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Gap of Dunloe jaunting car and boat trip

A gorgeous mountain pass, overlooked by some of Ireland's highest peaks, the Gap of Dunloe is a prime attraction on the edge of Killarney National Park. This scenic looped tour by jaunting car (horse and carriage) and boat is a wonderfully relaxing way to discover the incredible scenery of the national park.

You'll get the chance to get out on foot between dramatic peaks in the ancient glacial valley, enjoy the easy banter and expert local knowledge of your jaunting car driver, and see the park's moody peaks and deep russet hills from the water.

You'll be picked up from your hotel in the morning for this private, full-day tour and driven north out of Killarney town toward Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a touristy, family-run pub. Here you’ll meet your jaunting car horse and driver, and set off up the lane toward the Gap of Dunloe.

The Gap is a relatively quiet but very popular mountain track between the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks to the west and Purple Mountain to the east, which has outstanding views both back across Tomies Mountain and on toward Moll’s Gap.

The track is mainly used by walkers, cyclists, jaunting cars and only the occasional vehicle. It leads steadily up into the mountains, passing lakes, craggy boulders, streams, ruined cottages and a few solitary houses.

As you go your driver will give you a potted history of the park, its landscape and the people who have lived here over the centuries from Saint Finian who founded a leper colony on Innisfallen Island in the 7th century to the visit by Queen Victoria in 1861.

From the summit you’ll descend to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, a 19th-century hunting lodge which sits on the western shore of Killarney’s Upper Lake. Here you'll transfer to a traditional open boat to travel across the three lakes of Killarney, Upper Lake, Muckross Lake and Lough Leane, to return to Ross Castle on the outskirts of Killarney town. The views of the surrounding scenery are spectacular with the brooding mountains framing the steely lakes, ancient forests and stunning hills.

You may also be able to spot wildlife as you glide across the water with sika and red deer often seen in the surrounding woodland and white-tailed eagles soaring overhead. If you are extremely lucky you may even see the red deer swimming across the lake to graze on the lush islands.

When you arrive at medieval Ross Castle you’ll be met by your driver and taken back to your hotel. During the day, there will be time to stop for lunch (not included) at a place of your choosing.

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.