Join us for an unforgettable journey through the grandiose landscapes of the Kimberley (West Australia), one of the last unspoiled regions on the planet, accompanied by National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards and National Geographic Expert Brad Norman.

Jason’s award winning work comprises one of the largest portfolio’s in the Society’s long history and he has been recognised globally for his contributions to Science, the Environment and the Arts. As an accomplished storyteller and photographer of Natural History, Jason will help you capture the story of your journey through the Kimberley.

Brad is the founder and lead marine scientist at ECOCEAN Inc., Australia’s only not-for-profit organisation dedicated to whale shark research and conservation, and he undertakes work in many stunning, yet isolated locations, including the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Set sail from Darwin and journey along one of Australia’s most spectacular coastlines, where flora and fauna thrive. During this 13-day 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.

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.

Wildlife and spectacular scenery are in abundance during this Expedition Cruise into the Kimberley and Jason and Brad will enrich your cruise experience with regular lectures and workshops to help you better understand and capture your journey through the National Geographic lens.

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

Trip highlights

Travel with renowned National Geographic photographer, Jason Edwards, and learn through workshops and one-on-one sessions how to capture the story of this incredible landscape.

Travel with marine conservationist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Brad Norman, and learn through workshops and one-on-one sessions how to better understand the landscapes and the wildlife of the Kimberley.

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).

Itinerary - 13 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, meet Brad Norman, your onboard National Geographic Expert, as he gives greater insight into the Kimberley region via lectures and discussions over coffee in the bar. Meanwhile, Jason Edwards, 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, Australia

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

Cruising up the infamous King George River is an exploration of colour with the 80m cliffs of Warton sandstone displaying varying degrees of weathering to reveal a kaleidoscope of colour and texture that changes throughout your journey, and as the light changes through the day. It is a photographer’s delight. 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.

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 Hunter River

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.

7 Collier Bay

Collier Bay situated in the Kimberley's Buccaneer Archipelago is one of the region’s most remote bays, only accessible by ship. The phenomenon of the tidal movements creates the mesmerising “Horizontal Waterfalls”, a waterfall up to 4 metres high between the narrow passages of the vertiginous cliffs in Talbot Bay or Montgomery reef. 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 where open-air painted caves can be discovered.

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.

8 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.

9 Collier Bay

Back at Collier Bay, be again fascinated by the “Horizontal Waterfalls”, a phenomenon of the tidal movements that creates a waterfall up to 4 metres high between the narrow passages of the vertiginous cliffs in Talbot Bay or Montgomery reef.

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 Careening Bay

Famed by the explorer Lieutenant Phillip Parker King, careening Bay was named after his ship HMC Mermaid, was careened there during his third voyage of discovery in 1820. The Mermaid had been leaking badly and King needed to find a shallow sandy bay where he could careen his boat to undertake repairs. At high tide, on a warm September afternoon, he ran the Mermaid onto the sands. For ten days the Mermaid crew worked hard before re-floating the vessel. The ship’s carpenter carved the name of the vessel and the year into a conspicuous boab tree. The boab tree is now a landmark on this bay, it stands at an impressive 3 metres wide, and boasts a National Heritage-listed status.

11 Swift Bay

The Bonaparte Archipelago is a stunningly rugged maze of islands stretching almost 150 km along Western Australia's remote Kimberley coast offering unspoilt and pristine scenery. Like Careening Bay, Swift Bay has early connections to explorer Phillip Parker King, who named Swift 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.

12 At sea

Today is your last day at sea and we encourage you to make the most of your time onboard Le Soleal. Catch up with our onboard National Geographic Expert Brad Norman and National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards to recap on your Kimberley adventure and better understand its people and landscapes. 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.

13 Darwin

Disembark from where you started in Darwin, Australia’s only tropical capital city and a gateway to the ‘Top End’. Take the opportunity to explore the city some more, before starting your journey home. As the plane climbs away from the tarmac, 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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