Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic between mainland Norway and the North Pole, also know as Spitsbergen. A destination of a lifetime, our expeditions to Svalbard connect you to the majesty of this Arctic wilderness, where dramatic fjords, rugged mountain ranges and a fossil-rich polar desert await.
Overhead, puffins, guillemots and other native Svalbard avian circle, commanding your attention, while the scree slopes house the island’s largest little auk colony. Witness sea walruses puncturing the ice, beluga whales breaching or a fluffy Arctic fox. Svalbard is the kingdom of the polar bear – witness one of these majestic, elusive creatures if you’re lucky. All leave a lasting impression.
The polar summer spans from May to September, where the Midnight Sun’s beautiful colours and contrasts adds an extra dimension to Svalbard’s glaciers, majestic mountains and Arctic tundra. This is the best time to enjoy outside exploration and take in this frozen land.
Svalbard is large and diverse, showcasing nature’s surprisingly rich and extremely varied landscapes. Life in Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s capital city, may be perceived as harsh, but for those fortunate to live here, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. Its inhabitants strive to live as one with nature, working in harmony to uphold their unique way of life throughout the enormous seasonal variations in temperature, light and darkness.
The Falkland~Malvinas Islands
Islas Malvinas to the Argentines and the Falkland Islands to the British, the Falklands~Malvinas are teeming with dramatic military history alongside wildlife, making it a popular stop for travellers on their way to Antarctica, or travellers touring the enigmatic Subantarctic Islands. On your Falkland Islands cruise, start to peel back the layers of complex history surrounding this archipelago, dating back centuries.
The fascinating Falkland Islands are true wildlife havens, home to diverse marine life and seabirds including the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony. Feel the pulse of bustling penguin colonies that thrive among the nutrient-rich waters. Stretch your legs on windswept coastlines dotted with white sandy beaches that seem out of place this far south. Zodiac-cruise to rugged coves and pristine bays, stopping to visit charming towns that have a distinctively British character.
Why join a Falkland~Malvinas Islands Cruise with Aurora Expeditions
Located 480 kilometres east of South America’s Patagonian coast, the Falkland Islands archipelago is comprised of two large islands (East Falkland Island and West Falkland Island), with over 700 islands scattered off the coast. All but seven of these are uninhabited, with windswept coastlines, white sand beaches and crystal-clear water. These beautifully barren islands are true wildlife havens, sheltering an impressive diversity of birdlife, including the largest black-browed albatross colony on earth. The cold, nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands make this a prime location for spotting marine life like king penguins, gentoo penguins, rockhopper penguins, macaroni penguins, sea lions, elephant seals and fur seals.
There has historically been much controversy over the Falklands, at various times having French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. In 1982 Argentinian and British forces fought in the Falklands War, with British administration being restored shortly afterwards. In 2013, a sovereignty referendum was held and almost all Falklanders voted in favour of remaining a United Kingdom overseas territory. Today, the Falklands~Malvinas is self-governed but the United Kingdom takes responsibility for its defence and foreign affairs. The region remains in dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Even though the islands are north of the Antarctic Convergence it can be quite chilly, so on your Falkland Islands tours always remember to layer up before joining Zodiac cruises into rocky coves or along sea cliffs, keeping watch for seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoising penguins. If conditions allow, voyages include shore excursions to land in the historic town of Stanley, the capital of the Falklands~Malvinas.
Aurora’s expedition cruises allow you to explore and learn about the distinct characteristics and rich history of its many islands. Some notable islands include Saunders Island, known for its rugged coastline and abundance of wildlife, Carcass Island, where visitors can spot rare bird species like the Cobb’s wren and Falkland thrush, Pebble Island, home to one of the largest colonies of Gentoo penguins in the archipelago, Bleaker Island, a popular destination for wildlife watching and hiking, Sea Lion Island, where visitors can observe sea lions in their natural habitat, and the remote South Sandwich Islands, a collection of volcanic islands that are home to vast colonies of seabirds and other wildlife. These islands offer visitors an unparalleled and unforgettable experience in the Falkland Islands.
Falkland~Malvinas Islands Wildlife Tours
The Falkland Islands are a haven for wildlife lovers and have many similarities to the flora and fauna of Patagonia, with land birds making up most of the 63 species found on the islands, including 16 endemic species. The Falkland Islands are a bird-watchers paradise, with over 200 bird species found in the archipelago, many of which can be seen on Aurora Expeditions’ cruises. Two of the most notable species include the black-browed albatross, which can be seen soaring above the rugged coastline, and the Falkland steamer duck, a flightless duck that is commonly found in shallow waters, and the magellanic penguin, other species of interest include the southern giant petrel, the striated caracara, and the falkland thrush, a beautiful bird found only in the Falkland Islands. Bird enthusiasts from around the world visit the Falklands to see these fascinating species in their natural habitat.
The Falkland Islands are home to a diverse and fascinating array of marine mammals. Visitors can often spot southern elephant seals basking on beaches or South American fur seals swimming along the coast. The archipelago is also home to a variety of cetaceans, including orcas, southern right whales, and Peale’s dolphins, which can be seen in the surrounding waters on our cruises. Additionally, the Falklands Islands are a breeding ground for several species of seals, including the Antarctic fur seal, the leopard seal, and the Weddell seal. While the islands’ penguin population is well-known, it is worth noting that they are not the only birds to call the Falklands home. The Falkland Islands are a true wildlife enthusiast’s paradise, with an incredible variety of mammals to observe and learn about.
The Falkland Islands are renowned for their diverse penguin population, with five different species found throughout the archipelago. The iconic king penguin is a highlight for many visitors, as is the adorable rockhopper penguin, which can be seen hopping up steep cliffs to reach its nesting grounds. Other species include the gentoo penguin, the magellanic penguin, and the macaroni penguin, each with its own unique characteristics and behaviours. Observing these charismatic birds in their natural habitat is a truly unforgettable experience and a must-do for anyone joining our Falkland Islands tours.
While most of the accessible land area is used as sheep pastures, other introduced species can also be spotted including reindeer, hares, rabbits and foxes. Some of these non-native species have had a negative impact on endemic birds, especially on the larger inhabited islands.
Unique Falkland~Malvinas Islands Experiences
Visit the capital island of Stanley during our Falkland cruises. Port Stanley is a charming town that has a distinctly British character, with terraced town houses, pioneer cottages and even an iconic red telephone box! Colourful buildings house cosy cafes, English pubs, souvenir shops, a post office and the fascinating Historic Dockyard Museum, with displays on the maritime history of the Falkland Islands, natural history and links to Antarctica.
Gypsy Cove is a must-visit destination in Stanley, Falkland Islands, offering visitors the chance to witness the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of the area in a peaceful setting. In addition to the stunning beach and wildlife, Gypsy Cove is also home to picturesque sand dunes that offer visitors the opportunity to take scenic walks and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Look for magellanic penguins that breed here and other birds including black-crowned night-herons, oystercatchers, long-tailed meadowlarks and more. Nearby, see the remains of World War II guns.
Beach landings provide an excellent opportunity to explore the hills and coastlines of the archipelago. You may be lucky to have an excursion to Saunders Island, home to four penguin species, gentoo, magellanic, rockhopper and king penguins living harmoniously and loudly, side by side.
On West Point Island, walk over gentle rolling hills and through tussock grass to make your way to the far side of the island. The walk is well worth the effort so you can quietly view colonies of black browed albatross and rockhopper penguins.
Sea kayakers will enjoy skirting the island’s coastlines and exploring the nooks and crannies of bays as they keep an eye out for birds and seals. Meanwhile, snorkellers could luck out with good visibility and slightly warmer waters compared to Antarctic excursions. Keep an eye out for seals, penguins and visiting dolphins. Sea stars and mussels are abound in this nutrient-rich water.
Svalbard Tours Regions
The Svalbard archipelago has nine main islands; some of these islands are connected by sea ice and expedition cruises are the only safe way to move between them. A lot of these islands are national parks, in fact, Svalbard has seven national parks in total. Find out more about the main islands below.
Svalbard’s largest island is 39,044 square kilometres. Its landscape is dominated by rugged mountains indented by post-card perfect fjords, and more than half of the island is covered in ice year-round. Six national parks protect its delicate environment and diverse fauna, which makes it a favourite for travellers visiting Svalbard. Spitsbergen is the only permanently inhabited part of Svalbard, with Longyearbyen the biggest settlement and administrative centre of Svalbard.
Nordaustlandet (North East Land)
The second largest island in the Svalbard archipelago is completely uninhabited. Situated entirely within the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve, it is made up of sizable ice caps and tundra.
Edgeøya (Edge Island)
Edgeøya is a Norwegian island situated in the southeast of the Svalbard archipelago. With an area of 5,073 square kilometres, it is the third-largest island in this archipelago. It forms part of the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve and is home to polar bears and reindeer.
Barentsøya (Barents Island)
Named after the Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, almost half of this island in the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve is glaciated. While the island has no permanent human inhabitants, it is a favourite of polar bears and seabirds, especially kittiwakes.
Prins Karls Foreland (Prince Charles Foreland)
This long island on Svalbard’s west coast and its surrounding seas constitutes Forlandet National Park. It boasts jagged peaks and wild glaciers that remind one of the Antarctic peninsula, alongside vast green plains and polar deserts. The harbour seal is commonly found here.
Kvitøya (White Island)
When ice conditions allow, adventure seekers can discover Svalbard’s easternmost island, where polar bears roam and walrus swim. This island is the resting place of Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897, which was one of the great mysteries of the Arctic for decades.
Kong Karls Land (King Charles Land)
This small island group is part of the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve and boasts the largest concentration of polar bears in Svalbard. Because of this, there is a ban on traffic to the island, with ships and aircraft not being able to come within 500 metres of the area.
Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
The southernmost island of Svalbard is rarely visited because it can be challenging to access, with no protected bays, rough weather, strong wind and thick fog. While its history revolves around hunting, it is now an important scientific research site and the whole island is a nature reserve with restricted access.
This small, remote island in the far southeast is part of the Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve. Visiting can be a lucky dip because of heavy ice, fog, rough waters and unprotected beaches. The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA), supporting breeding colonies of thick-billed guillemots, black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes.
Subantarctic Cruise Activities
Discover the Falkland~Malvinas Islands with Aurora Expeditions and witness the unique wildlife and history of this fascinating region. Our Expedition Team will take you on excursions to explore the natural wonders of the islands, fully included in the cost of your expedition. For those seeking additional adventure, we offer optional activities* such as hiking and zodiac cruising. Our Falkland~Malvinas Islands expeditions offer the perfect mix of comfort and adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of this unique destination.
Whale and mammal spotting
Lecture on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
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*Optional add-on activities are available on select voyages. They are listed on each itinerary page and additional fees apply.
Karen Muller has a penchant for exploring the world’s most captivating destinations a solo traveller. Hailing from Cape Town, South