Journey from Darwin to Broome on this exceptional expedition to the Kimberley, one of the world’s most magnificent landscapes.

Experience the wonders of this pristine region in the company of a National Geographic Expert and a National Geographic photographer, who will not only open your eyes to the importance of this region, but also help you to capture the story of your journey through this incredible landscape.

Set sail from Darwin and journey along one of Australia’s most spectacular coastlines, where flora and fauna thrive. During this Expedition Cruise, we will explore up the King George River to discover the breath-taking Twin Falls and venture by Zodiac® into the Hunter River, arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast, to search for the largest reptile on earth, the saltwater crocodile.

This expedition will take you deep into the many bays dissecting the picturesque coast, where hidden coves and caves are home to ancient galleries of cave art, allowing us insight into the lives of the first people to settle on these sacred lands. With their falls, abrupt gorges, savannah, calm waters and desolate mountain chains, the wild lands of the Kimberley are the promise of an exceptional adventure.

Sail into the remote Lacepede Islands, a nature reserve and important breeding site for green turtles, where you will also be able to observe colonies of sea birds including brown boobies, Roseate terns and Australian pelicans.

At the end of your trip, sit down with your National Geographic Expert and photographer and reflect on the experiences you have shared on your voyage and how they have changed you upon your return. National Geographic and Ponant share the deep belief that when people understand the world, they care more deeply and are inspired to act to protect it.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Soleal, part of the Sisterships fleet.

Trip highlights

Sail with a National Geographic photographer, who will be available for lectures, workshops, and one-on-one sessions to help you capture the story of your journey, whether you are a seasoned photographer or just using your phone.

Sail with a National Geographic Expert, a leader in their field who will bring to life the insights and stories of their work, and will guide you to experience the Kimberley through the lens of National Geographic.

Discover billions of years-old landscapes and ancient rock art in Vansittart Bay where you can learn more about aboriginal culture and those who first settled on these sacred lands.

Explore pristine mangrove environments that hem the King George River and are home to an impressive array of wildlife including the world’s largest living reptile, the saltwater crocodile.

Witness unique phenomena such as the Horizontal Falls and King George Waterfall, as we journey into Collier Bay and the King George River.

Visit the Lacepede Islands and its incredibly diverse fauna. The islands are especially important as a breeding ground for Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas).

By travelling with National Geographic to the Kimberley, you will also be doing your part to protect it, as part of the proceeds of your trip are returned to the National Geographic Society, who works to further the understanding and protection of our planet.

Itinerary - 10 Days

1 Darwin, Australia

Situated in Australia’s Northern Territory, Darwin is Australia’s only tropical capital city and a gateway to the ‘Top End’. A cosmopolitan city and melting pot of people and cultures; Darwin is renowned for being home to incredible landscapes, laid back locals and a wealth of WWII history. After boarding Le Soleal and settling in, the ship will start sailing west to get into the heart of the Kimberley region.

2 Pulau Meatimiarang, Indonesia (Technical Stop)

During your day at sea, make the most of your time onboard Le Soleal. Meet your onboard National Geographic Expert to get greater insight into the Kimberley via lectures and discussions over coffee in the bar. Meanwhile your National Geographic photographer will give initial talks and workshops to help you capture the story of your adventure with your camera, whether you are a seasoned photographer, or using your phone. Come and learn how to make the most of the incredible photographic opportunities you will find along your voyage. Alternatively, venture to the upper deck to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you may be lucky enough to observe marine wildlife in the waters below alongside one of our naturalists.

Today the Indonesian officials will perform the necessary clearance formalities. Our stopover at Pulau Meatimiarang is for technical clearance purposes only. There is no opportunity for guests to go ashore.

3 Wyndham

Surrounded by some of the most spectacular landforms, rivers and wetlands, Wyndham is an exotic and isolated town. As the Kimberley's oldest town, Western Australia's northernmost town and has the highest long-term average temperature of any town in Australia at 29.3 degrees Celsius. Sitting on edge of the Cambridge Gulf, Wyndham is home to the spectacular Ord River, the manmade Argyle Dam, and Purnululu National Park.

During this stop, you will have the choice between 3 excursions: a cruise to search for wildlife along the remarkable Ord river, a scenic flight over the east Kimberley including the beehive-like hills that make up the Bungle Bungle Ranges or a day exploring El Questro station to take in the spectacular Emma Gorge and refreshing Zebedee springs.

4 King George River

The King George River cuts a striking path through the ancient Warton sandstone that makes up the walls of this deep gorge. With 80-metre-high sides, the rocks are an ever-changing palette of colours, made even more dramatic by the changing light and scenery that makes this landscape a photographer’s paradise. The culmination is your arrival at the King George Falls – Western Australia’s highest twin waterfalls at 80m (260ft). Fed by wet season run-off, the level of water cascading over the falls varies from year to year.

Today’s exploration of one of the iconic landscapes of the Kimberley will be one of the highlights of your trip. Your Expedition Team will escort you in either the Zodiacs® or ship’s tenders to the foot of the twin falls and explain all about the stunning geological formations of the canyon and search for wildlife along the way.

5 Vansittart Bay

Vansittart Bay is home to Jar Island, where ancient rock art galleries depicting the Gwion Gwion style unique to the Kimberley region can be found. Take a fascinating step back in time as we explore the rich history of Aboriginal culture in the Kimberley. Gwion Gwion art has in recent years gained world prominence. This art is thought to date back to over 30,000 years before our time and represents 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.

6 Swift Bay

The Bonaparte Archipelago is a beautiful rugged maze of islands that stretch almost 150km along Western Australia’s remote Kimberley coast. Remaining relatively unspoilt and remarkably pristine, Swift Bay is landscaped by 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.

7 Hunter River & Mitchell Falls

Arguably one of the most spectacular parts of the Kimberley, the Hunter River is a scenic waterway lined with ancient rainforest pockets, pristine mangroves and mosaic sandstone cliffs. The mangroves alone contain up to 18 different species, supporting a rich and diverse fauna and the river itself is home to the highest proportion of saltwater crocodiles of any river in the Kimberley. 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.

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. You will also have the opportunity to reach the Mitchell Falls by helicopter from Naturalist Island beach.

8-9 Collier Bay

Collier Bay is located on the rocky and deserted coast of one of the most remote regions of the Kimberley that can only be accessed by ship. The tidal range of 14m is amongst the largest range of anywhere on the planet and creates amazing phenomena that are found nowhere else in the world. The “Horizontal Falls”, created as an enormous volume of water is forced through a narrow channel between two cliffs results in a 4m high horizontal waterfall. Montgomery Reef, one of the world’s largest inshore reefs, appears to rise dramatically from the turquoise-blue waters of Collier Bay as the tide falls, leaving cascading mini-waterfalls and birds flock to feed on the bounty as it appears.

In addition to these natural phenomena, Collier Bay is also home to some of the most significant rock art sites in the world, with spectacular examples of both the Wandjina and Gwion Gwion styles. Your National Geographic photographer will be on hand to help you capture the very best of these unique opportunities.

As we are at the mercy of weather and tide conditions in this region, the above mentioned are only possible experiences and can’t be guaranteed.

10 Lacepede Islands

Today we will cruise by Zodiac® around the Lacepede Islands to view its incredible wildlife. Sometimes referred to simply as the Lacepedes, this group of four islands situated off the coast of the Kimberley play a significant part of Australia’s fauna ecosystem. The islands are a significant breeding habitat for Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and have been named by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The Lacepede Islands are also home to one of the world’s largest breeding colony of Brown Boobies and up to 20,000 Roseate Terns have been recorded here.

During your time at these islands, join the Expedition Team for a guided Zodiac® tour to view the prolific wildlife, that also includes Masked Boobies, Australian Pelicans, Lesser Frigatebirds, Eastern Reef Egrets, Silver Gulls, Crested, Bridled and Lesser Crested Terns, Common Noddies, Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers.

Due to the sensitive nature of the environment, landings are prohibited on the Lacepede Islands.

11 Broome

Located in the northwest of the Kimberley region, Broome is a town famed for its rich history and glorious pearling era. Visit the diverse Chinatown district where you can explore Japanese history as your visit the Brooms’ famous Japanese cemetery. Step back in time as your visit Gantheaume Point, where dinosaur footprints that are more than 130 million years old can be seen. You may also be lucky to see the famous “Staircase to the Moon”, an optical illusion created by the moon that reflects upon the sandbanks at low tide, creating the effect of a staircase climbing up towards the sky. As the plane climbs away from the tarmac for your journey back home, take a last look at the dramatic landscapes you leave behind as you return from one of the most remote regions on earth.

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