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© Hugh Harrop / Shetland Wildlife

Sumburgh Shetland.

Focus on Shetland - Wildlife Photography

Focus on Shetland is a great holiday for travellers who want to seek out and photograph Shetland's most exciting and unique wildlife. We use a unique combination of local knowledge to help you get the very best images.

This trip is aimed at all levels of photographer from absolute beginner to experienced professionals. As published and award-winning wildlife photographers ourselves, we started taking pictures over 30 years ago and we never forget the learning curves we went through (and still do!) to reach the dizzy heights of being pho-tour guides today! We even remember what it was like to use film! Our groups are limited to six, we use two hotels for this itinerary to reduce daily travel time and thus gain maximum photographic time in the field, and, unlike others, we charter boats to reach the prime seabird colonies of Mousa and Noss to ensure maximum photographic opportunities for our time ashore at these very special places. Experience counts for a lot and with over 20 years of both practical and logistical pho-tour experience, let us show you why we do it better than anybody else - and why we are regarded by our customers as the number one choice!

To gain maximum benefit from this trip we recommend:

  • Body - a DSLR camera
  • Lenses - wide angle fixed or zoom, telephoto lens preferably between 300mm and 600mm although a 100mm - 400mm or 200mm - 400mm zoom would work well. A dedicated 100mm macro would also be useful.
  • Teleconverters - 1.4x. 1.7x or 2x.
  • Support - a good tripod is essential
  • Flash - useful for fill flash in high contrast daytime situations.
DAY 1  Saturday - Welcome Dinner

Late afternoon / early evening rendezvous at the Sumburgh Hotel. After our welcome dinner there will be an optional evening excursion to photograph a spectacular sunset or some atmospheric scenes - the soft light of Shetland's Simmer Dim is a photographer's dream! Overnight at the Sumburgh Hotel.

DAY 2  Sunday - Mousa

The tiny island of Mousa lies off the east coast of the south Mainland. We have arranged exclusive access for our group during the morning and early afternoon, to spend several hours with a wide range of approachable birds - they include Black Guillemots, Great and Arctic Skuas, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers and Arctic Terns. There will also be opportunities to photograph the magnificent Iron Age Broch. In the afternoon we visit a site just north of Lerwick where we can get unusually close to Grey and Common Seals. The antics of these enormous animals as they vie for territorial dominance offers spectacular photographic opportunities. Overnight at Sumburgh.

DAY 3  Monday - South Mainland

We spend the morning at the bustling seabird colonies of Sumburgh Head. Subjects we would hope for include Puffins in pink Thrift, Shetland Wrens on lichen-strewn stone walls and Fulmars at arm's length! With luck we may spot passing cetaceans - Killer Whales are regularly seen off Sumburgh Head during the summer months and hunt exceptionally close inshore! After lunch, we head a few miles north to a rich expanse of heathland. We'll spend the remainder of the afternoon with Arctic Skuas, Great Skuas, Whimbrel, Golden Plover and Snipe in breeding habitat and also find plenty of wildflowers including Bell Heather, Tormentil, Heath Bedstraw, Wild Thyme, Lousewort and Butterwort. Overnight at Sumburgh.

DAY 4  Tuesday - Noss

We take our chartered boat - exclusive to our group - to the spectacular seabird colonies of Noss National Nature Reserve. From sea level, we will have the unique opportunity of using wide angle and telephoto perspectives to capture 20,000 Gannets, 40,000 Guillemots and 5,000 Kittiwakes! Puffins, Shags, Black Guillemots will also be on offer. The many natural arches, caves and dramatic sandstone cliffs add to the experience. We return to Lerwick at lunch time and head north to catch a ferry to Yell and then across Bluemull Sound to Britain's most northerly inhabited island - Unst. The late afternoon will be spent at Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve. This serpentine fell-field is a locally unique habitat and home to an array of rare wild flowers. Diminutive Arctic alpines include Moss Campion, Arctic Sandwort and Northern Rock Cress. Other species in flower will include the strange Moonwort, Early Purple, Northern Marsh and Frog Orchids, Stone Bramble and the endemic Shetland Mouse-Ear Chickweed - found here but nowhere else in the world! Overnight at the Baltasound Hotel.

DAY 5  Wednesday - Fetlar & Hermaness at 'Dusk'!

We travel to south Unst to connect with the morning ferry to the island of Fetlar. The prize here will be the handsome Red-necked Phalarope which is famous for its breeding role reversal. Fetlar holds over 90% of the British breeding population, although the birds' stay on the island is brief - they generally arrive during the third week of May and are gone by the end of July! Phalaropes are typically confiding and the Fetlar birds are no exception - we once watched a female picking insects from our tripod legs! Red-throated Diver, Dunlin and Arctic Tern are frequent visitors to our chosen loch and will also offer us some superb photographic opportunities. We return to Unst for an early evening meal and offer an optional walk to Hermaness cliffs for the rare opportunity to photograph Puffins and Great Skuas against what will hopefully be a magnificent Simmer Dim sunset. Overnight at the Baltasound Hotel.

DAY 6  Thursday - Hermaness by Day!

We spend the day on Hermaness National Nature Reserve. The moorland is home to 800 pairs of Great Skuas - the second largest 'Bonxie' colony in the world - and the cliffs house 50,000 Puffins, 40,000 Guillemots, 28,000 Fulmars and over 20,000 Gannets! We'll have the opportunity of photographing seabird colonies from our cliff-top vantage point - a complete contrast to our sea level portraits at Noss. There will also be the opportunity to photograph some dramatic seascapes at Britain's most northerly lighthouse - Muckle Flugga. The reserve also offers typical moorland flora like Heather, Crowberry, Bog Bilberry, Bog Cotton and the carnivorous Sundew. Overnight at the Baltasound Hotel.

DAY 7  Friday - Yell & North Mainland

We leave Unst and head south to the island of Yell. Here we have a terrific 'macro' site for photographing an abundance of Round-leaved Sundew and other typical moorland / blanket-bog plants. We continue south catching the ferry to the north Mainland for our second 'macro' stop of the day to photograph one of Shetland's rarest plants - Oysterplant. This delightful perennial - also considered nationally scarce in the UK - has unmistakable bright blue flowers and is typically found above the strandline on shingle and pebble beaches. The plant is now restricted to just a handful of sites in Shetland. The site we visit also offers opportunities to photograph the vibrant Shetland subspecies of Red Campion, Sea Mayweed, Sea Sandwort, both Heath Spotted and Northern Marsh Orchids, Marsh Marigold and Common Lousewort. After lunch we head out the majestic Eshaness cliffs and spend the afternoon photographing some of the most iconic Shetland landscapes like the Drongs, the Dore Holm and the amazing Hole of Scraada. The cliffs also offer fantastic opportunities to photograph Fulmars. We return to the south Mainland in the late afternoon and prepare for our farewell dinner. Overnight at Sumburgh.

DAY 8  Saturday

After breakfast we'll transfer you to Sumburgh airport or make arrangements for you to travel to your onward destination in Shetland.

Group Size - max 6

2023 Operating Dates

Sat 3rd June - Sat 10th June

Sat 10th June - Sat 17th June

Shetland Wildlife is ranked as the 'Number One' wildlife and photography operator in Shetland by the traveller review site TripAdvisor.

COVID-19 information

Safe Travels

This business has confirmed that they have implemented, and will ensure ongoing compliance with, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels protocols. The Safe Travels stamp is based on self-assessment and it is not a certification.

From £1995 per adult

Departure days

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

May — July

Contact details

Shetland Wildlife

Windy Stacks

Tour information


  • Mainland, Shetland
  • Shetland


8 Days


  • Driver guide
  • Minibus


  • Small Group (1-16)


  • English


  • Island Hopping
  • Landscapes
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Photography
  • Walking
  • Walking/Hiking
  • Wildlife

Tour prices

From £1995 Per Adult £1995 Per Adult £1995 Concession

Book now

Prices are subject to change depending on season

Shetland Wildlife

Tour company information

Shetland Wildlife

Founded in 1993, we are the No.1 choice for birding, mammal, botanical, photographic and walking holidays in Shetland. Choose from over 40 3-day and 7-day wildlife-filled holidays. Day tours plus bespoke packages also arranged. We are the only award-winning eco-tourism holiday business resident in Shetland and rated as 'Excellent' by our customers on TripAdvisor. Visit us online at

Opening times

Open Year Round 1 Jan - 31 Dec

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