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Situated in the Scottish Highlands, the Cairngorms National Park is twice the size of the Lake District and home to some of Britain’s finest wildlife including the charismatic red squirrel.

Established in 2003, this national park protects the Cairngorms range of mountains and it is the largest park in the United Kingdom, covering an area of just over 4,500 square kilometres. Habitats within the park vary greatly, ranging from the bare mountain peaks, plateau and alpine environments, to forests of native pine trees and picturesque glens. The climate here can be harsh, particularly in winter (the lowest temperature and strongest wind on the British Isles have both been recorded here), although the resident wildlfe is well adapted to cope with the unforgiving weather conditions. 

Mountain hare, capercaillie, snow bunting, pine marten, golden eagle and wildcat are just some of the spectacular wildlife that you can see here. One of the stars of the Cairngorms is the red squirrel. These energetic and appealing furry mammals certainly capture the imagination and there are few places better to see and photograph them in the United Kingdom than the Cairngorms. The endangered wildcat is especially elusive to spot in wild, but Cairngorms National Park is more than likely your best bet, as the majority of Scotland’s population resides here.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: red squirrel, Scottish wildcat, golden eagle, pine marten, crested tit
  • Where: The Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Red Squirrel Photography

Based in a comfortable rural lodge in Cairngorms National Park and accompanied by award-winning photographer James Shooter, this trip offers excellent opportunities to photograph the charismatic red squirrels who are surely one of the most endearing animals in the British Isles.

  • When to go: Feb-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 5 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £795 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Ballintean Mountain Lodge

Located on a private estate amongst open woodland in Cairngorms National Park, this rustic yet modern lodge is perfect for exploring this corner of the Scottish Highlands and viewing its wonderful native wildlife. Close to specialist hides, the lodge is an ideal base for photographing red squirrels.