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Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Shelby Township...
Level Contributor
135 posts
1 review
Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Hello, my wife (39) and I (41M) want to plan a ~2 week trip in Dec 2024-Jan 2025. We are based in US, so will be flying to Stanley via Santiago, Chile. Our goal is to spend ~2 weeks (aligned with the flight) in Falklands and couple of additional days before and after to account for any flight delays in either direction. We both love hiking, so we'd be looking at doing some hikes and lots of wildlife tours. We also would love to go island hopping.We aren't really interested in historical places especially about the war.

We have just started our research. Few posts, we have come across suggested planning couple of years in advance since things get booked so far ahead due to limited availability (which make sense). So, our question is are we too late ? Should we look at Dec 2025-Jan 2026 instead of Dec 24-Jan 25? I think it is going to take us close to a month before we have a decent outline of our itinerary i.e. we won't be able to start looking at lodging before October. If that makes us late, then we can start looking into alternate trip for Dec'24/Jan'25, while we finalize our Falklands itinerary.

Thanks in advance for your help. You'll be hearing for me soon for your feedback/tips on the itinerary.

9 replies to this topic
London, United...
Level Contributor
35,434 posts
97 reviews
106 helpful votes
1. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Hi,

I have suggested booking well in advance, but usually because someone has been wanting to visit a specific place, only to find that spot had no availability during their trip, and had to delay it for a year.

If you can be flexible, or don't have any "must sees", then I think you have sufficient time to book the trip. And 2 weeks is a good amount of time to allow for fitting in your aims.

The domestic flights for island-hopping are also very flexible and can be changed at the last minute, if your plans need to change.

But, you are right - some popular places get booked up at popular times of year, like Christmas. I'm thinking in particular of Volunteer Beach, which has only 2 rooms (or did when I was there about 5 years ago).

If you don't want to stay there, then I think you should be able to book the trip now, or in October. (Most visitors go there as a day trip in a SUV (or 4x4) as it is a long off-road journey from anywhere).

Other destinations have more beds, and can be more easily switched round to suit your plans.

The only proviso is that you are on East Falkland the day prior to the departure flight to Chile. It is too risky to be on an island on your penultimate day, in case domestic flights are cancelled due to weather.

That said, 2 weeks gives you lots of opportunities to design a great trip, and there should be plenty of hiking and wildlife to enjoy.

If you have any specific questions, do ask on here, or contact a local travel agent. My first-hand experience is now about 5 years old, but some things don't change.

Enjoy your planning.

Shelby Township...
Level Contributor
135 posts
1 review
2. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Hey thanks. No, for Volunteer Beach, the plan is stay in Stanley and take day trip(s).

For Island Hopping, I understand the flight schedule does not get final until day before and cancellations are very common. So what do one do if flights get cancelled? How do one find accommodation at source?

London, United...
Level Contributor
35,434 posts
97 reviews
106 helpful votes
3. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Hi,

I'd recommend staying on an outer island, like Sea Lion or Pebble, if you get the chance. The wildlife, ambience and scenery is very different.

As for flights, it is like a taxi service. You tell them where you want to go, THEN they plan a route to allow everyone to get to their chosen destination in the most efficient manner. They plan the route the day before, once all request for travel are in.

Cancellations shouldn't be a problem (they are NOT very common - where did you hear that?) unless they go on for several days, which is unheard of. Just make sure you are in Stanley a day or two before your departure flight. If a flight gets cancelled, it will go the next day. Worst case you can get a ferry.

Like anywhere, the Falklands has a Tourist Board, which has a website listing all accommodation and guides. Or hotels and lodges advertise themselves online. Let me know if you want recommendations once you have chosen your locations.

Shelby Township...
Level Contributor
135 posts
1 review
4. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Thanks Peterscot.

Cancellations - Due to the location of the islands, I assume flight cancellations would be normal. So good to hear, that is not the case. That calms me down a bit. We prefer to do DIY trips and the trip planning gets complicated (especially island hoping like this one) when one has to account for buffer days.

Flights - Do you know what happens if there are more folks traveling than they can accommodate on one plane? Do they fly two trips?

Research - We have been using the falklandsislands.com website for trip planning.

Would you mind giving me your feedback on the islands we should plan to visit? Our goal is to get some hiking and of course wildlife, birdlife. We aren't really interested in the war related sight seeing, but if there's something unique about Falklands, we'd love to cover.

Fly from Santiago

Stanley - 4 nights (day trips to Volunteer Point, Whale Point, Kidney Island, Gypsy Cove, maybe Mount Usborne)

Sea Lion Island - 3 nights

Saunders - 3 nights

Carcass - 3 nights

Fox Bay (West Falklands) - 3 nights

Bleaker - 3 nights

Stanley - 2 nights

Fly back to Santiago

We were debating between Bleaker, Pebble and Weddell. Couldn't decide one, so randomly picked Bleaker. Should we replace Fix Bay with Pebble/ By the time we get back home, this will be a 4 week door to door trip. I have reached out to all the places for availability and price. However, it seems, it'll be £100 - £120 per night per person excluding excursions, and intra island flights. That'll be £3,500 to £4,000 for full boarding. I am assuming avg of £100 per person per flight for another £1,500 to £2,000 for intra island flights and another £1,500 to £2,000 for excursions, tips, occasional internet etc. This takes us to ~$10,000 plus 2 USA to Santiago return flights and stay in Santiago. So, if we need to cut the trip a bit, which islands we should skip?

Thanks for your help.

London, United...
Level Contributor
35,434 posts
97 reviews
106 helpful votes
5. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Hi,

Well, that is turning into a big trip, I agree. I'm out most of today, so can't say much now, but will respond to your questions in the next day or so.

For the moment, I will say that the domestic flights have a lot of flexibility. I don't know the exact number but they have a pool of pilots and planes, say 4 of each for simplicity. Flights are usually less than two hours. So, if all passengers can't get to their destination in the morning, more flights are put on later in the day.

Basically, it's not an issue the passenger ever has to worry about.

I note your 2 week trip is now 3 on the islands. I think a shorter time there might suffice. But I'll get back with specifics soon. Well done for doing the homework.

London, United...
Level Contributor
35,434 posts
97 reviews
106 helpful votes
6. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

"Cancellations - We prefer to do DIY trips and the trip planning gets complicated (especially island hoping like this one) when one has to account for buffer days."

The issue will be if you have to reshuffle your dates, and your destination is full on some of the new dates. A contingency might be to return to Stanley for a day or two, then resume island-hopping.

"Flights - Do you know what happens if there are more folks traveling than they can accommodate on one plane? Do they fly two trips?" As I said, this is very rarely a concern for the passenger, as long as you are on East Falkland at least a day before your flight home. Extra flights are put on, and longer hours are worked.

"Would you mind giving me your feedback on the islands we should plan to visit? Our goal is to get some hiking and of course wildlife, birdlife. We aren't really interested in the war related sight seeing, but if there's something unique about Falklands, we'd love to cover."

Stanley - 4 nights (day trips to Volunteer Point, Whale Point, Kidney Island, Gypsy Cove, maybe Mount Usborne)

Sea Lion Island - 3 nights. Excellent. One of the best tourist accommodations outside Stanley. Excellent wildlife within short walk of lodge, or whole island is walkable (and vehicle tours probably available). Renowned for elephant seal colony and Orca pods close inshore feeding, penguin colonies on doorstep. colonies of shags, and 3 types of penguins. Spectacular coastal scenery. Owner is wildlife expert.

Saunders - 3 nights. Large island. Spectacular scenery and penguin (including King and Rockhopper) and albatross colonies. (These are some distance from the settlement!). Accommodation basic but comfortable, and self-catering. Also accommodation is in 3 sites - Neck (shared hostel), settlement (converted workers houses) and Rookery - purpose-built chalets. (Note - I haven't stayed at The Neck as it was always fully-booked. )

Carcass - 3 nights. Smaller island. Good lodge. Well--known as being free of introduced predators (cats, mice, rats) so birdlife is very approachable. Striated cara-caras are bold raptors which thrive there and a few other islands. Carcass was (may still be) starting point for great day boat trip to neighbouring West Point Island, where albatross and rockhopper colonies co-exist. Dolphins regularly seen (and on Kidney Island trip, too.)

Fox Bay (West Falklands) - 3 nights. Main settlement on West. Some wildlife, but not close by. Good insight into culture and history of Falklands. Very good Post Office museum, and social club.

Bleaker - 3 nights. Very good accommodation and easy access to most wildlife - minutes from door. Good cliff scenery, with rockhopper penguins, and long sandy beaches with gentoo and magellanic penguins.

Pebble - large island, with variety of landscape and wildlife. Hills, long beaches (where planes sometimes land in winter). Good lodge and self-catering options. Working farm (as are Bleaker, Saunders), but only about 6 inhabitants.

Difficult choices would have to be made to cut down the amount of time, and much will depend on your preferences. If, for example, you have your heart set on seeing albatrosses close up (a few of metres away) on nests , then Saunders Island is the only island to offer these. 3 or 4 islands offer Rockhopper penguins. And so on. Volunteer point, for example, has a multitude of King penguins, for example, but no albatrosses. So you might get your penguin fix there. Or, you may find, as I did, that spending a few hours before getting back in a car or on a boat, is not enough time. One of the rarely-mentioned advantages of these islands is the almost unrestricted freedom to wander around at your own leisure.

Some other observations that may help you cut time - Kidney Island is usually done in an evening (5pm - 9pm). Gypsy Cove is 3 miles form Stanley and is a short drive or lovely hike around the harbour coast (I used to lead tours around the coast). So, Gypsy Cove and Kidney could easily be done on the same day.

Mt Usborne is a full day out, and an interesting hike. I have never been to Whale Point, but feel you will get similar experiences elsewhere on your trip. There are also a range of hills just outside Stanley which allow easy access to viewpoints. (Most have some war memorials, as this was where the final battles took place in 1982. By the way, Pebble Island was the scene of a significant UK raid by Special Forces, before the main landings of the 1982 war. Several planes were blown up, and their remains are dotted around. But they are not obtrusive.)

Hope this helps you decide on a final itinerary. But feel free to followup with any more questions.

Shelby Township...
Level Contributor
135 posts
1 review
7. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Peterscot, thanks for the detailed feedback. It worked out perfect as I also heard back from all accommodations (except Pebble. I haven't contacted them yet). But accommodation is available at all places and I can definitely create an itinerary that allows us to visit all islands. The Fox Bay is available for only 2 nights. So if we want to stick to our 4 week trip, we can spend an extra day in Stanley or one of the other islands. Based on your feedback, we'd consider swapping Fox Bay with Pebble if we stick to 4 weeks. As much as cost is a concern, I am very tempted to pull the trigger on 4 weeks.

Final question - If we need to, which island should we spend an extra night? Based on the availability, the current itinerary looks like:

Stanley - 4 nights

Fox Bay - 2 nights

Bleaker - 3 nights

Carcass - 3 nights

Saunders - 3 nights

Sea Lion - 3 nights

Stanley - 3 nights

London, United...
Level Contributor
35,434 posts
97 reviews
106 helpful votes
8. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Difficult question. I'm out all day in London, so will give it some thought and reply tomorrow.

I the meantime, I've just seen another great video clip from a friend who flies the small planes in the Falklands. This time over Pebble Island.

If you use Instagram, there's a heap of aerial views of the islands from falklands.pilot

https://instagram.com/falklands.pilot?igshid=YTQwZjQ0NmI0OA==

London, United...
Level Contributor
35,434 posts
97 reviews
106 helpful votes
9. Re: Too Late for ~2 week trip in Dec'24-Jan'25?

Hi Red Devil (are you a Manchester United fan?)

Anyway, that was a very difficult question. But the good news is, it is great to have such a choice, and there are no bad options!

I can only revert to my own preferences and say I would plump for more time on Sealion. It has a great variety of scenery and wildlife, and is also easily walkable. 2 mile-long beaches on the doorstep and massive sea cliffs where you can watch rockhoppers hopping up from the ocean. Plus, the lodge is run as a tourist business, and not as a sideline to a farm. So, the owner's focus is on delivering a good experience to visitors. I'm not saying you wouldn't have a great time on any other island or in Stanley, but sometimes little things make a difference.

Hope this helps.

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