Going on Safari in Scotland

Scotland’s wildlife might not generate the excitement of a safari in Africa, but our big five – red squirrels, red deer, golden eagles, otters, and harbour seals – are arguably impressive all the same. To spot the big five for yourself you need a bit of patience and a lot of luck – and a visit to Highland Safaris in Perthshire.

The most common of Scotland’s ‘big five’ is the red deer. In Autumn, you will hear the ‘brummmmms’ of highland red stags fighting to be, err, top stag. If you fancy getting up close with these beautiful animals, Highland Safaris have a herd of 20 who live at their red deer centre. In the red deer barn, your guide (ours was called Andy) will tell you all about Scotland’s largest land mammal, let you handle some antlers (I dare you not to stick ’em on your head) and then you head outside to hand feed the deer.



Highland Safaris Red Deer

If, like me, you’d be nervous about getting close to these huge animals and their sharp antlers, Highland Safari’s red deer are utterly lovable, with the hinds particularly liking a cuddle. Andy explained that all the deer had very different personalities – one, named Goldie seems to actually try and steal your soul. Red deer also don’t have any teeth in the front of their mouths. All you get in return for giving the deer their treats is a handful of slobber. Yum.  

However, there is nothing quite like seeing deer in the wild, and after our visit to the red deer barn, it was time for our safari. We excitedly climbed into our 4×4 and negotiating a steep off-road track, Andy drove us up to nearly 3000ft up to the Foss Baryte Mine.


Sadly for us, eagles, red squirrels, and the deer were conspicuous by their absence – we actually had more luck with red squirrels at our boathouse on Loch Tay. Instead, we were treated to some of Scotland’s lesser known animals, huge mountain hares hiding in plain sight and ravens circling overhead.


Thankfully we were surrounded by incredible mountains – the views of Schiehallion and the Grampian mountains were spectacular. For those who have never climbed to 3000ft in Scotland – the landscape is so dramatic – it takes your breath away.


The Grampian Mountains

In Scotland in winter it is not only the landscape that will leave you gasping – the windchill factor is something fierce (making it at least -3 – ouch) and I was rather glad for the warmth of shooting out of the window of a 4×4 rather being on foot like we usually are at this height! 

I was even more warmed by the sight of Highland Safari’s mountain bothy, where we treated to hot chocolate, yummy local shortbread and a tot of Dewars Whisky, before climbing back into our 4×4 and returning to sea level once again.

Highland Safaris

Highland Safari Bothy

We might not have spotted any of the big five in the wild, but from the moment we arrived, our kilted guide Andy, and all the Highland Safari staff made the day a complete treat.  Without an ounce of hyperbole our visit to Highland Safaris was one of my favourite days in Scotland yet.

Love, from Scotland x

How to visit Highland Safaris in Scotland

Highland Safaris are located to the north of Aberfeldy in Perthshire. The red deer barn is £8/£5/ under 4 free. Our mountain safari was 2.5 hours and costs Adult £40 / Teenager £30 (12-18) / Child £25. Highland Safaris also have an award-winning café.  Check out Loch Tay Safaris – a safari on a boat on Loch Tay

Thanks to ASVA and Highland Safaris for our fantastic visit.


  • Wandermust mummy 23/02/2017 at 9:34 am

    I love the idea of a non traditional safari – something new to consider #farawayfiles

  • Tanja 23/02/2017 at 10:20 am

    stunning nature!#farawayfiles

  • California Globetrotter 23/02/2017 at 10:46 am

    LOVE this!!! Totally saved this! Sometimes you need a little interaction with non-people and what a great way to ge tout and enjoy the nature! 🙂 #FarawayFiles

  • oregongirlaroundtheworld 23/02/2017 at 11:47 am

    Sounds amazing Kate. Thanks for sharing – you are correct I don’t think “Safari” when I think Scotland, but I will now. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles

  • Allison 23/02/2017 at 1:06 pm

    Sounds so fun. It’s a different type of safari but still an amazing experience I’m sure. #farawayfiles

  • vanbrune 23/02/2017 at 4:17 pm

    The landscapes of Scotland are so gorgeous! I definitely want to go and visit the country again soon!

  • Ladies What Travel (@LadiesWTravel) 23/02/2017 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve thought about doing something like this for a good few years now, looks so beautiful. Such amazing landscapes…. #flyawayfiles

  • youngandundecided 23/02/2017 at 4:50 pm

    This is amazing! I have seen some Red Deer in the wild before while up in the Highlands but I’ve never gotten to feed one before! My parents were treated to the sight a 2 Golden Eagles every morning when they were on holiday in the Isle of Lewis. I never knew Highland Safari was a thing, will need to head up to Perth to check it out!

  • Bryna | Dotted Line Travels 24/02/2017 at 4:00 am

    Gorgeous! I wouldn’t think of safaris when I think of Scotland, but I’d love to visit this place. The red deer have beautiful antlers!

  • Shayne Zalameda 25/02/2017 at 3:53 am

    I love Scotland! I was able to visit during the first week of Feb this year –Glasgow and Edinburgh + the highlands — but I wasn’t able to interact with my much coveted highland cows! this look amazing! hoping to get back and visit this safari!

  • tandtisdynamite 25/02/2017 at 6:55 am

    Scotland seems to have such incredible views and landscapes ! It’s definitely on my bucket list and I can’t wait to finally visit 🙂 And a “Safari” sounds like a fun thing to do !

  • Clare Thomson 25/02/2017 at 12:31 pm

    Sounds like such a great day out. I don’t think I’d mind missing out on all five if I got to spend a day among such splendid scenery.

  • Hilary 25/02/2017 at 5:13 pm

    Scotland is one of my favorite places in the world! Your photos are stunning!

  • Ahila 26/02/2017 at 12:30 pm

    I have never associated a safari with UK but after reading about your Highland safari, it has made me want to revisit Scotland just to go on this drive. Beautiful photos, Kate!

  • promisemaxwell 26/02/2017 at 4:33 pm

    Awesome! Never knew you can get a like of safari’s wildlife also in Scotland’s, an additional info! The photos are quite beautiful.

  • arv! Jpr 27/02/2017 at 12:17 pm

    Scotland is one of the top places I want to visit. And only for one thing- natural beauty! It’s so pristine. your pictures have captured it so well!

  • Julie Cao 28/02/2017 at 6:24 pm

    I always amazed by the beautiful landscapes on the Scottish Highlands and those deer are so adorable. I want to feed them too but taken aback by a handful of slobber they will give me lol. Glad you had a fantastic day and you captured the Schiehallion and the Grampian mountains so well. They look really stunning under the blue sky.

  • Samantha 28/02/2017 at 7:05 pm

    Your pictures are STUNNING! I love a good mountain view. I fancy myself a modern day snow white when it comes to seeking out local fauna… the animals seem to disagree though haha!

  • Archana 01/03/2017 at 4:44 pm

    I had been to Scotland in the thick of the winters. Wish I had read your blog earlier. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ali May 02/03/2017 at 8:41 am

    What a fantastic way to see the real Scotland! I would love to do this next time we visit Scotland. I am SO saving this for later 🙂

  • Anne Woodcock #FishPal Ladies Fishing 06/03/2017 at 4:13 pm

    Love the feature – have you considered Atlantic Salmon in your Big 5 – as your tours are based on one of the most famous salmon rivers in Scotland. The journey salmon take to return to their spawning grounds on the River Tay system is a migrating marvel and with their ability to change their gill physiology from freshwater to salt water and back. Salmon rely on sustainable habitat to spawn. Salmon may not be fury or look cuddly like seals, a typical seal weighing 880lbs needs to eat on average 35-55lbs of food a day.

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