Arctic Cruise : Scottish Islands (Option 2), 8 days/7 nights
Located on Deck 4 with a double bed and a single sofa-bed. A private bathroom with shower, washbasin and toilet. A sitting area with a desk, coffee maker, refrigerator and windows.
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The channels between the Scottish Islands offer excellent possibilities to spot Minke Whales, White-Beaked Dolphins, and Harbour Porpoises. Several other cetaceans, including Orcas, or Killer Whales, are also native to these waters. This voyage will provide you with a wide range of beautiful scenery and impressive wildlife.
Day 01 : Embarkation
We embark at Oban, a small harbor town in west Scotland.
Day 02 : Mingulay-Berneray-Pabay
The small islands of Mingulay, Berneray, and Pabay to the south of South Uist are a nature reserve with important breeding populations of razorbills, guillemots, black guillemots, puffins, fulmars, shags, and five species of gull. All of the seabirds are attracted by the cliffs and caves which offer safe nesting sites. The islands also have significant historical sites, including the old village on Mingulay which the last islanders left in 1912. The islanders were fishermen and hunted the seabirds and eggs, a good source of food and feathers for trading. If the weather is poor we will sail to Canna, one of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides. It has a tiny agricultural and cattle-rearing population. A walk along the cliff top may provide us with views of Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. At the cliff edge the rare Loose-Flowered Orchids grow.
Day 03 : St. Kilda Islands
To the west of North Uist are the St. Kilda grouping of islands, created from volcanic rock and home to cliffs rising to over 400 meters, the highest in Britain. The area is also home to the largest seabird colony in the country. St. Kilda has its own sub-species of birds, mice, and sheep, likely brought here by Stone Age man over 5,000 years ago. Until 1930 St. Kilda was inhabited, but the last of the islanders moved on leaving a handful of windswept ruins. There is also a military base that may be visited.
Day 04 : Callanish-Flannan Islands
We visit Lewis to see the prehistoric stone circle of Callanish, one of the finest in Britain with stones over three meters tall. There are several smaller stone circles and chambered cairns on the moorland near Callanish. Later we will have many opportunities to watch and photograph Guillemots, Razorbills, and Puffins on the Flannan Islands, a group of small islands to the west of the Outer Hebrides.
Day 05 : North Rona-Sula Sgeir
We will head into the Atlantic to the northwest of Scotland for a visit to the tiny islands of North Rona and Sula Sgeir. We have a landing planned for North Rona to see the seabird colonies and Grey Seals. The island was inhabited in the 18th century and some remains are still visible. The now ruined walls of a small village church has become home Leach’s Petrels. Sula Sgeir is the last island in Britain on which Gannets are harvested annually. There will be spectacular views of its cliffs as we sail around.
Day 06 : Foula
To the west of Shetland lies the small island of Foula, home to the largest colony of Great Skuas in the northern hemisphere. There are small ponds with Red-throated Divers and spectacular cliffs crowded with nesting seabirds. We will visit some Arctic Tern and Arctic Skua colonies as well as have a visit with the 30 or so inhabitants in the area.
Day 07 : Faire Isle-Mousa
We will be welcomed at Faire Isle in the Shetlands by the 70 or so inhabitants famed for their knitwear which we will see for ourselves. We will head to the bird observatory and later continue on to Mousa, one of the smaller Shetland Islands. Here we will visit one of the best preserved brochs in Scottland, a circular stone tower likely built by the Picts. We will head out on a night excursion to watch thousands of Storm Petrels return to their burrows and crevices. During the day we will view Grey Seals, Black Guillemots, Red-Throated Divers, Arctic Skuas and beautiful spring flora.
Day 08 : Disembarkation in Aberdeen
We will continue through the North Sea and see a lighthouse on Girde Ness designed by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson. We will disembark in Aberdeen, the famed Granite City.