Read 2013 reviews of our tours
The tour was perfect for us, with a focus on archaeological sites but also including some more recent historical sites. Both Dave and Caz showed deep knowledge of the pre-history and history relating to the sites, with content which was serious and substantive without being heavy. In the tradition of the best documentaries, you don't need to be an expert to be fascinated as you are learning more, with the added excitement of being there. I was aware of the well-known sites but was surprised that many of the lesser-known sites were equally impressive in their own way. We would never have experienced those without this tour. The logistics were faultless: comfortable accommodation and travel arrangements, a schedule with flexibility to take advantage of the weather and avoid any crowds, and the small group size (8) allowing greater access to sites and a more personal feel to the tour.
Visited August 2013
I've recently returned from this trip to Orkney and have to say it was one of the best holidays I've been on. The itinerary was very well planned allowing for enough time to be spent at the different sites that we visited. Caz was extremely knowledgeable and made sure everything ran very smoothly and also ensured that individual requirements such as dietary preferences were always met . The vehicle we travelled in was clean & comfortable. The hotel we stayed in (Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall) was excellent with very friendly staff & really nice rooms. I have paid single supplements on holidays before and ended up in poor rooms but not here. My room was superb with a great view over the harbour. The food was very good throughout the tour. I would definitely recommend this holiday. Visited August 2013
This was an amazing experience. We were taken on a most thoughtfully-organised itinerary around all the major archaeological/historical sites and also many less well-known. We were provided with clearly-explained current ideas about the background to/development of each place, ranging from prehistory to aspects of WWII. Our guide was helpful and interesting throughout, showing concern, not only that we appreciated the sites but also for our welfare. The vehicle was comfortable and we had good views, wherever we happened to sit. The trip took us to several of the islands of Orkney, travelling to some across linking "dams" and to others by ferry, giving us a really clear idea of the various types of terrain faced by prehistoric peoples and by the current friendly inhabitants of these beautiful islands. The hotel was most friendly and comfortable, and the food was superb throughout the week. I would really recommend this holiday.
Visited August 2013
Orkney Archaeology Tours is an impressive and slick organisation, providing a comfortable, informative and comprehensive view of the important sites in the islands. This has been a remarkable week! Standing on the underground platform at Victoria Station on the way home, I could hardly believe that I had been climbing and crawling around some of the most extraordinary Neolithic, Bronze age and Iron age sites in the world. As an archaeologist and experienced guide, Caz is always happy to answer questions about all sorts of aspects relating to island life and history and to ensure the safety and enjoyment of a diverse group. The extensive range of her knowledge is exceptional and wide ranging and includes Medieval, Renaissance and WWI and II sites. We stopped at some lovely lunchtime spots and felt like exclusive guests of the islands. Visited August 2013
Shortly after my first visit to Orkney in 2010 (see my trip advisor review), I knew a return visit was a must. Caz Mamwell, tour guide and professional archeologist supreme, executed with finesse and brilliance a second week-long experience, taking us to several of the outer islands along with a splendid hike into the hills of Hoy to see the Old Man. Nothing beats the exciting and fascinating way Caz explains history through lore, legend, and local anecdotes. Her knowledge of Orkney knows no end, and her humor, storytelling and organization skills are miraculous. This second tour will no longer be offered, but you can bet I'll be back some day to repeat the first trip. Orkney has gotten under my skin, from the mysterious and wonderful standing stones of Brodgar to the crunchy deliciousness of Scottish flapjack...Caz's Archeological Tours make travel to Orkney uncomplicated for the foreign visitor. Local business people are welcoming (and help you figure out all the small coins!) The free history museum and lovely shops are just minutes away by foot from the Ayre Hotel, where you will stay each night. A variety of breakfast items are available each morning and the supper menu is certainly varied enough to keep the guest satisfied during the week's stay. Nevertheless, take advantage on your arrival day and free morning to sample local specialties in the cafés and restaurants, where the gray exteriors belie the wonders within. Visited August 2013
What can I add that has not already been said? We went on the Returners trip. I reviewed our first trip in 2011 and this was every bit as good. Sadly Caz has so much demand from those wanting to come for the first time that she has had to stop offering the return tour. The introductory week tours are still available but being booked up for next year so move quickly. Don't bother reading the rest of this. Book now! As always Caz delivered a host of stories about local events people and places that you certainly won't find in any guide book. they come from someone who lives there and who seems to be on friendly terms with at least half the population of the islands. The sites are stunning for anyone who has an interest in life from over 5,000 years ago to the present. Highlights for us were the Knap of Howar a farmstead dated back to well before 3000BC and the Ness of Brodgar site. Anyone who still believes those living in the Neolithic were savages will quickly change their minds on seeing this site and Skara Brae. Both are on the introductory tour agenda. As digging only happens for a few weeks in July and August each year and the site is largely covered up for the rest of the year, these are the best times to go. For dig dates google Ness of Brodgar and you'll soon find the dates. Orkney has impressive sites from all eras. Apart from the Neolithic and Bronze age there are Pictish remains and the Vikings seem to have had a fair bit of fun there. Several of the earlier monuments have Viking graffiti! Kirkwall has a medieval palace and impressive red Cathedral. More up to date are Scapa flow where the German ww1 fleet was scuttled and the WW2 Churchill barriers and the chapel built by Italian prisoners of war. To some the group idea may be a bit off-putting. We are not greatly sociable but any disadvantage of not being able to do your own thing is more than compensated for by having someone as knowledgeable and informative as Caz leading us. Groups tend to comprise people aged 50 and over. There is usually a mixture of couples and individuals and on average I would guess slightly more women. Social interaction with the rest of the group is as much or as little as you are comfortable with. Some groups seem to eat all meals together, others go their own way and just meet up in the Hotel foyer every morning before being taken off by Caz in the minibus for the morning adventure. Lunch is usually soup and sandwiches with cake to follow. Invariably excellent and much more is put on the table than you can eat and none of our vegetarians starved. Caz pre orders lunch so any requirements can be met. The trips are not particularly taxing. Some rough ground and a bit of crawling to get into some of the tombs and stooping to get through low doorways but nothing that requires anything more than moderate fitness. Although the price may look high the only significant thing not included in the price is wine or beer with your evening meal. The food at the Ayre Hotel is good with a fair variety. Plenty of fish and a very sweet local cheesecake. The staff are friendly and both times we have stayed we have had a comfortable room overlooking the sea and the ferries coming and going. Probably the best thing I can say is that we were sorry to leave Orkney as, by the end of the week, it felt almost like home! Visited August 2013
My wife and I heartily agree with all the superlatives other reviewers have written about Caz Mamwell and her Orkney Archeology tours. We just completed our second tour, and found it as wonderful, informative, and fun as the first. What makes her tours particularly interesting (and not mentioned by other reviewers) is that she is a professional archeologist known by all the others in the Orkney Islands. Twice, when we visited actively working sites on this last trip, the site archeologists immediately wanted to share with us (and Caz) their latest finds or observations. Their enthusiasm to share with us was extraordinary. Caz has planned the logistical side of the trips perfectly! Excellent accommodations and superb lunches. Both times our group (limited to 8) was exceptionally pleasant, interesting, and fun. The only thing I can complain about is that she won't do a third follow up tour as we would love to return. Thank you Caz for another wonderful week! Visited August 2013
This was our first visit to Orkney and we enjoyed it very much and learnt such a lot about both the history of Orkney, but also about present day life on the islands. Caz Mamwell is an excellent tour guide, the whole experience was presented in a very professional way.Her wealth of knowledge about each site visited is amazing. Everything ran very smoothly. At no time did a visit to a site coincide with the visit of a tour bus. The mini-bus in which we toured the islands was very roomy and comfortable. We enjoyed the ferry rides to the islands of Hoy and Rousay. What I didn't realise before we went was the range of sights we would see from so many different periods of Orkney's history. The most amazing, of course, were the neolithic sites, but the sites that covered other eras were fascinating as well. If you toured on your own, you would see the major sites, but I'm sure miss out on some of the lesser known ones. Lunch was at a different location, in a pub, depending on where we were that day. The full accommodation at the Ayre Hotel was very comfortable and had good food. I would recommend this tour to anyone interested in travel and history. It is also very good value for money, considering the fee includes all meals and accommodation for a week, as well as the tour.
Visited July 2013
My expectations of this all-inclusive holiday were high as it promised to be an exclusive experience with a qualified Archaeologist as the tour guide of a group of just eight people who would be collected and escorted to a total of 30 of Orkneys monuments throughout the week. I was not in the least disappointed, in fact my expectations were surpassed!! The professional standard of the holiday was unbelievable and I echo the sentiments of other reviewers in praising Caz Mamwell. I was amazed at the knowledge and detail imparted at every location. Her information was comprehensive, fascinating and often inspirational. I have certainly been given detailed insights to some of these islands and their histories both Ancient and more recent. On a practical level the attention to detail on this tour was second to none. Water bottles were freely supplied in the comfortable daily transport. Each lunchtime was joy of delicious home made sandwiches, soup and shortbread in different superb locations. The hotel could not be more comfortable or the staff more accommodating. Meal choices were plentiful and I personally recommend Scallops for starters, the Steak and Black Pudding as a main and Orkney ice cream for dessert!! I had an utterly wonderful experience and in my opinion this tour is THE best way to enjoy Orkney. Visited July 2013
We had a wonderful holiday. The hotel was far better than I had expected. The staff were friendly and nothing was too much trouble. The food was excellent. The food was good at all the places we stopped for lunch too. As we travelled around Orkney, Caz answered our questions. On the rare occasions when she didn’t have the facts to hand, she found out or directed us to someone who knew. There are eight places in her mini bus. We managed to avoid crowds at all the archaeological places we were taken to. This didn’t happen by accident. Caz takes a lot of trouble to avoid the popular sites at times when there are large tours visiting. I felt that we were a lucky few tourists to a very beautiful part of Britain. Visited June 2013
What a wonderful tour with Caz and our small band of comrades- we saw so much and were extremely privileged to visit the Archaeological and historical gems on Mainland,Rousay and Hoy with such a knowledgeable and friendly leader. It was a real adventure disappearing into holes in the ground, down ladders and dressed for the occasion with helmets and knee pads- Caz made it so easy for us all and we had many sites to ourselves which helped to create the atmosphere of long ago. We saw birds too!! lots of them .The organisation was superb, our travel very comfortable with scrumptious lunches of soup ,sandwiches and home bakes .The Ayre Hotel is well located, friendly service ,with high standard of accommodation, food and good Dark Island beer! Thank you Visited June 2013
The Orkney Adventure Tour was very well organised with all meals and entry costs on the itinerary included. Accommodation, breakfast and dinner was provided by the Ayre hotel, Kirkwall to a high standard. A very good lunch was provided each day by various pubs around Orkney depending on where we were touring at the time. Caz took us to interesting historical sites on Mainland, Hoy, Rousay and South Ronaldsay and provided informative commentary, an insight into some of the challenges facing archaeologists in Orkney and a glimpse of various aspects of island life. The tour covered a time frame from the neolithic period to WW2, visiting well known sites such as Skara Brae and Maeshowe, as well as places with a more recent historical significance such as the still operational Barony Mill, the Hoy Martello Tower and the Italian Chapel. Although we covered a lot of locations, the pace was very relaxed.
In summary, we had a very enjoyable week. Visited May 2013