Scotland's Highlands in Autumn

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The Highlands of Scotland are renowned for their wild and brooding landscapes. Mists swirl around craggy mountain peaks and into steep-sided glens, North Atlantic swells crash onto untamed coastlines, while the quieter waters of deep sea lochs seem to harbor ancient mysteries, and the evidence of over five thousand years of human occupation cloaks the land. The Highlands—often portrayed as the country’s most romantic region—are truly the Scotland of the imagination.
Autumn brings a time of transition. Bracken and deciduous trees turn golden yellow, rutting red deer roar their primal challenges, and migrating geese skein overhead.  In the fall, as weather systems build and drift overland from tempestuous seas, the Highlands fill with the most dramatic, varied and photogenic light.  This is the time of the year Scotland offers some of the finest photo opportunities for landscape and travel photographers of all levels.
From Inverness to the enchanting Isle of Skye, the region rewards photographers with many visual riches.  Autumn sunrise and sunset in the Highlands offer light-drenched mountain crests and sultry ground fog in the glens, while crisp days often produce billowing cloud-filled skies and the first dusting of snow on the high mountain crags.
Our photo tour begins in Inverness, the Highland’s capital. This small city is situated at the mouth of River Ness that flows from the (in)famous nearby loch. It is a wonderful jumping off point, providing easy access and close proximity to some of Scotland's more remote and less visited terrain. Outside of Inverness, we avoid the cities, concentrating instead on photographing our way through one of the most scenic and least populated regions of the United Kingdom. We cross rugged unspoiled landscapes replete with cascading brooks, autumn-cured heather-covered hillsides, and glacier-carved mountain peaks. On our journey, mountains give way to valleys, valleys give way to lochs, and lochs give way to a bracing island-studded sea to finally arrive at the Isle of Skye. Skye—the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides—is one of the most photogenic gems in all of the Scottish Highlands. With its craggy rock spires and towering sea cliffs, picturesque harbors and sparkling sea lochs, Skye is a wonderland of landscape photo opportunities.
Autumn reflections in Scottish lochWe loop back towards Inverness to photograph the iconic glens and Caledonian pine forest of Glen Affric, finishing our tour on the eastern shores of the Highlands. With our small group’s sights focused on photographing the sweeping glens, twisted forests, waterfalls, ruined crofts and the austere fall-colored mountain landscapes of Glen Affric, a photographic trip to the Highlands would not be complete without a stop at Scotland’s treasured Eilean Donan Castle.
If you are a photographer in search of time-weathered autumn landscapes where a sense of history hangs like mist over forested glens, or if you crave rugged coastlines with pearl white beaches along an emerald sea, then Scotland’s Highlands and islands will reach out to you.  Scotland always seems to find a way into your lens as well as your heart.

See Mike Byrne's Trip Report for our latest Scotland tour
For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home.
Day 2 (Oct 7, 2023)
Arrive Inverness, Scotland, in time to meet for the transfer to our lodging in the Highland capital. Tonight we gather for a welcome dinner and orientation.  (D)
Days 3–5
This morning we photograph our way out to the wild northwest coast. The verdant agricultural landscapes of the eastern Highlands immediately give way to raw heather moorlands and increasingly mountainous landscapes.
A morning stop at scenic Rogie Falls provides our first taste of autumn color and a chance to work with long exposures of tumbling water over jagged, rocky terrain. It is the Atlantic salmon spawning season and we may be able to photograph the leaping fish at the falls in their epic upstream battle.
Sunset on Scottish shorelineWe continue westward to remote Wester Ross National Scenic Area, home to scenic rocky mountains with wonderfully evocative Gaelic names—An Teallach, Suilven, Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Slioch, and many more—rising from the moorlands. Each maintains a distinctive character and together forms one of the most stunning landscapes in Scotland.  We dedicate a day for photography at An Teallach, a towering rock massif with terraced sides deeply cut with steep gullies.  For those who prefer, we offer an opportunity for a scenic hike away from the road.
Along the coast pristine wild sandy beaches, such as Mellon Udrigle, stretch out in front of mountain vistas, allowing broad seascapes of waves, sand and rock in this sparsely populated region.  During our days of photography we are also likely to encounter otters and red deer, as well as the charismatic Highland cows, along the roadside.  (BLD)
Days 6–7
Our journey takes us to the Isle of Skye. Our route travels over the Bealach na Ba, the famous scenic pass to the Applecross Peninsula—the highest paved road in the British Isles. We travel along Glen Torridon, a single track road with great spires of Torridonian sandstone looming on either side, as it winds its way down to the sea lochs of the coast.
Scottish castleThese days are designed to allow us to slow down and have the time necessary to devote to photography.  Our base is a charming coastal village on the mainland just minutes from the bridge over the sea to the Isle of Skye. Our time on Skye takes us to hidden gems away from the tourist hot spots for the best photo opportunities among the coastal and mountain landscapes that abound on this magical island.  We choose our destinations according to the weather and search for the most dramatic light conditions.  The small fishing village of Elgol frames stunning vistas across the sea with the Cuillin mountain range as the backdrop. Trotternish Ridge and the Old Man of Storr provide for compositions of rugged rocky summits set amidst a misty landscape of cliffs and lochs.  (BLD)
Days 8–10
As we return from Skye, we break our rule of avoiding tourist hot spots just one time—no photo trip would be complete without a stop at iconic 13th-century Eilean Donan, the most photographed castle in the UK!
Traveling back to Inverness, we spend our final days of the tour exploring the central Highlands and the east coast. We visit Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, an autumnal gem of old-growth woodlands with native Scots pine. The area is known for its pristine lochs shining with skyward reflections, as well as its tumbling waterfalls. Photogenic Plodda Falls drops a sheer 150 feet into a darkened forested gorge.  Autumn is the time of the red deer rut and the Glen Affric area is a great place to encounter red stags roaring their primeval challenge to all rivals.  We have an opportunity to try to photograph elusive pine martens from a wildlife blind at night and, for those who would like, we make an early morning foray to look for otters.  (BLD)
Day 11 (Oct 16)
Our final morning in the Scottish Highlands ends with breakfast and transfers to the Inverness airport for our travels homeward.  (B)
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Scotland's Highlands in Autumn

Oct 06, 2023 - Oct 16, 2023

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposit only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Scotland's Highlands in Autumn: Moderate Activity Level

Van transportation. Photography from near the vans as well as hiking on worn trails and occasionally across uneven, boggy ground. Hiking as much as one to three miles per day (total) on a few days. Midday lunch breaks at restaurants and country inns.

Trip Details
Oct 06 - Oct 16, 2023
Fee: $8,995 from Inverness, Scotland
Deposit: $1,000
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate

Now $8,495 due to favorable exchange rate
  • Travel the wild, less visited areas of Scotland during the quieter time of the year with fewer crowds
  • Capture time-weathered mountains, shimmering lochs, pristine beaches during autumn’s dramatic blend of color, light and mist
  • Photograph 13th-century Eilean Donan castle illuminated in the blue hour
  • Photograph the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Glen Affric
  • Overnight in easy access to the photographic locations; less travel, more photography
  • Includes all meals, lodging, ground transportation, entrance fees, photo guide and instruction
Tour Leaders
Mike Byrne

Mike Byrne

And local guide