Wild Shetland – and the hope of Orca!

Holiday overview:

  • A unique Shetland holiday itinerary running over eight days
  • Timed to target and prioritise Shetland’s Orca excitement
  • Connected into Shetland’s news networks for wildlife sightings
  • All-inclusive itinerary – everything from your arrival to departure
  • Maximum of six-eight per group – guest-to-guide ratio ensures quality and value
  • Led by resident naturalist guides – unrivalled local knowledge & insight into Shetland life
  • Dedicated Otter-tracking day – small group size offers unique and unparalleled insight
  • Late-night boat excursion for Storm Petrels and boat trip to a world-renowned seabird colony
  • 3 hotels – venues used to ensure best locations and logistics for itinerary
  • This tour will include a short beach clean as part of our commitment to protecting Shetland’s natural environment

2022 Dates:

  • Saturday 9th July – Saturday 16th July, 2022

It’s a question many guests ask about our holidays, “will we see Orca?” or “which is the best time for us to see Orca?” The reality is that we see these magnificent sea mammals on most of our core season holidays. In fact last season we saw them on all but one of our spring/summer itineraries, many groups even enjoyed multiple encounters in some weeks, especially in July.

It has become clear over recent summers that July has consistently been the peak month, with sightings on an often daily basis. It is due to this that we have decided to run this exciting new itinerary. We will target all Shetland’s most iconic species and locations through the itinerary such as Storm Petrels on Mousa, Red-necked Phalarope on Fetlar, the Gannets of Noss, the awe inspiring spectacle of Hermaness and our speciality- the otter! Orca sightings will however be priority and the ‘hoped for’ headline act!

News of Orca sightings has never been so accessible in Shetland. There is an exciting, interactive and informative community, sharing sightings and information across various social media platforms. This helps us know when and where sightings occur and so gives us the best possible chance of encounters.

On any itinerary we might receive news of a sighting but might be committed to an excursion, a majority vote through the group may go against an adrenalin fueled Orca chase from one island to another. This can and does happen. On this tour though – if logistically possible – we WILL GO!

* We must of course stress and make quite clear – they, nor any other wild species can be guaranteed.

An itinerary overview, bearing in mind that it could change at any time if we receive news of Orca:

Day 1

On arrival at Sumburgh Airport you will be transferred to Sumburgh Hotel, just a short five minute drive away. Meet in hotel reception at 1830hrs where all guides and guests will be acquainted before welcome dinner. The standard for excitement and adventure is set from the off on this first evening with a late night excursion as we visit the enchanting island of Mousa, a small RSPB reserve which lies to the east of South Mainland. Here during the twilight of the late evening thousands of dainty Storm Petrels, our smallest breeding seabird, return to their nest-sites in the walls of the Iron Age broch – arguably the most impressive broch of its kind. Watching the petrels fluttering like bats against the summer night sky and listening to their incredible purring song is a simply unforgettable experience! We will also provide an exclusive insight into the petrels’ behaviour, ecology and breeding success.

Day 2

We begin our voyage of discovery in the South Mainland, at the RSPB’s  Sumburgh Head reserve, with its thousands of breeding seabirds, including FulmarsGuillemotsRazorbillsKittiwakes and our first Puffins! Sumburgh is the ideal setting in which to start to get to know some of Shetland’s breeding birds, with everything close at hand.

Later we charter a boat to Noss National Nature Reserve from Shetland’s main town, Lerwick, for the spectacular Gannet feeding frenzy. There will also be a visit to the seabird cliffs and the amazing seabird colonies of the reserve. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel.

Day 3

After breakfast we begin to venture north, first enjoying a safari-style tour around Loch of Spiggie RSPB nature reserve and then onto St Ninian’s Isle to savour the sights of this beautiful sand beach and tombolo which joins the island to the Mainland. We aim to arrive on the island of Yell early afternoon where we spend a little time on this lovely island before continuing north to Unst.  We check in to Saxa Vord on Unst, Britain’s most northerly island, in the evening.

Day 4

Hermaness National Nature Reserve. This is one of the most spectacular seabird colonies in Europe.

After a 25-minute walk along the pathway/boardwalk across the moorland interior we reach the wild and rugged cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. Target species here will be Gannets, Fulmars, Puffins and Great Skua. In the afternoon we visit Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve, searching for Arctic Alpine flowers and plants as well as sightseeing and heritage centres to explore the island’s heritage for others. Overnight on Unst.

Day 5

Today we leave Unst and take the 25-minute ferry crossing to the neighbouring island of Fetlar in the hope of one of the Nation’s rarest and most charismatic breeding waders, the Red-necked Phalarope, for which the island is renowned. On the island we will also look for other icons of the moorland such as Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Red-throated Diver. Overnight on Unst.

Day 6

Unique to Shetland Nature, we will spend the day devoted to one of Shetland’s star wildlife attractions, the wild Otter! Otter watching is the signature specialty of our company, and we pride ourselves on our unrivalled otter encounters. We have yet to have a group leave disappointed and we have every confidence in our continued success.

Here is one of the many areas that our guests experience first-hand the benefits of our small group size and the leadership of local naturalists. Our approach is based on our unsurpassed knowledge of Shetland’s Otters, where and when to stand the best chance of encounters and most of all how to search and observe without disturbance. We will visit some of the best sites in the islands to give you a unique insight into the secret lives of one of the nation’s most evocative and captivating animals.

Our sensitivity towards Shetland’s Otters is as renowned as our success with guests’ encounters. We operate under a government legislation Schedule 2 license issued by Scottish Natural Heritage.

In the evening we head back to check into Saxa Vord.

Day 7

Leaving Unst we will travel to Shetland’s wild and rugged North West Mainland and look forward to the spectacular coastal scenery of sea stacks, lighthouse and our mountain, Shetland’s highest hill – Ronas Hill. In this gorgeous part of the islands we will also look for rare plants such as Oyster plant along a beautiful pebble beach.  Sumburgh Hotel for the last night.

Day 8

After breakfast the tour ends and you will be transferred to the airport.

Booking – Holiday Dates

Fitness Level Required
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,695
2022 Dates
Saturday 9th July – Saturday 16th July, 2022 1 Space Remaining

Contact Us to Book

Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.

Contact us for information and cost proposal for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday. Email: [email protected]

Additional holiday information:

  • Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
  • All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
  • Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
  • No single supplement charged.
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary.
  • Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.
  • Please note that all itineraries are subject to change but guests will be advised in advance should it be necessary to make any major changes.

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