What to expect on a “Haggis Adventures” tour of Scotland

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have just recently taken part in a 5 day tour of the Scottish Highlands with Haggis Adventures. With around 10 million people visiting the Scottish Highlands every year, I thought I would take this opportunity to share with people my thoughts of Haggis as a tour company, and what you can expect on one of their tours…

Price

Haggis Tours are aimed predominantly at budget backpackers, young adults, and people who generally want to make the most of their time in Scotland, but without spending a fortune… which some tours do! For my 5 day “Highland Fling” tour it would have cost me around £179 for one adult. Student prices start from £164. Other tour groups doing similar 5 day highland tours were usually starting at around £200 for adult prices, and from £180 for students. For an adult price that would save you around £20, which for a budget backpacker does make a big difference as that would pay for around 4 extra activities on your trip (average cost of castle tours, whisky distillery tours etc on the trip was around £5 per activity for 1 adult.)

What is included in your £179?

For your £179 you can expect all of your transport (including door to door service from your accommodation), a tour guide for the entirety of the trip, and discounts on any activities not included in the price. You also get a free Lonely Planet “Independent travellers guide to Europe” guide book at the beginning of the tour.

For the Scottish Highlands in particular, it would be impossible to see everything on foot or on public transport. You really need to be driving. Main cities and towns are linked very well with public transport, but most of the beautiful scenery is located away from the main settlements. Then there is also the fact that you may not know where to go, or what the best places are. With the tour guide on hand driving you, you have someone who knows the area inside out, who can take you to the best spots, and also give you info on the history behind everything from the battlegrounds, to the castles, or folktales. The tour guides also tend to know where the cheapest places are to eat, drink, or where to find the best local Scotch whisky etc. For me this was invaluable, as even as a local Scot, there was much our tour guide Andy was able to tell us about each place that even I didn’t know. It was like having a walking, talking, kilt wearing, crazy (the good crazy) Scottish encyclopedia!

What is not included?

Your accommodation is not included in the trip, and neither is food & drink. The tour guide drives you to the door of the hostels which they recommend, with prices ranging from £15 – £20 per night for a hostel dorm bed depending upon where you are. Generally speaking, hostels in the Scottish Highlands do cost more than what you may find somewhere like Edinburgh City Centre. This would be the case whether you went on a tour or are travelling independently. I guess the reason is that with sometimes only one hostel in a town or village, they don’t have to be as competitive as hostels in cities may be. As for food and drink, if you were on a real budget you could potentially just shop for food at supermarkets, although the tour takes you to places where you can taste local Scottish dishes such as Haggis, neeps, and tatties, so in my mind it’s worth paying a little bit extra and having the full Scottish experience!

Some activities are also not included in the price. Obviously, the tour does take you on a lot of walks and treks which of course cost nothing to do. Also, some of the castles are free too, but you will find things like the Whisky Distillery tour, ceilidh (Scottish dancing), museums, and some castles do cost money to enter. However, as we were travelling as part of a group we were often given a discount of a couple pounds per activity off of the typical entrance fee.

Transport (the bus)

The bus that you travel in for your tour is important because it’s going to be your means of transport for your tour. I found the Haggis bus to be clean, comfortable, and had enough room to store all your bags, luggage, and stretch out your legs. It was certainly a lot better than your average public transport bus which you would be travelling on if going to the Scottish Highlands independently without a car!

Accommodation

Morag’s Lodge, and Oban Backpackers Hostel were very good, had comfortable beds, nice hot showers, free wifi (Morags had free laptops to use too), and they both did a nice breakfast. If I’m being completely honest Saucy Mary’s hostel in Kyle of Lochalsh was not the greatest hostel I’ve ever stayed in considering it’s £19 per night. The bathrooms had toilets didn’t flush, but the rooms were clean, and it was fine for one night, and the adjoining bar did really nice pub meals. As with any Haggis tour, you are always able to book other accommodation if you wish, so you are not forced to stay anywhere if you really don’t want to. So if hostels aren’t your thing there is always the flexibility to book a hotel or B&B for the night.

Food/Drink

Our tour guide Andy was very good at trying to find us places to eat out which offered authentic Scottish drinks and cuisine at a budget price. Prices varied a bit depending on where you were.

Tour Guide

Definitely the best part of our trip was our fantastic tour guide Andy! His knowledge of Scotland’s history, landscape, and local knowledge was excellent, but more importantly… he also made it fun! Even on the longer jaunts in the bus to get to our next destination, we were always being entertained by his banter, songs, stories, jokes, and knowledge of Scotland. You came away learning a lot about the country without even realising you’d been learning along the way so he gets a big thumbs up from me! Also, unlike some tours I’ve been on, Andy was definitely a full-time tour guide, i.e. even after most tour guides had “clocked off” during the evening and night, he’d still be there helping the guests to mix, answering any questions, and just generally making sure everyone was getting the most of their tour.

Additional Benefits

One of the best things about a Haggis Tour is the fact you get to meet so many new people. There is a big focus on the tour of interacting, getting to know each other, and socialising with other people on the tour which I think really helped keep the atmosphere alive as we were going along. A lot of people met up after the tour finished, added each other on facebook, or made future travel plans together. Particularly for solo travellers this was a real bonus!

– Haggis Adventures is definitely a tour company in Scotland I would recommend. Especially for young 18 – 35 year old backpackers, I think this sort of tour would be perfect.

(Please note: Haggis Adventures very kindly offered me this tour for free. I also received free accommodation from the 3 hostels we stayed at – Morag’s Lodge (near Loch Ness), Saucy Mary’s (Kyle of Lochalsh – Isle of Skye), and Oban Backpackers Hostel. Morag’s Lodge also gave me free breakfast (usually an add on cost), plus dinner for 2 nights. That being said, I would never write anything on here that wasn’t my honest opinion, and if I didn’t genuinely think Haggis Adventures was a good tour company in Scotland, then I wouldn’t recommend them!)

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3 Responses to “What to expect on a “Haggis Adventures” tour of Scotland”

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  1. […] one of the many indie backpacker hostels that allowed me to stay for free, tour companies such as Haggis Adventures providing me with a free tour, or the folks at InterRailNet.com offering me a free Inter Rail pass for one month to travel around […]

  2. […] one of the many indie backpacker hostels that allowed me to stay for free, tour companies such as Haggis Adventures providing me with a free tour, or the folks at InterRailNet.com offering me a free Inter Rail pass for one month to travel around […]

  3. […] past week I got to see and experience some of my own country for a change on a Haggis Adventures tour around Scotland. The trip coincided with a blog trip I was on titled Blogmanay, and came right after spending New […]


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