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16 Wonderful Wildlife Tours to Book in Scotland

You may already know that Scotland is home to an array of rare, elusive and often friendly wildlife that you can spot across the country in their natural habitats. But did you know that one of the best ways to see these fascinating creatures up close is on a wildlife tour?

Scotland offers a variety of tours that will take you deep into our stunning forests and landscapes, or out to sea and along our breathtaking coastlines, for the chance to see all sorts of Scottish wildlife species. From dolphins and whales playing in the sea, and majestic birds of prey swooping overhead, to our popular Highland coos and so much more. Pick your favourite Scotland animal and head out on a wildlife tour.

Birdlife

1. Birding Ecosse

Based in the stunning coastal location of Moray in the Scottish Highlands, Birding Ecosse offers a great way to get outdoors and spot some of your favourite bird species. Offering an enjoyable and welcoming experience, soak in the stunning scenery, get chatting to your friendly and knowledgeable tour guide, and learn a thing or two about the history of the local area along the way too. Choose your favourite day tour; The Big Day Tour, Highland Birds, or The Moray Coast, and enjoy the magnificent landscapes that surround you as you keep your eyes peeled for the many species of birds that make their home here. You never know, you may spot species you never knew existed!

You’ll be picked up and dropped off at your accommodation, with all transport and guiding included, plus light refreshments throughout the day, all you need to bring is a tasty packed lunch and your sense of adventure.

Start/End Point: starting on the Moray Coast and finishing in the Monadhliath Mountains.
Season/Months: year-round. Winter is from October to April and Summer is May to September.
Location: Scottish Highlands (based in Moray)
Price: from £120
Length of Tour: day trips, mid-week breaks, and long weekends

Book a tour with Birding Ecosse.

2. Highland Wildlife & Birdwatch Safaris

Located in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park, Highland Wildlife & Birdwatching Safaris is the perfect way for you and the family to explore the outdoors and uncover a wealth of Scottish wildlife. Flexible with their tours, choose from a 4-hour tour, full-day tour, or if you have something specific in mind, they are happy to customise a bespoke tour for you. Venture on a guided wildlife excursion with an experienced local nature watcher in a luxury 4X4 Land Rover Discovery to see a range of special birds and animals in the heart of this beautiful National Park.

The meeting point will be at Aviemore Train or Bus Station, or if you are staying locally, pick up from your accommodation can be arranged. You will also need to bring a packed lunch and snacks for the day.

Start/end point: Aviemore, Cairngorms National Park
Season/months: open all year
Location: Aviemore
Price: varies on tour and number of people
Length of tour: 4 hours or full-day (12 hours)

Book a tour with Highland Wildlife & Birdwatching Safaris.

3. The Shetland Isles

Head north to the glorious Shetland Isles where you can spend a week hopping around the islands on a birdwatching trip. Birdlife on the Shetland Isles is rife, and a boat trip out to the bird colonies at Noss National Nature Reserve is a must do! With 20,000 gannets, 25,000 guillemots, 3,000 kittiwakes, 1,200 puffins and hundreds of razorbills, shags and skuas, it’s a real sight to see, and hear!

From coastal walks on the stunning St Ninian’s Isle and walking up Shetland’s highest peak – Ronas Hill, to venturing out on a bird watching cruise to Noss & Bressay, and visiting the pre-historic site of Jarlshof, this will definitely be a trip to remember. Join your knowledgeable and experienced guide as you explore the remarkable archipelago of Shetland, with hundreds of fascinating sites, Viking history, spectacular wildlife and a colourful culture to uncover along the way.

The tour also includes your accommodation, transport, meals and transfers, so all the organisation and thinking is done for you!

Start/end point: Lerwick
Season/months : April – June
Location: Mainland Shetland
Price: from £1,700
Length of tour: 7 days/6 nights

Book a tour to the Shetland Isles.

4. Heatherlea Birdwatching Day Trips

The Highlands are a vast and magnificent area of Scotland, and Strathspey definitely plays up to those qualities. Located just north of Aviemore, this corner of Scotland is perfect for birdwatching. Join a minibus day or multi-day tour with Heatherlea Birdwatching and you’ll be in the capable and experienced hands of their tour guides who will show you all the wildlife gems that make the area so special. Join the knowledgeable Heatherlea guides who are expert birdwatchers and know all the area’s wildlife secrets, and the best locations to spot them all.

Enjoy a pre-organised tour, or hire a guide to travel in your own transport where you can agree with your guide to look for specific species or visit particular places.

Start/end point: all trips begin and end at The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge
Season/months: open all year
Location: Strathspey
Price: varies on tour
Length of tour: day tours or week tours

Book a tour with Heatherlea Birdwatching.

Land

5. Winter Wildlife in the Highlands

Journey deep into the magical Highlands for an unforgettable experience exploring Scotland’s wintery landscapes and elusive wildlife. In the chillier months a whole new realm of wildlife can be seen across Scotland, and many Scottish animals even change their entire appearance to blend into their snowy surroundings. Venture on this 5-day escape into Caledonian pine forests and snow-capped peaks where you can explore a variety of different habitats, learning more about the wildlife and their incredible capabilities to endure the harsh winter conditions. Spot incredible species such as red deer, ptarmigan, whooper swans, free-roaming reindeer and much more!

Your trip includes accommodation, meals and travel, so all the thinking and planning is done for you. All you need to do is bring yourself and the correct clothing and equipment!

Start/end point: start and finish in Kingussie
Season/months: winter
Location: Cairngorms National Park
Price: varies
Length of tour: 5 days 

Book a Winter Wildlife trip.

6. Inner Hebrides ‘Big 5’ Wildlife Cruise

Spend 4 nights onboard vessels Elizabeth-G or Emma Jane for an incredible cruise to spot the ‘Big 5’; red deer, common seals, otters, eagles (both golden and white-tailed) and harbour porpoise. Starting at Oban harbour, set off on a picturesque journey around Scotland’s west coast and island gems to spot incredible Scottish wildlife. Aside from the amazing species you can spot, the cruise is also a great way to take in the fantastic scenery, glimmering seascapes, and mesmerising sunsets.

The cruise is the perfect choice for an autumn getaway around some of Scotland’s most idyllic locations, with remote sea lochs, towering mountains and even potential stopovers Loch a Choire on the Morvern Coast, and Loch Spelve on Mull, both great places to spot otters.

As you are onboard for 4 nights, all accommodation, transport and meals are included. However there are limited vessels and space onboard, so please book in advance so you don’t miss out.

Start/end point: start and finish in Oban
Season/months: Autumn – September/October
Location: Oban, west coast, and the Isle of Mull
Price: varies
Length of tour: 4 nights

Book your ‘Big 5’ Wildlife Cruise now.

7. Wild West – Deer Rut Tour

Red deer are very common in the mountains of Scotland throughout the year, and on a Wild West Safari, you’ll be out looking for the UK’s largest land mammal.

Autumn is an ideal time of year to spot deer rutting in the wild. This spectacle is often accompanied by the sound of roaring stags vibrating across the glen. You may be lucky enough to see a pair of stags lock antlers in a duel. Rut safaris are available daily throughout autumn, with the option of a trip at dawn to catch the best of the action.

Throughout the winter when the climate and terrain gets tougher, red deer often make their way further down the mountain in search of food. This can often lead them to the roadside where they present great photo opportunities.

You can also enjoy the half-day Wee Safari to spot otters and see a magnificent view of Ben Nevis on the return journey. 

Start/end point: Fort William
Season/months: Autumn –  late September to end of October
Location: Scottish Highlands
Price: £195 for up to 6 passengers
Length of tour:
3.5 – 4 hours

Book a Wild West Deer Rut Tour.

8. Wild Highland Tours

Head to the west Highlands to Ardnamurchan for some of the most spectacular scenery, mountain ranges and coastline, alongside an array of incredible wildlife to spot in their natural habitats. Venture on a guided tour with a knowledgeable wildlife expert for the best chance to see these amazing creatures up close. With its varied landscape, you can find a wealth of animals on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. From pine martens, golden eagles and red deer, to hen harriers, wild cats and even sea life, including dolphins, porpoises, and basking sharks.

A range of tours are on offer throughout the year, allowing you to see rare and exciting birds, animals and habitats, as well as exploring important issues that affect conservation of these areas. You can also discover Ardnamurchan and its wildlife at a more personalised and slower pace on a five day holiday in spring and summer.

Start/end point:  Ardnamurchan
Season/months: open all year
Location: Ardnamurchan
Price: from £150
Length of tour: 3hour day tour or twilight tour, or 4hour night time tour

Book a Wild Highland Tour.

9. Wild Eskdale

Head to the beautiful landscapes of Dumfries & Galloway and venture on a wildlife experience to spot some of the most iconic and endangered species of wildlife in Scotland. Langholm Moor is a designated SSSI and a Species Protection Area for the mysterious and rare hen harrier. Langholm is also home to three rivers, so if you’re quiet enough you may be able to see kingfisher, goosander, grey heron and possibly even otters.

Enjoy a half day tour, perfect for families or those short on time, where you can uncover a wealth of birdlife, including majestic raptors as well as merlin, short-eared owl, sparrow hawks, and maybe even a golden eagle. Stay a bit longer and journey on a full-day tour where you can see wild goats, roe deer, brown hare, stoats, stonechat and much more. There are also a number of spots on this tour where you may come across the elusive and iconic red squirrel.

If you have specific Scottish wildlife that you want to tick off your bucket list, you can always plan a bespoke tour where your knowledgeable guide can take you to locations for the best chance of spotting them.

Start/end point: Langholm
Season/months: open all year
Location: Dumfries & Galloway
Price: varies on tour length
Length of tour: half day, full day or bespoke

Book a tour with Wild Eskdale.

Sea Life

10. Basking Shark Scotland Tours

It wouldn’t be a wildlife trip to Scotland without experiencing Scottish sea life. Did you know basking sharks are the biggest fish in Scotland and UK, and you can spot them off our coasts? Most commonly spotted on the west coast in between our stunning islands, basking sharks can be seen swimming close to our shores and coastlines in search of food, so if you ever see a strange fin poking out of the water, it could be your friendly neighbourhood shark.

Venture out on a boat tour for a better chance of seeing these giant creatures up close. With a range of exciting and adventurous experiences on offer, including scuba diving, hop onboard and let the expert marine guides show you the best of Scotland’s water wildlife. Despite their often scary appearance, basking sharks are typically harmless and only feed on plankton.

Start/end point: meeting points vary for each tour; Dunstaffnage Marina, and Isle of Coll
Season/months: April – October
Location: Oban
Price: from £80
Length of tour: one day, multi-day, or bespoke

Book a tour with Basking Shark Scotland.

11. SeaLife Watching Boat Trips

Join in an expedition on the west coast to experience some immaculate Scottish sea life in their natural habitats. From whales, dolphins and otters, to seals, golden eagles, puffins and more. All of the trips on offer include the Corryvreckan Whirlpool and the Ballachuan Hazelwood (a Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve) so you are guaranteed dramatic sea cliffs, uninhabited islands, and untouched landscapes no matter which boat trip you choose.

The boat trips are an ideal choice for a family day out and are open to people of all ages. You’ll be in safe and experienced hands with your skipper knowing all the best places and times of year to spot dolphins, whales and porpoises. Keep an eye out on the island’s rugged coastline where you can often spot deer and wild goats too. The infamous Corryvreckan Whirlpool makes for a trip to remember. Put your trust in your capable skipper as you ride the choppy waves of the third largest whirlpool in the world.

They also offer private charters and landings, so if you have somewhere specific you’d like to see, that can be arranged!

Start/end point: Seil Island
Season/months: April – October
Location: Oban
Price: varies on tour length
Length of tour: 3 – 5 hours

Book a SeaLife Watching Boat Trip.

12. Dolphin Spirit Inverness

One of the best places in Scotland to see dolphins playing in the water is the Moray Firth. Located in the north east just along from Inverness, head out on a boat trip where you can learn more about bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises, whilst keeping a watchful eye out to spot some for yourself.

Experience a family-friendly dolphin cruise, taking in incredible sights and scenery as you travel up the Beauly Firth towards the Caledonian Canal, then head out to the Inverness Firth under the Kessock bridge and as far out as Munlochy Bay. Aside from dolphins poking their heads above the water, the Moray Firth is also home to an abundance of other wildlife, including otters, seals, birdlife and more.

Remember to wrap up warm, even in summer, and waterproofs are always a good idea!

Start/end point: Inverness Marina
Season/months: April – October
Location: Inverness
Price: from £12
Length of tour: 75minutes, or 2hours

Book a tour with Dolphin Spirit.

13. Hebridean Whale Cruises

Sharks and dolphins are not the only animals you can spot off Scotland’s coasts – whales often make an appearance too! Head out on a cruise towards the Shiant Islands where you will not only encounter many species for wildlife, but you’ll be enchanted by the mesmerising scenery and landscapes that surround you. For the best chance of whale spotting, your knowledgeable captain and guide will take out into the waters of the North Minch where there is known feeding grounds.

As one of Scotland’s recognized hotspots for whale and dolphin sightings, the North Minch boasts undersea mountains which creates powerful currents on the surface that are rich in nutrients and are frequently visited by whales, dolphins and many other marine species. It’s also a great location to see an abundance of exceptional seabirds.

Start/end point: Gairloch
Season/months: mid-April to mid-September
Location: Gairloch
Price: varies
Length of tour: 2.5hours and 4hours

Book a Hebridean Whale Cruise.

Agri-tourism

14. Farm Buggy Tours

Located along the iconic North Coast 500 driving route, enjoy a fun, interactive and educational Farm Buggy Tour in an off-road all-terrain 4-wheel drive buggy. Get to grips with everything to do with farming, spend time with the farmer to learn all about how your food is produced, and learn a thing or two about the local history of the area along the way too.

A perfect choice for a family adventure, each buggy can seat 3 adults, or two adults and 2 children, all with fitted seat belts. Along the tour there will be opportunities to stop off and get up close to a range of farm animals, from sheep, Highland cows and pygmy goats, to friendly farm dogs, horses and more. You’ll be taken to a great vantage point en route for unparalleled views of the surrounding Highland landscape, so make sure you have your cameras at the ready!

Start/end point: Kirkton Farm, near Melvich
Season/months: open all year
Location: Thurso, Highlands
Price: varies
Length of tour: 1.5 – 2 hours

Book a Farm Buggy Tour.

15. Kitchen Coos & Ewes

Head to the pretty south west Scotland to Airyolland Farm where you can enjoy a range of farm tours and experiences that allow you to get up close to different farm animals, and also get involved in the atmosphere of a working farm.

Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, head on a walking tour of the farm where you can see Highland cows up close, wander past remains from the Bronze Age and finish off with some delicious home baking. Or get involved with the Insta Coo Tour where you can get outdoors with the majestic Highland coos in their natural habitat. There’ll be plenty of time to get that Instagram-worthy shot, you can learn all about the coos from your experienced guide, and you’ll travel around in a comfortable farm tour trailer.

Start/end point: Airyolland Farm
Season/months: throughout the year
Location: Dumfries & Galloway
Price: from £7.50
Length of tour: varies for each tour

Book a tour with Kitchen Coos & Ewes.

16. On the Hill Farm

Embrace your inner farmer on this 200-acre working farm in the Scottish Borders. Spend a day enjoying educational farm tours, interact with the friendly farm animals, wander along tranquil woodland trails, taking in the beauty of the countryside in all seasons.

Explore all the indoor and outdoor facilities and learn all about what life is like on a working farm. Stay tuned for more events and tours happening throughout the year.

Book a tour with On the Hill Farm.

Start/end point: On the Hill Farm
Season/months: open all year
Location: Peebles, Scottish Borders

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