We are very excited to offer this new tour to a region that is one of the most remote and beautiful in all of Australia. Cruising the Kimberley really is a special experience, and August is the time to be there. Saltwater crocodiles, mangroves, waterfalls and amazing sunsets.
Ponant Le Soleal:
An elegant appearance and refined interior design combine with cutting-edge technology to offer a new type of cruising: adventure in a luxury setting. With only 264 guests and 145 crew, the service is impeccable.
There is an open bar onboard included, room service, entertainment, and subject to availability at time of your booking include either: flight over the Bungle Bungles, El Questro Experience, or an Ord river Cruise.
Other tour highlights:
- Darwin for 2 nights
- Kakadu National Park for 1 night and the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise
- Cable Beach Resort in Broome for 2 nights
Tuesday 15 August New Zealand – Darwin
We commence the tour with a flight to Darwin from Auckland. On arrival, we are transferred to our city hotel for a 2-night stay.
Wednesday 16 August Darwin (B.D)
After our late arrival last night, we relax this morning. Our afternoon sightseeing tour is a perfect introduction to Darwin. We see the Chinese Temple and the lush Botanic Gardens and tour the historic sights of the city including the East Point Military precinct, an area rich in World War II memorabilia. We see the Stokes Hill Wharf area and the Mooring Basin. There is also time available to explore the Museum and Art Gallery. Tonight, we get together for our welcome dinner cruise on Darwin Harbour which will hopefully present us with fantastic views of a fiery sunset.
Thursday 17 August Darwin – Kakadu National Park (B.L.D)
Today, we are up early to get started on a day you will long remember. Covering an area of almost 20,000 square kilometres, World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park offers one of the most diverse landscapes you will ever experience with mangrove fringed coastal areas, expansive flood plains, lowland hills, open woodland, and forest habitats. Be amazed at the population of wildlife in the water, on the land and in the air. Highlights of the day include: The Yellow Water Billabong Cruise, home to thousands of saltwater crocodiles and up to 60 species of colourful birdlife; after lunch at Cooinda, Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre where artefacts and videos illustrate stories of the traditional owners ranging from personal stories to “bush tucker”; Nourlangie which provided shelter to indigenous people for many thousands of years and where the rock art illustrates their deep spiritual culture. There is even an opportunity for a spectacular scenic flight (additional cost) over the Arnhem Land Escarpment. We overnight at Kakadu.
Friday 18 August Kakadu National Park – Darwin (B.D)
After a big day yesterday, we have a leisurely departure from our hotel in Kakadu, before returning to Darwin and joining our cruise ship, Le Laperouse.
Saturday 19 August Pulau Meatimiarang Indonesia (B.L.D)
Enjoy a leisurely day at sea to take advantage of the luxurious onboard services or enjoy a cool drink by the pool. Enjoy time to reflect on your experiences or share photographs with fellow guests. Our expedition team will be offering an enrichment programme focusing on Australia, it’s history and flora and fauna. Perhaps take the opportunity to be out on deck sunbathing or sampling culinary specialties prepared by the Chef and Galley Team.
Our stopover at Pulau Meatimiarang is for technical clearance purposes only. There is no opportunity for guests to go ashore.
Sunday 20 August Wyndham (B.L.D)
Wyndham is the northernmost town in Western Australia and in many ways is the gateway to the Kimberley. It is surrounded by some of the most spectacular landforms, rivers and wetlands in the Kimberley. There is the opportunity to a flight over the Bungle Bungles today (additional cost).
Monday 21 August King George River (B.L.D)
The journey up the King George River is nothing short of breath-taking. The 80-metre-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 we 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 (80 m or 260 ft). Fed by wet season run-off the level of water cascading over the falls varies from year to year. Our Expedition Team will escort us 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.
Tuesday 22 August Vansittart Bay (B.L.D)
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 and more dramatic Wandjina art, Gwion Gwion art has in recent years gained world prominence. It is generally thought that this art may extend 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. You can join our Expedition Team ashore for a short walk, past some fascinating rock formations, to the site of the Gwion Gwion art galleries.
Wednesday 23 August Swift Bay (B.L.D)
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 style rock art. Our Expedition Team will take us ashore for a guided walk to a number of rock art galleries depicting these unique rock art styles.
Thursday 24 August Hunter River (B.L.D)
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 us as we explore this pristine mangrove environment by Zodiac, keeping a constant lookout for wildlife. There is also the opportunity to reach the Mitchell Falls by helicopter from Naturalist Island beach, should you wish (additional cost).
Friday 25 – Saturday 26 August Collier Bay (B.L.D)
Lying to the east of the Buccaneer archipelago, the ancient landscapes of Collier Bay have been shaped by the massive tidal movements the region is renowned for, creating a photographer’s paradise. With a tidal range exceeding 14 metres, recorded near Yule entrance at the southern end of the bay, they are among the largest in the world. This massive daily movement of water creates unique phenomena that occur nowhere else in the world. Nestled in the centre of the Bay is Montgomery Reef, the world’s largest inshore reef system. As the tide falls a raging torrent of water cascades off the top of the reef, creating turbulent ‘rivers’ and mini waterfalls. At the Southern end of the Bay, Talbot Bay is home to the world’s only ’Horizontal Falls’ described by Sir David Attenborough as “One of the greatest wonders of the natural world.” Hidden in the many caves and grottos of this ancient landscape are a multitude of ancient Rock Art galleries. Here you can find spectacular examples of the Wandjina and Gwion Gwion styles.
NB: As we are at the mercy of weather and tide conditions in this region, the activities mentioned above are only possible experiences and can’t be guaranteed.
Sunday 27 August Lacepede Islands (B.L.D)
The Lacepede Islands are Western Australia’s most important breeding habitat for Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and have been named by Bird Life 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. We’ll join our 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.
Monday 28 August Broome – Perth (B)
Sadly, we disembark our cruise ship for the last time this morning. We head to the airport and join our flight to Perth. The Ritz Carlton Resort Perth will be our home for the next two nights.
Tuesday 29 August Perth (B.D)
A free day to relax and the enjoy the resort, or head into town for some shopping. There is plenty to do and see in Perth, the choice is yours. Our final dinner together this evening.
Wednesday 30 August Perth – Auckland (B)
We head to the airport today to join our flights back home.