Looking for an ecotourism experience at the end of the earth? Somewhere where the sea crashes against dramatic cliffs, little ferries shuttle in and out of charming blue harbours, sheep and their lambs graze happily in fields, and summertime yields extra long days? Head north...far north, to the Western Islands of Scotland, and prepare to be enchanted by the historical villages, friendly faces, and subtly impressive landscapes that will tempt you to explore further.
Many of Scotland's Western Islands are considered to be remote places, which is what's so wonderful about them. The Hebrides, which encompass the majority of the Western Islands, count renewable energy amongst their primary industries, something that is facilitated by the low population and general remoteness of the region. This situation is also perfect for ecotourism.
For a remote and eco-conscious experience, consider heading out to Eilean Shona House, situated on Eilean Shona, a private island just of the coast of Scotland, where there are no cars, shops, televisions, or planes flying overhead. A quick boat ride from the mainland, Eilean Shona is an island of about 2000 acres at the entrance of Loch Moidart, and is the perfect place to escape to. Visitors here spend their time blissfully ignorant of the busy world miles away, and meander peacefully through the woods and hills, breathing in the view of the Hebrides, spotting wildlife like seals, deer, and otters, and strolling along Shoe Bay, a beachy corner of the island.
The people living in the islands are nothing but friendly and welcoming, which is why it's no surprise that many of them run their own tour companies throughout the islands. As with most ecotourism experiences, one of the best parts is engaging with locals and seeing the destination as they see it.
This is why a company like Wild Green Travel is what you want to look for when planning ecotourism in Scotland's Western Islands. Locally owned and operated, Wild Green Travel takes visitors on a variety of different tours, including a four-day Whisky tour that transports you out to the Isle of Islay and famed distilleries like Lagavulin, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, and for those beer-lovers, the Islay Brewery.
Brave enough to hit the water? Clearwater Paddling is who you should turn to. This family-owned and run sea kayaking tour company run day trips and tailor-made trips in and around the island of Barra. The Denehey family can take you out for the day or customise a multi-day itinerary that includes accommodation or camping, and likely some seal and otter spotting - porpoise and dolphin if you're lucky!
For those looking to be impressed by Scotland's landscapes, well, it's not difficult. But if you want to be really impressed, talk to the guys at Wilderness Scotland, an award-winning adventure travel and ecotourism company in Scotland. They specialise in small group trips that will take you throughout the country, including the Western Islands.
While Wilderness Scotland can take you sailing and walking around Skye, mountain biking in Skye and the Outer Hebrides, and wilderness walking, the thing that impressed us the most about Wilderness Scotland was their vision for sustainable tourism.
Wilderness Scotland has achieved a number of awards and recognitions in the green business and green tourism circuit, and is extremely supportive of nature conservation projects in Scotland. Their operating and office policies demonstrate dedication to environmental preservation, and they are committed to operating in a manner which conserves the natural environment. They also offset their carbon emissions each year by 110%, with proceeds going to Climate Care.
Ecotourism in Scotland - the Western Islands
The relatively untouched natural spectacle of Scotland's Western Islands is what has been drawing ecotourists and adventurers there for years. This area is one of the best for ecotourism in Scotland, and you can't go wrong on any adventure, especially if you go remote, go local, and go to be inspired.