Saunders Island

Saunders Island
The Neck – Saunders Island

Saunders Island is the 4th largest island of the Falkland Islands, lying north west of West Falkland. It is run as a sheep farm and has an area of 132 km².
The Island is most well known for the sizable colony of Black browed albatross situated to the North West of the Island.
You will also find various other species in and around the colony, including southern giant petrels, rock shags, king shags and the odd striated caracara.
The North of the Island is made up of two large peaks, Rookery Mountain to the North East and Mount Hartson to the North West .
The peaks are divided by a thin strip of sand known as the Neck.

The Neck, arguably one of the Falkland Islands better wildlife sites, is home to large colonies of Magellanic and Gentoo penguins. There is also a small colony of King penguins present at the Neck, with many other species of bird present during the year, along with a small Elephant Seal colony.
Port Egmont on the island was the site of the first British settlement, established in 1765. Unaware of the French presence at Port Louis, in January 1765, British captain John Byron explored and claimed Saunders Island, at the western end of the Falkland Islands, where he named the harbour of Port Egmont, and sailed near other islands, which he also claimed for King George the third.

Rockhopper Penguins on Saunders Island
Rockhopper Penguins on Saunders Island

A British settlement was built at Port Egmont in 1766. Also in 1766, Spain acquired the French colony, and after assuming effective control in 1767, placed the islands under a governor subordinate to Buenos Aires.
During the Falkland Crisis of 1770, a Spanish frigate entered the port and routed the British. This edged Britain and Spain closer to war. In 1771, Spain agreed to abandon Port Egmont to the British.
In 1776, for economic reasons, the British abandoned Port Egmont. At that time, they placed a plaque at the site proclaiming their sovereignty over the Falklands.
The island’s present settlement, appropriately called Saunders Island Settlement, lies on the east coast and has an airstrip.
The wildlife on Saunders is exceptional, especially at the Neck. Saunders boasts a huge colony of black-browed albatrosses, numerous rockhopper and gentoo penguins, magellanic penguins, occasional king penguins, and imperial cormorants.
Elephant seals, black-necked swans, and other rare animals may also be seen.


Staying on Saunders Island

Saunders Island Settlement
Saunders Island Settlement

Accommodation in the Settlement
There are two self-catering cottages in Saunders settlement. The larger of the two, the Main House, can sleep up to 10 people in 2 twin, 1 single, 1 double and 1 triple room. It has a central heating throughout, shower room, bathroom and toilet. The kitchen is equipped with a gas cooker, fridge and all the crockery and utensils you will need for your self-catering stay. There is also a dining room, and a sitting room with radio and TV. Bedding, bed linen and towels are provided, there is 24 hour electricity.

The second accommodation is called The Stone House and was built in 1875 but hass been extensively modernized. It has kitchen, scullery, toilet, bathroom (with bath and shower) and 3 bedrooms sleeping 6 people (1 double and 2 twin rooms). The two upstairs bedrooms are centrally heated. The kitchen is well equipped with washing machine, fridge and a gas cooker and all crockery and utensils as well as TV and radio. Bedding, bed linen and towels are provided. There is 24 hour electricity.

Map of Saunders Island
Map of Saunders Island – Click to enlarge

Accommodation at the Neck
Although only 10 miles from the settlement it takes about an hour by Land Rover to reach the cabin at The Neck. The cabin has 2 quadruple bedrooms (bunkbeds), shared bathroom (bath/WC/sink), shared kitchen-eating area. The living area is equipped with gas cooker, heater and a gas water heater. The bathroom has a bath and WC, but no shower.
All bedding, bed linen, towels, crockery and cooking utensils are provided. Electricity is provided by a small generator.

It should be noted that this accommodation is quite isolated, and you may not see anyone else from when you are dropped off until early morning on the day of your departure.
In addition to the abundant wildlife right on your doorstep, there are some enjoyable longer walks from the Neck for those with more time at their disposal. Elephant seals can usually be seen at Elephant Point which is the furthest point of the island from the settlement. Small pools just inland from elephant Point are home to a variety of wildfowl and the odd visiting specie from the South American mainland. Care should be taken when walking as there are many magellanic penguin and rabbit burrows in the area.
Mount Hartson (the highest point on the island at 436 m), west of the Neck, provides great views across to Carcass and West Point Islands, and even to the Jason Islands on a very clear day.

Rookery Inn
A new 2 bedroom cottage on the north coast beneath Rookery Mt. looking over the cliffs and albatross colonies. The two bedrooms have twin beds. The bathroom (shower/WC/sink) and kitchen-seating area are shared. The living area is equipped with gas cooker, heater and a gas water heater. All bed linen, towels, crockery and cooking urensils are supplied. Electricity is supplied by a small generator.