Natural Habitat Adventures

Scotland's Wild Highlands & Islands

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1: Inverness, Scotland / Contin
Our Scotland nature adventure begins in Inverness, the largest city and cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. From Inverness, a transfer is included to our historic country house hotel located just outside the village of Contin, about a 30-minute drive. Coul House, a grand stone manor house built in 1821, is the centerpiece of the Coul estate established by the Mackenzie clan in 1560. Gather for a welcome dinner with our Expedition Leader this evening.

Day 2: Black Isle / Cromarty Firth Private Cruise
From Contin, skirt the Black Water River east to Black Isle, which is neither an island nor black—it’s actually a small peninsula jutting into the North Sea and an inviting, little-known corner of Scotland that awaits our discovery today. From the village of Cromarty at the tip of Black Isle, board a private boat for an excursion into Cromarty Firth, a narrow inlet hemmed in by steep cliffs. This protected marine area is home to Scotland's best-known pod of bottlenose dolphins, the most northerly population in the world. Famously inquisitive, they sometimes swim right alongside our boat. Keep an eye out, too, for harbor porpoises, common and gray seals, and the occasional minke whale. Return to our boutique inn for a memorable dinner featuring contemporary Scottish cuisine prepared by Coul House's accomplished chef.

Day 3: Highlands Traverse via Loch Ness to Glen Shiel
Driving the length of the Great Glen past ruined castles and dramatic vistas, we skirt famous Loch Ness, one of the largest and deepest lakes in Britain. Watch for the outline of ruined Urquhart Castle on a rocky promontory above the lake, one of Scotland’s largest medieval fortresses and the site of a half-century of conflict. And keep an eye out for a glimpse of furtive Nessie, the sea monster of legend that is the subject of more than 1,000 eyewitness accounts.

We stop for a special presentation at Trees for Life, a rewilding project that seeks to restore the globally unique Caledonian forest that once covered much of interior Scotland. The predominantly Scots pine forest mixed with varied deciduous trees has been decimated over centuries, cleared for grazing and timber. Restoring the forest provides habitat for native species including red deer, pine marten, badger, beaver, red squirrel, wild boar, otter and the rare Scottish wildcat. Reaching the shores of Loch Cluanie, we near our accommodation in Glen Shiel, an old coaching inn that has long served travelers bound from the Highlands to the Isle of Skye. Ringed by scenic hills, the inn offers glorious views and cozy ambience.

Day 4: Exploring the Western Highlands
Surrounded by dramatic Highland scenery, we have a full day to explore the wild country out our door. Depending on the group’s interests, we may travel to Glenelg to see two famous brochs—some of the best examples of Iron Age defensive structures on the Scottish mainland. Our westward route crosses the winding pass of Mam Ratagan with spectacular views of the famous Five Sisters of Kintail. Sheer mountains drop straight to the sea as we wind our way through steep-sided glens rife steeped in history and legend. Watch for recently reintroduced sea eagles, too, as we reach the loch. This is the territory of Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water, who lived here with his otters and raised the profile of the Highlands in the consciousness of a generation.

Another option is a long moorland walk within Glen Cluanie. Along the shores of Loch Cluanie, we look for red deer, golden eagles and other raptors, enjoying solitude and expansive mountain views from a private estate. A third possibility is a tour to the National Nature Reserve at Beinn Eighe and the National Trust property at Glen Torridon, renowned for its magnificent mountain vistas and abundant wildlife.

Day 5: Isle of Skye / Harris
More wild Scottish scenery is in store as we make our way to the Isle of Skye and on to Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Journey through forest and moorlands, past lochs and trout streams, to reach the coast. We’ll stop for photos of evocative Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic sites. Strategically perched on a small island where three great sea lochs meet, the original 13th-century fortification was built to protect adjacent lands from Viking raids. At Kyle of Lochalsh, cross the famous bridge to Skye and continue northwest across the island through the Cuillins Mountains. En route, we’ll stop in a few small villages and visit the Old Man of Storr, a large, prominent rock pinnacle overlooking the sea that’s visible for miles. We’ll also view Kilt Rock, a 300-foot-high wall of towering columnar basalt, and the Quiraing, part of the Trotternish ridge that was formed by a massive landslide that created high cliffs, hidden plateaus and sharp rock outcrops. At the port town of Uig, board the ferry to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, cruising in the gleaming light of evening. At our hotel in the heart of town, a late dinner awaits on arrival.

Day 6: Harris / Shiant Isles Seabird Cruise
The Isle of Harris is a diverse landscape of mountains and moorlands, crofts, lochs, meadows and sandy beaches. Its craggy coast, defined by cliffs and secret coves, offers nesting habitat for myriad seabirds. In high summer, discover the wildflower meadows that burst into color on the machair, a sparse veneer of green atop the sand. The single-lane “Golden Road” winds along the east coast of Harris among miniature fjords and tiny hamlets with Viking and Gaelic names. Along the way, we pass through historic rural settlements and stop at a weaving shop where world-famous Harris tweed is produced.

A highlight today is a private cruise to the Shiant Isles, one of the world's most famous seabird colonies. Located between Skye and Lewis, these columnar basalt islands are known in Gaelic as Na h-Eileanan Seunta, or the "Enchanted Isles." Though this tiny island group is uninhabited by humans, it is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, including a quarter-million puffins—2% of the entire global population. Some 7% of all razorbills in the U.K. also breed here, along with colonies of guillemots, cormorants, shags and great skuas. We often see seals lounging on the rocks, too. If the weather is fair, the option exists to extend our 5-hour voyage to include the southern Bays of Harris coastline, marked with several deserted villages. On the return voyage, explore the abandoned crofting community of Bhalamus, once the heart of a 19th-century sheep farm on the coast of Lewis. Continuing into Loch Seaforth, which forms the boundary between Lewis and Harris, view several more old settlements and look for golden and white-tailed eagles on the cliffs before returning to our hotel for teatime.

Please note: September and October departures will not visit the Shiant Islands, since the seabirds will have departed by this time. The boat cruise will explore more of the coast of Harris instead.

Day 7: Lewis—Callanish Standing Stones / Contin
This morning we visit one of Scotland's most intriguing archaeological sites, the Callanish Standing Stones. This 5,000-year-old ring of 13 gneiss pillars is arranged in a cruciform pattern around a 14-foot central monolith. Erected on the west coast of Lewis in the late Neolithic era, predating Stonehenge, the stones were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. Several other stone circles, arcs and alignments are also visible from the main site. Historians estimate the site was abandoned around 1,000 B.C. and ultimately buried beneath a thick layer of peat turf, not unearthed until 1857. We also visit a museum dedicated to the historical crofting life in the Hebrides before continuing to Stornoway, where we have lunch before boarding the ferry back to the mainland. The 2.5-hour crossing is an opportunity to look for dolphins and whales from the observation deck. On arrival in Ullapool we return directly to the Coul House Hotel, where our journey began.

Day 8: Scottish Wildcat Breeding Project / Canoeing
Visit the Scottish Wildcat Breeding Conservation Program at the Aigas Field Center, where we learn about efforts to conserve the United Kingdom's only native feline and most endangered mammal. Flanked by remnants of ancient Caledonian pine forest to the west and marine firths to the east, the center is an important educational site in the northern Highlands, dedicated to sharing Scotland’s wild natural heritage. Since 2011, this crucial national program has engaged in efforts to bring this small, muscular tabby cat back from the brink of extinction.

We then head deeper into the glen for a canoeing excursion, providing an intimate perspective on the rugged beauty of the Highlands. Depending on weather conditions and the group's composition, we'll either paddle the gentle Beauly River into steep-walled Aigas Gorge, watching for osprey overhead, or canoe on Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin, a tranquil sea inlet with small islands and sheltered coves that beckon exploration as we scout for wildlife on the shoreline. The region is home to red deer, pine marten, golden eagles and many more species native to the area. Back at Coul House, celebrate our final evening together with a festive farewell dinner.

Day 9: Inverness / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to Inverness to meet departing flights.

Physical Rating: Moderate

Interested in extending your trip? Link it up with another adventure!
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
The Cotswolds: Exploring English Nature
NEW TRIP!

The Cotswolds: Exploring English Nature

On walks through ancient beech forest and wildflower meadows, along hedgerows and trout-filled streams, delve into an idyllic rural landscape with a focus on native habitats, wildlife and conservation.
8 Days / May–Sep
From $8795
Limited to 12 Travelers
NEW TRIP!
Questions?
We've Got Answers!
Talk with an Adventure Specialist
Call Our Boulder Office at 800-543-8917 or contact your travel advisor.
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS
Physical Requirements
WWF Logo

Download Trip Details

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Get our downloadable trip details in PDF format, a handy resource for your travel planning. Inside, you'll find all the info from our website—highlights of the trip, itinerary, accommodations, and full details on dates, prices and logistics—plus a few extras!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Download Trip Details
Your download awaits…

Thank you for your request! Click here to see your trip details PDF now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Ask a Question

Ask a Question

Fill out our form to receive additional information about our ${tripName}, or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Scotland's Wild Highlands & Islands
Ask a Question
Thank you for your note!

We’ll be in touch soon with more details.

Send Me Travel Emails

Get the Inside Scoop on the

World of Nature Travel

Our weekly eNewsletters highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Request Your 2022 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2022 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2022/2023 Catalog
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.

Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2023 Digital Catalog

View Our 2023

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Contact Us

Have a question or comment?
Click any of the buttons below to get in touch with us.

Hours
Mountain Time

  • 8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday
  • 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday
Call 800-543-8917
Questions? Click to Chat
Questions? Click to Chat
/alaska-northern-adventures/scotland-adventure/itinerary/