Rugged, windswept landscapes, hundreds of cute penguins, and other fascinating wildlife. Sounds like the perfect day trip destination in the Falkland Islands? You bet it is!
As one of the archipelago’s most popular wildlife sites, Volunteer Point is a nature lover/photographer’s paradise where the adventure starts even before you even set foot on the place.
Don’t believe me? Let me give you the ins and outs about everything you need to know about Volunteer Point that will definitely make your trip here one for your bucket list.
Seeing the Falkland Island’s King Penguins at Volunteer Point by Helicopter is the BEST Tour
What and Where Is Volunteer Point?
Volunteer Point is a headland located on the northeastern part of East Falkland, the larger of the two main islands that make up the Falklands.
The area is a popular tourist destination best known for its large rookery of king penguins, attracting visitors who come to see the penguins and enjoy the rugged beauty of the Falkland Islands.
It is designated as a Nature Reserve and an Important Bird Area and is also part of Johnson’s Harbour Farm, a privately-owned farm in the Falklands. And although it is relatively remote, those who make the journey will surely be in for a unique and unforgettable experience.
What to see and do at Volunteer Point?
Volunteer Point is truly a nature lover’s paradise, offering visitors a chance to see the local wildlife and scenic landscapes. Let’s check out some of the best things to do here:
- Volunteer Point’s main attraction: its large rookery of king penguins, one of the largest in the world. Gentoo and Magellanic penguins are also present here.
- Bird/Wildlife Watching: aside from the penguins, there are also different bird species like Falkland steamer ducks, finches, as well as southern elephant seals.
- Photography: With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and photogenic penguins, Volunteer Point is a photographer’s dream come true, so bring your cameras and capture the beauty of the Falkland Islands.
About King Penguins
King penguins — they will surely be one of the highlights of your visit to Volunteer Point. With their bright orange and black plumage, they are a striking sight to behold, especially when you see hundreds of them going about their day around the shores of Volunteer Beach.
These majestic creatures can grow up to about 3 feet tall, second only to the Emperor penguin (which is a foot taller.) Like most penguins, king penguins love eating small fish (especially lantern fish) and squid, which they hunt in depths of up to 300m.
It’s also worth noting that they almost went extinct on the Falklands in the past. But today? Not only are they thriving, but they also have one of the largest rookeries in the world right here with over 1000 to 1500 breeding pairs.
How to visit Volunteer Point
Although Volunteer Point is quite remote, getting here is easy from Port Stanley. One way is by booking a land tour from one of many tour operators like Viator, Estancia Excursions and Adventure Falklands. These trips will usually take you on a 2 ½-ish hour of cross-country driving on a 4×4. As for car rentals, you can only drive up to Port Louis from Stanley, as the last 14 miles of the trip to Volunteer Point is off-road with no signs and tracks.
However, if you want to take your journey a step UP (literally!), you can skip the long drive and fly there with Falklands Helicopter Services. While you may not be experiencing the Falklands’ great outdoors up close on a 4×4, the views from up high are breathtaking, and it’s not always that you’ll get the chance to ride a helicopter. Shall we say that it is bucket list worthy?
Whichever one you choose, both ‘roads’ will definitely make for unique experiences that will make your visit an already memorable one.
P.S. You’ll need to check with the landowners in advance before you can visit Volunteer Point. They only accept visitors when the off-road part is dry to avoid the 4x4s being stuck.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Volunteer Point?
When it comes to the best time for visiting Volunteer Point, you can pretty much go any day of the year. One thing about King Penguins is that they have a looong breeding cycle. This lasts for about 14 to 16 months, which is why it is not unusual to see penguins at different stages of their lives at Volunteer Point all year round.
From around September to November, adult penguins who did not breed the year prior will begin a new breeding cycle. During this time, you can see the penguins doing courtship rituals and mating. This is also the time where older chicks begin to molt away their brown feathers to reveal their signature white/black/orange plumage.
Egg laying/incubation period starts from November to December, where the parents take turns warming up the egg. Newly hatched chicks can mostly be seen around January to February, hiding between their parent’s feet in their distinguishable brown feathers. By March, you can see these chicks in groups waddling about in short distances. Once winter comes (May to September,) the adults leave for the sea while the almost fully grown chicks are left behind.
There’s also a lambing season here (which happens from October to December) where new lambs are born.
Tips for Visiting Volunteer Point
Now that we’ve gone through the whats, wheres, whens, and hows, it’s time for some useful tips that will help make your visit to Volunteer Point a safe and enjoyable one.
- Wear proper attire – the weather around the Falklands is cool/cold, so you might want to wear some warm clothing like jackets, hoodies, etc. Hiking boots are also recommended. For windy days, wear some sunglasses to help keep the sand off your eyes.
- Maintain your distance – keep at least 20 feet (6 meters) of distance between you and wildlife. Never get in the way of any wildlife as well.
- Observe the ‘Leave-No-Trace’ rule – as with any wildlife adventure, always remember to ‘take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.’ Keep any trash in your person as you leave the place. And speaking of pictures, flash is not allowed.
- Be observant – keep your eye out for any nests/burrows you might come across to avoid trampling over them, especially in the hills.
- Book in advance – day trips to Volunteer Point are one of the most popular excursions, especially for visiting cruises. As slots are limited, be sure to book in advance.
With its stunning scenery and fascinating wildlife, it’s no wonder why a trip to Volunteer Point should be on everyone’s bucket list. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, photography buff, or any kind of traveler, you’re in for a thrilling adventure as you explore the nooks and crannies of this remote spot in the Falkland Islands.
Best Tips for Visiting Falkland Island’s Volunteer Point
How to Get to Falkland Island’s Volunteer Point: Mount Pleasant (MPN) Airport is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. Although Volunteer Point is quite remote, getting here is easy from Port Stanley. One way is by booking a land tour from one of many tour operators like Viator, Estancia Excursions and Adventure Falklands. However, if you want to take your journey a step up, you can skip the long drive and fly there with Falklands Helicopter Services.
Getting Around: Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis and Uber are available all over the city. For a more budget friendly option, you can take the public bus.
Best Time to Visit Falkland Island’s Volunteer Point: From around September to November, adult penguins who did not breed the year prior will begin a new breeding cycle. During this time, you can see the penguins doing courtship rituals and mating. This is also the time where older chicks begin to molt away their brown feathers to reveal their signature white/black/orange plumage.
Where to Stay near Falkland Island’s Volunteer Point: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. Malvina House Hotel, The Waterfront Boutique Hotel and Southernwind – Spareroom are great choices in Port Stanley. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Universal Adapter: Your American plugged equipment will need an adapter. I use the Celtic Universal Adapter, which has brought me around the world with no problems.