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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Scotland

Spring in Speyside

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Chile. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document sent to all tour registrants, whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

TRAVEL TO SCOTLAND: WINGS and Bon Voyage Travel would be pleased to assist with your travel plans. This tour is organized by our British company, Sunbird, and starts and ends in Grantown-on-Spey. The Inverness airport and Aviemore rail station are the two nearest big transport points. If you would like assistance, please contact Donna Nelson at Bon Voyage Travel at (800) 518-7338 ext 229 or (520) 428-7725 and identify yourself as a WINGS client.

ENTERING THE UNITED KINGDOM: Non-UK citizens will need a passport which is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. U.S. and E.U. nationals do not need a visa. Citizens of other nations should contact their nearest British Embassy or Consulate for entry requirements.

It is always a good idea to take a photocopy of your passport and air ticket with you when travelling abroad. They can prove invaluable in helping you get replacements if your originals are lost or stolen. Obviously, you should keep the photocopies in a separate bag to the originals.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html  and the CIA World Factbook background notes on the U.K. at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/.

CURRENCY: The local currency is the pound sterling. As the tour price includes all travel, accommodation, meals and drinks with meals, you will require only enough currency to cover snacks, drinks (other than at mealtimes) or other purchases of a purely personal nature.

Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted throughout the United Kingdom. American Express less so. Money can be obtained from ATM cash machines with a credit card and your personal identification number (PIN); arrange this before you leave home, though charges will apply.

LANGUAGE: The main language spoken in Scotland is English, while Scottish Gaelic is a minority language. The dialect of English spoken in Scotland is referred to as Scottish English.

CLIMATE: Scotland will be coming out of winter in late April and therefore the climate will be variable (mornings and evening can get down to 40°F (5°C), whereas afternoons can reach 60°F (15°C), and we can anticipate some rain during the course of the tour. We expect to see snow in the Cairngorms.

ALTITUDE: The Cairngorms reach 4300 feet (1309 meters), however we’ll stay around the national park’s car park at 2100 feet (635 meters) to look for some mountain species. Grantown-on-spey is 720 feet (220 meters), and when visiting the coast we’ll be at sea-level.

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: Usually we drive to various locations and make short and slow walks from the vehicle. There are several longer strolls (1 – 2 hours or so). We’ll need a full day to get to and from the west coast but the scenery is always changing and there will be birding stops as and when we see anything of interest. The breakfast room at the hotel is open from 07.00 to 10.00am, and their restaurant is open for dinner from 18.30 to 20.00. On most days lunch will be a picnic at a birding site. Finding a wide variety of foods for picnics can sometimes be difficult and people may wish to bring their own cereal bars or snacks. Please bring your own plate, cup and utensils for picnic. We always try to return to the hotel in time for ‘an hour to shower’ before dinner. Celebrity talks are held at the hotel in the evenings, though on one evening we may visit a nearby hide in the hope of seeing Pine Marten and Badger.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

The most current information about traveller’s health recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.

Water is safe to drink.

Biting insects are not usually a problem at this time of year but if the weather warms up significantly we may encounter midges and mosquitos, so it is recommended that you take insect repellent. Many brands use diethyltoluamide (DEET) which, while providing the best protection, can be corrosive and therefore require care when using. There are many ‘natural’ and less-harmful repellents available from various camping supply stores.

Finally, remember to bring adequate supplies of all personal medication as it may be impossible to obtain them during the tour.    
Please note that any health/medical information contained herein is gleaned by WINGS from websites that are dedicated to traveller’s health issues. Advisories and recommendations by agencies such as the CDC can, and do, change frequently.

ACCOMMODATION: Grant Arms Hotel is situated in the fine Scottish country town of Grantown-on-spey. Built in 1765 during the reign of King George III and situated in the Cairngorms National Park, the Grant Arms Hotel is a traditional Scottish building, tastefully refurbished to provide thoroughly modern standards of comfort. Their en-suite bedrooms are furnished with tea and coffee making facilities, toiletries, hair dryer, colour TV, and direct dial phone (note that phone calls made from your room will be charged to you directly).

LAUNDRY SERVICE: Laundry services are available along with a drying room and boot wash.

ELECTRICITY: 230V 50Hz. Sockets take flat, 3-pin plugs, so an international adaptor is required if coming from outside the UK. You may find the following website helpful: http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com.

FOOD: Breakfast will be taken at the hotel and lunch will either be a picnic-style or we’ll stop in cafes. Dinners are excellent using local produce.

Our tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to miss. While we will try to do all we can to accommodate the requirements of all participants, please note that we cannot guarantee all causes of food allergies can be avoided at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs can, regretfully, not be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience and although the leaders will do all they can to make sure the group eats at a reasonable time, sometimes early or late lunches and/or evening meals cannot be avoided. Any participants who need to eat at specific times may need to bring supplemental food with them.

DRINKS: Bottled water, a soft drink or a beer (or wine if appropriate) are provided at meals, as is coffee or tea. In addition, we keep a supply of bottled water on the tour vehicles. Bottled or filtered water may also be provided in some rooms where we stay.

INTERNET AND MOBILE PHONE ACCESS: The Grant Arms Hotel offers free WiFi to guests. Mobile phones can be useful while on tour but reception within the Highlands can be patchy. Keep in mind that many countries operate on a different cellular technology. Your phone may be incompatible with the local system, so please check with your local carrier. Fortunately, with the advent of smartphones, it is easy to download applications such as Skype or Google Voice, which can make calling home free or very inexpensive. Another option is to replace the data (“SIM”) card in your phone in-country. The SIM cards, including data can be very cheap. If you wish to use this option you will need to check that your smart phone has a SIM card slot.

TRANSPORT: Transportation will be by minibus driven by the leader. We will rotate the seating each day.

Created: 06 November 2019