Moray Firth & Cairngorms (Whales & Pine Martens)
June 20 - June 26£620 – £2449
Moray Firth & Cairngorms (Whales & Pine Martens)
The east coast is usually forgotten when people visit bonnie Scotland for whale watching holidays. But the east coast is one of the most spectacular regions in the UK. With one of the largest mainland colonies of northern gannets in the world, a resident population of harbour porpoise and common bottle-nose dolphins and a big feeding ground for minkie whales; we promise to make this trip a memorable one! Along with the various marine animals we hope to find there are three species of deer, ospreys, eider ducks and many more of animals, including the very elusive pine marten which make up the best wildlife in Britain.
Private chartered boat for 2 full days
Up to 10 species of marine mammals
Visit 5 RSPB sites
Stakeout Badgers and Pine Martens
Walk the Cairngorms National Park
Flowers, butterflies of the Highlands
Top Animals on Tour
Tour Dates: 20/6/2021 – 26/6/2021
Duration: 7 nights
Type / Focus: Whales & Pine Marten
Your professional zoologist guide will meet you between 11:00am and 13:00pm at either Aberdeen Dyce airport or Aberdeen railway station. Once we have collected everyone on the tour we will grab a quick lunch in Aberdeen before heading out in our private vehicle to Ythan estuary (40 mins). This is Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and home to huge amounts of bird life. We will spend a couple of hours here hoping to see the feeding eider ducks, scaup, long-tailed ducks, red-breasted merganser and velvet scoters. From here we leave to go to our accommodation for the next three nights in Banff (1 hour). Banff is a small fishing village nestled on the banks of the Moray Firth. We will eat our evening meal here and prepare for a couple of exciting days. Our accommodation will be one of the following, level – B&B / 3* (Carmelite House Hotel / Fife Lodge) depending on availability.
We will rise early and weather permitting embark on our first full day whale watching. We will charter our own boat complete with our own skipper; and head out into the Moray Firth. Our focus animals are the cetaceans around here such as common bottle- nose dolphins, harbour porpoise and best of all minkie whales. However there are grey and harbour seals and many bird species like Atlantic puffins, guillemots, cormorants, northern fulmars and kittiwakes. In addition to these regularly seen animals we have a chance to find basking sharks, oceanic sunfish, black guillemots, great shearwaters, Risso’s dolphin and very occasionally orca. We will come ashore at one of the numerous beautiful fishing harbours for a toilet break and some lunch. Once we have come back to our accommodation, level – B&B / 3* (Carmelite House Hotel / Fife Lodge) we will have our well deserved evening meal and relax ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Once again after our breakfast, weather permitting, we will head out on our chartered boat to search the Moray Firth for all the animals we either saw or didn’t see yesterday. In addition (if we didn’t visit there yesterday) we will spend some time at Troup Head which is the UKs largest mainland colony of northern gannets. These huge white birds are incredibly fun to watch as they dive bomb the sea to catch fish several meters below the surface. Once again we will come ashore for lunch and a toilet break and then continue looking for whales, sharks and dolphins. Our evening meal will be back at our accommodation again, level – B&B / 3* (Carmelite House Hotel / Fife Lodge).
Cairngorms National Park
Today we travel from Banff inland to Aviemore (1 hour 40 mins) after breakfast. Here we will check into our accommodation, level – 3* / Lodge – (Garth Hotel / High Range Lodge Hotel); and then head to Loch Garten for a couple of hours in hope of spotting one of the few breeding pairs of osprey in Britain, we will return to our accommodation for lunch before visiting Glenlivet. Glenlivet is a privately owned section of the Cairngorms NP and a place which offers us a jeep safari around the park to try and spot some of the resident birds and mammals such as oystercatchers, teal, red grouse, dippers, roe deer and mountain hare. After our jeep safari we will go back to the accommodation, level – 3* / Lodge – (Garth Hotel / High Range Lodge Hotel) for our evening meal. Depending on the weather and other local conditions we will visit a purpose made hide for mammal watching where badgers and the rare pine marten are very often seen alongside other nocturnal species.
Cairngorms National Park
We will rise early today and after a Highland breakfast travel to Insh Marshes. Insh Marshes is a brilliant place to come and see butterflies, orchids and dragonflies; along with plenty of birds such as goldeneye ducks, whooper swans, lapwings, redshanks and snipe. After a morning spent birding here we will go back to Aviemore for lunch before going back to Glenlivet for a guided walk around some of the grounds of Cairngorms NP. The walk will focus on the smaller species found here such as butterflies and wild flowers although by keeping your eyes peeled you may see golden eagles, buzzards and other raptor species. Our evening meal will be back at our accommodation again, level – 3* / Lodge – (Garth Hotel / High Range Lodge Hotel). Again depending on the weather and other local conditions we will visit a purpose made hide for mammal watching where badgers and the rare pine marten are very often seen alongside other nocturnal species.
This morning we can rise a little later and have a leisurely breakfast. Today we have a choice; either we will spend to the day walking around Cairngorms NP, Loch Garten or Insh Marshes or we can visit the Highland Wildlife Park. Birding around Cairngorms, Loch Garten and Insh Marshes has all the highlights explained in the previous days and if we have not seen any ospreys we recommend this option; however the Highland Wildlife Park is a great day out and a place which has very cleverly blended the current rolling glens and woods of the modern highlands with animals which became extinct in Scotland a long time ago unfortunately. Many of the species on show where resident British mammals until humans hunted them to extinction and some have been lost since the last Ice Age and some are just animals which do very well in Scotland’s temperate climate. What ever the reason for them being on display its great to see grey wolves, brown and polar bears, reindeer, northern lynx, European bison, Amur tigers, Bactrian camels and many more animals in large, specially designed enclosures. Once we have finished either birding or at the Highland Wildlife Park we will travel to Inverness (the most northerly city in Britain) (1.5 hours) and have our evening meal at our new accommodation, level – 4* / 3* (Thistle Inverness / Waterside Inverness).
Today we will have a leisurely breakfast before travelling south around Loch Ness on the way we will visit Loch Ruthven; which along with Loch Garten and Insh Marshes is another RSPB Reserve and home to the very rare Slavonian grebe! Which will be our star species here as well as ospreys, black-throated and red-throated divers and Eurasian cuckoos. Later we will complete the circuit of Loch Ness, stopping for lunch along the way somewhere like Fort Augustus. Around the loch we will take in some of the sites as well as try and find the three species of deer here; red, sika and roe. Our evening meal will be back at the accommodation, level – 4* / 3* (Thistle Inverness / Waterside Inverness).
After breakfast there will be the option for a drop off at either the airport or train station before 10:00am; as the tour ends here and our guide will have a flight to catch in the afternoon.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in Scotland during May and June is beautiful, there is little rain and lots of clear blue skies with bright sunshine to match and this is what were hoping for. The temperatures are usually in the low twenties and very comfortable.
Everything including in the above itinerary is including. The cost of chartering our own boat and skipper for two days, all meals and some water (usually 1litre bottle of water per person per day), entrance fees, accommodation, hire car and fuel costs are all included. Extras also included are pick up and drop off to and from Aberdeen Dyce Airport or railway station and Inverness Airport or railway station respectively (subject to your scheduled arrival and departure times), a reference library of field guides for the area and professional zoologist escort for the whole trip who will also act as driver.
We recommend that you bring your own pair of binoculars or scope, water proof clothing (incase the weather is not as nice as we hope), a light wind breaker for the days on the boat, sunglasses, suncream and a sunhat. It can also get cold on the boat and at night so a woolly hat, scarf and fleece are not a bad idea. Obviously comfortable walking shoes are a must. Any items of a personal nature such as medication are of course recommended if you need them. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We have one or two spare pairs of binoculars (which can become very stretched in a group of 4 or 6 people when a golden eagle is spotted in the distance. There is the option for nocturnal spotlighting (subject to conditions) and the spotlight is included as are field guides, reference books and a small DVD library of wildlife documentaries focusing on the area we are in, A comprehensive species list of the vertebrates we will see is also included to help you keep track on our sightings.Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in the tour price only the following are at an extra cost.; travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three meals provided, any drinks soft or alcoholic and any souvenirs, tips or other items of a personal nature.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend BMI as a good airline for flights to Aberdeen. One of the best websites to search for the best fares to Aberdeen is www.flybmi.com. We recommend Fly Be for flights back from Inverness and the best website for fares is www.flybe.com. They are ATOL bonded companies and this provide all the securities related to ATOL protection. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the any of these links you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
If you are a British citizen you do not need anything to enter Scotland and citizens from members of the European Union do not require visas to visit Scotland either. But please check with your embassy and the British High Commission to see if you are affected by any visa restrictions
There are no health restrictions or recommendations to visit Scotland but please refer to your local GP for more information if you suffer from a pre-existing condition.
Reviews of this Holiday
Miss L. Kaye, San Antonio, TX
Rev. Wilcox, Wrexham
Shaqeel Ahmed, Birmingham