Top Image: Scotland © Unsplash / Massimiliano Morosinotto
Eco-Tourism That Gets You in Touch With Your Wild Side
By Raye Mocioiu
As you plan your travels this year, consider an adventure that puts wildlife first—and gives you a front-row seat. The Scottish Highlands, known for dramatic landscapes and romantic castles, is home to various unique experiences. Immerse yourself in heritage, culture, and wildlife as you marvel at castles, explore lush woodlands and lochs, and get up close and personal with nature.
Embrace the Wild Side
Scotland was once a haven for wildlife, home to the Highland tiger, lynx, wild boars, polecats, and more that settled in the country’s lush pine forests. But over time, as the land was used for timber, charcoal, and agriculture, the forests disappeared, and so did the native species that called the land home.
With climate change as a driving force, Scotland is shifting their focus toward bringing wildlife back home, working to rebuild its ecosystems. With this focus underway, Scotland will become the world’s first successfully rewilded nation, a bucket list travel destination for nature lovers and those who like their adventures to be on the wild side.
The Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, run by Trees of Life and set to open this spring, is prepared to welcome travelers to “discover a landscape restored after centuries of exploitation and leave inspired to engage with rewilding.” The landscape is home to thousands of native plant and animal species, including the pine marten, the European badger, and the Scottish wildcat.
Surrounded by pinewoods and juniper trees, the new wild landscape will encourage visitors to “rewild” themselves by getting in touch with nature and exploring the heritage and history of the Highlands.
The Highlands is also home to The Cairngorms, the U.K.’s biggest national park, where you’ll find more mountains, forest paths, lochs, and wildlife hotspots than you can imagine, including five of the U.K.’s six highest mountains.
Within the park lies Cairngorms Connect, another rewilding project, which has embarked on a 200-year plan to restore rivers and reseed ancient Caledonian pine forest—visitors can join in on ranger-led tours and rewilding weekends to get a closer look at the landscape.
An Enchanting Adventure
A must-visit for romantics and those who love a good mystery, the Isle of Skye is a magical place home to some of Scotland’s most beloved landscapes. With miles of dramatic coastline, captivating stories that capture its history, and new opportunities for eco-friendly adventures, wonder doesn’t begin to describe what an experience here is like.
Become a voluntourist and take part in caring for one of the world’s most beautiful destinations while meeting friendly locals and other travelers—it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the magic of the Isle while off-setting your carbon footprint and leaving behind not just footprints, but a positive impact.
Movie buffs will love touring the Isle’s iconic filming locations, and wildlife watchers will be astounded by the beauty of the Isle’s lush forests and notable native species like the red deer and the golden eagle. Many of Skye’s most majestic geological features, such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Cuillin, can be viewed from your car as you drive through the picturesque scenery, but exploring these wonders on your feet is an experience not to be missed.
A trip to the Isle isn’t complete without exploring the majestic castles and museums, like the Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum of the Isles found on the Highland Estate, or the ancestral Dunvegan Castle. These incredible structures, preserved by generations of clan members, are filled with legends, attractions, and spectacular views that make this trip unforgettable.
Just a 25-minute ferry ride from the Isle of Skye lies the Isle of Raasay, one of the most geologically diverse landmasses in the world. Here, rolling hills and secluded beaches create breathtaking views, and the charm of the community feels like a home away from home.
While one of the smaller islands of the Hebrides, the Isle boasts enough adventure to take up several days, from walking and cycling to kayaking, wildlife viewing, whisky and gin tasting, and much more.
Strap on your hiking boots and climb to the top of Dun Can, Rasaay’s highest point, where the flat-topped summit is the perfect place to take in endless views of mountains and sea that will stay with you long after you return home.