From the Hebrides in the west to inhospitable windswept specks of land like St Kilda and Foula, and to the Orkney and Shetland islands in the north, you’ll explore the intriguing diversity of Scotland’s wild islands. You can plan to take in Neolithic sites scarcely changed in 5,000 years, and ponder the mystery of huge monoliths that marked the seasonal change. Visit picturesque villages, and castles that once were a stronghold of the Scottish clans; birders will delight in Europe’s largest seabird colonies and the Orkney Islands will please whiskey amateurs with a wee dram of Scotland’s finest!
Visit the World-heritage-listed island of St Kilda
Explore historic villages in the Orkney Islands
Kayak through sea caves and mirror-like lochs
Visit an Iron Age broch with your expert historian
Arrive in Edinburgh and transfer to the hotel. Upon check-in, the reception staff will provide you with cabin tags. Speak with the ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation or to provide you with information about where to dine, withdraw cash, or purchase last-minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket. Fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number to allow the team to deliver your luggage to your cabin. At tonight’s voyage briefing, enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners.
The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.
Accommodation: Courtyard Edinburgh Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast, check out and bring your luggage to the foyer. Please place any items required today in your hand luggage as your main bag will be transferred to the ship.
Edinburgh awaits travelers this morning as a local guide welcomes the group with stories of Scotland's capital city. Stretching just over one mile, five cobblestoned streets make up the walking precinct of the Royal Mile. Starting at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, step back in time to hear tales of princes, poets, and politicians as we stroll past some of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings including the Church of Canongate and Scotland's own parliament house.
Perched atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle dominates the capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s long and colorful history. This instantly recognizable fortress is a powerful national symbol and part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. The audio tour brings the castle's inhabitants alive as you discover highlights such as the Royal Palace, the Crown Jewels, Mons Meg, and the Scottish National War Memorial.
You’ll have time to explore the castle precinct and Royal Mile which are scattered with friendly pubs and charismatic restaurants (lunch own expense). The two-hour transfer takes the travelers to the west coast port of Troon where the expedition team will welcome you aboard the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon.
Once onboard, settle into your cabin before our important briefings. Set sail along Scotland's northwest coast in the evening and meet your expedition team and crew at Welcome Dinner.
From golden beaches to jagged peaks, bleak moors, and heather-clad hills; from abandoned settlements to picturesque villages, your days in the Hebrides archipelago will be packed with variety. Travelers may explore remote lochs beneath some of Britain’s most untamed mountains and wander between unusual rock formations. The group may watch for whales, dolphins, otters, seals, and the increasingly rare basking sharks. Possibly, travelers will land at an island reserve that is home to red deer and white-tailed sea eagles.
Kayakers will be introduced to their craft and will be briefed on their adventures, before picking up paddles to circumnavigate tiny islets or glide into narrow waterways that intertwine the islands. Hikers may opt for panoramic views from summits and ridges. Early the next morning, you will aim for the tiny island of Iona. Barely 5 kilometers / 3 miles long, Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also a burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish monk, St Columba, and twelve disciples landed here and founded a monastery in 563 AD. From this base, St Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity.
From the Inner Hebrides, travelers make their way to the Outer Hebrides – also known as the Western Isles – that stretch for 209 km / 128 mi and look out on their western side to the Atlantic Ocean. The first stop is at the Isle of Lewis, the largest and northernmost island in the Outer Hebrides. Plan to make a stop at Callanais, where archaeology buffs will be keen to see the fascinating group of Standing Stones, dating from around 3,000 BC. Nearby, the group may visit Bostadh House, a remarkable reconstruction of an Iron Age dwelling tucked away just above a beautiful white beach.
Weather permitting, travelers plan to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage site) of St Kilda, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique Soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food—and to pay their rent in the form of wool, meat, and feathers. The isles hold Europe’s most important seabird colony and are home to Britain’s highest sea stacks (rock columns).
Island hopping northeast, you and fellow travelers aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of violent Atlantic storms and rarely see visitors. Home to breeding seals and some of Europe's largest seabird colonies, Sula Sgeir, North Rona, and Flannan boast spectacular cliffs, fantastic rock stacks, hidden beaches, and luxuriant heaths where sheep once grazed.
Britain’s most northerly islands lie almost 160 km / 99 mi north of the Scottish mainland, at a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland, or Bergen in Norway. Kept relatively warm by the Gulf Stream, Shetland’s 100 islands experience almost 24 hours of daylight in summer. They abound with nature reserves and archaeological sites and offer a taste of traditional island life.
The group plan is to explore some of the following sites: the island of Foula is the most remote inhabited island in the UK. Its small community of about 30 residents welcomes us to their island to enjoy the magnificent scenery, large seabird colonies, beautiful wildflowers, and remarkable community life. Papa Stour offers some of the best sea caves in Britain where travelers may explore with Zodiacs and kayaks. Jarlshof is one of Shetland's best-preserved and most complex archaeological sites. It was exposed to storms in the late 19th century. The Old House of Sumburgh, built here in the 17th century, was named 'Jarlshof' by Sir Walter Scott in his novel 'The Pirate'. The record of human occupation dates from around 3,200 BC. Jarlshof’s main Bronze Age site is the house of a bronzesmith working around 800 BC. Clay molds into which molten bronze was poured revealed that he was casting axe heads and short swords. It seems that Shetland suited early Norse settlers, for they quickly settled here and left their mark on Shetland's history for ages to come.
Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station and is also famous for knitwear and historic shipwrecks. About five kilometres by three kilometres / three miles by two miles in area, it is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mainly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island.
A bird watchers’ paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins. The Isle is an excellent place to view seabirds, especially puffins at close range. Fair Isle also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. Welcomed by the hospitable villagers, take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit these waters around Fair Isle, while sharp eyes may spot harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, killer whales (orcas) and minke whales.
Day 12: Aberdeen | Disembark
On arrival in Aberdeen, disembark in the early morning and bid a fond farewell to fellow travelers before a transfer to the airport to continue your journey.
Note: At the conclusion of the voyage, it is recommended to book flights departing after 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.
Apologies for the inconvenience. Prices for not yet published. Below per person rate based on previous season. Contact us to confirm upcoming season pricing.
Prices for are estimated based on inflation. Contact us to confirm pricing and availability for your desired departure date.
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Aurora Stateroom Triple
230.34 ft² - 245.41 ft² - 6 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, three single beds, porthole window, desk area and 42" flat-screen TV
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Aurora Stateroom Twin Share
170 ft² - 245.41 ft² - Greg Mortimer features 8 porthole rooms, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms, perfect for adventurers who are looking for a comfortable base that's close to the action.
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Balcony Stateroom C
224.97 ft² - 266.95 ft² - 14 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups.
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Balcony Stateroom B
254.03 ft² - 266.95 f - 22 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups.
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Balcony Stateroom A
259.41 ft² - 301.39 ft² - 22 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups.
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Balcony Stateroom Superior
303.54 ft² - 432.70 ft² - With a bit more room to stretch the legs, the Greg Mortimer's two Balcony Suites are perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear. Featuring private balconies, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area, these will sell out quickly!
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The Greg Mortimer's four Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage 418.71 ft² - points on Deck 7. When you aren't enjoying a landing, you can relax in the suites' separate lounge area, or just watch the world float by from the private balcony.
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478.99 ft² - The largest of all the rooms, the Greg Mortimer's singular Captain's Suite will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite.
For full cancellation policy details, please contact us for a quote.
10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 10 Dinners
10 Nights Accommodations
Accommodations as listed
Ground transportation as listed
Activities as listed
Meals as listed
Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
Comprehensive pre-departure information
Beer, House Wine, and Soft Drinks with Dinner
Educational Lectures and Guiding Services from Expedition Team
Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
Port Surcharges, Permits, and Landing Fees
Captain's Welcome and Farewell drinks including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
Complimentary use of Muck boots during the voyage
All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
Transfer from airport to our group hotel on Day 1 transfer
One night’s hotel accommodation in Edinburgh on day 1 including breakfast
Half-day tour in Edinburgh followed by a transfer to Troon, on Day 2
Flight costs (please request a quote)
Additional excursions during free time
Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
Airport Departure Tax - Airport arrival or departure taxes
Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
Optional activity surcharges
Reciprocity and Vaccination Charges
Passengers traveling with Aurora Expeditions are required to be covered by a reputable travel insurance policy that includes baggage loss, cancellation & curtailment of the holiday, medical, accident, and repatriation/emergency evacuation coverage worth at least $250,000 USD.
Add-on activities should be reserved at the time of the booking.
This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.