Join Naturalist Journeys to discover the Scottish Highlands and Islands at the peak of wildflower season. June is a marvellous time to explore. We are based out of Mountview Hotel at Nethy Bridge for seven of our 12 nights, a particular delight. Mountview Hotel sits upon a hill, within walking distance of the quaint, small town. Expert local naturalists have a long history of work with the hotel, so they know where to find the birds and the scenic stops; they set a comfortable tone right away. Dining is lovely and the lodge boasts a fully-stocked bar — you may want to try their wide variety of local Scottish whisky in the fireside room!

This tour explores Scotland’s wonderful pine and oak forests, rugged coastlines and trails, and walks in the heather above treeline in open moorland. Look for Ptarmigan, nesting Dotterel, Crested Tit, and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill. Study shorebirds, seabirds (puffins!), and raptors, including Golden Eagle. After a week at Mountview, we venture to Mull and Iona, enchanting islands with wilderness species such as White-tailed Eagle and Hen Harrier. The islands’ residents take pride in their gardens, and the open moorland is in bloom, here we may find Skylark displaying and Twite. Iona’s Abbey hold Celtic treasures, and the rhododendrons and azaleas should be in bloom. Interesting geology, historic castles, fascinating birds … Scotland is a special place!

Tour Highlights

  • Visit the nearly 8000 year old Abernethy Forest, a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve
  • Enjoy an exciting return ferry crossing for shearwaters, petrels, skuas, cetaceans and more
  • Opt for a hike into the arctic-alpine realm, just over 4000 feet, to see Ptarmigan and Dotterel
  • Explore stunning Mull and Iona, with colourful villages and stunning ancient architecture
  • Boat to the tiny isle of Staffa to visit the unique geological phenomenon of Fingal’s Cave!
  • A note about the Western Capercaillie: The Western Capercaillie is a huge woodland grouse under the protection of several wildlife and government organizations. While we will not be seeking out Capercaillie on this tour, incidental sightings are possible as we work to respect and protect their essential habitat.

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Fri., June 6     Arrival in Inverness, Scotland

Welcome to Scotland! Today there are no activities planned so you can rest up from travels. Enjoy the gardens at your hotel and a walk if you wish to. Those in on time can join together for an optional group dinner—once we know everyone’s arrival schedule and who wants to join in, we make dinner reservations.

Our accommodations are close to airport tonight and since everyone arrives at different times, please transfer by taxi to our first hotel.
Accommodations at an airport hotel, TBD closer to time of departure

Sat., June 7     Scenic Drive to Nethy Bridge | Arrival at Mountview Hotel

This morning we enjoy breakfast together and time to get acquainted, then go a short ways to the impressive historic site of Culloden Battlefield. We have time to take in the exhibits and walk through the field, a sobering but rewarding experience.

We then have about an hour drive today to reach the delightful Mountview Hotel at Speyside, our lodgings for the week ahead. A bonus to this trip is not having to keep on the move! En route to this perfect base, we make scenic and birding stops along the way and enjoy a fun picnic lunch.

Our hotel is in the Highlands; as we head south to it we pass through open moorland with views of rolling mountains and woodlands. Upon arrival at the Mountview Hotel, enjoy some free time to get settled before a welcome dinner and orientation. It’s an easy wander down to the river or the nearby village of Nethy Bridge. Or there are those tempting local scotches awaiting you at the bar ….
Accommodations at the Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Sun., June 8      Abernethy Forest—Walking & Birding

Today we visit extensive pine forests, a habitat type that has existed here for close to 8000 years. This ancient Caledonian forest is the largest natural woodland remaining in Britain, a true national heritage. It is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve. Here we find a good number of songbirds, including Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill. A number of trails cross the reserve and we have the day to walk and explore. We join British visitors most excited to see nesting Osprey, still a relatively rare bird, though recovering, in Britain. In the 1950s, after an absence of nearly 50 years, Osprey returned from their winter home in Africa to breed at this location.
Accommodations at the Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Mon., June 9     Gannets & the Scenic Moray Coastline

This morning we take an exciting cruise to the foot of Troup Head, mainland Scotland’s only Gannetry, to see the birds. Auks on the sea include Puffin and Black Guillemot, and Great and Arctic Skuas may be seen too. A very exciting boat trip, after which we enjoy local fish and chips for lunch.

After a satisfying lunch, our walkers can enjoy the Moray Coastal Trail, while our birders can enjoy summer birding along the Moray Coast, which can easily include Osprey fishing, Common Eider, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Stonechat, and lots of spring waders, including Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, and Ringed Plover, many in bright summer plumage. We visit some picturesque coastal towns including Banff, Macduff, Crovie, and Pennan.
Accommodations at Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Tues., June 10       Classic Highland Birding & Scenic Walking

Enjoy stunningly beautiful rolling mountain scenery today as we search for some of Scotland’s most iconic species. We visit our operator, Heatherlea’s, exclusive private woodland estate where we search for birds while remaining inside the minibus, so later we take a good walk through moorland at a remote glen where we may see Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Red Kite, Ring Ouzel (a member of the thrush family found in mountains and moorlands), Stonechat, nesting Common Sandpiper, and more. It’s a lovely day, with spectacular scenery, and a good time to walk for those who are interested. Perhaps a celebration with a drink of Famous Grouse scotch is in order this evening!
Accommodations at the Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Wed., June 11       Mountains & Whisky! | Scottish Plateau Country of The Cairngorms

In Scotland you don’t have to contend with high elevation to enjoy a taste of the arctic-alpine realm, as the highest peaks of the region, rounded and sculpted by time, reach just over 4,000 feet. We can drive to around 2000 feet. Feast your eyes on mountain vistas today, whether you chose walking or birding. We have the full day up on the Cairngorm plateau with unforgettable scenery all around. This is the realm of the Ptarmigan and a preferred nesting place for the beautiful Dotterel, a long-distance migrant which is breeding in June. Snow Bunting are singing, their loud sweet repetitive songs often given in flight. There may be a show of alpine flowers, and we discover the alpine adaptations of these rugged enduring plants. There are 2,200 square miles of mountain wilderness here, and the geology is fascinating as well. It may be brisk up on the plateau so dress warm and enjoy a return to a nice roaring fire and an excellent dinner. If this hike sounds too strenuous, you can enjoy a day at leisure in Nethy Bridge or just do a portion of the walk and enjoy the wildflowers near the start of the trail until others return.
Accommodations at the Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Thurs., June 12      Local Moors for Black Grouse | Exploring the Scenic West Coast

Today enjoy an optional early morning outing to look for Black Grouse, another of Britain’s displaying grouse, intermediate in size with a long forked tail. The males gather in impressive numbers on known leks, often on the edge of woodland and moor. The lek is now finished, though birds still return to parade and hopefully attract a female.

After this outing and breakfast, we head north to explore more of Britain’s 7000 miles of varied and beautiful coastline, exploring the rocky reaches where rivers flow straight to the sea. We visit beautiful seaside places and towns including Spey Bay, Lossiemouth, Burghead, and Findhorn, where we find time for a coastal walk. Migrant shorebirds are heading north — we hope to see Dunlin, Turnstone, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, and more. Terns include Sandwich, Arctic, Common, and possibly Little. We have very good chances at Scotland’s breeding divers including Great Norther Diver (Common Loon), Black-throated (Arctic), and beautiful Red-throated Diver.
Accommodations at the Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Fri., June 13     Favorite Places

Today is a “guides choice” day. Based on our interests, the staff designs a couple of options for us for further birding or walking in the Highlands or along the coast. Or, you may want to tuck in for half a day or more and just enjoy the hotel and local town. There are many areas to explore – we make it a wonderful day.
Accommodations at Mountview Hotel (B,L,D)

Sat., June 14         Travel to Mull

After breakfast we travel to Mull, one of the most scenic islands of the Hebrides, its coast deeply indented and laced with smaller scenic rocks and islets. We travel via Fort William, crossing the Corran Ferry and driving through the area known as Morvern. Mull’s geologic story tells of violent volcanic activity some 30,000 – 50,000 years ago when sequential lava flows accumulated to thicknesses of 6000 feet.

Mull is the second most mountainous island after Skye — its central tablelands reach over 3000 feet. Driving near the coast, we look for Harbor and Atlantic Grey Seals and River Otter. On arrival we visit picturesque Tobermory, the capital town of Mull, known for its colorful buildings. Enjoy some time to explore before heading to our comfortable hotel for three nights.
Accommodations on Mull (B,L,D)

Sun., June 15      Iona & Mull

Mull is a wildlife paradise, becoming ever more popular with birdwatchers. It’s easy to see why, with more eagles (both Golden and White-tailed) than anywhere else in Britain, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Raven, and a range of northern moorland birds. The coastal habitat is special and allows us to search for Great and Arctic Skua, Manx Shearwater, Great Northern Diver (Common Loon), Puffin, Gannet, and much more, including a variety of waders. It is also a popular walking area, set in magnificent scenery and featuring towering cliffs, rugged mountains, rocky coastlines, and beautiful pristine beaches.

On Iona, accessed by ferry from Mull, we look for Skylark and Twite (a Redpoll relative) and visit the Abbey, a Celtic treasure dating from the 5th Century. We also plan to visit local gardens known for collections of azalea and rhododendron, which we hope to find in bloom.
Accommodations on Mull (B,L,D)

Mon., June 16      Treshnish Isles Boat Trip to Staffa & Lunga

We enjoy a spectacular boat trip today, visiting the Isle of Staffa, where we have enough time to visit Fingal’s Cave and also scan for the few Great Skua that sometimes breed here, as do a few Puffin.

Next, on to the tiny isle of Lunga to visit the fabulous auk colony on the cliffs of Harp Rock, facing west across the ocean. Many thousands of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, and Shag are present, with Black Guillemot, Manx Shearwater, and perhaps tiny Storm Petrel, Great Skua, Arctic Tern and “real” Greylag Goose offshore. On Lunga, the Puffin experience is perhaps the best in the British Isles, as we pass right by the burrows (the birds are inquisitive, and a careful birder can enjoy views from a few feet). Further along, auks, Shag, and gulls can be safely appreciated at eye level just yards away. Photographers love this spectacle! A quiet walk away from the main cliffs and we may hear Twite singing. Our boat returns to harbour in time for us to keep birding as we return to our hotel. This trip can be weather dependent, though it usually sails one of our two full days.
Accommodations on Mull (B,L,D)

Tues., June 17      Mull to Inverness

Today we bird and explore on Mull in the early morning and then cross by ferry to the Scottish mainland, returning to Inverness. This is a four to five-hour drive in total, and we break it up with a visit to Urquart Castle, picnic lunch and some birding along the shores of Loch Ness en route.

We arrive in the late afternoon and say goodbye to our guide as the tour ends. Most need an airport hotel this night, so we include it, though dinner is at leisure. If you are staying on in Scotland or taking the train to other areas, we can help with suggestions.
Accommodations in Inverness (B,L)

Wed., June 18     Departures

Your return to the airport is by taxi today to match up with your flight; we can help coordinate possible ride-shares if flights match up with others in the group.

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Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $6490 DBL / $6990 SGL per person from Inverness, Scotland, based on double occupancy and includes: accommodations for 12 nights, meals as specified in the itinerary, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost does not include roundtrip airfare to or from Inverness, airport transfers, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for porterage or personal services. *This journey was priced using the exchange rate between British Pound and USD as of May 17, 2024. If this changes by the final payment due date, plus or minus 5% of the tour cost we will adjust your invoice accordingly.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Inverness Airport (INV)

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 6, 2025 at your leisure.
The UK has an excellent train service and you may also choose to arrive by train.

Departure Details: Plan June 18, 2025 flights at your leisure. 

Travel Tip: You may find it easier to fly into Edinburgh Airport (EDI) and take the train to Inverness. Direct train routes are available and the journey is approximately 3.5 hours. If you would like to spend a few days in Edinburgh prior to traveling to Inverness, there are plenty of things to see! The world famous Edinburgh Castle, dating back to the 12th century, is a fascinating site steeped in history that is definitely worth a visit. You can also explore The Royal Mile, which is historically important to the city with Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace, the King’s official residence in Scotland, at the other end. If you enjoy museums, a visit to the National Museum of Scotland will allow you to explore Scottish history, art, and culture. If you would like to maximize your birding adventures, the coastal town of North Berwick is a short train ride from Edinburgh and has a variety of seabird cruises as well as the Scottish Seabird Centre. If you would like to arrive early to Inverness and rest up, you can book additional nights at our first night tour hotel.

Hotel Recommendation: If you arrive early and spend time in Edinburgh, it’s best to work with your travel agent or research which hotel best suits your needs. If you arrive early in Inverness, we suggest you book extra nights at our first night tour hotel. You can book the Premier Inn Inverness East online and give us the confirmation number that we will submit when we send our final room list, the goal being you don’t have to change rooms.

Items of Note

A note about the Western Capercaillie:

The Western Capercaillie is a huge, highly endangered woodland grouse under the protection of several wildlife and government organizations. While we will not be seeking out Capercaillie on this tour, incidental sightings are possible. We respect and support conservation efforts to protect these birds and their essential habitat.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Scotland

Map for Scottish Highlands & Islands

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • It is required that your passport will be valid for the duration of your stay. We suggest at least 3 months validity beyond end of tour to allow for unexpected delays in return travel. No Visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays of this duration. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Scotland website for guidelines.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Scotland and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into and departing from Inverness International Airport (INV). Please input your travel information into your client portal.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Inverness International Airport (INV), Scotland

Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of our Scotland operator. As a backup, contact our office (numbers are on your emergency contact list).

The airport for this tour is Inverness International Airport (INV). There are no activities planned for the first day of the tour, so you can arrive at your convenience and rest up from your travels. Upon arrival at the airport, you will pass through immigration and customs and exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact sheet will be helpful at Immigration when they ask where you are going. At the airport, there is an ATM to withdraw money and change desks where US Dollars can be changed for Pounds.

Your accommodations are close to the airport tonight since everyone arrives at different times. Please transfer by taxi to our first hotel. We can alert you to anyone coming in at the same time you do to share taxi service. This is reliable and efficient from Inverness.

Once we know everyone’s arrival schedule, and who would like to join in, we can make dinner reservations for that evening.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Inverness International Airport (INV), Scotland

Please plan your flight home at your leisure. Your return to the airport is by taxi today to match up with your flight. We can help coordinate possible rideshares if flights match up with others in the group.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passport, Visas & Documents

Guidelines and regulations can change. It is always advisable to double-check documentation requirements 60-90 days ahead of traveling. If you are from another country, please contact the Scotland embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/UnitedKingdom.html.

Passport: At the time of writing, the U.K. requires a passport that is in good condition and is valid for the duration of your stay. We suggest at least 3 months validity beyond end of tour to allow for unexpected delays in return travel. If traveling to other countries, you should check for their requirements should they differ. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. 

Visa: At the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays of this duration. You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep electronic backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. 

Vaccinations: Bring your up-to-date vaccination records with you. At the time of writing there were no required vaccinations to enter Scotland. However, the CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine and basic travel vaccinations (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please consult with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. A helpful resource is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage for the U.K., or you may contact them by phone (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.

Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 

Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s).  If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.

Altitude sickness: It can affect some and, if there is a concern, be prepared. The most general symptoms are headache and occasionally fatigue and dizziness. You’ll want to take it easy, particularly at first. These symptoms can be reduced by resting, drinking plenty of water and taking aspirin. If you have worries about the altitude, ask your physician about medications that may be right for you.

Weather & Climate

Plan for a large variation in weather conditions. Brilliant sunshine and rain are equally as possible. The weather is often cool in Scotland, even in the summer, with thunderstorms and rain. Highs average in the low-60s°F, and lows in the mid- 40s°F, with comfortable to high humidity. Come prepared with layers of clothing, including a rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker, and an umbrella. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. Scotland does have rain, and as it’s a regular feature, the field work will continue regardless. We suggest you be well prepared!

Food & Drinks

Meals during this journey will reflect local cuisine and specialties, and will be varied and flavorful.

Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Laundry services can be arranged at some of our hotels, those where you have multiple nights. But it is most convenient if you are content with hand laundering.

Please, pack light! We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life. Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down! 

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please DO NOT pack any essential medications or vital optics in your checked luggage!

Spending Money

The official currency in Scotland is the pound sterling (GBP). We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. If you plan to exchange cash in country, bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) in good condition (no rips or tears) that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.

Gratuities

Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for your hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this can be split among them.

*Please note that these suggested tips are quoted in U.S. Dollars. You will want to convert and tip in Pounds.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be turn on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one). Renting an international phone may also be an option.

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.

Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.

Electricity

The standard voltage in Scotland is 240V, higher than in the United States (120V), with frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Scotland are primarily "Type G".

You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter in order to use appliances or devices from the U.S. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. More information can be found at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/scotland/.

Time

Scotland is in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone, which is 5 hours earlier than New York (Eastern Time). Scotland does observe Summer Time (or Daylight Savings Time). A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!

 

Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage.  Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle.  It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Dress is very informal. Scotland is known for its cool, mild weather and its frequent cloud cover and rain. Best be prepared for this variable climate by bringing rain gear and warm clothes. June highs average in the low-60s°F, and lows in the mid- 40s°F. You’ll encounter rain which will cause the temperatures to drop.

Long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun, insects and vegetation. Choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty – and things that are comfortable and easy. Please avoid white or brightly colored outerwear for the field. Layering is your best strategy for comfort.

Clothing & Gear

  • Long pants, 2-3 pair (comfortable and loose fitting is best)
  • Shorts or zip-off/convertible pants (optional)
  • Long-sleeved shirts (2-3)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (4-5 – remember you may be buying some anyway!)
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Lightweight long underwear for cooler evenings
  • Socks (light to medium weight and easy to wash and dry)
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Comfortable walking shoes - such as tennis shoes (great if they are water-resistant)
  • Lightweight hiking boots – preferably waterproof
  • Comfortable light shoes for evenings, travel days (Crocs work well or sandals)
  • Jacket - fleece fabric is ideal
  • Warm sweater or sweatshirt
  • Raincoat/Waterproof shell (great if this doubles as a windbreaker)
  • Rain pants (optional)
  • Wind/waterproof gloves – for night spotting
  • Warm Hat & scarf (or turtleneck) – for night spotting
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Binoculars (a shower cap is great to cover these when raining)
  • Umbrella - compact, not brightly colored (a great option for occasional rain as you can keep using your binoculars)
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Toiletry articles
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
  • Camera and extra batteries/battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB cord and charger (optional)
  • Chargers for cameras and/or phones, and three prong adapters if needed
  • Water bottle (or you can use one of ours and refill during the journey)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Earplugs (if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you; these are optional)
  • Cell phone
  • Laundry soap for hand washing, travel sewing kit
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Power plug adapter & electrical transformer

 

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Heath insurance and vaccination records (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
  • Personal medications
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

 

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Scotland; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Scotland; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Collins Bird Guide, The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

Merlin App – Europe Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Europe.

Birds of Europe

Lonely Planet: Scotland 11

General Reading

Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures, and the Good Life

Where to Watch Birds in Europe & Russia

Field Guides

Collins Scottish Birds

Mammals of Britain and Europe

Collins Butterfly Guide: The Most Complete Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe

Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Animals, Birds & Fish of the British Isles: A Natural History and Identification Guide with Over 440 Native Species from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Natural History

Set in Stone: The Geology and Landscapes of Scotland

History & Culture

Scotland – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything In It

A History of Scotland: Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History

The Noble Houses of Scotland

Memoir/Non-Fiction

Hebrides

Sea Room: An Island Life in the Hebrides

A House by the Shore: Twelve Years in the Hebrides

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Scotland

Inverness

Nethy Bridge

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Key Species

Scotland Birding

Northern Gannet

Kittiwake

Puffin

Capercaillie

Otters

Dolphins, Whales, and Porpoises

Scottish Wildflowers

Scotland Trees

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Abernethy Forest

Troup Head

Staffa Nature Reserve

Treshnish Isles

Lunga

Staffa

Geology & Geography

How Scotland’s Geological Foundations Came Together

Scottish Geography

Fingal’s Cave

Scottish Highlands

History & Culture

Historical Timeline of Scotland

Scotland’s Culture

History of Mull

History of Iona

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds History

Traditional Scottish Food

Helpful Travel Websites

Inverness Airport (INV)

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - UK

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - UK

Travel Health Pro (UK) - UK

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

Electricity and Plugs - Scotland

Date, Time, and Holidays


Photo credits: Banners: Iona Abbey, courtesy Heatherlea; Atlantic Puffin, courtesy Heatherlea; Scotland by Colin White; Loch an Eilei, courtesy Heatherlea; Sound of Mull Sunrise, courtesy Heatherlea; Scenic Coastline, Marlo Kauffman. Blue Tit by Sandy Sorkin; Scenic by Dennis Lankford; Dotterel, courtesy Heatherlea; Rock Ptarmigan by Dennis Lankford; Razorbill by Colin White; Puffin by Colin White; Robin by Sandy Sorkin; Abernethy Forest, courtesy Heatherlea; Northern Gannet, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Puffin in Thrift, courtesy Heatherlea; Scottish scenery, Naturalist Journey Stock; Puffin, Colin White; Antarctic Tern, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Iona Abbey, courtesy Heatherlea; Cormorants by John Ianacone & Cindy D'Ambrosio (JICD); Abernathy Cemetery, JICD; Woodcock, JICD; Carr Bridge, JICD; Group x2, JICD; Highland Cattle, JICD; Chawfinch, JICD; Red Grouse, JICD; Coastal Village, JICD; Inverness Castle, JICD; Razorbills, JICD; Fulmars, JICD; Northern Gannet, JICD; Coastal Village, JICD; Ruins, JICD; Pied Wagtail, JICD; Red Barn, JICD; Dipper, JICD; Mountview Hotel, JICD.

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