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Lying just off Scotland’s north coast, this archipelago consists of around 70 islands and skerries – rocky islets too small for habitation – with sandy beaches surrounded by glittering blue waters.

The smaller isles offer unaccustomed serenity, while the largest – called Mainland locally – has most of the population and attractions that include stunning prehistoric archaeological sites. Everywhere idyllic  beaches and impressive seascapes conspire to create a hauntingly magical atmosphere.

Orkney is one of the best places in the British Isles to see seabirds, raptors and cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Whatever the time of year there is invariably some special sight to see – from hen harriers birds performing aerial acrobatics to orcas hunting along the shoreline, or the many migrant bird species that pass through.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: orca, minke whale, hen harrier, short-eared owl, Arctic skua
  • Where: Scotland, United Kingdom

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Scotland’s Wild Coast

From the windswept Hebrides to the intriguing diversity of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, this voyage visits remote crofting communities, picturesque villages and some of the world’s largest seabird colonies. Excursions by Zodiac allow you to get close to seals in waters patrolled by whales and dolphins.

  • When to go: Jun
  • Duration exc. flights: 11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,625 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour