2021 TOURS: TO ORKNEY AND BEYOND
Relaxed tailor-made wildlife and culture holidays for small groups. 2021 Orkney Tour dates are now AVAILABLE. Self-catering is CLOSED in 2020 owing to CV-19, but 2021 enquiries very welcome!
I’m often asked how to sum up an Orcadian Wildlife Tour. Here’s a summary, as used for the Digital Birdfair in August 2020:
We pride ourselves on the attention given to you, our guests, in blending Orkney’s wildlife and culture. We live here, and know that you will witness memorable lifetime sightings in our beautiful archipelago with its 5,000 year-old monuments. The weather will be fresh, the days long and the sights and sounds of our Simmer Dim will remain with you always.
Highlights include Slavonian grebe, Long-tailed duck, Scaup and Great-northern divers, close up and breath-taking in their summer plumage. Lapwings, Curlews, Snipe and Redshank will be calling and displaying. Hen harriers will be ‘sky-dancing’ and White-tailed eagles on Hoy will be incubating eggs and then feeding young. Early May brings the 1st flowering of the Scottish primrose, then later the cliff-tops will shock with their pinks and blues: Thrift and Spring squill. Other delights include large seabird and auk colonies on RSPB reserves; Arctic and Little terns, Arctic skuas and Bonxies; and perhaps even Orca or other cetaceans in Scapa Flow or the Pentland Firth. Orchids are in bloom in the moorlands and sea turf.
Guests may expect to see around 80-100 species of birds, even though many common passerines are absent here. Migrants are interesting and almost anything can (and does!) turn up. Recent rarities have included Siberian accentor and Red-flanked bluetail. But please don’t be put off by rarities, we’re very happy with novice birdwatchers and pleased to pass on our skills.
A local saying is that Orkney soil bleeds history. Orkney abounds with ancient Neolithic monuments like Skara Brae over 5,000 years old, and our many standing stones speak for themselves. We have had guests from all over the world who have enjoyed hugging stones like at the Ring of Brodgar or Stones of Stenness. Our circular Pictish brochs are awesome in construction and siting. Our Viking past is very much alive in place names and accents. Indeed Orkney is often described as a little piece of Norway beyond Scotland.
A 7 night, 5 day guided tour of Orkney (with one ‘day free’ for personal wishes) in 2021 is £1,575 per person. This represents excellent value for money for a small group tour (maximum 6-8 persons), and is all-inclusive of the high quality 4* hotel accommodation, meals, transport within Orkney, and most important of all, the 18 years of experience of your guide, Steve Sankey. All you have to do is to get here, and we will do the rest!
From above left: Orkney’s best-loved bird, the puffin, always feature in our itineraries; a typical group enjoying the Old Man of Hoy; Skara Brae and other 5,000 year-old Neolithic sites are a must; and finally gannets at Noup Head gannetry on Westray.
A full programme of Orkney and other tours is now available for 2021 please click here.
A pair of white-tailed (sea) eagles has attempted to nest on the island of Hoy since 2015. Hoy always features in our itineraries and there is always a good chance of seeing the birds. I’m delighted to report that 2 chicks fledged successfully in 2018 for the first time in 145 years! The pair then started the 2019 season with another 2 chicks but sadly the smaller one died in the poor weather of early June, though the remaining chick fledged successfully. She was subsequently named Grizelda (Old Norse for ‘shield maiden’!) by the local primary schoolchildren. For information on Orkney’s sea eagles please click here. The pair is settled nicely for the 2020 season, and are currently rearing two chicks, which is fantastic news!
For a self-catering holiday for couples at the Peedie House, part of Gerraquoy Organic Farm, please click here for details.
Steve has completed a ‘World Host’ customer-service training course, in order to maintain both Orcadian Wildlife’s and the Peedie House self-catering’s highest standards of customer care.
Our 2021 schedule (18th season of operation) is now AVAILABLE and includes other tours as listed below. Small group size is one of our strengths, typically in 2021 in Orkney up to 6-8 persons only. To view our schedule please click here. Please look at our testimonials (also to the right of the page) or check out our Trip Advisor page – we offer relaxed, tailor-made wildlife and activity holidays for small groups of people. Prices are all-inclusive of accommodation, transport within Orkney (or elsewhere), meals and guiding, and may be found on the ‘Wildlife Tours Availability‘ tab.
2021 tours in Orkney are as follows:
17 April – 24 April 2021: Spring in Orkney, Wildlife & Archaeology Tour: (accommodation @ Merkister Hotel). This tour is now FULL.
24 April – 30 April 2021: for Shetland Wildlife ‘Ultimate Orkney’ Tour: (accommodation @ Merkister Hotel). This tour is now FULL.
1 – 8 May 2021: Orkney Wildlife & Archaeology Tour: (accommodation @ Sands Hotel). This tour has 6 spaces available.
8 – 15 May 2021: Orkney Wildlife & Archaeology Tour: (accommodation @ Sands Hotel). This tour has 4 spaces available.
15 – 22 May 2021: Orkney Wildlife & Archaeology Tour: (accommodation @ Sands Hotel). This tour has 6 spaces available.
22 – 29 May 2021: Orkney Wildlife & Archaeology Tour: (accommodation @ Sands Hotel). This tour has 4 spaces available.
2021 tours outwith Orkney will include:
29 May – 7 June 2022: Bulgaria > Romania (Rhodope Mountains, Black Sea coast, Danube Delta, & Transylvania). This tour has 2 spaces available.
9 – 16 June 2021: Shetland. This tour is now FULL.
Over the last decade an exciting archaeological dig has been taking place at the Ness of Brodgar in West Mainland, in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. This site has been the subject of a TV documentary by Neil Oliver, and has contributed much to our knowledge of the Neolithic peoples and their lifestyle. If you wish to learn more, read this excellent piece done by Roff Smith for the National Geographic – for visual click here; for the feature article click here.
What makes a holiday in Orkney with Orcadian Wildlife different?
We like to pride ourselves on no two days ever being the same. Orkney’s shifting skies and seas help, as does the weather – frequently all four seasons in one day. So it’s best to bring your waterproof jacket and trousers, and your boots.
Wildlife doesn’t stop for the weather and neither do we (unless with your agreement!).Wildlife, walking, photography and of course Orkney’s superb 5,000 year old Neolithic (new stone age) sites always feature in our itineraries.
- We keep groups small (typically 6-8 guests only) on purpose in order to enable you to see more – you will see lots of memorable sights with us, whatever the time of year. We specialise in a blend of wildlife and culture.
- We listen to you carefully about exactly what you’d like to see and where you would like to go – there are no sites on set days. Visiting islands is included and great fun!
- We actually live here (unlike most tour groups who visit) and so we know more about daily life in Orkney.
- Our holidays are all-inclusive, so that all you have to do is get here, and we do all the rest.
- We’re proud of our approach to the environment: a very small group; an organic lifestyle; Green Tourism Business Scheme gold award for our self-catering; and a generator of renewable energy to help offset your carbon footprint.
- We encourage repeat visits (Orkney gets a grip of you…) and returning guests benefit from large discounts.
- Last – but most important – we really look after you! See the many testimonials on our website from our guests who have appreciated our relaxed style over the last 18 years.
There is always something special to see at any time of the year, from sky dancing hen harriers, to hunting orcas, and migrant birds.
Download 2020 Orkney Tourist Brochures
Download our Orcadian Wildlife Tours Leaflet
Please visit the Orcadian Wildlife Facebook page for up-to-the-minute sightings and other current Orkney daily blog-type content: http://facebook.com/orcadianwildlife – this site also contains photo-albums of all international tours.
See some short videos of seabirds by clicking on this You Tube link:
And you can access lots of useful general information about Orkney by clicking on the following link: Orkney.com
Self Catering Holiday
If self-catering is more your style we’re delighted to announce that that our Peedie House self-catering was given a GOLD Green Tourism Business Scheme award, a reward for all our hard work! In addition, the Peedie House was shortlisted for the Green Tourism Business Scheme Goldstar Awards in 2012 and 2014. The shortlist is compiled from the highest scoring Gold graded businesses from 2011 and 2013 representing the greenest 2% of the total 2,400 GTBS membership. See our Self Catering Holidays pages for more information.
Please note that bookings for 2020 (late Summer) and 2021 are now being taken.
Please book or enquire through the ‘self-catering’ section.
For a flavour of what Orkney has to offer the holidaymaker have a look at our Orkney Photo Album