breeds on the island, albeit later in the season, in January. However, there may still be opportunities to see one or two of these impressive mammals hauled out on the shoreline or hiding in the native Tussac grass.
Accommodation on Sea Lion Island: Our accommodation here will be at Sea Lion wilderness lodge, owned by Micky Reeves and Sarah Crofts. It’s very comfortable and has a large lounge area with a bar, a conservatory and outside seating area. Bedrooms are en-suite and have large windows allowing you great views of the wildlife outside! All meals are again included here and once again there is no chance you will go hungry, as chef Luis feeds us very well! Just as on Carcass Island, if we choose to take a pack meal instead of staying at the lodge we can simply sit and enjoy our sandwiches somewhere outside, perhaps with a view of Orcas!
Volunteer Point 51° 28 S, 57° 50 W
Approximately 3 hours drive from the main town, Stanley, lies Volunteer Point, an area of lowlying camp which is home to the Falklands’ largest breeding population of King penguins. An incredible stretch of white sand forms the beach where these charismatic penguins come and go from the sea. Sheep and penguins share this land together, making it an altogether very ‘Falklandy’ experience! Amazing photo opportunities and a chance to have some special encounters with these beautiful birds. This part of our trip will be a day-visit and will involve an offroad driving experience!
Further useful information for your Falkland Islands adventure
What should I pack?
• Broad spectrum, high quality sunscreen – our UV is very high in the Islands and you can get easily sunburnt.
• Sunglasses - as much for protection against the wind as the sun!
• Hat suitable for windy conditions, gloves, neck-warmer/Buff, spare hat in case the first one blows away :)
• Sturdy walking boots (which don’t mind a bit of penguin poo!)
• Indoor shoes/slippers - it’s customary to remove your shoes when entering houses in the Islands
• Waterproof trousers and jacket
• Warm/insulated jacket or windproof jacket plus other warm layers – layers are always best! It can be quite warm when walking but feel very cold when we’re stopped and sitting down outside.
• Shorts and t-shirt or warm-weather gear! Be optimistic! Occasionally it’s lovely and hot in the Falklands!
• Bathing suit/swimwear… in case you’re feeling brave! There are sometimes opportunities to swim with dolphins or seals, (or penguins!) and although the water is very cold (+/- 8 degrees C!) it’s well worth the cold for the experience of swimming with wild animals!
• A day-pack/rucksack to take your gear on long day-walks (with a rain-cover)
• Re-useable water bottle or camel-back water pack for long walks.
• Your favourite snacks such as muesli bars, etc. There is not a very wide choice of ‘healthy’ snacks available in the Falklands.
• Lip-protection can be handy – the sun and wind make skin dry very easily.
For the photographers: What camera gear should I bring?
• 400mm is probably the longest focal length you need for wildlife in the Falklands, and in most cases 300mm will suffice. If you are keen on small birds, then a longer lens or an extender to fit to one of the above would be useful but not essential.
• Wide-angle, such as 17-35mm
• Zoom, such as 28-70mm or a wider 24-105mm
• Small telephoto such as 70-200mm. It’s good to have a range of lenses, but sometimes less is more… unless you’re prepared to carry everything with you on every hike!
Make sure any tripod you bring is a good, sturdy one which can withstand the strong winds!
A monopod can be a handy alternative accessory if you don’t wish to carry a tripod.
• Spare batteries, charger + adaptor for UK 3-pin plugs/240V (if traveling through Chile you will
need a 2 round-pin plug adaptor)
• Memory cards, card-reader & storage for your files plus laptop for downloading/editing. Adaptor for your laptop charger.
• Cable-release and/or intervalometer, if you’re keen to try long exposures or night photography, or time-lapse
• A microfiber cloth to wipe moisture off the camera when we’re outside
• Dry bags to pack gear away when the weather gets bad or for boat trips, or a good waterproof backpack
• Blower-brush for cleaning
• Your camera’s manual! (Try downloading a digital copy before leaving home)
• Go-pro or action camera can be fun for different wildlife angles!
• Neutral Density (ND) graduated filters for landscape photography
• Polarising filter
• Spare camera body, if you have the weight allowance
Arrival in the Falkland Islands
• You will arrive at Mount Pleasant Airport, approximately 1-hour drive from Stanley. It is a military base, so there are restrictions (such as no photography at the base or from the aircraft).
• Immigration and customs will take place as you receive your luggage. Sniffer dogs work with handlers and your bags may be randomly searched.
• You will be required to fill in two landing forms before arrival: one for your customs declaration and one for the purpose of your visit.
• It is essential that you have travel/medical insurance for your visit which includes repatriation in the event of personal death and aero-medical evacuation in case of serious injury or medical event. Please ensure you take this out before you travel.
• It is also a requirement that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your visit to the Falklands.
• Please note: There is no ATM or currency exchange at Mount Pleasant Airport - it’s best to bring cash with you from home. Transfer to Stanley You will be met by either myself or a local driver from I.T.T. They will bring you and your luggage from MPA to your accommodation in Stanley. All transfer costs are already covered by your tour. Sometimes travel will be by mini-bus, sometimes it may be by Land Rover. The road can be rough and bumpy in places – please inform the driver if you have a back problem at all.
Your accommodation in Stanley
Your accommodation in Stanley will be at The Pale Maiden B&B (unless otherwise stated), in the center of town. Teresa is the manager of the house and will take very good care of you! Your rooms are modern, comfortable and have en-suite bathrooms and TV. Breakfast is included. Internet access / WiFi Internet access in the Falklands is by purchase of a card which gives you limited/timed access to the web. Teresa will explain how it works and where to purchase a card. This cost is not included in your tour. Please come prepared to have minimal access to the internet during your stay in the Islands. Services are very limited, slow and expensive! Sadly there is nowhere to obtain free WiFi in the Falkland Islands!
• The local currency is the Falkland Pound £FKP and is the same value as the Pound Sterling. £Sterling can be used in the Falklands.
• There is no ATM in the Falklands! Please bring cash with you (preferably Pounds Sterling, but US Dollars and Euros are also widely accepted in shops).
• Credit cards can also be used to pay for goods and some services, but not all. A surcharge will usually apply.
• Cash can be obtained at the local bank (please note that if you are arriving on a weekend it will not be possible to use the bank, which holds normal working opening hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30am-3pm). Your passport and a Visa or Mastercard card with chip + pin is required for withdrawing cash at the bank and there is a surcharge of 4.5% (with a minimum charge of £4.50)
• Small amounts of cash can also be obtained when making a credit card purchase at local shops.
Example of local costs
A 3-course evening meal at the top local restaurant, plus a couple of drinks or wine will cost you approximately £40 per person.
Lunch can be bought at a local café or diner for approximately £15 per person.
Local flights within the Falklands: FIGAS (Falkland Island Government Air Service) We will travel between Stanley and the outer islands via a small, 8-seater Islander aircraft. This is a very small propeller plane and acts like a taxi service between the islands. We will only know what time our flight is by around 6pm the night before we fly! Check-in is usually half an hour before we fly, and will involve all luggage being weighed and yourself also being weighed! This is to make sure the aircraft is balanced when we fly. Please note that the luggage weight limit is only 20kg and this includes all your hand luggage plus your ‘hold’ luggage. If you expect to have much more than this, please let me know in advance and I will inform the air service. If you have excess kilos, there will be an excess baggage charge which is payable at the time of check-in. Sometimes it may not be possible to take a large excess of baggage due to weight restrictions on the day of flying, so please try to pack as light as you can. The flights can be bumpy and noisy. If you are prone to motion sickness, I would recommend an
appropriate antiemetic drug for the flight. Most flights are less than 1 ½ hour duration.
Flying this way can be great for sightseeing as we sometimes fly quite low over the Islands, so bring your camera in your hand!
The Falkland Islands are the same as the UK, with 3-pin plugs and 240V.
Power supply in Stanley is very reliable. On the outer islands it is also fairly reliable, but we generate our own power via solar panels, wind turbines and small diesel generators, so it’s always good to be prepared for an occasional outage or restriction on power-use.
There will be opportunities to wash clothes in Stanley but otherwise laundry services will be restricted to essential only on the outer islands.
How cold will it be?!
It won’t be particularly cold during the summer months in the Falklands, but you should expect any kind of weather at any time – it is very unpredictable. The average daily summer temperature is around 12 degrees C. However, the wind is nearly always blowing (often very strongly!) and this can make it feel much colder, so you should plan for “feels like” 7 degrees C.
Temperatures in the sun can reach a pleasant 25 degrees C if we have a calm day however, so it’s good to also pack for warm days!
Good to know: Things that are not easy to buy/find in the Falklands
• Camera, computer and electrical equipment or accessories. There are limited supplies of these things and they are often very expensive.
• Clothing – basic clothing can be purchased but choice is very limited. Some outdoor clothing is available but there is not a very wide range and it’s often very expensive.
• Contact lenses or prescription eye-wear are not generally available
• Dietry requirements: Although there is a wide range of choice in the supermarkets and generally specialist dietry requirements can be met, please be aware that the Falklands is still quite a remote location and it’s not always easy to cater for very specific requests! Please ensure you inform us well in advance of any special requests so we can pass on the information to the lodges in plenty of time.