A review of our 2013 season
So let us begin by wishing a Happy New Year to all. Whilst looking forward with excitement and anticipation of what this season will bring it seems very appropriate summarise our 2013 season with a look back at our main highlights.
We have been delighted and extremely fortunate in our 2013 season to have had our most exciting and indeed busiest season to date. The latter is of course with great thanks and gratitude to all who enjoyed Shetland through us in 2013 (and previously), without this custom and support we would not be so fortunate as to do what we do.
With our sole focus as a tour company being on Shetland, you could say ‘all our eggs are indeed in one basket’ but this is simply because we believe whole heartedly in what we have here and how uniquely special Shetland is and this is why we offer the widest range of tours and opportunities to enjoy Shetland and its wildlife throughout the seasons.
Visitors from all corners of the globe
As well as it being our busiest season in terms of footfall of guests it was also a season where we were delighted and proud at just how many countries these were visiting from. We had guests from as far as Australia, Tasmania, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Netherlands, Norway and France to name but a few.
2013 summer season sightings highlights in brief
So, what did our guests see? It is perhaps best to start with the two Shetland specialities that most visitors have first on their wish lists, Otters and Orcas…
Otters – true to form our experience with our signature species was the highlight for most. We are very proud of this and that we offer a wider range of opportunities to enjoy Shetlands otters than any other, from day trips, one to one photography, bespoke holidays and of course featuring in core season holidays. Our otter experience is unrivalled.
Orcas – with 2012 summer being one of the quietest summers in recent years for sightings of ‘Killer Whales’, it was thrilling to see Shetland return to form for this stunning and magnificent predator. In total we enjoyed encounters on seven trips- eight if you count that one group saw them twice!! One of our groups saw them within ten minutes of arrival at airport- “Quick, grab your luggage; we’re taking you straight to Killer Whales!” Imagine it – that’s what happened, that’s Shetland for you!
To have had such success with such an awesome and to a degree, unpredictable species was truly fantastic.
Other sea mammals enjoyed on our holidays included the summering Bearded Seal, a pod of Pilot Whale, many Minke Whale’s and Harbour Porpoise, White-sided, Risso’s, White-beaked and Common Dolphin. Our guests were lucky to enjoy more sea mammal encounters of more species than any other company this season. Basking Sharks were also seen on a few trips later in the summer.
Debut holidays new to 2013
We were proud to launch these new itineraries to our holiday program, all offering more exciting ways for our guests to enjoy a fantastic Shetland experience. Each of these itineraries went very well and proved to be very popular indeed.
Here are links to reviews of these itineraries or links to the pages with recommendations from happy customers…
Shetland Spring Birding:
Showcasing the thrill and magic of the islands during spring bird migration and also the islands renowned breeding specialities, led by Martin Garner.
Walk Seven Shetland Islands:
The idea to feature three guides with each of us covering our areas of expertise (nature, geology, and history/heritage) proved to be very popular indeed and sold out quickly. Collaborating with two other local companies Shetland Geotours and Island Trails offer our guests a totally unique, authentic and informed insight into Shetland.
Launched to showcase Shetland in late summer this itinerary, this holiday is also aimed to suit visitors who can’t travel during the core summer season here, which is something no one else offers. It too sold out.
Shetland in autumn – Nature Light and Land photography:
The Shetland Nature Lodge – our stunning new self-catering venture
Taking on this stunning self-catering property, the most northerly visitor accommodation venue in Britain, has been such an exciting and popular venture for us.
We were thrilled at the response and occupancy since we started to promote it at the end of last year. It came as no surprise the consistent delight and amazement of the property and location and word has travelled fast- 2014 summer dates are already just about full from late April through August into September. It has also been encouraging how much interest we are receiving ‘out of season’.
Looking ahead to 2014
We are very excited to launch yet more exciting and unique holiday itineraries and ways to enjoy all that is so very special here in Shetland.
Following the popularity and demand for our collaboration walking holiday we launched ‘Discover Shetland’ for 2014 season and were thrilled to see the debut itinerary selling out so quickly we had to add another date- which has already more than half filled! This is a totally unique holiday experience, with three tour leaders offering an insight into wildlife, history and archaeology, geology and Shetland heritage which you can find in our 2014 program:
Keeping up with demand in photographers wanting the best opportunities to photograph the best of Shetland we are delighted to launch a new ‘species assignment’ program of photo tours in collaboration with Richard Shucksmith the most popular of which is our Otter and Puffin assignment, which sold out within a few weeks and we added a new date.
As nature professionals we have a major responsibility to wildlife and the environment. We take great pride in communicating and promoting a responsible approach through what we do. Similarly we feel it equally as important that we should support those who manage, protect and support the habitats, reserves and species which feature so prominently throughout the holidays and tours we run.
In addition to supporting the International Otter Survival Fund as corporate sponsors we are also now corporate sponsors of the RSPB (Giving nature a home).
To help raise funds for the International Otter Survival Fund we ran a sponsored Otter search to support their International Otter Awareness day in May.
BBC 1’s Countryfile appearance
It was great to be asked to help out and feature on the program on Shetland and I was delighted to be involved. I was especially proud, (though quite nervous on screen!) to take them out to look for otters….
Our debut appearance at The British Bird Watching Fair
Attending and exhibiting the Birdfair was an overwhelming exciting experience for us and we were proud to be the first and only tour company representing Shetland at such a internationally renowned and important event.
It was so wonderful to have received such interest and support at our stand from so many familiar faces and indeed new ones, all keen to experience a taste of Shetland. Thanks to all who visited us, we will see you next year!
In spirit of helping raise awareness and money to support conservation across the globe we were delighted to donate a place on our Spring Birding holiday in May 2014, which was sold in the Birdfair auction.
So to all who have travelled with us and to all who are doing so in the near future, we wish you a happy New Year!
All at Shetland nature