Scotland

A healthy percentage of Scottish land is wild, unoccupied by humans. As you can imagine, those conditions are perfect for wildlife in the country to thrive.

Scotland is famous for many things. Braveheart, castles, poets, golf, whisky, and kilts. But the real defining features of this historic country are its stunning natural endowments; from majestic mountains and a lusty landscape to vibrant, down-to-earth people who love life and make no excuse for living it. It’s easy to get hooked on Scotland. Glasgow and Edinburgh are bustling modern cities, complete with luxury hotels, exotic restaurants and boutiques, and remarkable galleries and museums. Head to the country’s coastal and Highland villages and communities, however, and it can feel like you’re walking into another age entirely. An age that draws you in and coaxes you to explore every single secret hidden in its walls. Scotland’s wildlife is just as amazing as the various landmarks dotted around the country. My search for the country’s famous golden eagles, otters, whales, reindeer, and other animals took me to Cairngorms, Shetland, and the Isle of Mull. Here, I’ll recount my experiences in the country and also provide a backpacking travel guide.

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Why Visit Scotland For Wildlife Photography?

Scotland perhaps draws more visitors for its fabulous golf courses, wonderful history and culture, and of course, whisky. But that’s not to suggest that the country’s wildlife population is any less remarkable than these. 

 

The Scottish Highlands, with its rugged terrain, lazy lochs, imposing mountains, and gelid glaciers look proper forbidding, but there’s a certain awe-inspiring quality to the lands. Apart from marveling at this place’s sharp, exquisite beauty, tourists seeking a different kind of adventure can climb the ice falls in Glencoe and trek through spectacular glens on the way.

 

The Highlands is also where the Cairngorms National Park is located. By far the biggest park in the UK, Cairngorms offers picturesque mountains and a chance to see elusive wildcats in the flesh. Scotland also boasts a varied and active marine wildlife population, with a reputation as being one of the best places to catch sight of porpoises, minke whales, bottlenose dolphins, and the biggest of them all, sharks. Scotland’s wild topography also makes it an ideal landing spot for birds of all kinds, especially seabirds. Birdwatching enthusiasts are bound to enjoy the spectacle that this country offers.

Wildlife Species To Photograph In Scotland

A healthy percentage of Scottish land is wild, unoccupied by humans. As you can imagine, those conditions are perfect for wildlife in the country to thrive.

 

Visit Cairngorms in the Highlands to catch sight of herds of stunning reindeer standing tall and proud. The reindeer will typically stare quizzically at you for a few seconds before bounding away, enough time to get off a few shots. The wildcats are another matter entirely, though. They are very elusive and are not as curious as the reindeer.

 

The Shetland Islands are teeming with large numbers of puffins, gannets, kittiwakes, and guillemots, particularly in late spring and mid-summer. Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Isle of Skye and take wonderful photos of the amazing landscape and the golden eagles that live there. Head to the coast for quality marine wildlife watching. Catch sight of, and take lovely photos of sharks casually lapping up the sun, along with minke whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

The Best Time Of Year To Visit Scotland

Scotland’s weather is temperamental, changing at very short notice. So, it’s best to plan your trip to the country for the best possible moments, to make the most of your holidays. The months of July and August, when summer is in full swing, is the best time to visit Scotland. The weather in these months is typically warm, and it doesn’t rain as much. However, you should know that summer is also the busiest time of the year in the country.

 

October and the spring months of April and May are also good times to visit. On the flip side, Scotland is cold and dark during winter. If you’ve planned your visit around this time, consider changing your schedule. The miserable winter weather in Scotland will quickly turn the ideal holiday into an ordeal.

Where To Stay In Scotland

You’ll have to set aside a considerable amount for accommodation in Scotland. The cost of living in Scotland is also on the high side. Nevertheless, you can cut some costs by staying in hostels in the country, and thankfully, there are lots of hostels in Scotland.

authentic lodgings than hotels, bed and breakfasts

For warmer and more authentic lodgings than hotels, bed and breakfasts are unbeatable. They are scattered all over the country, even in remote areas, and they offer really great deals. To find one close to where you’ll be staying, contact local tourist information centers.

 

Camping

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you should try camping. It’s generally inexpensive, and you don’t have to go through the hassle of booking spots in advance. On the other hand, Scotland’s unpredictable weather makes this plan particularly risky.

How To Get Around In Scotland

Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government’s department of transport, manages and regulates Scotland’s modern and effective transportation system, which includes high-quality roads, railways, and bus links. The majority of public transportation is a combination of private and government-run services. Air and boat travel are also viable options for getting to and from the islands across the seas.

 

Public transit (buses and trains) efficiently provides urban mobility and travel between large and minor towns and cities. If you want to travel across the nation, a car will allow you to visit more rural places where public transit is limited or non-existent. This is especially true if you are planning a trip to the Highlands, Islands, mountains, or rural regions. In towns and cities, foreign vehicle rental businesses are readily available.

 

Flying is not economical in Scotland, even though it’s the fastest way to get to many of the islands. In contrast, buses are the cheapest and most reliable, but also the slowest and least comfortable transport methods.

From England

You can enter Scotland easily from England using bus and coach services. Operators such as National Express and Megabus ply direct routes from most major UK cities to Glasgow and Edinburgh. However, getting to Shetland and to Mull are different journeys entirely. If you do not want to make the long drive up to the Highlands, you can take an internal flight from most UK airports to Inverness and hire a vehicle.

Is It Safe To Travel To Scotland?

Scotland is one of the most peaceful and safest countries in the world, with violent crimes almost unheard of, especially against visitors. While you won’t have to worry too much about your safety in the country, you’ll have to be vigilant to protect your properties from pickpockets, particularly when you’re in crowded locations. 

 

It’s important to remember that traffic in this area runs on the left. If you’re renting a car, keep this in mind because most cars have manual gearboxes with gear shifts on the left, which may not be what obtains in other countries. Driving might be difficult at first, so be cautious, especially in cities and when passing around roundabouts.

What To Pack For A Wildlife Photography Holiday In Scotland

It’s important to know exactly what to pack before you make the trip so you don’t leave out the essentials or take unnecessary items along that’ll just overburden and weigh you down. The things you need are:

  • Backpack: Really, your backpack is your most essential travel gear and that’s the one kit you should be paying a lot of attention to. Look for a solid backpack that distributes its weight evenly across your upper body. Water-resistant ones may be a bonus.
  • Outer Shell Jacket: Scotland’s weather is very unpredictable, and it’s mostly cold in the country. Clothes that offer extra insulation are a must if you’re going to enjoy your holiday at all. 
  • Hiking Shoes: Scotland’s terrain is hilly, especially in the Highlands. You’ll be doing a lot of casual hiking, so be sure to dress appropriately.
  • Water Bottle: The water in Scotland is safe to drink, even though the chlorine content may be a little high. A water bottle will keep you hydrated at all times throughout your excursions.
  • Camera: There’ll be several unforgettable experiences and sights, and you’ll want to capture every single one of them. So, don’t forget to pack a camera. 
  • Universal Adapter: You’ll need it to plug in your device and recharge them when they run out of juice in the country. 

Passport and Visa Information

When traveling within the United Kingdom, including the land border with England, there are no border controls. Travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland is also possible without a passport. Although passport inspections for travelers from Ireland entering Scotland are uncommon, Scotland follows the same immigration and visa rules as the rest of the UK.

Other Places To Visit In Scotland

The Black Isle, in the Scottish Highlands, is a prime location for wildlife sightings and photography. It’s surrounded by the sea on three sides (the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south, and the Moray Firth to the east), making it a popular destination for bottlenose dolphins and a wide variety of other animals. You should consider adding this location to your itinerary if you can make the space and time for it.

 

Head to the photo hides at Aviemore for a chance to take pictures of wildlife and their everyday routines in their natural habitat at Cairngorms. Check out the osprey and red squirrel hides at Aviemore and capture amazing moments with them.

 

If you can, you should also make time to visit the various photo hides at Kirkcudbright. Check out the cuckoo hide, sparrowhawk hide, kingfisher hide, daytime badger hide, and pine marten hide in this location.

My Suggested Itinerary for a Wildlife Photography Holiday in Scotland

Columbo City

1-2 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Wasgamuwa National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Kandy Beach Resort

2-3 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Yala National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Helpful Resources

Now that we have all the information we need, it’s time to plan your wildlife photography holiday to Scotland!

Here are some helpful resources to help you get your trip started:

Flights: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Home Stays: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel Insurance: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Day Trips & Tours: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
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