Summary : Thundering waterfalls, Komodo dragons, and awe-inspiring landscapes are a just a few amazing things that you can expect on this voyage. Arrive in the untamed wilderness of Australia’s hidden treasure — The Kimberley Coast. Here, enjoy Aboriginal culture and Zodiac trips exploring narrow mangrove channels and sandstone gorges to see Saltwater crocodiles and Ospreys.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the ship in the afternoon and meet your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers.
Head east towards your first island, sleep in, relax, have a leisurely breakfast and attend one of the lectures preparing you for the Indonesian part of your voyage.
Known for its intricate ikat fabric, distinctive architecture and sculptured stone tombs, Sumba has resisted the advances of the modern age. It is therefore a fascinating island to explore, especially West Sumba where ancient tribal rites are best preserved. The Sumba culture revolves around villages where ancestors are worshipped by extended families living in enormous clan houses with high-pitched thatch roofs. The Sumbanese honor the dead by dragging massive stones a great distance to construct mausoleums for the departed.
Arrive around noon and take a Zodiac to go ashore. Drive in small local buses to visit several villages. Witness a funereal rite ceremony as well as a ‘Pasola’, a fierce martial arts performance on horseback. Observe the process of making Indonesia’s famous ikat textiles, and have the opportunity to purchase ikat directly from the weavers.
Early risers may spot whales cruising the straits on the approach to Komodo. Silver Discoverer will anchor close to the National Park Headquarters, where you will land on a floating jetty to reach the starting point of your hike. Walk along a forested pathway to a viewing area for a close inspection of the Komodo dragons. These enormous reptiles weigh up to 300 pounds. The surrounding forest is also home to elegant Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Helmeted Friarbirds, Orange-footed Megapodes, and Javan deer. Each walking group will be accompanied by a ranger and a local companion to make sure a safe distance will be maintained between the dragons and the visitors.
During lunch Silver Discoverer will reposition to the spectacular Pink Beach for an afternoon of snorkeling or relaxing on the beach. You can spot shimmering tropical fish such as the striped clown fish nestled among the protective tentacles of its sea anemone host, or a spotted grouper lazily swimming by a flamboyant sea fan. Apart from the tropical fish at Pink Beach rays have regularly been seen close to the neighboring island of Pulau Punya.
During the morning you might attend a talk by one of the lecturers. Another option would be to learn more about taking and editing photos, attending a photography seminar.
Shortly before noon arrive in front of Savu, a small island about halfway between Timor and Sumba. This little island is one of the most interesting destinations in Nusa Tenggara. The Savunese plant predominantly corn, but derive their staple nutrition from the lontar palm. The nutritious juice of this drought-resistant tree makes possible a relatively high population concentration on Savu’s 461 square kilometers. Approximately 80% of the Savunese are Christian, although animistic beliefs are still important.
The tradition of textile weaving remains strong, with the women still growing the cotton, hand dyeing and weaving on back-strap looms. Enjoy a traditional village welcome, and see men and women dancing and singing. Both at the beach and in the village see the men on horseback, showing off their adorned ponies. Be treated to a lontar tapping demonstration. The sap of the lontar palm collected before morning can be used as a refreshing drink; it can be concentrated to a crude sugar or treated to become a thick, sweet and sticky palm wine – which you might get to taste.
A leisurely day at sea to exchange notes with fellow travelers and take advantage of the luxurious amenities and wellness program offered aboard Silver Discoverer. Attend a lecture, recapping your experience with Indonesian cultures or to prepare you for the fascinating Dreamtime mythology of the Aborigines. You can also just relax in the comfort of your suite and watch a movie on the in-suite interactive television.
Wyndham is the gateway to the breath-taking Bungle Bungle mountain range in Purnululu National Park, a World Heritage Site. For more than 350 million years, nature has shaped geological formations of giant orange and black striped domes rising out of the ground, a landscape unlike anything you have ever seen. Known to the local Aborigines for hundreds of years, the Bungles were only discovered by the outside world in the mid 1980’s.
Today take part in an inclusive overflight for an aerial view of these glorious panoramas, as well as the majestic, man-made Lake Argyle and Argyle Diamond Mine. Alternatively you can take a river cruise on the Ord River, looking for freshwater crocodiles, fruit-bats, short-eared rock wallabies and a variety of birds, including Mangrove Herons and Mangrove Gerygones.
The Kimberley is famous for having the world’s second largest tidal range after the Bay of Fundy. A flexible itinerary allows takes advantage of this natural phenomenon. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on tide, weather and sea conditions. Here are some of the places you may visit during your time in this wondrous region:
Nares Point & Crocodile Creek:
Nares Point is a long finger of sandstone protruding from the mainland alongside Koolan Island. With its convoluted photogenic rock formations, this is a superb location for Zodiac exploration and beach walks with our naturalists. In nearby Crocodile Creek—free of crocodiles despite its name—take a refreshing swim in the cool natural pool to relax and beat the Kimberley heat.
Talbot Bay (Horizontal Falls):
The British naturalist David Attenborough described Horizontal Falls as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”. This group of over 800 islands was created millions of years ago by the erosive tidal changes and the region’s tides of close to 36 feet (or nearly 11 meters) create an amazing spectacle. Depending on whether the tides are ebbing or flowing, board Zodiacs for an exhilarating ride through the falls which are actually part of the mainland. Then continue deeper into the sandstone gorge of Cyclone Creek, and explore geological formations that were created over the last two billion years.
Montgomery Reef is over 400 square kilometers (154 square miles) in size. Observe the amazing tidal changes that take place here. Timing of the tides is everything today; low tide reveals up to 13 feet (4 m) of reef exposing a river that allows access to this amazing semi-submerged world. As the tide continues to ebb, use the Zodiacs to make your way to the edge of the reef surrounded by cascading waterfalls up to 10 feet high (3 m), and continue up the river to look at the abundance of reef birds and every imaginable sea creature including turtles, manta rays and if we are lucky the elusive dugong. A visit to Montgomery Reef is extremely tide-dependent but truly a once in a lifetime experience.
At the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the world saw an enormous Wandjina spirit rising out of the ground. It was a breath-taking moment, and for most people, their very first encounter with Aboriginal mythology. The image was actually that of an 114?foot sculpture (35 m) created by an artist who lives at Raft Point, home to indigenous Wandjina paintings. Zodiac ashore and set out towards the top of Raft Point. Hike through the abundant Kimberley flora including the iconic boab tree, also known by the local Aboriginals as the “upside down tree”. Upon reaching the top of Raft Point, enjoy the spectacular views of the bay in the shade of the overhanging cliff, which is home to the Wandjina Spirit and many other Dreamtime stories and images representing daily aboriginal life. Take a seat, or lie on your back and take in the Wandjina Spirit and listen to the dreamtime stories associated with this extremely important Aboriginal spirit.
The Hunter River is home to an immense mangrove system that dates back over 2 billion years. Be sure to look for the image of the Indian Head in the soaring red sandstone cliffs as you set out by Zodiac to explore the narrow mangrove channels, watching for numerous bird species and keeping an eye out for the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), the most aggressive crocodile known to man. Look for the Ospreys that are known to nest here.
For those wishing to explore some of the Kimberley’s vast interior, your expedition team can arrange an optional helicopter flightseeing excursion (extra fee) to the famous Mitchell Falls where four tiers of waterfalls plunge into deep pools that flow out into the Mitchell River.
Jar Island, Vansittart Bay:
After landing on Jar Island by Zodiac go for a walk to the outdoor gallery of Bradshaw Art (also known as Gwion Art), one of the three distinctive styles of rock art in the Kimberley region. Bradshaw Art has raised more questions than answers as to who painted these figures and where the artists have come from. Listen to the theories and interpretations of experts as you admire these very delicate and intricate pictographs.
King George River & Falls:
The King George Falls is one of the Kimberley’s most magnificent natural wonders. At 260 feet (80 m), the twin cascades are among the highest in Australia. Drop anchor at the mouth of the river and ride Zodiacs up this waterway, weaving through an amazing landscape of near vertical red rock formations and a parade of wildlife — carnivorous saltwater crocodiles, amazing birdlife including giant raptors and the Brahminy Kite. Arriving at the falls, cruise quite close to the base to contemplate the immensity of this thundering spectacle. A truly humbling experience.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; snorkeling gear; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; park entrance fees; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Tourism Western Australia