Grand Scotland Tour for Nature & Wildlife Enthusiasts

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Total Trip:

8 Days
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Countries Visited:

Scotland
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Places Visited:

Edinburgh, Inverness, Orkney Isles, Cairngorms National Park
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departure.
The Scottish Highlands are known for their rugged and powerful force. The northern islands are pictures of perseverance against unpredictable Mother Nature. The Scottish countryside holds grace and delicateness along with raw power. This custom tailored grand Scotland tour for nature and wildlife enthusiasts through northern territories takes you into the natural beauty of the landscape and its unprecedented splendor. Mountains take shape in the mist and sea forges coastal cliffs. Puffins nest

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Day 1

Pleasures of Edinburgh

Arrive in the capital of Scotland, a city brimming with eclectic energy. Castle Hill shapes part of the Royal Mile, a street originally constructed in the 12th century and continues to lead from the Edinburgh Castle gates to Holyrood Palace. Fabulous historic buildings line the wide and cobble street. Spires cast shadows over the sidewalk and stone facades. Arthur’s Seat rises in a park at the fringe of the city center. The 822-foot peak is draped in greenery, decorated with sporadic ruggedness peeking through the carpet of grass. The summit provides excellent panoramas of the cityscape. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to your comfortable accommodation located in the heart of Edinburgh. After you settle in your guide arrives, ready to take you through the remarkable combination of the city’s constructed and natural beauty.

A pond at the base of Holyrood Park, below the dormant volcanic crown, houses eccentric geese. Locals sit on the benches and throw torn pieces of bread into the water. The geese wade through the water and scoop up the loose crumbs. Remnants of a medieval chapel from the 15th century decorate the walkway leading to the mountaintop. A series of cliffs dominate the skyline. Edinburgh Castle rises over the center atop Castle Rock. The bordering greenery makes the city’s stone facades more prominent and proud. The aroma of fresh dew and fertile grass drifts across Holyrood Park giving you a hint of Scotland’s natural beauty to come.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

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Day 2

The Wonder of Cairngorms

Your private transfer meets you in the morning to take you northbound to Inverness. You depart the city and watch the risen castle fade behind the lush rolling hills. You wind along the stunning scenery and soon find yourself at the foothills of the Scottish Highlands. Cairngorms National Park covers an area of 1,748 square miles, and includes the towering peaks of the Cairngorms Mountain Range. The tallest peak reaches an elevation of 4,085 feet. In winter the mountains are blanketed in snow. In the spring and summer the range practically glows with greenery; the higher up  along the mountain pass the more tundra lie the landscape.

The air is crisp and cool. Dotterels flutter in the trees. Their chestnut breast hovers above a white and black belly.  Once over the pass the River Dee meanders through the trees. The aroma of spruce and fresh water brushes the air. A stone bridge arches over the river where you can see the trundling waterfall carve around the rocks. Wild cats roam through the forest underbrush beneath the sprawling pine. The funicular can take you to the mountaintop in a total of eight minutes. Mountain-bike enthusiasts ride the funicular to the peak in the summer months and venture down the hillside on guided, tree-lined tours.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Moray Waters

Inverness is a quiet city on the banks of the River Ness. Victorian footbridges connect small islands that dot the waterway. The 19th-century castle stands on the hillside overlooking the water. The hexagonal towers remain a prominent part of the skyline above the trees. The town is quiet and charming. In spring and summer you can find locals and visitors wading knee deep in the river casting their fishing lines in the current. Salmon travel hundreds of miles to make their way upstream to spawn.

After breakfast, you make your way to Moray Firth at the North Sea coastline. Wildlife is in abundance along the coast, rich with flora and fauna, including wildfowl and otters. You step onto a boat. The breeze carries the salty aroma of the sea. The boat wades in the calm cobalt water. The boat weighs anchor and the lush shore drifts away. Experts have estimated around 130 bottlenose dolphins swim, fish, and live in the area.

You don’t travel far before your skipper points to a nearby cluster of dolphins. The playful mammal loves to play in the boats wake. They can grow up to 13 feet, known for their dark gray dorsal fin and sleek long snout. They slap their tails on the water’s surface and leap out of the water. They twist their bodies and arch in the air. Their grace matches their playfulness. The stunning display of nature captures the wild essence of Scotland, a country filled with immeasurable beauty.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Crisscross Applecross

Applecross means “The Sanctuary,” in Gaelic. After breakfast, you soon discover the meaning of the name during your visit to Applecross Peninsula. The drive itself is famous, weaving around the mountainside and climbing to a height of 2,053 feet. The region of Wester Ross maintains an enchanting ambiance. The people are friendly, the landscape is breathtaking, and it looks like you have reached the ends of the earth. Coming down the mountain pass you have a view across the bay to the isles of Raasay and Skye. The coastal breeze replaces the mountain air.

Fern trees give way to golden hills. The sweeping mountaintops fade away. A river trickles through the high altitude valley and leads to the pebble beaches along the peninsula. The water shimmers azure. The village of Applecross is charming in its solitude. The seascape opens up, bordered by mountains and verdant hills. Houses are painted white with conical, dark gray roofing. The abundance of colors, from the hillsides’ natural green and gold to the glinting lake and immaculate homes, creates a jovial atmosphere. Continue along the road out of the village and find golden eagles making circles in the sky over the tops of ancient pinewoods.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Witnessing the Northern Isles

The morning light washes over Inverness and brings the riverside to life. People walk and jog along the banks. The aroma of sizzling bacon emanates from kitchens across town from people beginning their day with a full Scottish breakfast. You private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the airport for your quick flight to Orkney. The northern islands have a unique majesty apparent the moment you arrive. The Pentland Firth is known for mystique, shrouded in history and a daily mist that moves across the water. Red sandstone cliffs ring the coast. The islands are green and flat, absent of trees. The Viking heritage remains strong and proud in island life.

Around 70 separate islands create the northern archipelago. You are guided to, “The Mainland,” as locals call the most inhabited of the islands, and settle in Stromness. The coastal town reflects in the dark-blue waters. Buildings stand above the seawalls and maintain a particular Scandinavian allure. The town museum houses relics that reflect the parish’s and island’s history, including whaling artifacts and Inuit articles brought back from Greenland. As you stroll through the city you notice a large number of homes decorated with historic whale bones. Stromness maintains a distinct charm on a unique island at the northern edge of the United Kingdom.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Puffin Around

Mornings in Orkney are blissful. The elegant greenery captures the sunlight. Large boats wade in the harbor, their masts swaying from side to side. The breeze wisps down the streets coming off of the water. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel to take you out to see a fabulous puffin colony. You venture to the harbor and board a comfortable chartered boat. Your guide and skipper weighs anchor. The stoic water reflects the town and the mountain behind Stromness starts to fade. The boat rocks calmly in the rippling water. The coastline turns into towering cliffs. The sandstone blazes red beneath a green top.

Your guide calls your attention to a crevice in the sandstone. You hear the call of active puffins bounce off the earthen walls. The puffin colony swarms the landscape. The famous bird can grow up to 13 inches long with a wingspan of 21 inches. Their sharp, orange beak stands out against their pristine white-feathered breast and black back. They perch on the cliff’s edge soar around the craggy ledge before swooping down to the water in search of small marine fish. They can hold several small fish crosswise in their bill at once. Amidst the puffin sighting you almost forget that you’re at sea. The waves lull you into a stupor and the graceful birds captivate you.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Vast Culture and Historic Relics

The wind sweeps across the open plain. Water rushes against the seawall. Today is at your leisure to explore and experience Orkney at your preferred pace. Indulge in a full Scottish breakfast, filled with mushrooms and baked beans, a fried egg and sizzling bacon, accompanied by blood sausage and a fresh cup of tea. Circle the island to visit charming villages or spend time visiting one of the other 20 inhabited islands in the United Kingdom’s most northern region. Skara Brae encompasses 5,000 years of heritage of mystery. The site is located less than 10 miles from Stromness and predates both Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza. The prehistoric village was unearthed in the mid 19th century by a storm.

Grassy dunes hide the old walls made of stacked stones. The dunes overlook the sandy beach and you can hear the water lapping at the shore. The old house contains stone furniture, from a bed to a dresser. An interactive exhibit at the visitor center to guide you through the rich history, filled with theory and facts about the house, a former settlement, and its inhabitants. The island landscape has offered refuge to the fauna and avifauna, swept away the trees, and overtook an ancient settlement. The power of nature is prevalent in the northern isles and maintains a secure splendor.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

To the Sky

The image of flying brings you back to the spread, graceful flight of the puffins from days earlier. You will always remember the way the bird dove down to the water and caught numerous fish in its arched beak. The morning in Stromness is tranquil. The aroma of the sea is always present and sweet. Fishing boats return from their early morning expedition. The sailors’ jovial calls to one another provide the morning music. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the airport. The seaside fades behind the meandering greenery. You have a brief and easy trip back to Edinburgh. Once there you will board your flight home.

Visit the luxury travel itineraries for more vacation planning ideas.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Explore the cobbled streets and verdant natural parkland of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city
  • Venture to the top of one of the United Kingdom’s tallest mountains on a funicular for an unparalleled view
  • Set sail along Moray Firth to witness the spectacular marine life of the North Sea, including whales, dolphins, and otters
  • Journey along the “The Street” of the Applecross Peninsula and along one of the highest roads the United Kingdom
  • Witness the towering coastal cliffs and rugged landscape of the Orkney Islands
  • Enjoy an expedition around the island’s exterior for a tremendous view of puffins in their natural habitat
  • Visit a sensational antique home with containing over 5,000 years of Scottish heritage 
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Detailed Description

The Scottish Highlands conjures up images of warriors and poets, mysterious women formed from lakes and towering mountaintops peeking through the mists. The islands hold legends of Vikings, shipwrecks, and ancient civilizations. This 8-day grand Scotland tour is meant for seafarers and island hoppers, antique enthusiasts and nature and wildlife lovers, best visited between spring and early autumn, when the landscape is verdant and the northern seas are tranquil. Beyond the legends is the landscape, rugged and iconic, carved from the elements and filled with unique wildlife. Make your way to secluded villages and independent mountain peaks, across windswept terrain pebbled beaches to experience the exceptional wilds of Scotland.

Edinburgh welcomes you at the start of your tour of Scotland with cobblestone streets and a comfortable mixture of stone edifices and rising green hillsides. Scottish heritage emanates from the ground up and is emblazoned in the architecture. You follow your guide through the streets and to the panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside at the top of Arthur’s Seat. Your private transfer meets you at the comfortable hotel and takes you northbound to Cairngorms National Park. Follow your guide on the funicular to the heights of the mountain range before arriving in Inverness.

The River Ness runs alongside the charming town where it is easy to settle in. A day trip takes you up to Moray Firth, the waterway connected to the North Sea. Set out on a whale and dolphin-watching excursion to immerse yourself in the seaside lifestyle of the locals. Your private driver meets you on day four and takes you around the hairpin turns and tremendous panoramic views along Applecross Peninsula. The following day you head to the airport for your flight to the Orkney Isles, an archipelago located at the northern edge of Scotland. The landscape is captivating, rising out of seaside cliffs and windswept grasslands.

Arrive in Stromness, a fishing and port village. Your guide takes you out on the sea to witness the marvelous landscape and more importantly, see the nesting puffins. With a full day on the island at your leisure you can spend time amidst the local fishing villages or experience the depths of heritage surrounding the landscape, including the 5,000-year-old settlement of Skara Brae. After breakfast, on day-eight your private transfer escorts you to the airport on Orkney. You return to Edinburgh to make your flight home.  

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Starting Price

$2395 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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