Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Backpacking Tour Of The Scottish Highlands And The Isle Of Skye

After completing a 5 day tour of the Scottish Highlands and The Isle of Skye, I can say with utmost confidence, that Scotland is the most beautiful place on Earth! After you see the photos, I dare ya to disagree!

I booked a tour called “5 day Skye and Highland Fling” through MacBackpackers for 2 reasons: 1 – To see the Fairy Pools in Skye, and 2 – To see the EileanDonan Castle.

One of the great things about MacBackpackers is that there is no set itinerary. They listen to the group and pay attention to the weather and sort of just go with the flow to have as much fun as possible! As a matter of fact, The Fairy Pools wasn’t even supposed to be on the intended route, but I asked (more like begged) our tour guide if we could go and he said yes! It turned out to be one of the best, most beautiful things we did that day!

I won’t go into too much detail on the things we did on the 5 days (because we did A LOT), but here are the reasons why I had SO MUCH FUN and why I fell in love with Scotland all over again, and why YOU WILL TOO!


Did I mention we were blessed with sunny skies during the trip? We spent as much time outside as possible, so we’d pop over to the shop to buy some food, then drive over to beautiful locations like these waterfalls to have lunch! 

OR just stop randomly to admire the beauty...


Legend has it that if you dunk your face in the enchanted waters by the SligachanBridge for 7 seconds, you will achieve eternal beauty. Not that we really need it... right ladies???
What the heck.. Why not? It couldn't hurt... you never know ;)


While it may look like a natural wonder, this place, in fact, is quite supernatural. True to its name, this magnificent landscape holds fairies behind its hills… Fairies that provide answers to those of us who need guidance.

It was so beautiful and the energy around the area was quite stimulating… we could have spent hours there just walking around, talking to the fairies.
But we only had less than an hour, so I just did what I usually do best... Jump.
Which brings me to...


Fairy Glen Jump Shot

Fairy Glen Front Angle Jump Shot

Glenfinnan Viaduct Leap of Faith!

My Favorite - Cuith Raing Cliff Jump 
I don’t think this requires further description. Do you? :)


BOOM. #Nofilter. 'Nuff said.


The best detour EVER! The Fairy Pools are a series of rock pools with aqua blue streams that come from the Cuillin mountains… Getting there is quite a hike, but once you see these vivid water formations with punctuated waterfalls, every huff and puff will be worth it, I promise.

We were again, very lucky that it was such a hot day or else we would have suffered from hypothermia. The water may look clear and inviting, but it is COLD!
Still, being able to go wild swimming at The Fairy Pools of The Isle of Skye is pretty amazing! That’s a bucket list item right there! CHECK!


Look at the hairy coo’s! Aye, they’ve got a wee crimped fringe!


We had to climb down a huge mountain to get to this glen to collect fresh magical drinking water - and in Aubrie's case, strike a yoga pose!


Often referred to as one of the most photographed/iconic castles in Scotland, the Eilean Donan Castle definitely didn’t disappoint. But to be honest, I only knew of it because of Disney-Pixar’s Brave… The castle was used as inspiration to create Merida’s family’s castle. Oh, and also because of the movie, Made of Honor. I heard Highlander used this castle too! I’m not surprised it’s been used in films so much…. Just look at it!

No Filter. No Photoshop!


A tour is only as good as the people in it – and our people is legit! We seriously could not have asked for a better crew… There were 26 of us – which compared to a my Contiki group of 51, is a pretty good number! Everyone just got along, no diva’s, no dramas --- again, comparing it to my Contiki tour of melodramatic proportions – is REALLY refreshing! 5 days may not seem a lot, but if you spend every waking minute with each other, that’s plenty. It’s definitely enough time to forge friendships strong enough for enthusiastic ceilidh dancing, an emotional group chorus of “Wild Mountain Thyme” and tearful farewells by the bus. I gained 25 new friends in less than a week, and I am extremely lucky to have met all of them. <3

And last but not the least…


2 Words.
Graeme. Anderson.

Tartan-wearing Tourguide extraordinaire. A Scotsman, through and through. Highlander, actually… with the accent to boot (that’s Graeme pronounced ‘Gre-um’ with a hard rolling “r” and a very audible stop before the ‘um’)
“Aye, you want to hear a story?” He would ask. And just like eager little preschoolers, we would all yell in unison, “Yeeeessss!”
In all the years I’ve traveled, I’ve had quite a few tour guides, but none quite like Graeme. What sets him apart, I think, is his undeniable passion and love for his country, history, and people. The compelling stories he shared, Scottish myths, legends, and folklore were not memorized. They were stories that he learned from his boyhood which were an integral part of his culture, and therefore a part of himself. His genuine pride for Scotland is so evident in his storytelling that it made me want to renounce my Filipino-American heritage and wear a kilt forever and ever.

Storytelling Time. My favorite....

It didn’t feel like he was in a job… it felt more like he was our cool uncle who – while maintaining his authority, let us goof around with him and let us mess with his playlists and sing Beyonce and drink whiskey in the bus! Aaahhh… good times. I know I can speak for everyone in our tour when I say that Graeme is an incredible guy, a top-notch Scotsman, and the best tour guide in the world! Aye, he is amaaazin’.


The whole group in front of the Doune Castle

And that concludes our 5 Day Skye and Highland Fling! I could not stress enough how much I recommend doing this tour with MacBackpackers. Seriously – best tour I’ve ever done!  How can you NOT fall in love with Scotland after having gone through all that? After having seen all that? And these photos don't even scratch the surface! Just trust me on this one... it will be the best thing you've ever done.
Like I said… Most beautiful country in the world.

Still dare to disagree?

What do you think? What do YOU think is the most beautiful place on Earth?
Leave your thoughts on the comments section below :)