Duration & Dates
7 days (6 nights)
10th to 16th February 2024
Arrival & Departure
Mountain Lodge, Aviemore arrival after 4pm, departure before 10am
3 full days with Neil McIntyre
Bird of Prey day with excellent Falconer
Half board accommodation
Single supplement as standard
Fully guided by Wild Arena
Members price £1,630
6 people per tour
Initial transport to lodge
The Cairngorm Mountain region of the Scottish Highlands is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK to see and photograph wildlife. Our ‘Wildlife Photography Tour’ aims to offer a range of opportunities with iconic species of the area, including Red Squirrel, Crested Tit, Mountain Hare, Golden Eagle, Grouse and Red Deer. These wonderful subjects are often easier to locate and are looking their best in the breath taking winter landscape.
Our guest guide for this special trip is the internationally renowned nature photographer Neil McIntyre. He has agreed to join us on our tour in his home country of the Scottish Highlands, which he knows so very well. We have run this trip with Neil for over 18 years now and the sheer quantity and quality of the photographic opportunities never fails to impress us! This very exclusive trip will take just 6 guests into the heart of the Highland landscape with the additional support of highly qualified Wild Arena guides.
For 2024, we are once again heading north in February for stunning winter colours to compliment our wildlife encounters. The trip will provide superb picture opportunities of species such as Red Squirrel, Crested Tits, Ptarmigan, Mountain Hare, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, Eagle Owl and Red Deer. We will make the most of the breath-taking surroundings to provide the perfect natural backgrounds for the birds and animals of this mountainous environment. There will be lots of chances to capture images of the landscape itself during our 5 full days exploration of the Cairngorms, and we will make the most of early morning and evening light for low sun, colour, and reflections.
Our tour will begin with a pleasant evening introduction from your guides, who will outline the plan for the following week. We will be staying in a spacious and well-appointed house in the heart of the Cairngorms and guests will each have their own en-suite room and the use of a communal living area and kitchen. The guides will provide breakfast every day and ample supplies for everyone to make their own lunch. Evening meals are available locally or there will be an option to join the guides for a quiet, simple meal back at the house (at a small additional cost).
During the first 2 days, Neil & the Wild Arena team will transport the guests to various locations around the beautiful Cairngorm Mountains. We will have an extended session photographing Red Squirrels, at a secret feeding location, providing some beautiful close-up picture opportunities of them in a pristine woodland setting. Another private location will enable us to photograph the tiny, rare Crested Tit at very close range.
We have also booked a private visit to the high glen on a local estate to capture the wintering Red Deer as they are called in for food in a picturesque woodland valley. This is a wonderful opportunity to get stunning portraits of perhaps Scotland’s most iconic species.
The third day of photography will see the group all heading high in the mountains in search of the iconic but elusive Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare. This is likely to be the most technically and physically demanding session and Neil will take time to ensure everyone gets the best from this opportunity.
On day 4 of the tour, we will meet up with one of Scotland finest falconers. He will bring along several native mountain birds including the spectacular Golden Eagle. Together we will drive up into the surrounding mountain landscape in search of the perfect backgrounds for our images. This is a rare and exclusive chance to capture some truly beautiful pictures of the birds in carefully selected stunning settings. The Golden Eagle can be walked up to the edge of the tree line, to capture the sweeping glens and mountains as a backdrop to this most enigmatic bird. Other species on the day could include Tawny Owl, Snowy Owl, Great Grey Owl, Goshawk, Peregrine or Eagle Owl.
On day 5 we will travel further afield spending a day driving north, high into the Great Glens in search of more Red Deer and some stunning high mountain landscapes. With lochs, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls there should be ample opportunities to add scenic shots to our diverse Scottish portfolios. We will, of course, also keep our eyes open for other wildlife as we explore the wild highlands.
Neil McIntyre specializes in photographing Scottish wildlife and landscapes, with a strong emphasis on targeting certain species such as Red Deer and Red Squirrels amongst others. His work has been published in the many books and magazines and he has twice been a category winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, as well as having several runner-up and highly commended photographs.
The tour includes 5 full days of photography and 6 nights, bed and breakfast accommodation in an extremely welcoming and well-appointed country house. Single occupancy, en-suite rooms are offered as standard on this trip to ensure the comfort of our guests. There is also a comfortable lounge area with open fire to relax in the evenings.
David & Janet Southard from Wild Arena will be on hand throughout the trip to help and assist with general photographic problems or questions, so there is plenty of opportunity for less experienced photographers to develop their skills. Each evening there will be the chance to discuss the day’s work and to get feedback on images taken and the techniques’ used.
Key subjects for the week should include:
Key subjects for the week should include:
Wildlife: Winter is the perfect time to photograph the iconic species of Scotland found in and around Aviemore, we would expect to see Red Deer, Red Squirrel, Crested Tits, Mountain Hare and Ptarmigan. Our expert falconer will bring a variety of native birds of prey which should include Golden Eagle, Tawny Owl, Snowy Owl, Great Grey Owl, Goshawk, Peregrine or Eagle Owl.
Landscapes: The Cairngorm Mountain region offers superb landscape opportunities with large rolling hills, stunning vista’s and lake views for reflections and detailed pictures.
Above all else, we want our welcoming, small group trips to be relaxing and creatively stimulating, providing the perfect combination of rest and enjoyment of the wonderful pastime of photography!
Our inspiring tours to Scotland are based near Aviemore in the Cairngorms. This location not only makes us perfectly positioned to visit some truly beautiful wildlife locations but enables us to maximize Neil McIntyre’s outstanding local knowledge.
Comfort is not comprised on this trip, and we will be staying in a large, comfortable Lodge. Comfortable, en-suite bedrooms together with a cosy lounge will ensure relaxing evenings can be spent discussing the wildlife and photography we’ve experienced.
(D) Arrival at our Country House accommodation for an evening introduction from your guides.
The group will split into 2 smaller teams of 3 guests and do:
A full day with Neil McIntyre, working with his fantastic Red Squirrel and Crested Tit feeding sites. The session usually begins with a trip to the Squirrel site where you should get some great chances for pictures of these beautiful mammals in a very attractive setting. You will then move on to the enigmatic species of Crested Tits, again in a beautiful setting. Neil will be on hand throughout the day to offer advice and support to the group.
An extended session working with Red Deer. We have arranged escorted access on a local estate where the gamekeeper will take us high into the hills looking for these iconic animals. In common with lots of estates, the keepers here feed their deer through the hardest months of the winter and in this location, this leads to some exceptional picture opportunities. The feeding site is several miles up a rough single track estate road and nestles in a picturesque and sheltered pine forest. We may have extra time later in the day to visit another glen not too far away for more Deer images in a different setting.
(B,L) The group will again split into 2 groups of 3 and complete the reverse activity from the previous day.
(B,L) The group will start the day with a briefing from our guest guide, Neil McIntyre. After we have outlined our plans for the day we will travel as a group high into the Cairngorm Mountains in search of Ptarmigan and the elusive Mountain Hare. This is like to be the most technically and physically demanding day. Neil will guide the group to locations that offer the best chances of capturing these iconic but elusive species.
(B,L) The group will travel as one to the beautiful scenery of the Cairngorm National Park for a superb day of Falconry bird photography. Our expert Falconer will bring along a selection of birds that are naturally suited to this wonderful habitat and we will take time to ensure we capture some memorable images of the birds. Species may vary but could include; Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Eagle Owl, Tawny Owl, White Tailed Eagle or Great Grey Owl.
(B,L) A day in the ‘Great Glens’ in the central highlands looking for Red Deer and capturing some inspirational landscape images of the magnificent scenery escorted by a Wild Arena guide. We will drive high into the mountains looking for opportunities to spot the native wildlife and dramatic landscapes.
(B) After a final breakfast, we will round up the week before guests depart for 10am.
Please note: – The itinerary is provisional and subject to change depending on local conditions. Not all wildlife mentioned can be seen well at all times of the year & some activities mentioned may not always be available.
Meals included are as shown – B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Who should attend
Anyone who has a love of photography and the outdoors. Photographic experience level is not an issue with such a small group size, so we are just looking for a willingness to learn and try new ideas!
Wild Arena Tours are not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.
Fitness level: You will need to be able to walk a few miles with your camera bag, over rough terrain
During this week of creative photography, we hope to cover useful techniques for various genres of photography, constantly making use of the light and opportunities our subjects present us.
We will cover a range of creative ideas and camera techniques with the aim of broadening our guest’s knowledge and insight.
'What a fantastic few days in Aviemore in February 2022. The snow meant we got some beautiful backgrounds for our first day out with the falconer and it stayed all week. Neil McIntyre was wonderful when we did the crested tits and red squirrels. David and Raj were incredibly helpful all week with any questions we had. Lovely group of people to spend a few days with. The accommodation was lovely and, being self-catering, we had the flexibility to cook in or use the local takeaways. My red squirrel photos were rubbish so I have a good excuse to go again 😊😊😊🐿🐿'
Teresa April 22