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Wildlife of Cairngorms National Park and Scottish Coast Tour - 7 Days

Wildlife of Cairngorms National Park and Scottish Coast Tour

The best of the Highlands and Aberdeenshire in Spring

This 7-day Wildlife of Cairngorms National Park and Scottish Coast Tour is leisurely paced and available on set departure.

The trip starts and ends in Royal Deeside, a wildlife haven with large areas of Caledonian forest that hug the edges of the Munros and protect the charming villages of Braemar, Ballater and Aboyne. It's a side of the Cairngorms Wildlife Park that not many people know about and one of the best destinations to get a real sense of the beauty and diversity of Scotland's wildlife, with as many as 15 species of mammals and 130 species of birds.

In this Highlands tour we will also explore the rest of Aberdeenshire, which is one of the best places in the UK to see birds, by going east along the beautiful River Dee. Some of the largest seabird colonies in the UK are found here, and it is also home to Cranes, Corn Buntings, and Bearded Tits – a quite different set of birds from the mountain tops of the nearby Cairngorms.

On any given day, you can walk past ancient Granny pines, watch Mountain Hares soak up the sun, be amazed by Golden and White-tailed Eagles, watch Crossbills expertly gather cones, see rare butterflies and moths, and end the day by encountering Pine Martens and Badgers.

During this Cairngorms Wildlife Park tour, you can see everything from Arctic-alpine plants, Beavers, Eagles and Red Deer to seabird cities, Bottlenose Dolphins and beautiful butterflies.

Cairngorms National Park and Scottish Coast Tour highlights include:

  • High-quality accommodation from which to explore some of the best remaining Caledonian Forest in Scotland
  • A chance to see rare mammals such as Pine Martens, Badgers, Red Squirrels, Mountain Hares, Common and Grey Seals, Beavers and Bottlenose Dolphins
  • Excellent birding opportunities to observe Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Peregrines, Goshawks, Black Grouse, Ptarmigans, Cranes, Bearded Tits and Corn Buntings across a variety of habitats
  • Seeing incredible invertebrates including the Emperor Moth and Kentish Glory
  • Visit a seabird city and a stunning tern colony

Please note: this set-departure tour is also available as a private or custom tour on request. Please submit an enquiry with your preferred dates and group size.

If you’d like to try an alternative tour, look at what this Cairngorms Highland Wildlife Park & Islands Tour has to offer.

Alternative Tour Name: Cairngorms and Coast wildlife in Spring
Day 1
Day 1 - Aberdeen Airport / Train / Bus Station

Arrive and settle into your accommodation. Evening meal and welcome and an introduction to the weeks activities.

Day 2
Day 2 - Royal Deeside

Today we will head west into the Cairngorms, hoping to start the day with displaying Black Grouse before shifting our focus to Caledonian Forest. With a backdrop of the central massif of the Cairngorms we will search some incredible woodlands for Scottish, Parrot and Common Crossbills, and may find Red Squirrels scampering along the boughs.

Torrents of water descend from the peaks through dramatics clefts and one cannot help but be awed by the landscape which is undergoing a transformation as large swathes are rewilded. Golden and White-tailed Eagle can both be found in the area as well as Peregrine and Goshawk, whilst Tree Pipits and Redstart should be in full song. We may also encounter Green Woodpeckers which are surprisingly widespread in this area.

Day 3
Day 3- Aberdeenshire east coast

In stark contrast to the previous day we will head east to the coast, home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds stacked in an impressive seabird city. Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake cram the ledges full and we will look out for Puffin as well. All along the coast we will keep our eyes peeled for Common and Grey Seal as well as the resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphins and maybe even Harbour Porpoise.

Moving north we will explore an exceptionally rich estuary, dune and farmland area where we can hope to see a variety of wading birds, thousands of breeding Sandwich, Common, Arctic and Little Terns and a large haul out of Grey and Common Seals. Eider breed in large numbers and are occasionally joined by a King Eider.

The estuary can hold impressive numbers of wading birds all heading north to breeding grounds in the Arctic and at this time of year many will look very smart in summer plumage. The agricultural areas along the coast are home to Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge whilst the sand dunes should be alive to the sound of Skylarks and abuzz with insects over the wildflowers.

Day 4
Day 4 - Strathspey

Today we journey to the western reaches of the Cairngorms where extensive marshes and lochs are home to the highly evocative Red- and Black-throated Diver. These two stunning species call out in the most haunting manner during spring. Slavonian Grebes and Goldeneye as well as Whooper Swan may well be found in the wetlands whilst returning waders, especially Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe will all be actively singing away. Osprey will have returned from their African wintering grounds and we should encounter these regularly.

We will explore the extensive forests of Rothiemurcus and Abernethy, home to Red Squirrel and Crested Tit. Here we will keep a listen out for the distinctive ‘chip chip’ call of Crossbills and we may find Common, Parrot and Scottish Crossbill, the latter endemic to Highland Scotland. We will also take a break at the remarkable Lynbreck Croft, a small Highland Farm which not only produces very tasty food (you will get to try it!), but also farms with nature in mind.

Day 5
Day 5 - Glenshee & Perthshire

In the morning we will head out in search of woodland birds such as Green Woodpecker, Redstart, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, three species of Crossbill. Dippers and Grey Wagtails can be found along the rivers and we may also find more Black Grouse on the forest edge where Whinchats can occasionally be found.

Herds of Red Deer graze the hillsides whilst in the valley bases, we should find Roe Deer. As we ascend towards Glenshee we will search for Red Grouse, Mountain Hare, Ring Ouzel, and a number of Arctic-alpine plants. Weather permitting we will endeavour to reach an area where Ptarmigan and occasionally Dotterel can be found. In the late afternoon we will explore the fringes of the southern side of the national park where Eurasian Beaver has taken hold and with any luck, we will see them out foraging.

Day 6
Day 6 - Aberdeenshire northeast coast

Once again we will contrast the previous day and head northeast to Loch Strathbeg, a remarkably rich wetland site home to species such as Common Crane and Bearded Tit and renowned as an excellent site for migrating waders.

We will enjoy the open coast and also visit Scotland’s largest mainland Gannet colony which is also home to a plethora of other seabirds from Puffins to Kittiwakes. Scanning offshore there is the possibility of cetaceans including Minke Whale and Bottlenose Dolphin.

Day 7
Day 7 - Departure

Following breakfast this tour will conclude.

Wildlife species expected to see:

Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Crossbills, Pine Martens, Badger, Red Squirrels, Peregrine, Goshawks, Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Ptarmigan, Emperor Moth, Beavers, Bottlenose Dolphins, waders,  Cranes, Bearded Tits, Corn Buntings, Green Woodpeckers, Tree Pipits, seabirds, Puffin, Tree Sparrow, Grey Partridge, Grey seal, Black-throated Diver, Whooper Swan, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Osprey, Red Squirrel, Redstart, Red Deer, Mountain Hare, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Beaver, Common Crane, Minke Whale and more…

What is included?

  • Expert services of two leaders
  • Accommodation
  • All meals (B, L, D)
  • Soft drinks, tea, coffee
  • All transport from start to end location
  • All activities and excursions
  • Gratuities to external service providers
  • Support to our conservation partners
  • A native tree planted on your behalf in our woodland grove

What is not included?

  • Travel before or after tour start/end
  • Trip cancellation Insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Other items of a personal nature, e.g. laundry, souvenirs, etc.
  • Anything else that is not mentioned in the itinerary and "what is inlcuded"

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Why should I book with Wild Discovery?

Wild Discovery was born out of our conviction that the wildlife tourism sector must integrate conservation and sustainability in a more comprehensive approach. We approach everything we do with this mindset in mind. Guests benefit from our trips since we work with and assist conservation organisations. As a result, our guests are better equipped to support and promote conservation-oriented tourism because of this network of professionals.

Who are the leaders?

Dan and Rachael, founders of Wild Discovery, will be your hosts and leaders during this tour. They are superb naturalists and will bring an exceptional level of knowledge and service to this expedition. From bird songs and moths to plants and ecosystem ecology they will help open up the natural world for you to see the unseen. This exceptional leader-to-guest ratio ensures the highest level of care and attention to your requirements and ultimately a superior travelling experience.

What sort of accommodation do you use?

Our accommodation is carefully selected to be comfortable and well situated (i.e. close to the best sites!). Where possible we select our service providers based on our ‘source locally’ ethos and we support local community businesses at every opportunity. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms.

What is the transport?

We will use 4x4 vehicles and/or 8-seater minibuses depending on numbers.

What is the group size?

4 - 9 guests or we can arrange this itinerary for an individual or private group. Get in touch to discuss your options.

What are the start and end locations?

Aberdeen airport, bus station or train station, or a central Aberdeen location depending on your pre-arrival travel arrangements.

Do you need a minimum fitness level to join this tour?

Our days will have a relaxed pace. There will be optional pre-breakfast strolls in some places. During the day our walks will vary in length and strenuousness. Every walk will be a leisurely wildlife-spotting pace averaging 1-3km over 2-4 hours.

What should I pack for this tour?

We recommend walking boots and a walking pole for walks on bumpy terrain such as the Aberdeenshire coast whilst lighter, non-slip trainers will be sufficient on other days. The weather can vary hugely between coastal and inland areas. A typical week in May can produce temperatures in the range of 4 - 13 oC and we would expect a mix of sunshine, showers, wind and possibly even snow! We recommend layers that are easy to take off/put on as necessary and waterproof jacket and trousers. We recommend bringing your own binoculars if you have some as they will considerably increase your enjoyment of the wildlife we are there to see. Your leaders will have a telescope with them to enhance your experience.

How do I pay and what are the terms and conditions for this tour?

Payment can be made directly to Wild Discovery via a bank transfer. Wild Discovery’s full booking terms and conditions can be found here: https://wild-discovery.com/booking-conditions For financial protection should Wild Discovery become insolvent Worldwide Traveller Protection via Blue Sky Wildlife (based in the United Kingdom) can offer Worldwide Traveller Protection as a member of The Travel Vault and as part of this membership it has a range of insurances in place to cover the potential insolvency of any of the local wildlife specialists listed on the site, as well as the company itself should Blue Sky Wildlife cease trading. If you would prefer to book through Blue Sky Wildlife and make full payment directly to them to activate this protection at no additional cost, it would also mean the travel contract would be between yourselves and Blue Sky Wildlife. Please refer to their booking terms for more information.

Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour Dates Tour Availability From Price Spaces Left
06/05/2023 - 12/05/2023 available GBP 1,545
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You can send your enquiry via the form below.

7 Days

Price & Availability

GBP1,545 / per person
Single Supplement GBP 330
This tour is operated by: Wild Discovery

Quick Enquiry Form

Tour Facts

  • Cairngorms, Scotland
  • Set Departure
  • Set Departure Tour
  • Wildlife
  • 1 to 9 pax
  • 7 Days
  • April, May, June
  • +15 Years
  • Leisurely
  • No
  • English
  • Aberdeen Airport or Contact Us To Know
  • Aberdeen Airport or Contact Us To Know