The Jason Islands are located in the extreme north-west of the Falklands’ archipelago, towards Patagonia. This small group of islands, named after the survey vessel HMS Jason, forms a rocky-ridged chain with some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife you can imagine. Names include “Steeple”, “Grand”, “Elephant” and “Flat”, conjuring alluring and romantic images.
Unfortunately the Jasons are not easy to reach. The Falkland Island Government Air Service does not land on any of the islands and permission is needed to visit. But some small cruise vessels do offer a landing on Steeple Jason. The trip is an unforgettable experience.
Steeple Jason rises steeply from the shore to a series of dramatic rocky peaks, the highest at 290m (952 feet), with an isthmus separating two main areas of land. The island is a haven for bird lovers.
Here you will find the world’s largest colony of black-browed albatross, beautiful birds who soar gracefully on the sea breezes, occasionally performing a clumsy landing onshore. Amongst the albatross are rockhopper penguins and king cormorants.
Striated caracaras nest nearby along with skuas, both aggressive in the breeding season. Simply enjoy watching these fascinating, inquisitive birds from a suitable distance. They may even come to you! Similarly, respect the breeding areas of southern giant petrels, the largest of all petrels. These magnificent birds also fly elegantly along the shoreline but are quick to leave nests if disturbed, exposing their young to the predatory caracaras and skuas. Gentoo penguins breed on the island along with many small bird species.
It’s likely that the large numbers of birds here were noticed by early explorers who saw the penguins as an excellent source of oil. A few remnants of these dark days, such as large rusting trypots, can be found in the sheltered harbours. Today, these practices are long-gone and the island is an uninhabited nature reserve, a birding paradise.