An unforgettable voyage through the grandiose landscapes of the Kimberley, one of the last unspoiled regions on the planet. 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, discover the famous King George River and the majestic Twin Falls as we sail towards the Hunter River, arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast. This expedition will take you deeper into the many bays dissecting the picturesque coast, where secret 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 where you will furthermore be joined by a National Geographic Photographer and Expert who will enrich your cruise experience.

Trip highlights

Discover billions of years-old landscapes & 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 tidal 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.

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.

2 Pulau Meatimiarang (Technical Stop)

Details coming soon.

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 hottest mean temperature in the country. 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 the remarkable Ord river wildlife, a scenic flight over the east Kimberley including the Bungle Bungle Ranges or a day exploring El Questro station including Emma Gorge and Zebedee springs.

4 King George River

Set sail up the infamous King George River where the truly astounding spectacle of King George Falls – Western Australia’s highest twin waterfalls can be found. Take in the spectacular 80m Warton sandstone gorges, witnessing the changing gorge as we travel towards the falls, the highest single-drop falls in the whole of the Kimberley (80m or 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 ships tenders to the foot of the Twin Falls and explain all about the stunning geological formations of the canyon.

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 regions 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 activities mentioned are only possible experiences and can’t be guaranteed.

8 Lacepede Islands

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 the world’s largest breeding colony of Brown Boobies and furthermore 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

Collier Bay situated in the Kimberley's Buccaneer Archipelago is one of the regions 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 activities 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

Spend your time at sea and make the most of the amenities on board Le Bellot. Enjoy a relaxing massage in the onboard spa whilst gazing out to sea or take a dip in the swimming pool. You may be able to catch up with our onboard National Geographic Experts and Photographers as they give greater insight into the destination via communal workshops. 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.

13 Darwin

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.

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.

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