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Legendary History & Wild Nature

Overview

SEASONAL OFFER: Book by 31 January and save up to 4299AUD Per person*

SEASONAL OFFER: Book by 31 January and save up to 4299AUD Per person*

SEASONAL OFFER: Book by 31 January and save up to 3004USD per person*

SEASONAL OFFER: Book and by 31 January and save up to 2434GBP off per person*

Discover the rich history and incredible nature and birdlife of the British Isles on this 13-day cruise aboard the Sea Spirit, which exposes you to some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes of Britain. This voyage takes you to the Scilly Isles, the Skellig Islands of Ireland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Scottish Hebrides, the Orkney Islands, the sub-Arctic Shetland Islands and Bass Rock, finally disembarking in Edinburgh’s port district of Leith. Atlantic puffin nesting sites and the world’s largest colony of northern gannets are highlights for birders. Interspersed with incredible scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities, are glimpses into the rich history of Britain, as you encounter Bronze Age burial sites, Iron Age fortifications, castles, abbeys, the remains of stone buildings and storehouses on storm-ravaged St. Kilda and a graveyard of medieval kings.   

Optional Activities :

Trip Code: ACTSLHWN

Location: England, Ireland, Scotland

Ship: SEA SPIRIT

CRUISE ITINERARY

Welcome to the port city of Plymouth in southwest England, where a rich maritime heritage sets the mood for the beginning of our exciting voyage. In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get settled in your comfortable and spacious suite. Then join us on deck and feel the sense of adventure build as we slip our moorings and sail out of the historic harbor.

Embarkation in Plymouth, England

The Isles of Scilly is a group of small islands off the coast of Cornwall boasting mild weather, secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle. On the lovely, sand-fringed island of Tresco, Bronze Age burial sites and romantic 17th-century castle ruins reveal a long and dramatic history. On the hallowed grounds of a Benedictine abbey we discover the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden with its spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world. Here we also find the Valhalla Museum, a collection of colorful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks. Delightful cafés and local shops enrich your experience even further.

Tresco, Scilly Isles, England

With good weather and the permission of authorities, we plan to visit the Skellig Islands. These remote, uninhabited rocky islets off the southwestern coast of Ireland are a favorite breeding site for seabirds, including thousands of Atlantic puffins and a large colony of northern gannets. Other bird species breeding here include the European storm petrel, northern fulmar, Manx shearwater, black-legged kittiwake, common guillemot, and razorbill. The rich waters around the islands are home to whales, dolphins and seals. The island of Skellig Michael is also known for its well-preserved early Christian monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dunmore East is a popular tourist and fishing village in County Waterford on Ireland’s southeastern coast. From here it is a short journey through scenic countryside to the House of Waterford Crystal. Here you can take a guided tour of the factory to see the master craftsmen at work as well as the world’s largest collection of their wares. Also nearby is Mount Congreve, a magnificent 18th-century Georgian estate and botanical gardens containing thousands of plant species on 70 acres of intensively planted woodland and a four-acre walled garden.

Republic of Ireland - Day 3 & 4

Our port for today is the vibrant seaside town of Llandudno in the north of Wales. From here we embark on a scenic overland tour of Snowdonia National Park. We drive through some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain as we discover craggy mountains, stunning waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, dense woodlands and flowering meadows. Snowdonia is also renowned for wildlife including otters, water voles, wild ponies and rare birds such as dotterel and peregrine falcon. We enjoy a delightful stop at the charming and distinctively Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed in the Gwydyr Forest.

Also on the itinerary for today is the magnificent Conwy Castle. Step inside this impressively preserved 13th-century fortress for a genuine look at castle-life in medieval Britain. Pass through the fortified gateways, climb the huge towers, and walk along the battlements for breathtaking views of the estuary and town below. The castle and the walls surrounding the town of Conwy are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Llandudno, Wales

Today we disembark at the small seaside resort town of Portrush in Northern Ireland. We travel overland to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. Here we discover a geological masterpiece—40,000 closely packed hexagonal basalt columns of varying heights descending like a staircase into the sea. According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. In this area we are also able to spot various seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill.

We plan to land on Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland. This small island of outstanding natural beauty is home to about 150 people and hosts tens of thousands of nesting seabirds—one of the largest seabird colonies in Europe. At the West Light Seabird Centre—housed in a fully operational lighthouse built atop an impressive sea cliff—you can enjoy great viewing of countless puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars. The island also boasts a resident seal population and enough history to fill its charming museum to the rafters.

Northern Ireland

Weather permitting, we also plan to visit the uninhabited island of Staffa. This island of volcanic origin is easily recognized by its striking colonnade of hexagonal basalt pillars. Here we hope to explore the island’s most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. Reaching deep into the island, the undulating sea plays upon the stunning matrix of columnar basalt to create an eerie melody which was the inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. The rugged island also provides nesting sites for seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and puffins.

Today we also explore beautiful and serene Iona, a small island in the Inner Hebrides just off the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. At the gorgeous Iona Abbey, founded in 563 AD, we are spellbound by one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites and indeed one of the oldest Christian religious centers in Western Europe. The adjacent graveyard is said to be the final resting place of numerous medieval kings, including Macbeth. In addition to its historical and religious significance, Iona is well known for its soul-soothing tranquility, white sand beaches and excellent birdwatching.

Inner Hebrides, Scotland

The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, are a chain of dramatically rugged islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The most isolated of these is St Kilda. This remote and storm-ravaged island was continuously inhabited for at least two millennia by peoples of extraordinary hardiness. But as the modern world closed in after World War I, the remaining inhabitants chose to evacuate. Now we find only their rough stone buildings and distinctive storehouses called cleitean, all set amidst some of the most dramatic island scenery in the British Isles. Nature-lovers will be delighted, as the island is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants.

Later, as we sail through the remote and uninhabited Flannan Islands, we keep a lookout for seabirds including Leach’s petrel near their colony on the slopes of Eilean Mòr. Commonly seen in the surrounding waters are minke and pilot whales, as well as several species of dolphin.

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Upon arrival at the historic port of Kirkwall we embark on an overland tour of Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands off the northeastern coast of Scotland. Attractions such as the well-preserved 5000-year-old village site at Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar within the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” showcase the world-class cultural heritage of the island. Back in the charming village of Kirkwall we also find the impressive Saint Magnus Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style by Vikings in the 12th century.

Leave Orkney’s biggest island and follow the coast of Scapa Flow to the smaller South Isles. Drive over the first of the Churchill Barriers, built during the Second World War to protect Scapa Flow. You will visit the beautiful, hand-painted Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war who were interned on this small island during World War Two, the chapel stands as a lasting memorial to peace but also to the ingenuity and skill of the prisoners.

We continue our journey to Highland Park Distillery. Following a short film about Orkney, Highland Park and our Viking roots, we’ll enjoy a tour of a working distillery before sampling three selected whiskies from the Highland Park range including 12-Year-Old, 18-Year-Old plus a mystery special edition.

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

The Shetlands are a group of subarctic islands located about 110 miles north of mainland Scotland. One of the jewels of the archipelago is the Isle of Noss, a National Nature Reserve and Special Protection Area. Here we enjoy a splendid ship cruise along the coastline where towering sandstone cliffs have been weathered into horizontal ledges, making perfect nesting sites for thousands of seabirds including gannets, puffins, guillemots, shags, black-legged kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars. This is also a great place to spot seals and otters in the water.

On the uninhabited island of Mousa we find the famous Broch of Mousa, the finest preserved Iron Age fortification in the British Isles. At over 40 feet tall, this 2,000-year-old round tower is the tallest broch still standing and is among the best-preserved prehistoric buildings in Europe. The island itself supports a rich diversity of plant life and is also known for grey and common seals, Arctic terns, and a significant colony of storm-petrels.

We come alongside at the port of Lerwick on Mainland, the largest of the Shetland Islands. On a walking tour of this historic town we visit the award-winning Shetland Museum to learn all about Shetland’s fascinating heritage and culture. From here we take a scenic overland coach ride through the fertile countryside of Dunrossness to discover Shetland’s best destinations. Birders will relish the opportunity to visit the historic lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, the southernmost point of Mainland Shetland. These rugged cliffs attract thousands of seabirds and the grassy slopes above are particularly great for enjoying close encounters with puffins amongst beautiful wildflowers. Also on the itinerary is Jarlshof, one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the British Isles. Here we discover beautifully preserved stone structures spanning 5,000 years of human settlement, including Bronze Age oval houses, Pictish wheelhouses, an Iron Age broch, a Viking longhouse and a mediaeval farmhouse.

On Fair Isle—an isolated island of rolling moorlands and rugged coastlines—one is easily enchanted by historic crofts, picturesque lighthouses, and friendly locals. Here we find the internationally renowned Fair Isle Bird Observatory. The island is famous among birders for its abundance of British birds and for its numerous records of eastern rarities and migrants. Fair Isle is also one of Europe’s best places to watch seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Additionally, the island is notable for the abundance and diversity of its wildflowers. Seals are also commonly seen in its bays. Finally, during our visit it will be possible to see and purchase articles hand-knitted in the intricate and distinctive style for which Fair Isle has been celebrated for hundreds of years.

Shetland Islands - Day 10 & 11

Bass Rock is an uninhabited island in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. This bastion of volcanic rock, also known as “the Bass”, plays host to over 150,000 northern gannets in the breeding season, making it the world’s largest colony of these magnificent birds. The island’s steep walls are white with guano and the sky all around is darkened by the vast multitude of seabirds in flight. Our voyage is perfectly timed to coincide with this amazing spectacle—truly one of the wildlife wonders of the world.

Bass Rock, Scotland

After breakfast on board Sea Spirit we say farewell in Leith, Edinburgh’s vibrant port district. We provide transfers to the airport or to Edinburgh city center if you wish to spend more time in the wonderful capital of Scotland.

Disembarkation in Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland
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Pricing & date

Departing Ending Duration
08 May 2020 20 May 2020 13
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Important Information

  • Group transfer to the ship on day of embarkation
    Shipboard accommodation
    All meals on board throughout the voyage
    Tea and coffee station 24 hours daily
    All scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather);
    Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader & Expedition Team;
    Rubber boots for shore landings for the time of the cruise;
    Welcome and Farewell cocktails;
    All port fees;
    Group transfer to airport or central location upon disembarkation;
    Pre-departure materials;
    Digital Voyage Log;

  • 2 (light adventure)
  • Available upon request

  • Contact us for more details

  • Season and availability

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.