Saunders Island: key information
- Home to a sizeable colonies of rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatross
- Grassy hillsides pocked with macaroni penguin burrows
- Dramatic cliffs overlooking pristine white sandy beaches dotted with gentoo and king penguins
- Latitude 51°18'S, Longitude 60°14'W
Explore Saunders Island with Swoop
About Saunders Island
The black-browed albatross colony overlooking The Neck at Saunders Island
The only evidence of settlement you're likely to see on landing at Saunders Island today is a small and blissfully remote holiday cottage, but the island's human history is the oldest in the Falklands: the first British settlement was founded here in 1765. It lasted only 10 years before being abandoned (during which it was briefly captured by the Spanish), but the flag and plaque its occupants left behind are a key part of Britain's claim to the Falklands.
Visitors today arrive for the birdwatching and the opportunity to spot four species of penguin in one location. Parts of the island remain an active sheep farm: it is a somewhat jarring experience to see sheep grazing in the hills above a rookery full of penguins.
Wildlife at Saunders Island
Rockhopper penguin at Saunders Island
Wildlife sightings start the moment you land at Saunders Island. A small colony of gentoo penguins nests on the southern side of the Neck, along with small number of king penguins. Due to their unusually long breeding cycle, fluffy brown king penguin chicks are present throughout the year. Look out for various waders and pipers as well as large numbers of dolphin gulls.
The beach at Saunders Island can also be a good place to spot Commerson's dolphins playing in the surf. Measuring just 1.5m in length, their charming black and white markings have something of the giant panda about them.
Walking up from the beach, you can usually spot magellanic penguins coming in and out of their burrows. Imperial shags nest among the rockhopper penguin colony at the cliffrise. The colony is next to a small stream giving a good opportunity to see the penguins drinking and bathing.
A 20 minute walk beyond the penguins you will find the black-browed albatross colony, overlooked by the appropriately named Rookery Mountain. The colony is several hundred pairs strong.
Visitor guidelines for Saunders Island
Landings are made on the beach at The Neck: which side of the isthmus the ship anchors at can vary according prevailing weather. The northern side is overlooked by the cliffs of Rookery Mountain; the path up to the rockhopper penguin and black-browed albatross colonies leads gently up a grassy slope from the southern side of the isthmus. The starting point is marked by the weathered and lichen-covered skeleton of a sei whale. Do not climb over the fences that mark the way: they are there to control the sheep or protect the bird colonies.
NOTE: Ship itineraries and visits to specific landing sites in the Falkland Islands can never be guaranteed. Plans can change as fast as the weather in the South Atlantic: decisions on which locations to visit are always made on the day by the ship's captain and expedition leader.
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