With its dramatic Atlantic headlands, sheltered coves, hidden inlets and estuaries, West Cork’s dramatic Atlantic coastline is a haven for wildlife, and a dream-come-true for wildlife lovers. Explore the best of this stunning stretch of coast with us on this short-break wildlife experience that takes in many highlights from our signature Wild South Coast tour in a shorter package for those on a tighter schedule.
Duration: 4 days / 3 nights | Price: €799 per person sharing
Max No. of guests: 12 (6 per guide) | Min No. of guests for holiday to proceed: 6
What could we see?
- The chance to see fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins and porpoises feeding in one of the North Atlantic’s whale watching hot-spots
- White-tailed eagles are nesting in West Cork again thanks to a successful reintroduction programme, and we see adults and young birds regularly on our tours.
- Large movements of seabirds off West Cork’s iconic headlands (Manx, sooty, Cory’s and great shearwaters, skuas, European and Wilson’s storm petrels and more) (Summer / Autumn)
- Otters and kingfishers on tidal inlets and waterways
- Visiting waders and wildfowl on coastal mudflats, lagoons and estuaries (Autumn / Winter)
- Basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish, cruising just off shore (Spring & Early Summer)
- Migrant birds passing through during spring and autumn migration (Spring / Autumn)
- Resident raptors including peregrine, buzzard, kestrel, sparrowhawk and occasionally merlin
- Close encounters with grey and common seals
- Charismatic choughs and ravens along coastal sea cliffs
- Spectacular aggregations of diving gannets just off shore
- … and who knows what else.
Guideline Tour Itinerary
NB. This itinerary is provisional. Our overnight locations are fixed… treat everything else as a movable wildlife feast. Plans can, and probably will change. Wildlife doesn’t follow a rigid schedule, so neither do we. Keeping things flexible means we maximise your chances of seeing the best wildlife, working around the sometimes fickle Irish weather and taking advantage of sightings reported through the local wildlife and birding grapevine.
Use the following itinerary only as a rough guideline to your West Cork wildlife adventure:
Day 1: Cork – Kinsale – Rosscarbery
After meeting in Cork City we’ll make our way West along the Wild Atlantic Way via the picturesque town of Kinsale and the famous Old Head — the first of West Cork’s dramatic Atlantic Headlands. Winding our way along the coast we’ll stop at a selection of wildlife hotspots before ending the day in Rosscarbery.
Optional nocturnal wildlife walk to look for bats, otters and other night-time specialists. Weather permitting we’ll set up a moth trap overnight to check in the morning.
Dinner and overnight in the Rosscarbery area — review/discussion of the day’s sightings with your guides
Day 2: Birding on Cape Clear Island
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Baltimore and take an exciting 45-minute ferry ride through Roaringwater Bay, past Sherkin Island and Carberry’s Hundred Isles and out into the Atlantic to the birding Mecca that is Cape Clear Island. The ferry is a great wildlife watching platform and we’ll be out on deck for the duration searching for sightings.
Cape Clear is home to the Republic of Ireland’s only official bird observatory and is famous in birding circles for attracting rare migrants in spring and autumn. It also offers some of Europe’s best opportunities to see seabirds, whales and dolphins from shore. At this time of year, there’s a good chance of finding a few spring migrants on the island, and with a bit of luck, something more unusual will turn up.
After spending the day exploring the island we’ll board the ferry again and will return to our hotel in Rosscarbery.
Dinner and overnight in the Rosscarbery area — review/discussion of the day’s sightings with your hosts
Day 3: Rosscarbery and surrounds / whalewatching & seabird pelagic
We’ll stop for lunch at a local cafe before joining one of Ireland’s most experienced whale watching teams for an afternoon on the North Atlantic* in search of whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds and other marine wildlife.
Dinner and overnight in the Rosscarbery area — review of the day’s sightings with your hosts
* NB. Whale Watching on the North Atlantic is a highly weather dependent activity. However, your comfort and safety are our priority, so please be aware that depending on conditions there is a chance we may not get out on the water during your trip. In the event that the boat trip cannot proceed we will offer alternative shore-based wildlife watching activities.
Day 4: Wildlife watching and return to Cork
After a last leisurely breakfast, we’ll take an alternative route back to Cork, stopping off to look for wildlife along the way*. We’ll say our goodbyes in Cork ready for your onward journey.
* We’ll select the most appropriate stops in relation to weather, time of year and arrival time in Cork
- 4 days of wildlife watching
- The services of two professional wildlife and birding guides for the duration of your holiday (max ratio of 6 guests per guide)
- Transport from your pick up on Day 1 to your drop off on Day 4 in a comfortable mini-bus with professional driver
- Any ferry, boat and entrance fees that apply
- All accommodation
- Full Irish Breakfast and Dinner on three nights (either at the hotel or a nearby local restaurant)
- Illustrated post-trip report with a summary of the group’s sightings (downloadable PDF)
Not included in your holiday
- Drinks and snacks
- Lunch — flexibility is the key to seeing more wildlife, so depending on our movements and the weather on any given day, we’ll stop for lunch at local cafe’s, or grab a takeaway sandwich en-route to eat at scenic locations in the field
- Dinner on day 3 — when you’re free to make your own arrangements/sample an alternative local dining option
- Personal items / incidental expenses
- Travel insurance