Shetland Otter Watching Experience
Otter Watching Day Tours
Enjoy and learn about otters with Shetland’s leading otter tour specialists
- Learn otter field craft and tracking skills
- Educational insight into otter ecology and behaviour
- Unrivalled up-to-date local knowledge of sites & environment
- Peace of mind that you are also supporting otter conservation
- Track & watch otters along Shetland’s beautiful unspoilt coastal wilderness
- Brydon & Richard authors of acclaimed book ‘Otters in Shetland – the tale of the draatsi‘
- Go-to team for TV productions for otters inc BBC’s Springwatch, Countryfile, One Show
Otters are undoubtedly one of, if not Shetland’s most popular wildlife attraction. Through an unrivalled combination of our field experience, local knowledge and understanding of otters here in Shetland we are widely known as the islands leading otter tour specialists. This is a reputation that has developed around Brydon’s lifelong love of the islands otters spanning over 30 years. He has worked on and featured in or worked on over 15 TV productions as a consultant/guide, including BBC’s Springwatch, Countryfile and One Show featuring Shetland’s otters, and co-authored the acclaimed book ‘Otters in Shetland – the tale of the draatsi’ in 2015 with friend and SN colleague, Richard Shucksmith.
It is with great passion and pride and through fellow ‘otter addict’ colleagues Richard Shucksmith, Josh Jaggard, John Moncrief and Gary Bell that we delight more visitors with otter encounters and experiences than any other tour company.
Our otter experiences
Leading otter tours and working with them all year round is a true privilege. Sharing our knowledge on the families we study, their ecology and behaviour along the shores they inhabit is immensely gratifying.
Along with the thrill of seeing otters in their natural environment our tours are structured in a way that our guests learn about their fascinating lives and understand how, where and when to find and watch them responsibly.
As he we explored stretches of shoreline where he knew the otter territories, Brydon patiently explained about heeding the wind direction, staying off the skyline, talking softly, how to look for the tell tale signs of the otter signs and holts. I’ve worked with many guides while filming, and I could see he had real sensitivity and all the patience. The afternoon slipped by effortlessly. We spent 30 minutes watching a female with her two cubs full frame binocular view, diving, catching fish and taking them ashore to eat and playing on the shore. Simply magic. You know the great thing about Brydon? No matter what happens, you know you’re going to have a good day when you’re with him.Doug Allan – Wildlife Cameraman
Up to date local knowledge is essential to the experience we offer. We study Otters all year round and our working lives essentially revolve around them and the rhythms of the tides that their daily routines follow. Throughout the seasons we know which sites are active and monitor the routines of families in particular to maximise our chances of maintaining the level of experience we offer.
Each season offers a new and exciting perspective. Mothers tend to make their first appearances above ground with young cubs in autumn and so the winter offers a wonderful insight into family life. Through the shortened hours of daylight their foraging activity tends to be condensed, which maximises opportunities. The everlasting summer sun and the beautiful Shetland simmer dim. We run otter watching experiences all year round and are proud to delight more visitors with otter encounters than any other and hope we can do the same for you. Rest assured no one will try harder or with more passion or enthusiasm.
We take our responsibility to otters along with our professionalism and reputation as leading otter guides very seriously, which is widely recognised through guest recommendations and the many film crews and Television documentaries we have worked on.
Janet and I were both delighted with the day trip you organised for us to see the otters on Shetland. Josh could not have been a better guide and the experience we had comfortably exceeded our expectations. We had thought that, if we were lucky, we would get fleeting and distant glimpses of otters. What we got, by contrast, was a prolonged view of an otter first swimming out of the water and coming towards us on the beach and then going repeatedly into and out of its holt to look at us before, having decided we were no threat, resting outside. To have an experience like this for about an hour was truly amazing. We will definitely want to use Shetland Nature again when we are next in Shetland.Richard and Janet
Responsible tourism & supporting otter conservation
A percentage of each guest we take out on our otter watching day tours is donated to support The Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary who care for and rehabilitate otters and also seals. We also actively support The International Otter Survival Fund and make a donation from every guest on our Shetland Otter Experience Holiday packages as well as help out with any activities, events or promotions as and when we can.
Otters are widely known for their many endearing and fascinating attributes but just as much so is their shy and sensitive nature. Knowing this and how to watch them without revealing our presence to them is essential. Putting their well being before our desires is imperative at all times to ensure they are not disturbed.
Otters are protected by law in the UK. We operate under a schedule 2 License authorized by Scottish Natural Heritage.
2023 Prices & Booking
Small Group Tour
To minimize disturbance and give our guests the best experience, otter-watching tours are limited to a maximum of four people. Slightly larger groups can be accommodated for a single family booking. For larger families and families with children, please contact us directly for a quote.
Tour Cost: £175 per person
Please note the tour can only run with a minimum of two people. If you are travelling solo and we are unable to match you with a group, we will offer you a tour at the two person cost equivalent, or a full refund.
Exclusive booking is a very popular option for our day tours. A private tour can be arranged for the following tariffs:
- One to two people: £450
- Three people: £600
Advance booking for our tours is essential.
Start point: Otter tours start on Yell or Unst and guests are asked to make their own way to the start point if travelling from Mainland. If you are staying on Mainland and will not be able to travel north please let us know as we may be able to arrange an Otter tour from an alternative location.
Duration: Usually 6-7 hours, timed to fit around low water on a given day, as Otter behaviour in Shetland tends to be governed by the tides.
Refreshments: A light snack will be available as a courtesy (dependent on current COVID regulations). A grab and go is our default option for lunch. Most guests want to maximise their time with us and see as much as they can see, so we can make a stop for you to pick up something on route, or you may wish to bring a packed lunch.
Further information: As we may spend long periods out on the shore it is important to wear suitably warm and waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear suitable for wet ground. Avoid wearing bright colours.
Bespoke otter watching packages
For clients wishing to indulge themselves and further explore the secret lives of our elusive otters, we can arrange exclusive longer trips to suit your needs at any time of year. This is thoroughly recommended for photographers and dedicated otter-watchers.
When and how
Knowing when, where and how to look for these wonderful little mammals is essential, not just for the observer experience but more importantly to avoid disturbance. We ensure the otters well being comes first at all times. Choosing to spend a day or two with an expert guide will offer unique and exclusive opportunities to watch otters in the wild, learn about their behaviour and search for the tracks and signs that reveal their presence.
Please be sure to accurately let us know your physical ability. Generally speaking the sites we visit will involve coastal walks, usually of just two to three miles across low lying but often uneven terrain such as along the seashore. We can however and often do put trips together for guests who would not feel suited to the above.
It is important to note the sensitivities when planning otter tours and know that our Shetland otter experience is best suited for two to four people. Special arrangements can be made for slightly larger groups for families or experienced wildlife watchers travelling together.