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Orca Breeching, Shetland
Shetland, Scotland © Dan Brown

Spectacular Shetland Wildlife - the Ultimate UK Wildlife Experience

From £2195 per adult

Departure days

  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S

June — August

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Explore the Shetland Islands for 8 days with expert naturalists Dan and Rachael Brown. Come face-to-face with Puffins, marvel at seabird cities, soak in the atmosphere of an Iron-age broch filled with Storm Petrels and search for Otters & whales.

Tour Dates

10th - 17th June 2023

Highlights
  • Rachael & Dan as leaders, even with groups of four (best leader:guest ratio around)
  • Late-night boat trip to visit a Storm-petrel colony
  • Watching Shetlands famous seabird cities from land and sea
  • Boat trip to get a closeup perspective of the chaos in a Gannet colony
  • Searching for Orcas and other cetaceans along the coast
  • Finding and immersing ourselves with Otters
  • Enjoying a plethora of northern breeding birds including Whooper Swans, Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope and Red-throated Diver
  • Experiencing the unique botanical assemblages on Unst
The Shetland Islands are a truly remarkable subarctic archipelago. Substantially closer to Norway than they are to Edinburgh, they possess a truly Nordic feel to them. 22,000 people live over just 15 of the 100 islands creating a haven for wildlife. 

Itinerary

Day 1:

Dan and Rachael will meet you either in Lerwick or at Sumburgh depending on your arrival plans and we will travel to our hotel where you can settle in. After dinner we may take a stroll down to the coast to see if we can find any local Otters. 

Day 2:

Today we will take the ferry to Yell and then onwards to the island of Fetlar. This is the UK stronghold for the endearing Red-necked Phalarope as well as Whimbrel and Red-throated Divers. These waders breed in the bog ponds which we will explore. Around the pools Arctic and Great Skua occur and species such as Wigeon can be found breeding along their margins. We will also search Fetlar for the numerous Otters. In fact, the island holds some of the highest densities of Otters anywhere in Europe. They are also excellent areas to search the coast for Orca. 

Day 3:

After breakfast we will once again head north taking the first ferry to Yell and onwards to Unst, the UK’s northernmost island. During the morning we will visit the Keen of Hamar, one of Britain’s best sites for Arctic-alpine plants and another remarkably Arctic landscape. We will also take time to search the coast for Otters and the area holds breeding Arctic Terns, Arctic Skuas, Whimbrel and the island is often great for migrant birds.

During the afternoon we will visit the truly phenomenal seabird colony at Hermaness, home to tens of thousands of Gannets, Puffins, Guillemots, Great and Arctic Skuas and looking out to Britain’s most northerly point, Muckle Flugga. The site is extensive and we will walk out across the tundra like moor to enjoy the colony. There should be numerous photographic opportunities here. 

Day 4:

Today we will explore North Mainland visiting sites such as Eshaness, the huge western peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic and is a highlight of the UNESCO designated Geopark (which actually extends across Shetland). The bays hold Otters, Eiders, Red-throated and Great Northern Divers and if we are lucky we might find the stunning Oysterplant on the shore. On higher ground we can hope to see Golden Plover and Dunlin breeding with the chance of Greenshank and Mountain Hares.

After dinner we will head out for a remarkable dusk experience on the island of Mousa where over 10,000 Storm Petrels breed in and around the Iron-age Broch. We should witness the ‘Simmer Dim’; the continual glow through the night as we are so far north.

Days 5:

Whilst the experience is still fresh in our minds we will head back to Mousa to experience the island in the light. During the day the Storm-petrels are out at sea or in their breeding burrows but the island teems with life from the hundreds of Arctic Terns to Arctic Skuas that chase them for prey. Grey and Common Seals occupy the coastal bays and we may see Minke Whale or Risso’s Dolphins in the offshore waters. Red- throated Divers can also be found on the lochan. There will be many photographic opportunities across the island and with luck we will also encounter the resident family of Otters. With plenty of hours of daylight remaining we will also visit the beautiful beach and island of St Ninians, Loch Spiggie for its water birds and Quendale which funnels migrating birds into a small patch of scrub. 

Day 6:

West Mainland is an extensive area of moor punctuated by big sea lochs (voes), sandy beaches, marshes, bogs, and freshwater lochans. We will have a leisurely day exploring this area which should offer a great opportunity to enjoy breeding and migrating waders, terns and divers. Sheltered inlets should hold Eiders and Red-breasted Mergansers and this is an excellent area for Otters. We will also visit a series of islands formed along a huge fault line (an extension of the Great Glen bisecting mainland Scotland). This area is brilliant for skuas, divers and Whimbrel.

Day 7:

Today we hope to take a boat trip out to the spectacular Noss Island Gannetry. The views of both the colony and the birds around the vessel are unparalleled and we also stand a chance of encountering cetaceans on our journey out there. During the remainder of the day we will visit other coastal areas as well as some of the smaller lochans where Red-throated Divers breed. The sheltered voes (bays) are exceptionally good for Otters in this area. 

We will take time to enjoy the spectacle of birds around the southern section of Mainland Shetland including the heaving seabird colony at Sumburgh Head where close views of Puffins can be had as well as Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Shag. The headland is also excellent for cetaceans including Orca, White-beaked Dolphin and Minke Whale. We will visit other areas on south Mainland Shetland where we hope to encounter breeding waders such as Snipe and Redshank, Arctic Terns and Red-throated Divers on the lochs.

Day 8:

Following breakfast the tour will conclude at either Sumburgh Airport or Lerwick depending on your travel arrangement. 

Visit our website for more details about his tour.

Why not recreate this experience with friends on dates that suit you? Build on our existing itinerary to customise your experience.

COVID-19 information

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.

Contact details

Wild Discovery
4 Fergach Cottages
Crathie
Ballater
Aberdeenshire
Scotland
AB35 5UL
Starting
Mainland, Shetland
Length
8
Days
Transport
Driver guide Minibus
Type
Bespoke Private Small Group (1-16)
Languages
English
Themes
Food and drink LGBTQ Landscapes Outdoor Activities Walking Walking/Hiking Wildlife

COVID-19 facilities

  • Advance booking essential
  • COVID-19 measures in place
  • COVID-19 risk assessment completed
  • Capacity limit
  • Hand sanitiser available to visitors & staff

Tour prices

From

  • £2195 Per Adult
Book now

Prices are subject to change depending on season

Attractions

Tour company information

Wild Discovery

A pioneering wildlife-watching tour company run by experts for wildlife enthusiasts. Conservation and sustainability are at its core; travel with purpose, tread lightly and experience more. Founded by husband and wife team Dan & Rachael Brown, they bring passion and expertise to every expedition. Reconnect with nature through our fully inclusive, small-group tours, self-drive short breaks or custom-made tours around Scotland and beyond.

Opening times

Open all year.

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