Outlandish Spirits at the stones
Images from 
our 
work in
the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images 
from 
our work
in the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our 
work in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images 
from our work
in the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our work in the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden
click-links! Images 
from 
our work
in the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our 
work in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our 
work in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from 
our work in
the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! An Arasaid from 
MacIan's
drawings Images from our work 
in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our work 
in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from 
our 
work in
the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our work 
in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from 
our work in
the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from 
our work in
the Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! An Arasaid from 
MacIan's
drawings Images from our work 
in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links! Images from our work 
in the
Highlands. Some pictures have hidden click-links!

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about accommodation
Typical accommodation

We reserve your accommodation on the J&C; tour (and pre and post tour if you have requested that); you pay for it directly upon arrival (some places may require an advanced deposit via credit/debit card, in which case you will be informed).

Accommodation on the OTT tour (one night) is covered in the tour cost.

For the J&C Tour, pre-tour accommodation is booked for you for the evening before the tour begins providing you request this during booking. The accommodation is within easy walking-distance of the meet / end point.
This pre accommodation cost is not part of the tour price quoted.

For the J&C Tour proper, you will usually stay in three places when on the Highland part of the tour. We choose hosts because of their high standards (4* standard, or equivalent) and affability. We have had great feedback over the years about our choices.

For the Outlander TV Tour (OTT) you are similarly hosted in a high standard B&B for the one night.

Solo travellers will be given a room to themselves. This is why the solo traveller tour price is higher than the price per person for two people sharing a room. It's called "single supplement" by hosts.

Sometimes, groups of friends can have a family room of three beds to a room (dbl and a sgl). It is rare because B&Bs just don't set up rooms that way very often. They are a little less per person than a double and a single room tariff. If you are travelling in a group of three or more and would like me to utilize family rooms where possible, you can say so on your booking form and I'll see what I can do.

Actual Accommodation Cost: Your tour price may be lower than advertised (but never higher). The tour price has a maximum budget built in for accommodation, but often we source places for less than the allowed budget. We do not receive kickbacks or bonuses from our B&Bs.

On tour, we pick up and drop guests at the tour designated accommodations each day.

Questions about meals and food

On the seven day J&C Tour and longer Dragonfly etc:

  • FOOD COSTS: Depending on your appetite, the food cost for a week will be around £200 per person for 5 lunches & 6 evening meals. You make your own selection and only pay for what you've ordered.
  • Two lunches of the seven on the J&C Tour are provided and paid for by us as picnic lunches (weather permitting).
  • All breakfasts are covered in your accomodation cost.
  • Some evening meals will be group dinners. We arrange these social ocassions and you choose and pay directly for your own meal. There will be ample choices from the simple to fine dining available.
  • Your B&B hosts or ourselves can phone on your behalf if reservations are required at restaurants on the 'free nights' where there is no group dining arranged. Our guests like to dine with each other in small groups on independent nights and solo travellers will never be short of a dinner companion, unless they want to be!

One and two day tours:

  • Lunch and dinner are not included in the quoted price. We choose a local eatery and you pay for your lunch yourself and the tour completes before dinner time.

You will commonly find vegetarian options in most restaurants and cafes for lunch and dinner.

Gluten free requirements are understood by cafes and restaurants in Scotland. Some have choices specified on the menu. Other times you will ask and the staff will offer you something suitable.

If you have food allergies many eateries are willing to take a special order.

Food standard in Scotland is excellent, with much influence from Europe and India and many awarded chefs. Some of the best beef in the world comes from Scotland. Enjoy the variety of our cuisine. We give no help to the un-adventurous and picky eaters.

Questions about activity level

On private tours you set the activity level. On the advertised, scheduled tours we set it.

Activity Level: Our scheduled tours are physically active! You should be in decent cardio-active shape when you sign on to a tour. It is important for you to have similar activity levels and abilities on the trip as everyone else so that we know you will be able to stay with the group and not fall behind on our walking and hiking activities. As well, we're travelling, exploring, and socializing in a busy week and that alone takes good health and fitness. You should:

  • Be able to walk briskly up hills / mountain paths on hikes, keeping up with the guide and group.
  • Be able to climb flights of stairs in castles, B&Bs.
  • Be able to stand for long periods in museums, castles, exhibits.
  • Be able to carry your own luggage up flights of stairs and lift it in and out of vehicles. (See Luggage Allowance)

Note: These are not endurance tours! People who are in relatively good condition and regularly engage in at least medium cardiovascular exercise should have no problem on our tours. We've even had guests with prior knee or hip surgery and guests in their 70s who did as well and sometimes better than the rest! Not sure? Look up 'cardiovascular activity' on the web or contact us.

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Questions about luggage and transport

baggage allowance photo All tours have the same baggage allowance, drawn from years of experience, as to what makes good travelling. Each person is limited to ONE piece of luggage.
Maximum luggage size is 50 linear inches total (Example: 22" high + 14" wide + 10" deep = 46" linear inches).
You must be able to lift your own luggage in and out of the vehicle trunk and carry it up 2 flights of stairs. There are no elevators, tour guides or porters to carry your luggage for you. The photo to the right shows the appropriate luggage.
A small day/book pack may be substitued for a purse and must comfortably sit on your lap in the vehicle to hold your wallet, camera, etc. This daypack should NOT be used to hold luggage items.
You can download a suggested packing list after booking. It has been compiled from my own and our guests' experiences.

Tour Van image We normally use 9 seater MPV vehicles (one or two) like the one shown here. Their size allows us to go into remote parts of the Highlands unavailable to large coaches.

However, these vehicles have limited luggage capacity, hence the personal luggage allowance.

Guests must be able to take a turn in front, middle and back seats. We switch around regularly. If you suffer from travel sickness and can only use the front seat, then you have two options:

  • Before booking, find a sea-sickness remedy that works for you and will allow you to travel in the back seat of a vehicle. Sturgeon brand tablets are used by some sailors; ginger capsules have some efficacy; pressure point wrist bands help some people.
  • Book a private tour with us and arrange the seating as you like amongst your party
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Questions about the itinerary
Details of Edn religion-vs-science

We certainly have done in the past, and can do by request on a separate day (before or after the J&C Tour), but we are currently of the opinion that you can do those fine on your own.

We have a by-request tour called A. Malcolm & the Edinburgh Enlightenment Tour which covers the return of Claire to Jamie at "A.Malcolm, Printer" and the places they visit in the old town (including some used by Starz).
Part of the day shows the context in which Jamie operated his printing business, that is the Scottish Enlightenment era (1750-1800) and is the inspiration for the boom of Scientific, intellectual and humane accomplishments affecting Europe and 'the new world' of America. This aspect of the tour will open up the fascinating gems of both old and new towns the city, "The Athens of the North".

This tour is a by-request which you can ask for as a custom / private tour.

The Starz Fort William Ha ha! No! There's nothing there to see. Black Jack's Fort is a round-about and a supermarket carpark! We'd rather spend the time on things from the books that you will not want to miss.
However, now that Starz has chosen a castle not unlike the old Fort William, we go there on the one day (Starz) Outlander TV Tour for those interested in the filmed version of the books.

All J&C tours of Scotland visit genuine standing stones and circles, including Clava Cairns. There are no stone circles in Scotland exactly like the one described by Craig Na Dun - there are plenty of stones and circles to see though. We'll normally visit two sets.

The stones shown in Starz were made for the series.

Remember, it took Claire and Jamie the better part of their first year to make their initial journey just in the first book. Even with modern transport, the order of the locations in the book would literally have us going up/down/up and around in a couple of circles, and would not be practical or possible in one week! What we do, whenever possible, is to go to the locations of the first book early in the tour and Culloden quite late in the tour. There is a logical flow to our tour.

Go to the tour you're interested in. Look for Itinerary & Experiences. This is what your tour will cover. We do not publish a day by day, hour by hour schedule. Why? Because we like to keep elements of surprise and, frankly, you don't need one. You're on holiday, so kick back, relax and enjoy the view while WE make sure we're on schedule! Each evening we will go over the next day's plan so you can prepare the appropriate clothing and have something to chat and dream about. The Itinerary & Experiences are printed on the contract as well.

Scotland tours begin & complete in Edinburgh; Dragonfly tours begin and complete in Paris; Private tours can begin and complete anywhere you wish by arrangement.

On the J&C tour, we often give you a half day in Inverness, for shopping, laundry and catching up on your journal. On other days from about 9 am we guide you through the day, afterall you are paying for a guided tour!
There are some places we go where you can explore at your own pace away from the guide and group for an hours before we journey to our next destination.
Usually, three of the evenings are independent and three have group meals. On the short tours (1-3 days) we use the whole day for quality experience, without free time, except in the evenings.
On custom tours, you can choose how much free time you want.

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Picking the right tour for you

What's Included
This is a general list for all tours. For specific tour inclusions & exclusions see individual tours listed on their own pages.

  • Fully researched, planned, booked and guided tours
  • Accommodation for the duration of the tour (although you pay the accommodation hosts directly and the actual tour cost may be lower as a result)
  • Daily transportation from tour start to completion
  • Two lunches on the J&C tour (packed / picnic when weather permits)
  • We arrange about 3 group evening meals (you pay for your own meal)
  • Entrance fees to group arranged places (castle, etc.)
  • Evening group entertainment including Highland Tales with Harp
  • Gàidhlig lessons
  • All applicable taxes

All of our tours have a house style. We are known for the following:

  • More Foot Than Wheel ~ We tend to spend more time out of the vehicle than in, walking, hiking, exploring. If you like to see scenery from the comfort of a coach seat, this is not the tour for you! We drive about 90 minutes a day on a majority of days once at our furthest locations, and 2 to 3 hours spread across one day to get into or out of the Highlands on the J&C Tour. The longer drives are interspersed with activities including site visits, hiking and exploring time away from the vehicle.
  • Small Group The group size is fourteen maximum.
  • Storyeller to Clan Maclean One of your guides, Scot, is a genuine traditional Highland storyteller, with harp. He's also a Highland historian. You can hear his musical work at www.ansgeulaiche.co.uk.
  • Real Guiding ~ We guide you in each place, (with the exception of a couple of self guiding / free to roam places), opening up and interpreting sites for you, not just transporting you from one stop to another and waiting at the vehicle. We're not simply drivers!
  • Relevant Locations ~ We don't take you 'off book' to another part of the country or unrelated castles etc., then call it an "Outlander Tour". These tours are built upon Jamie & Claire's experiences and Diana's work. This is not a generic Scotland tour re-branded.
  • Real Highland Hospitality ~ You get lovely, homey B&Bs to stay in with fabulous breakfasts and countryside hospitality. Each place is hand picked. We don't block book impersonal hotels.
  • Great Activities ~ We prefer you to experience in preference to see Scotland. Depending on the tour your special activities can include boat trips, Wilderness Skills event, meeting Highlanders, live traditional music sessions, ale and whisky tasting and pony trekking (all when available - and they usually are).
  • Gàidhlig lessons ~ You'll get lessons from Scot and a few pointers from Samantha as we drive along.

We simply can not have smoking on the tour at any time or place. Scotland has strict No Smoking laws. It is now illegal in/around accommodation and within public interiors. For ease of rules and everyone's comfort, we do not allow smoking at any time on the tour, even in the off hours, as the smell of smoke clings and can be carried into the vehicle, accommodation, restaurant, etc., making it unpleasant for others to sit next to that person.

All MacKenzie Adventures tours have a house style - small, genuine, well thought out, high standards... but we have a few different kinds of tours which we offer according to our whim.

  • Jamie and Claire Tour: For readers and viewers of Outlander and their partners (readers or not).
  • Starz Outlander filming locations, which are short tours of one or two days.
  • The Connoisseur's Tour range: For those keen to see the other fabulous places that few overseas travellers go. These tours are usually populated by our alumnii guests and their friends.
    In some years we offer "The Romantic Borders" or "Journey to the Western Isles". We would not go here if we didn't like them so much! These tours are hosted by Scot AnSgeulaiche. Visit his website to see the current offers or to request a special tour Scot AnSgeulaichce's connoisseur's tours.
  • Slow Scotland: inspired by the Slow Food movement (opposite of fast food) where we base ourselves in one rich area and take trips out and back via foot, cycle, sail, canoe, horseback - nothing fast. This is a private / custom tour and it works well for parties of family or friends. Use of motor vehicles is kept to a minimum. A style of tour where you really get to know a small region of Scotland in incredible depth. We often arrange 'holiday let' accommodation for you so you only need to unpack once over a 6 or 7 day period.
    Again, these are hosted by Scot.

connoisseur's tour stamp
"The Romantic Borders" or "Journey to the Western Isles" are two examples of the Connoisseur's Tours.
From our Borders Tour These adventures have the hidden gems, the roads less travelled, the well kept secrets, the "Oh my goodness why don't more people know about this" places! These adventures are designed for those who...

  • Want to see some of the well hidden and "best of" an area, often outside of the Highlands and who realize there's more to Scotland than Loch Ness!.... ahem, cough cough.
  • May have visited before, be it Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, France, to the popular tourist sites and on a repeat visit wish to go deeper into the land and culture of the place, to wonderful places that they have probably never heard of.
  • Are perhaps Outlandish Spirits alumni and have been on The Jamie and Claire Tour or any of our other adventures because the aching in your heart to return just won't go away.
  • Guests who trust that we know our country, love these places and that they are worth sharing.
  • Guests who understand when we shout "No! We don't go to Edinburgh Castle and Fort William on this tour!" and understand we'll take them to places much better.

These tour offerings change every year and are hosted by Scot. The current tours can be seen on his website www.ansgeulaiche.co.uk

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Questions about guests / fellow travellers

A book reading All our pre-scheduled tours are small and have up to 14 guests max. The transport is not a 'touristy' looking coach but 9 seater vans and 5 seater cars. Private tours and can cater for larger or smaller groups.

Two of our guests The minimum age for guests on our public tours is 21 unless accompanied by an older adult.
Past tours have had guests aged 23 to 80+ on the same tour.
Many of our private tours are requested for families with young children.

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Questions About Optional Extras

Pony Trekking Pony Trekking and Horse Riding are great ways to see a bit of the countryside and woodlands. This is an optional extra available on many tours, depending on our route. It lasts about one hour and costs around £40. Prior riding experience is not always needed. Safety helmet is supplied by the stables. Highland ponies are traditionally smaller so there is a weight limit for riders of about 180 pounds / 13 stone / 80 kg.
Those in the group not riding are usually guided on a pleasant walk.

Travel tips, arrival, first time in Scotland etc

Flights should only be purchased after you have received word that the tour is 'set to go'. This happens when there are a minimum of 6 guests registered and you will be notified as soon as it happens (at least 3 months before the tour start and sooner if 6 guests sign on before that).
You will arrange and purchase your own flights to/from Edinburgh or alternate airports when appropriate.
We advise you to avoid flights that change in Newark NJ or in London Heathrow.
A great route from the north Americas into Edinburgh is via Schipol (Amsterdam) in the Netherlands, or via Mancherster England or Shannon Ireland.

I remember my first time abroad. I wish I knew then, what I know now! So, as part of your booking process, you will receive a suggested Packing List, Edinburgh Hotel suggestions for pre/post tour and information covering everything from currency exchange to local transport, etc. We try to make your first or return trip to Scotland as informative as possible.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get Sterling cash is to use an debit card in the ATM at Edinburgh airport arrivals lounge. You can't miss the ATM (aka Cash-Machine, Hole-in-the-Wall)
Be sure to ask your bank to unlock your cards for use in the U.K.
Note that Amex cards are rarely accepted in the UK.
We talk about additional expenses (like gifts and meal prices) in a document after you sign on.

It's easy! We pick you up (and drop you off) at a location that is :

  • Near to Edinburgh airport
  • On the tram and train lines just minutes from the Airport, Edinburgh city centre and 45 mins from Glasgow
  • There are hotels right there that we can recommend.
You can find all of this in the document you download after you sign on.

For accommodation, you will have your own room. Usually within our small groups (up to 14 people) there is a natural camaraderie that happens. I do help this along and I remain aware of any single travelers and do my utmost to make everyone feel part of the group. But it is a two way path and each traveller, single or in couples or groups, needs to meet us part way! Scot and I are part of the group too! So we socialize with everyone.

Yes, absolutely. If you arrive the day before a tour, you don't have to worry about your flight being late and you can ease through any jet lag so you're rested for the first day of the tour. If you are late for the meet time, we cannot wait.
The documents you receive after booking will have a few suggestions for Edinburgh accommodation and transport.

Global warming is here, one way or another. As such, seasons are not predictable or consistent. However, here is an overview of our seasons:

  • The pre-spring and spring months of March, April and May are/were historically drier. May is filled with flowers, light green leaves. The days can be cooler and get comfortably warm as well. There are fewer travellers, so you can enjoy sites at ease.
  • Summer can have warmer temperatures quite often. We visit gardens in full bloom, but it tends to rain a bit more, historically speaking. There are more tourists about.
  • The autumn months of September/October have the added value of the autumn sun that casts a lovely glow over the landscape - artists love this time of year. The heather turns from purple to a deep rusty red in later autumn that covers the hillsides. The weather is mixed (like summer) and there are normally fewer tourists around.
  • Winter is very beautiful too, providing you have the appropriate outdoor clothing. We can get brief days of clear, blue cold skies, with longer days of driving rain. That's 56 degrees north in the winter for you!
  • See this link for the climate profile for Edinburgh: www.myweather2.com (for Edinburgh) and choose your tour month from the tabs.

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Questions about deposits, booking process etc

The deposit is £104 per person. The cancellation policy is in the TnC page

They'll be published as soon as I have them, normally in October for the year following. Have patience!

Sign on from the time the tour is on the web until 16 weeks (4 months) before the tour date. The Sooner a tour is filled the sooner we can establish everyone's accommodation, vehicles, any special events, etc. We may hold the tour open up to 12 weeks, but it's best to check with us first if it's getting towards the closing date. If we do there may be extra costs incurred for late comers.

Click on the "Book Your Tour Here" button within each tour's page.
All deposit payments are made securely via a web payment service (Stripe.com) and you may use your debit or credit card within their system. We do not accept cheques, bank drafts or cash or cards directly.
Instructions for paying your balance will be outlined on your contract. You pay your balance to show acceptance of the tour agreement. This happens usually 4-6 weeks after booking. You will use Transferwise.com. Transferwise does not accept Card payments. It is a fund transfer, bank to bank method. Transferwise is cheaper than a bank or PayPal, secure, friendly.
For your accommodation, you will pay to the hosts directly upon arrival. Sometimes a deposit is required several months before the tour. You will be informed in plenty of time.
The Terms and Conditions of the deposit, cancellation etc are found on the T&C page.

All tours have a minimum guest number to make the tour viable. It is usually 6.
A reminder: Do not book your flights until the tour is guaranteed to go. You'll be informed of this as soon as that happens, which is often several months in advance. If a tour is cancelled due to low numbers, it is at least 3 months in advance. Your booking can be transferred to any other available tour. If you choose not to transfer, your deposit and balance will be returned in full. Though we have never had to cancel a tour so far due to low numbers, it is best to side with caution.

If you have trouble with the booking process, you can email me by translating this email address
Samantha @ JamieandClaireTour 'dot' co 'dot' uk
OR
Telephone from outside UK: your country exit code* +44 1764 681682
(Remember time difference. *US exit code is 011)
Within the UK 01764 681682

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Miscellaneous

Yes we do, but we do not pay commission. We can offer custom / bespoke itinerary based on our tours as part of a private tour that you programme for your client. See Custom Tours page.

If you have trouble with the booking process, you can email me by translating this email address
Samantha @ JamieandClaireTour 'dot' co 'dot' uk
OR
Telephone from outside UK: your country exit code* +44 1764 681682
(Remember time difference. *US exit code is 011)
Within the UK 01764 681682

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