Scottish Hebrides guided wildlife tour

Join a wildlife expert on our well-reviewed wildlife cruise of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, travelling aboard a uniquely repurposed small-sailing vessel, skippered by a local sea-faring family who know all the best locations for sighting Scotland’s rarest wildlife
Loch Aline Isle of Oronsay Sguirr of Eigg Rum Island National Nature Reserve Loch Scavaig, Isle of Skye Compass Hill, Canna Tobermory anchorage Loch Spelve, Mull Taliskar malt whisky distillery Potential animal sightings include: sea eagles, minke, orca, humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and sea otters
Price
£2480 excluding flights
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Duration
9 Days
Ship size
St Hilda 6, Seahorse 11, Gemini 8 passengers
Reviews
More info
Price includes meals, snacks, aperitifs and wine with dinner.
Longer and shorter cruises available from April to Oct for the Outer and Inner Hebrides.
Minimum child age 5 yrs, no child discount.
Make enquiry

Description of Scottish Hebrides guided wildlife tour

Climb aboard our small ships, Gemini Explorer or Seahorse II, for a unique look at the wildlife inhabiting the Scottish Inner and Outer Hebrides in the company of a wildlife guide.

Cruise spectacular isles and sea lochs where there are large areas of sheltered waters and remote anchorages that are perfect for observing the wildlife. The west coast of Scotland is rich in sea birds and marine life and you will never forget your sightings of otters, seals, porpoises, basking sharks, orcas and minke whales. We have even seen a humpback whale breach right in front of the boat.

Guests can choose to book a berth aboard Seahorse II (maximum 11 passengers) or Gemini Explorer (maximum 8 passengers). Seahorse II is an ex-Norwegian Ferry and Gemini Explorer is an ex-Cruising Lifeboat. Both small ships have been converted to cruise the western islands of Scotland in comfort and style. The roomy deck saloons aboard our small ships are where everyone dines and socialises and the outdoor decks are perfect for spotting wildlife, relaxing and eating al fresco. The small ships’ tenders can also take you ashore for some wonderful, serious coastal and cliff walks or you could just wander along the shore beachcombing and examining the pretty seaside rock pools.

Below we give an example of one of our Scottish cruises with a wildlife guide. We have a number of different itineraries for you to choose from which vary from five to eleven nights.

Please note that your voyage is weather dependent. Weather doesn't just mean good or bad weather. There are many considerations such as tidal gates, wind direction and strength, the strength and direction of currents, overfalls, and fetch.

Price information

£2480 excluding flights
Convert currency:
Price includes meals, snacks, aperitifs and wine with dinner.
Longer and shorter cruises available from April to Oct for the Outer and Inner Hebrides.
Minimum child age 5 yrs, no child discount.
Make enquiry

Check dates, prices & availability

Travel guides

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Holiday information

The ships:
Our small ship cruises in Scotland take place on a choice of three converted small ships: St Hilda (a traditional wooden ex-tall ship with maximum capacity for 6 guests), Seahorse II (a former ferry cruiser from Norway with maximum capacity for 12 guests) or Gemini Explorer (a converted lifeboat cruiser with maximum capacity for 7 guests).

All three ships have been converted to cruise the western islands of Scotland in comfort and style and are suited to couples, families, solos or groups of friends. Children from 5 years old to the most demanding teenager love the experience.

Included in the price are all meals and your onboard skipper and chef who will provide an unforgettable holiday for everyone on board. We are based in Scotland and they will be able to provide expert local knowledge.
Dietary requirements:
We can cater for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Reviews

2 Reviews of Scottish Hebrides guided wildlife tour

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 10 May 2022 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the puffins on Lunga

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Due to the size of the cabins, space is limited and the siting of the bunks is not favourable for taller and less mobile adults. Getting in and out of the tender when going ashore may be an issue for some.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I do not think the holiday benefited local people as 2 of the crew were from southern England and the food was not really locally sourced more of a shop at Tesco’s which was a great disappointment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Unfortunately not very high we were just lucky we had lovely weather and was able to be on deck where there was more room. The lack of local produce especially fish and seafood was very disappointing. The boat is new to their fleet and I felt we were possibly being used as guinea pigs but I have written to the company to express my feelings and made some simple suggestions that would have made the journey more pleasurable

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you very much for taking the time to write some comments regarding your cruise in April. We really appreciate it and shall address every issue carefully. We have also replied to the email you sent to us, with care.

I am very pleased that you enjoyed visiting Lunga, one of the beautiful Treshnish Isles, where there is an important puffin colony. Lunga is a site of Special Scientific Interest because of the plants which grow there. It is especially famous for the breeding colonies of kittiwakes, Manx shearwaters, guillemots, razorbills, storm-petrels and the colony of puffins which, in the breeding season, allow you to approach very close.

Our small cruise ships, because they are small, can take their passengers in places which bigger vessels would not be able to visit, which is so special and exciting.

Our three vessels are small cruise ships and Gemini’s saloon and cabins are small but they have been carefully designed when the boat was entirely refurbished recently. There are pictures of our three vessels' cabins on our website to help our future guests decide if this holiday is suitable for them. I am sorry if you didn't see these. I should have made sure that you did.

I would like to reassure you regarding our commitment to sustainable tourism.

We always support local communities and employ the services of the local marina, shops, services, restaurants and guides. These suppliers employ local staff.

We encourage our guests to visit locally important heritage sites, visit local gardens, craft shops and participate in cultural events.

We also work with local wildlife rangers and tour guides.

With regards to our environmental impact: We ask guests to bring their own water bottles which we refill. We do not use straws, plastic cutlery/plates, drink stirrers. We recycle all of our waste where it is possible to do so. We buy items with minimal packaging.

Engine revolutions are kept to a minimum to reduce fuel consumption. We do not travel at night as we anchor in secluded anchorages and in two of our vessels the fuel consuming generators are switched off to give quiet ships. All fuel usage is recorded so that fuel consumption can be tightly monitored.

Our company depends largely on the internet and word of mouth for marketing to reduce paper waste.

We use low energy LEDs where possible. When purchasing equipment, priority is given to the products that consume less water, energy and fuel.

Guests travelling all the way by public transport (bus, ferry or train) will receive a Green Voucher towards the cost of their cruise.

We try to use seasonal and locally produced food when possible, which, unfortunately, isn’t always the case, depending on the season and demand.
Vegetarians and Vegans are catered for.

Gemini has been successfully operating from May to October 2021 and in Spring 2022 and you were definitely not used as guinea pigs. There are many very good reviews from our 2021 guests on the Responsible Travel website. We have also already had good reviews from our 2022 guests aboard Gemini. Two of the guests who travelled with you in April 2022 aboard Gemini were returning guests and are already planning their 2023 cruise.

I hope this will help you see better what we offer to our guests.

Reviewed on 18 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Impossible to say. I loved it from the moment I got on-board to the day I had to leave.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take warm clothes as being on the water is much colder than being on land. Binoculars are a must too.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes I think it probably did all of the above

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Oh at least 6 stars. Christophe was all one could want in a skipper esp. as I
was rather nervous doing the big boat to little boat transfer.....calm as could
be and so professional. Kerry produced amazing meals in her wee galley and was very good company.The holiday was right out of my comfort zone and I LOVED it.

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.

Planet

We do all that we can to "leave only a wake" as we travel through the islands of the west coast of Scotland. Our stated aim is to protect the wonderful marine environment and the wildlife it supports.

We are proud to say we have recently been awarded The Green Tourism's Gold Award.

We are also a member of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so we will only be serving fish, from local fish-mongers, which are sustainable and approved by the MCS.

We are a corporate member of the Shark Trust, and have adopted the magnificent basking shark. Our adoption is helping fund vital basking shark research in our cruising area.

We are also a corporate partner of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust which means we foster environmental awareness and we work to safeguard the future of Scottish seas and cetaceans.

Our crew are officially WiSe Scheme Trained which means they are taught about watching marine wildlife the wildlife-safe way in our cruising area.

We are committed to excellence in offering holidays to people who have a feel for the sea and its wildlife, both below and above the waves, as well as ashore. Our aim is to respect the sea and the local marine and shore-based environment. To leave everything as we find it is our motto, respecting the delicate eco-system balance of sky, sea and shore. To achieve our “Leave Only a Wake” policy we have a series of aims:

Our aim is to create sustainable tourism by respecting the local sea and shore-based environment. We adhere to high standards of economic, environmental and social policy and practice in our interactions with clients, staff, core suppliers and partners as well as the wider social and ecological environment. We buy free range eggs, free range chicken and organic meat.

We look after our clients to the best of our ability and supporting them on the vessel in personnel safety and creating a respect for the marine environment. Our on board skills training aims to develop confidence and competence and we have extensive briefing of our safety and environmental procedures to our crew.

We have responsible standards of crew recruitment and development. At all times there are always two team members available. Our fully qualified skippers have sailed many thousands of sea miles. All activities in the water are monitored to protect both humans and the marine life.

Our onboard policy is that all rubbish is brought ashore and we have a strict recycling policy of all non-organic waste.

Our skippers and onboard wildlife guides discuss the local shore and marine environment, wildlife and ecosystems. We explain how to behave in a responsible manner to the animals (for example puffin and seal colonies) and birds (especially breeding colonies) that we encounter. We also help clients gain an awareness of local marine environment by encouraging them to study the nautical charts of the region as well making them aware of the ever changing Scottish weather patterns. The skipper keeps the clients regularly informed of local meteorological reports.

People

We employ the services of the local marina, shops, services, restaurants and guides. These suppliers all employ local staff.

We encourage our guests to visit locally important heritage sites, visit local gardens, craft shops and participate in cultural events. We also work with local wildlife rangers and tour guides. Tourism is increasingly a vital part of the income for the local residents of this somewhat remote, isolated but beautiful region of the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Thus we use all local products and local services with the intention of helping to support local businesses, create employment and contribute to the overall sustainable development of not only our starting point of our voyage but also in the islands and communities of the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

We aim to create a good relationship with tourism and the local communities and at all times are aware and try to bring awareness to the fragile marine ecosystems through which we sail.

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