Estancia Tours to Volunteer Point- The use of the term “tour” is a misnomer as this tour company, the renowned Patrick Watts tours or any other Volunteer Point tour company really just provide transportation from the port in Stanley to Volunteer Point in 4-wheel drive vehicles that could comfortably seat 3-passengers but are crammed with four people so take pity on the middle passenger in the back seat. The vehicles are owned, maintained and driven by locals who only have “OJT” training as tour guides and off road driving skills. All have regular “day jobs” that they are taking a personal leave day from to take you to/from Volunteer Point.
Your experience will be “luck-of-the-draw”, hopefully getting a driver who has done this for many years who is knowledgeable with a well maintained vehicle. Our driver was very friendly and talked thru the entire journey but has just started doing tours beginning this year and had only 5-prior trips to Volunteer Point in his recently acquired fairly old Toyota 4-wheel drive vehicle. The ride to Volunteer Point takes 2-hours with the first hour of travel over paved and gravel roads which later you will appreciate. When you reach Johnson’s Harbor you will stop for a bathroom break before spending the next hour traveling extreme off-road navigation to Volunteer Point. The driver described a lot of the scenery as we drove and it is interesting to see the massive rock slide areas created from centuries of freezing and thawing. After Johnson’s Harbor it is slow going 4-wheel drive through and around mud holes and ditches with the vehicle constantly moving left & right then up & down as you navigate the difficult track (or lack of). It is a fun and interesting off-road journey for the 1st 5-10 minutes but remember while the vehicle is moving left & right then up & down, so are the passenger so by the time you reach Volunteer Point you feel somewhat beat up and are ready to get out of the vehicle. Our driver was the 1st of our group to get stuck in the mud and we were pulled out by another vehicle which is common. Over their radio we heard of 4-5 other vehicles who got stuck as well.
At Volunteer Point All Drivers, regardless of the tour company, point you in the direction of the penguin colonies and you are on your own to explore for 2-hours as the drivers congregate in each others vehicles. No one takes you to the different areas are to explain the types of penguins or anything else about them. In spite of not being guided, the penguin colonies are an incredible sight to see. At Volunteer Point we saw two varieties of penguins which numbered about 1,000.
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