This 9-day exploration offers nature lovers opportunities to encounter wildlife in dramatic natural settings; Scotland’s rugged coasts, heather-clad mountains and moors, ancient forests and shimmering lochs.
BOULDER, CO, Nov. 18, 2016 –
Scotland claims some of Europe’s most significant and intact wilderness, a mecca for wildlife viewing on land and offshore. Natural Habitat Habitat Adventures’ newly revised 2017 Scotland’s Wild Highlands & Islands
adventure now begins and ends in Inverness, avoiding lengthy cross-country road trips, to get travelers into the wilds of Scotland more efficiently.
The 9-day exploration offers nature lovers multiple, varied opportunities to encounter wildlife in dramatic natural settings encompassing Scotland’s rugged coasts, heather-clad mountains and moors, ancient forests and shimmering lochs. Departures in 2017 are scheduled for May 14, June 11 and July 19. Per-person (double occupancy) rates begin at $7,495.
The small-group Scotland itinerary
begins in Inverness where just 11 travelers meet their Nat Hab Expedition Leader, an expert naturalist guide. The first excursion is by private boat off the Black Isle Peninsula that juts into the North Sea off Scotland’s northeast coast. Here in the rich waters of Cromarty Firth, a narrow inlet hemmed in by steep-walled cliffs, is a protected marine area home to Scotland's best-known pod of bottlenose dolphins. Harbor porpoises, common and gray seals and the occasional minke whale are also found here.
Red deer browsing in lush meadows, nesting golden eagles and other and woodland birds are revealed on a drive across the northern Highlands that divide Scotland's crenellated- island-pocked Atlantic coast from the fertile coastal plains and estuaries on the east.
The next destination is the island of Handa in the Inner Hebrides, managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, where cliffs contain some of Europe’s most important seabird breeding grounds supporting such species as guillemots, razorbills and great skuas. There are also several families of red grouse and common snipe on the island, all of which are remarkably approachable.
The far-flung Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Harris are the base for discovering a remarkably diverse landscape of mountains and moorlands, crofts, lochs, sandy beaches and low-lying grassy meadows known as machair. Inhabited for millennia, these islands hold many ancient cultural sites including the Neolithic 5,000-year-old ring of Callanish Standing Stones, used in Bronze Age rituals.
While in the Hebrides, guests enjoy a private boat cruise along the west coast of Lewis to the picturesque port of Miavaig and along rich feeding grounds for marine mammals, including seals (both gray and common), dolphins, porpoise, minke and pilot whales, orcas, basking sharks and even the elusive sunfish. Birdlife includes gannets, fulmars, terns, divers, guillemots, razorbills, shearwaters and eider duck.
Heading into the rugged interior of the Highlands, the itinerary is capped with a visit to Aigas Field Center. Guests will converse with renowned Scottish author and naturalist Sir John Lister-Kaye, the center’s proprietor and director, who shares the natural and cultural history of the Scottish Highlands in a private meeting. He will also discuss conservation and wildland restoration work at Aigas, including beaver and Scottish wildcat projects. On a guided forest walk, Nat Hab guests may view badgers and the elusive pine martin from a private hide.
Distinctive, small-scale accommodations ensure comfort, authentic local atmosphere and an immersion in nature, including an experience at Aigas Field Center where guests are ensconced in a castle-like setting and dine in a baronial hall.
Nat Hab’s own professional naturalist expedition leader
, who accompanies the group throughout, ensures outstanding interpretation of Scotland’s natural and cultural history, plus individualized service.