Falkland Islands – The best place to spot penguins

The Falkland Islands are well known for penguins. Sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘the penguin islands’, it is, however, a name that is perfectly suited. With five breeding species – Gentoo, King, Magellanic, Macaroni and Rockhopper – the Falklands are one of the best places in the world to view these birds in their natural environment.

Around one million penguins nest here every summer, on the beautiful sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and soft, green shorelines. Colonies are large with excellent viewing opportunities. And for the Gentoo, the Falkland Islands are home to the largest population on the planet. The antics of these birds never fail to delight both at sea and on shore. Step out from the capital Stanley to find both Gentoo and Magellanic penguins just a short drive, or even a walk away, at Yorke Bay and Gypsy Cove.

Squabbling Gentoo

Gentoo penguins are resident throughout the year, with colonies at numerous other destinations around the archipelago. Their fascinating behaviour can hold your attention for some time, not just the raucous squabbling but also as they saunter along their own created penguin ‘highways’, from sea to shore, and sometimes up to 5km (3 miles) inland.

Shy Magellanic

Magellanic penguins are also widely distributed but only a summer resident of the Falklands. This burrowing species has a call akin to the braying of a donkey, giving them the local name of ‘Jackass’ penguins. Early evening is the best time to listen to their mournful but charming sounds.

Majestic King

Travel further afield to Volunteer Point to view our largest penguin in the largest colony at the most northern edge of its global range. Fluffy young penguins are enchanting to observe as they strut around, whilst the magnificent adults preen and take stock of the surroundings. Around 500 – 700 chicks are produced each year. Smaller groups of Kings are found in other locations, available as day trips for cruise visitors and at places with visitor accommodation for those on a longer stay. King penguins are resident in the Falklands year round.

Resilient Rockhopper

Rockhopper penguins are renowned for their charismatic, eponymous method of getting around and always entertain, whether hopping up a seemingly unscalable cliff faces, showering or simply passing the time at their nesting grounds. A significant proportion of the world’s population chooses to breed in the Falklands in the summer months.

The largest colonies are on the Jason Islands, included in some expedition ship itineraries, but equally fascinating smaller colonies can be reached on day visits from visitor accommodation and by cruise visitors. Look out for Macaroni and hybrid species in amongst Rockhopper colonies and seek out local advice for recent sightings.