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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about our holidays, short-breaks or guiding services? Check out the frequently asked questions below for answers to some common queries. Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Just get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.

Wildlife and Birding Holidays & Short Breaks

These FAQs relate to our scheduled wildlife and birding holidays and short breaks.

How do I book my wildlife holiday / short break?
The easiest way to book your wildlife and birding holiday or short break is online via this website. Simply navigate to the relevant holiday detail page, select the start date of the holiday you’d like to book and number of people and click the “Book Now” button. On most of our itineraries, you can choose to pay either a €100 deposit to secure your place, or pay the full amount at checkout (NB. if you choose to pay a deposit we require payment of the balance within 6 weeks of the holiday/short-break start date). Alternatively you can make enquiries/request a booking via the contact form, email us on info at irelandswildlife.com (remove spaces and replace at with @) or give us a call on +353 21 2348015 (NB. We are often out in the field leading groups, so if we can’t take your call please leave a message with your name and number and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can).

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What wildlife will I see?

What could we see?

Naturally, wildlife is unpredictable and varies from season to season, day to day, even hour to hour. As always in nature, there are no guarantees, and it is impossible to predict what we will see on any given holiday or tour. Not knowing is all part of the fun… but possible highlights include:

Humpback Whale, West Cork

A humpback whale showing the diagnostic bushy blow and giant white pectoral flippers

Wildlife Watching highlights on Ireland’s South Coast:

  • 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 offshore (Spring & Early Summer)
  • Migrant birds passing through during spring and autumn migration (Spring / Autumn)
  • Resident raptors including Peregrine, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and occasionally Merlin and Hen Harrier
  • Close encounters with Grey and Common seals
  • Charismatic Choughs and Ravens soaring over coastal cliffs
  • Spectacular aggregations of diving Gannets just offshore
  • … and who knows what else.
Can I amend a booking I’ve already made?

Yes, you can. Here’s the entry from our Terms & Conditions relating to booking amendments.

  • Booking Amendments: you can amend your booking at any point up to 28 days prior to the holiday’s start date. Amendments within 28 days of the holiday start date will be treated as a cancellation and re-booking (see cancellation policy outlined below). Alterations to an existing booking will incur a €30 administration fee.
Can I cancel a booking?

Yes, you can cancel once you’ve booked your holiday as outlined in our Terms & Conditions that you agree to when you book.

For convenience here’s a summary of our cancellation policy for our wildlife and birding holidays and short breaks:

Cancellations

  • Cancellations by You: if you wish to cancel your booking you must notify us as soon as possible, and confirm in writing (email is the easiest way, but you can also do so via registered mail if you prefer). Depending upon the date we receive your cancellation the following cancellation policies will apply:
    • More than 41 days before holiday start date: full refund minus an admin fee of €30 per booking
    • 41-28 days before holiday start: 40% cancellation penalty, balance refunded
    • 27-14 days before holiday start: 60% cancellation penalty, balance refunded
    • 13-8 days before holiday start: 80% cancellation penalty, balance refunded
    • 7-0 days before holiday start: 100% cancellation penalty, no refund due
    • Alternative Participants: if you have to cancel, but are able to refer someone else who can take up your places on the holiday, or if we have a standby list for your holiday and can resell your places, we’ll treat this as an “Amendment” rather than a cancellation, and will issue a refund of any fees paid less an administration charge of €30.
  • Cancellations by Us: while we do our utmost to run our guided wildlife and birding holidays as scheduled we reserve the right to cancel any holiday in our programme for the following reason.
    • Minimum Numbers: our holidays require a minimum threshold of six participants to make them viable. Should we have fewer than this number booked on a particular holiday six weeks before the start date, we may contact you and offer you the opportunity to either reschedule on an alternative holiday or cancel for a full refund of any money paid.
    • Other reasons beyond our control: if we are forced to cancel a holiday for any other reason beyond our control we will let you know as soon as possible, and will issue a full refund of any money paid.
Do I need travel insurance

Travel insurance is not included as part of any of our tours. We strongly recommend that all clients take out their own travel insurance. NB. If you have an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy you should already be covered, but please check your policy to confirm.

What should I bring with me?

What you bring with you on your wildlife and birding holiday/break will depend on a variety of factors, and is of course entirely down to you. However, we do have some recommendations to help guide you.

Suitable clothing for prevailing conditions

For our Ireland tours think layers, and think good waterproofs.

Keeping warm and dry are the two most important aspects of staying comfortable and enjoying time in the field… and it’s important to remember that the Irish weather can be a fickle mistress. There’s a price to pay for all that green. Even in summer, when the weather is often quite pleasant, it pays to have an extra jumper or fleece to throw on if the wind suddenly picks up when we’re scanning from an exposed headland, or you start feeling the chill when we’re out on the water looking for whales, dolphins and seabirds.

If possible it’s best to choose clothing with subdued colours (muted greens and browns) that will blend in, rather than stand out to minimise the disturbance of more elusive wildlife.

For your feet, sturdy hiking boots or good wellingtons (that are comfortable for walking) are generally the best options. In summer, lighter footwear (walking sandals or may be suitable… but make sure it’s supportive and stable enough should we encounter uneven or wet terrain.

Bring a sun-hat or cap in summer, just in case, and a warm hat in winter. If you’re feeling really optimistic you can pack the sunglasses.

Optics (Binoculars/Scopes)

Birdwatching in IrelandIf you have good binoculars, bring them with you. If you don’t, let us know before your arrival and we can arrange a loan pair for the duration of the tour (NB. limited loan binoculars available… allocated on a first come, first served basis).

Your guides will both have high-quality spotting scopes to offer your closer views of more distant wildlife — but if you would like to bring your own by all means do.

Camera equipment

Most of our tours aren’t dedicated photo-tours, and on these, we won’t be specifically targetting wildlife for the purposes of photography, and won’t be sitting in hides for hours on end waiting for that perfect shot. However, all of our tours are what we like to describe as “photography-friendly”. We’ll be watching most of the wildlife we encounter at a relaxed pace, offering plenty of time for wildlife photography enthusiasts to capture images of the subjects we’re viewing.

Just bear in mind that we will be moving around quite a lot… so think light and mobile, rather than “kitchen sink” when selecting the gear you pack.

Obviously, the same criteria don’t apply on photography focussed itineraries.

Motion sickness tablets/wrist-bands

We’ll be covering a bit of ground in the mini-bus during the course of your tour, and depending on your itinerary may be taking a marine wildlife boat trip and a ferry to an offshore island. If you suffer from motion sickness/seasickness it’s a good idea to pack your countermeasure of choice.

Sunscreen… no, we’re not kidding

In late spring, summer and early autumn, particularly when out on exposed headlands or out on the water, the Irish sun can be deceptive. Sunburn is no fun, so it’s a good idea to pack a small tube of sunscreen… just in case.

Where do your tours start from?

Most of our tours start and end at major transport hubs close to where the area covered by the tour — so, for example, our tours based on Ireland’s South Coast will pick up and drop off at a central location in Cork City and/or Cork Airport.

Please check the tour detail page on this site for information on pick-up and drop-off locations for your tour.

We will contact you about a week before tour commencement to confirm pick-up and drop-off arrangements for your tour.

For some shorter itineraries, like our Discover Wildlife Weekends, we typically meet up with guests at the venue — again you’ll find the relevant details on the details page for the respective tour.