Australia’s Iconic Kimberley – with Nat Geo


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    In partnership with National Geographic Expeditions

    Set sail for the wild and grandiose landscapes of Kimberley, following this exceptional PONANT itinerary. From Broome to Darwin, embark aboard Le Lapérouse for an 11-day expedition cruise. to one of the last unspoiled regions on the planet. In one of the most picturesque parts of the region, the Hunter River, you will see wild mangrove forests where saltwater crocodiles live along with many species of birds. The highpoint of this cruise will undoubtedly be the discovery of the King George River and the majestic Twin Falls, the highest falls in Western Australia. You will also visit Collier Bay, where you will be able to admire the Montgomery Reef, home to vast expanses of lagoons and immense coral reefs.Le Lapérouse will take you along one of the most spectacular coasts in the entire region. With their falls, abrupt gorges, savannah, calm waters and desolate mountain chains, the wild lands of Kimberley are the promise of an exceptional adventure.

    Highlights

    • A cruise in partnership with National Geographic Expeditions offering enrichment with a National Geographic Photographer and an Expert specialised in the destination onboard.• One-night pre-cruise tour in Broome before your cruise. Included in the cruise fare.

      • Join our highly qualified local expedition team

      • Enjoy regular Zodiac® outings & shore visits to get close to Kimberley nature

      • Discover billions of years-old landscapes & ancient rock art

      • Listen to stories of the dreamtime from the oldest continuous culture on the planet

      • Explore pristine mangrove environments, home to the world’s largest living reptile

      • Witness unique tidal phenomena such as the Horizontal Falls


    Itinerary

    Exploring the Kimberley - with Nat Geo map

    Day 1: Overnight in Broome

    Meet and greet in Broome airport depending on your flight time. Transfer to your hotel in Broome, selected by Ponant. Dinner and overnight in your hotel.

    Day 2: Embarkation in Broome

    Embarking day – Broome Breakfast in the hotel. Start your day on a coach-tour to discover Broome as only the locals know it. In this tour you will see the very heart of Broome. Enjoy the natural beauty of the region including the famous Cable Beach, learn about the town’s diverse history and culture with a visit to the Japanese and Chinese cemetery and extended time at Broome Historical Museum. Discover how the world-famous South Sea Australian Pearl is cultivated and harvested on your guided tour of Cygnet Bay Pearling Pioneers Exhibition. Lunch in a local restaurant. Time at leisure in Broome. Transfer to pier for embarkation.

    Day 3: Lacepede Islands

    The Lacepede Islands are Western Australia’s most important breeding habitat for Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas), and have been named by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The breeding colony of Brown Boobies is possibly the largest in the world. Up to 20,000 Roseate Terns have also been recorded here. Other birds breeding on the islands include Masked Boobies, Australian Pelicans, Lesser Frigatebirds, Eastern Reef Egrets, Silver Gulls, Crested, Bridled and Lesser Crested Terns, Common Noddies, Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers. Join your expedition team for a guided Zodiac® tour to view the prolific wildlife. Due to the sensitive nature of the environment, landings are prohibited on the Lacepede Islands.

    Days 4 & 5: Collier Bay

    Collier Bay is located on the rocky and deserted coast of one of the most remote region of the Kimberley, that visitors can only approach by ship. The tidal movements, amongst the largest range of anywhere on the planet create amazing phenomena as seawater comes in or out: the “Horizontal Waterfalls”, a waterfall up to 4m high between the narrow passages of the vertiginous cliffs in Talbot Bay or Montgomery reef, a spectacular example of the impact of these tides cascading in mini-waterfalls as the entire reef appears to rise from the turquoise-blue waters of the bay. Containing large areas of shallow lagoon, seagrass beds and corals, Montgomery reef is Australia’s largest inshore reef. In this majestic landscape, you enter an aboriginal area. Some outstanding open air painted caves galleries alluding to their myths of creation can be observed after a hike on the hills. As we are at the mercy of weather and tide conditions in this region, the activities mentioned are only possible experiences and can’t be guaranteed.

    Day 6: Careening Bay

    Careening Bay was named by Lieutenant Phillip Parker King after his ship, HMC Mermaid, was careened there during his third voyage of discovery in 1820. The ship’s carpenter carved the name of the vessel and the year into a conspicuous boab tree. The famous boab tree is now 3 metres wide and National Heritage listed. A reminder of a by gone era of exploration!

    Day 7: Hunter River & Mitchell Falls

    Arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast, Prince Frederick Harbour and the Hunter River are lined with ancient rainforest pockets, pristine mangroves and mosaic sandstone cliffs. They are considered to be some of the most pristine mangrove forests in the world, containing up to 18 different species, supporting a rich and diverse fauna. The sandstone escarpment at the river mouth, known as “Kampamantiya” rises over 200 metres high before giving way to extensive mud banks and mangrove forests home to numerous bird species and the iconic saltwater crocodile. Our expert Expedition Team will share their knowledge with you as you explore this pristine mangrove environment by Zodiac® keeping a constant lookout for wildlife.

    Day 8: Swift Bay

    The Bonaparte Archipelago, is a stunningly rugged maze of islands stretching almost 150 km along Western Australia’s remote Kimberley coast. Its colour and scale conspire to take ones’ breath away. Its distant location has meant it has remained an unspoilt and remarkably pristine location to explore and experience. Phillip Parker King named “Swift’s bay” after Jonathon Swift (1667-1745) the author of Gulliver’s travels. The ‘T’ shaped bay is composed of heavily fractured sandstone providing an abundance of rock shelters. On the walls of these shelters are examples of both Wandjina and Gwion Gwion style rock art. Join your expedition team ashore for a guided walk to a number of rock art galleries depicting these unique rock art styles.

    Day 9: Vansittart Bay

    Jar Island contains ancient rock art galleries depicting the Gwion Gwion style unique to the Kimberley region. Mainly neglected by, or unknown to, the early European researchers of Aboriginal culture in the Kimberley in favour of the dominant & more dramatic Wandjina art, Gwion Gwion art has in recent years gained world prominence. It is generally thought that this art may extend back over 30,000 years & represent the first wave of seagoing colonisers of the Australian continent. As it is, these are the oldest detailed depiction of human figures in the world. Join your Expedition Team ashore for a short walk, past some fascinating rock formations, to the site of the Gwion Gwion art galleries.

    Day 10: King George River

    The journey up the King George River is nothing short of breathtaking. The 80m high sides of the gorge display varying degrees of weathering of the ancient Warton sandstone. The colours and textures of the gorge change with the light as you travel further up the river creating a continual changing scenery that is simply stunning. The journey culminates at the King George twin falls; the highest single-drop falls in the whole of the Kimberley (80m). Fed by wet season run-off the level of water cascading over the falls varies from year to year. Your Expedition Team will escort you in either the Zodiacs or ships tenders to the foot of the twin falls and explain all about the stunning geological formations of the canyon.

    Day 11: At sea
    During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board.

    Day 12: Darwin
    Darwin is a beautiful tropical city, a melting pot of people and cultures, over 50 different cultures live and work side by side that prides itself in its unique and friendly laid-back lifestyle. Come discover the town’s still recent history through its emblematic buildings such as the new Parliament House opened in 1994, a magnificent example of tropical architecture or Admiralty House declared heritage place, a tropical-style home elevated on stilts that has survived two cyclones and numerous air raids.

    Le Laperouse

    Featuring innovative and environmentally-friendly equipment, elegantly designed cabins, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside, this new limited-capacity luxury yacht boasting just 92 cabins and suites will offer you a truly unique cruising experience.

    Aboard this ship that flies the French flag, you will experience the incomparable pleasure of an intimate cruise, with the possibility of exploring an ever-increasing range of destinations in an ethnic-chic ambience with luxury service.

    WE-2020
    Images courtesy of WildEarth Travel