Day 2-8 The Hebrides
Travel together to Oban and board the Quest in the afternoon. Each voyage is truly unique. Your experienced and knowledgeable expedition leader, guides, the Captain and the crew will ensure you get the most out of every moment, including several interesting lectures on board. You are embarking on an expedition cruise and the exact itinerary depends on weather conditions and wildlife sightings. The goal is to make landings each day with the Zodiacs and the following are examples of exciting places you may visit:
Iona, Staffa & Lunga
Reach Iona, an island that has been a place of deep spiritual significance for more than 1 000 years. No less than 62 Kings of Scotland are buried here, including Duncan I, who was murdered by Macbeth. St. Columba came here from Ireland in 563 AD and early Christianity spread through Britain from this remote island community. Weather permitting make a stop at the Island of Staffa, a spectacular sight with the amazing Fingal’s cave as a highlight. The cave inspired Mendelsohn to compose "The Hebrides Overture". Sail west and explore the tiny Treshnish Islands, located in the waters between Mull and Tiree. Now uninhabited, this group of low islands are home to thousands of seabirds and a large population of common and Atlantic grey seals. Hope to land on the largest of the islands, Lunga, to walk amongst the surprisingly tame puffins and see the remnants of past habitation that dates back to the Viking period.
Through the Sound of Harris head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St Kilda, a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some fifty miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. For some this is almost a pilgrimage and a very moving experience. Drop anchor in Village Bay on the main island Hirta and wander through the remnants of the village. St Kilda once supported a population of 200, but the last islanders were evacuated in the 1930s. Recent restoration work on the village by the National Trust for Scotland offers a marvelous link with the past. Later, cruise past the impressive island of Boreray and the amazing Stac an Amin and Stac Lee, where tens of thousands of gannets nest.
On the west side of Lewis visit the Callanish Stones, a cross-shaped setting of standing stones erected around 3000 BC. This is one of the most spectacular megalithic monuments in Scotland.
Canna & Rum
The small island of Canna has a tiny agricultural and cattle-rearing population. From a walk along the cliff top have stunning views and you may see golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and peregrine falcons. The adjoining island of Rum is a nature reserve and an oasis for birdwatchers. More than 150 species have been observed on this small island. Pay a visit to Kinloch Castle, an eclectic 19th century turreted castle built by the Bullough family, and walk the nature trail, a beautiful area of wild flowers and typical Scottish island scenery.
Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides and is often referred to as the "Queen of the Hebrides". It is renowned worldwide for its many distilleries producing various single malts with smooth, full, rich and peaty character. Visit one of those distilleries to learn more about how these precious drops are produced.