Saunders Island is the fourth largest of the 778 Falkland Islands and an important nesting site for penguins species such as the gentoo, southern rockhopper and macaroni, as well as other species of duck, geese and albatross. The presence of feral cats, mice, rats and rabbits is a threat to all the island's wildlife but its size makes eradicating such non-native species a difficult task.
Falkland Islands – Been There

Visions of South America on Saunders Island

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Falkland Islands – Been There Visions of South America on Saunders Island

Saunders Island, the fourth largest of the Falkland Islands, is a beauty spot for anyone with a misanthropic streak.

Chris Moss
Chris Moss Travel Writer

There is no smoko [a term used in Australian English, New Zealand English and Falkland Islands English for a short, often informal, cigarette break taken during work or military duty]. There seems to be no one living here at all. Instead, we hike along a hillside to visit colonies of black-browed albatrosses nesting on the bluffs, above communities of rockhopper penguins and elephant seals. From the top, there is a sweeping view over a sandy isthmus known as The Neck.

In 1764, the French landed at Port St Louis on East Falkland, the origin of the name Îles Malouines after the Breton port of St Malo. Spain gained control of the settlement in 1767 and translated this to Islas Malvinas. In January 1765, however, John Byron had landed at Port Egmont on Saunders and claimed the island for King George III. Each colony was initially unaware of the existence of any arrival, but it was on Saunders that the British escapade in the Falklands began.

As we sail round Volunteer Point and Cape Pembroke, I stare at the cold sea, topped by white horses whipped up by a westerly. From Blanco Bay, I see a landscape of yellowish grassland, arid-looking and gently undulating. In places, it is sheep-strewn, but mainly it is lonely and empty. My mind says: South America. I think of Patagonia, of the great southern steppe, coirón and mata negra.

But, suddenly, above a spit of land there appears a townlet. Stanley’s houses huddle together on a dozen or so streets, as if in fear of the elements. They look like the homes of pioneers, eccentrics, dreamers.

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Rockhoppers, seen here cooling down at mid-day with a shower in a freshwater spring on Saunders Island, are the smallest and most common penguin species in the Falklands. They get their name from their way of moving by hopping with both feet together. Photo by Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas / Getty Images

Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas

Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III

Agency
Getty Images
Aperture
ƒ/11
Exposure
1/125
ISO
100
Focal
25 mm

Rockhoppers, seen here cooling down at mid-day with a shower in a freshwater spring on Saunders Island, are the smallest and most common penguin species in the Falklands. They get their name from their way of moving by hopping with both feet together.