Scotland Photo Tour: Adventure to Orkney and Shetland Islands

Tour Intro

Ron invites you to join him in Ireland August 10-19

We are very pleased to announce this photo tour to Scotland featuring the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Each day will be at a relaxed pace, allowing enough time to photograph the diverse landscape as well as taking in the local history, people, and culture. 

On Orkney we will explore amazing megalithic sites, including Maes Howe, a 5000-year-old chambered tomb, the finest in Western Europe. It was built before 2,700 BC to align with the winter solstice. Vikings plundered the tomb around 1150, and their graffiti is itself a treasure of ancient linguistic inscriptions. Even better known, is the astonishing prehistoric village, Skara Brae, inhabited from about 3,100 BC, until buried by shifting sands. A storm uncovered the remains in 1850.

You will have long hours of light to photograph the amazing Ring of Brodgar, a massive stone circle that was built over 5000 years ago. We will also visit the Viking Cathedral in the village of Kirkwall, and the picturesque town of Stromness, which is wonderful for photographing at night.

The Shetland Islands is a group of over a hundred cliff-edged islands forming the most northerly domain of Scotland. Shetlanders are a friendly people with a distinctive dialect derived from their long connection with Norway. Nowhere in Shetland is further than 3 miles from the sea; hence, fishing and salmon farming play an important role in the economy. Fine beaches and pretty inlets provide the visitor with lengths of striking coastline. Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement, in the extreme south, is an archaeological site spanning 3,000 years from Neolithic to Viking times.  Lerwick, Shetland’s chief town, is attractive, with flag-stoned wynds (narrow lanes), grey stone buildings and old ‘lodberries’ (houses with a private pier). We are sure to visit the Clickimin Broch (prehistoric fort), and possibly the austere Mousa Broch on Mousa Island.

Tour Highlights

• Photograph and explore the diverse landscape of the Shetland Islands, along with the broch’s (prehistoric forts), spectacular cliffs, beautiful sandy beaches, and friendly people.
• Endless summer evenings on Orkney, with its perpetual twilight and megalithic sites.
• Photograph at the many local pubs with traditional music.
• Accommodations central to photography locations.
• Maximum of ten participants.
• Professional photography leader Ron Rosenstock.

Tour Itinerary

August 19: Home - Or from Ireland with Ron
Unst Shetland Boat

Photo By: Sam Gardener

Photo Location: Scotland

You depart today from home on an overnight flight to Edinburgh International Airport. If you wish to depart earlier in order to spend time in Edinburgh on your own (pre or post trip), please contact our office for recommendations.  (meals on plane)

The internal flights EDI/Orkney & Shetland/EDI ARE INCLUDED IN THE LAND COST. The tentative schedule is for Strabo Tours to book everyone on the same flight tomorrow August 20th, 2:35PM (airline schedule is subject to change) EDI to Kirkwall (KOI), Orkney. Ron, and those attending the Irish Photographic Tour August 10-19 can fly today from Shannon Airport to EDI or all the way to Kirkwall (KOI). Please contact us prior to booking airfare in order to verify the current schedule.

Everyone will then need to purchase their own international airfare, from home to Scotland & return. If you are attending both of Ron’s Ireland and Scotland photo tours, you will need to purchase your flight from Shannon to Edinburgh (flight schedule will be suggested at proper time).


Note: Internal flights and overnight ferry are included in the land cost. Edinburgh-Orkney, Shetland-Edinburgh airfare will be booked by Strabo Tours to assure all passengers are on the same flights.

August 20-23: Orkney

Photo By: Sam Gardner

Photo Location: Scotland

Your tour begins today when the group arrives from Edinburgh. Your local tour guide and driver, will meet the group at the Kirkwall Airport, where your journey begins with a photography session and then settle in to your accommodations. It is said that the difference between Orkney and Shetland is that Shetlanders are fishermen with farms, while Orcadians are farmers with boats. Over the course of the next ten days, we’ll have the chance to see if it’s true.

Enjoy another three full days to immerse yourselves into the history and beauty of Orkney. The flat and undulating islands with rich soil make the grass lush green and nurture summer crops of grain. The seventy islands contain the densest concentration of archaeological sites in Britain, testifying to their long history of settlement. It is also abundant in diverse bird life.
Kirkwall is a charming town with flag-stoned streets and a small, busy harbor; it is mainland Orkney’s administrative center. St. Magnus Cathedral is an 860-year-old architectural masterpiece made of yellow and red stone. Opposite the cathedral is the ruin of Earl’s Palace, a once splendid example of Renaissance architecture.

Orkney also has an important recent history with the almost enclosed waters of Scapa Flow, which played an important part in both world wars. To the south of Kirkwall, the road runs over the Churchill Barriers, great causeways built by Italian prisoners of war to protect the British fleet stationed in the bay. They also built the Italian chapel, which is close by.

Most of our time will be spent on Orkney Mainland, exploring its many megalithic sites, rolling landscapes, and jutted coastline. We will visit a number of these sites including: the Skara Brae stone village; the fascinating tomb at Maes Howe - older than the Pyramids with Viking graffiti; the Broch of Gurness; the standing stones of Stenness; the stone village of Barnhouse; and, of course, the Ring of Brodgar, an impressive stone circle (36 standing stones) on the shore of Loch Stenness.

In the Isles, the past is all around. Ancient cairns and stone settings, the later brochs (defensive round towers), then the Picts with their mysterious carved symbol stones have all left their faint traces on the landscape. Overnight Orkney (B, L three days)

August 24: Overnight Ferry
Puffin Hermaness Shetland

Photo By: Sam Gardener

Photo Location: Scotland

Today is another full day to reach those sites not visited or return to capture some of your favorite locations in different light. The overnight ferry to Lerwick does not leave until 11PM leaving us plenty of time for photography today. Overnight sleeper ferry (B, L)

August 25-27: Shetland Islands
Shetland Sheep

Photo By: Sam Gardner

Photo Location: Scotland

You will arrive early morning at Lerwick, Shetland’s capital, where the harbors seem to always be busy with both commercial shipping and pleasure boats. It is a pretty and friendly little town centrally located, giving easy access to just about anywhere in the many Shetland Isles. You will photograph here, both in the daytime and late evening. The old streets and sea front, as well as Clickimin Broch give a variety of opportunities.

Shetland is a wonderfully attractive group of islands lying one hundred miles north of mainland Scotland. At 60° north, it is at a similar latitude to Anchorage; however, being warmed by the Gulf Stream, Shetland has a relatively mild climate, and in summer it boasts of more sunshine than anywhere else in the British Isles! It is less than one hundred miles from top to bottom, but has about a thousand miles of coastline; there are numerous beautiful deserted sandy beaches, contrasting with some of the most majestic and dramatic sea cliffs in Great Britain. In the south there are fertile farmlands, and as you travel north, these are gradually replaced by a wilder and rockier landscape.
The North Sea oil boom in the 1980’s, and the growth of modern salmon farming have helped make Shetland a surprisingly rich land with an impressive infrastructure of roads, ferries, and other facilities. There are relatively few visitors, but those that do come are rewarded in many ways! There are many and varied photographic possibilities, consisting of the land, the coast, the sea, the archaeology, small towns, wildlife, and especially the birds, which will provide extraordinary opportunities. At Sumburgh Head we will see puffins while walking the cliffs around the lighthouse. On Hermaness RSPB reserve on the island of Unst, we will see puffins and gannets in vast numbers from the top of the dramatic cliffs. Shetland’s first settlers were as long ago as 5000 BC. At the most southerly tip of Shetland is Sumburgh. Here there are two of the best archaeological sites of the Isles, Jarlshof, and Old Scatness Broch. Both were occupied for many thousands of years, and lay preserved under sand dunes until rediscovered and excavated. A little north of Sumburgh, one of the possible highlights of the tour will be an evening boat trip to Mousa, a small island off the east coast of Mainland, where we will visit Mousa Broch to listen and watch storm petrels, thousands of tiny little night flying birds nesting and brooding between the stones. Mousa Broch is itself one of the best-preserved brochs known.
Two overnights North Shetland, One overnight Sumburgh, South Shetland (B, L each day).

August 28: EDI - Home
Stromness Orkney

Photo By: Sam Gardner

Photo Location: Scotland

We depart on an early morning flight from Sumburgh (LSI, currently 9:25A, subject to change) to Edinburgh in order to make connecting* flights home in the afternoon from EDI. Contact our office for information on extending your stay in Edinburgh. (B)
*You may need to overnight at an airport hotel if connection times are not sufficient.

Photo Leader

Ron Rosenstock
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Ron Rosenstock

Ron started leading photo tours in 1967. In those years he has led hundreds of tours to many destinations worldwide. Ron has retired from Clark University after teaching photography there for thirty years. He has published five books of his exquisite black and white photographs: The Light of Ireland, Hymn to the Earth, Chiostro (Cloister), Inspirations, Photographs of Iceland, and his color book Journeys. Ron’s work has been featured in over one hundred exhibitions, both in the U.S. and abroad, and his photographs are to be found in the permanent collections of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.  Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA, and the International Center of Photography in New York City.

Ron is happy to share his vision and insights to all who travel with him. Although he now only photographs with a digital camera, his philosophy of teaching hasn't changed since the early large format film days. He firmly believes that the photograph comes from within, not from without. Meaning you can't buy creativity, however, you have to learn to recognize that creative spirit within. Ron teaches exercises that will help that creative spirit come to the surface. These may consist of: 1) Entry ways to seeing, 2) photographing in the NOW, 3) practical aspects of printing, exhibiting and getting your work out there. During the photo tour he will teach and use a digital projector several evenings. Most people who travel with Ron have a basic understanding of how the camera works, and others who know everything about the camera. He doesn't focus on technical knowledge, rather places the emphasis on a more Zen approach. Ron believes it isn't necessary to know all the latest digital technique, but it is necessary to know yourself.
Please feel free to view Ron's website and e-mail regarding any questions.

Why do you LOVE nature photography?   By Ron Rosenstock

Let me use some of the same words, Nature photography is LOVE!  Since the very beginning of our species starting to walk upright, we have been recreating nature in various art forms, from cave paintings to digital photography. Technology has changed, but what is most important, hasn’t. The world’s greatest artists have received their inspiration from nature. We are as much a part of nature as nature is a part of us.  For those of us that take the time to smell the flowers, it’s so much more.  Poets but their feelings into words, painters paint and we photograph.  Each image we make is showing us on a deeper level, who we really are. “Listen, my heart, to the whispering of the world.  That is how it makes love to you” Tagore

What is your overall rating of the trip? 10 out of 10. Working with Ron, great leader and teacher. The accommodations were also a 10, a relaxing environment with local great owners. The meeting room was great for our group. Great photo shoot locations. Instruction and the opportunity to talk about photography, all lead by Ron.

David Pinkham

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 4-7 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.


Ron was great, as usual - very open, fair, positive, and inspiring. Local guide was wonderful - extremely knowledgable about Iceland and just about everything. Never stopped working. Iceland had a great balance, the pace was active but not overwhelming. The sights visited were all worthwhile, and I enjoyed the flexibility of stopping for interesting shoots.

N. Taveras - Iceland

Your talk on photography and the spirituality of photography was a great revelation for me as I have always felt this way about it myself. Your talk was the affirmation I had been searching for. It was great beyond words to be participating with a group of Artists who were as passionate as I about photography and image making.

M. McLaughlin

Additional Notes

Fitness Level
The trip can be strenuous, and will involve several long walks with some climbing over rough terrain. Be prepared to walk one to two miles over uneven ground with your gear. Anyone who is reasonably fit and in good physical condition, should be able to participate.  Rest stops and photo stops are planned throughout each day. The only requirement is a good pair of walking shoes. You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip.  Alternatives are available for those who prefer not to hike.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.


Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.


The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.


Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.


The accommodations were chosen for your comfort, friendly service, as well as being in beautiful surroundings where you will be able to indulge in your photography at any time you choose. Accommodations are ensuite in all locations. On Orkney we will stay at a lodge that is wonderfully situated on a bay. Then travel to Shetland on an overnight ferry in comfortable private cabins. The last night will be in a lovely hotel on the southern tip of Shetland, convenient for early flights the next morning. We will be travelling around the 3 or 4 main islands in a comfortable minibus, and for the short crossings between various islands we will use a number of ferries, all of which are excellent well-equipped modern vessels.

Food & Drink

.Breakfasts will be taken at the lodges, while lunches will usually be picnics in the field or pub lunches. The food is both delicious and wholesome. Transportation will be in a comfortable mini-bus with ample room for your luggage and gear.

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