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Ponant - The Essential Kimberley with National Geographic

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In partnership with National Geographic Expeditions. From Darwin, embark aboard Le Lapérouse for a 13-day expedition cruise, in the heart of wild and grandiose landscapes of the Kimberley, one of the last unspoiled regions on the planet.
Australia
Nature
Independent Holiday Packages
Ocean

Highlights

A cruise in partnership with National Geographic Expeditions.

Discover Careening Bay and the Mermaid boab tree, a reminder of the era of exploration.

Witness unique tidal phenomena such as the Horizontal Falls.

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

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

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

Along the most spectacular coastlines in the entire region, the rivers are gateways towards incredible fauna and scenery. The discovery of the King George River and the majestic Twin Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in Western Australia will undoubtedly be the high point of this cruise. As you approach the banks of the Hunter River, one of the most picturesque parts of the region, you will see wild mangrove forests where saltwater crocodiles live along with many species of birds.

In the hollow of the many bays dissecting the coast, secret coves and caves are ancient galleries of cave art, exceptional vestiges of the first people to settle on these sacred lands.

In the Lacepede Islands Nature Reserve, an important breeding site for green turtles, you’ll be able to observe colonies of sea birds: brown boobies, Roseate terns, Australian pelicans, etc.

You will also visit Collier Bay, where you will be able to admire a spectacular example of the impact of the tides cascading in mini-waterfalls as the entire Montgomery reef appears to rise from the turquoise-blue waters of the bay.

During your stopover in Careening Bay, you’ll discover moving evidence left behind by the first explorers who ventured along the rugged coastline at the beginning of the 19th century. 

With their falls, abrupt gorges, savannah and calm waters, the wild lands of the Kimberley are the promise of an exceptional adventure.

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Included

12 nights onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse
All meals included whilst onboard
Unlimited drinks included whilst onboard
Regular Zodiac® outings & shore visits
INCLUSIONS ONBOARD PONANT:
- Free & unlimited Wi-Fi
- Keep fit in the gym
- A la carte meals at the Gastronomic Restaurant
- Buffet Meals at the Grill Restaurant
- Nightly entertainment in the Theatre
- Easy access by zodiac from the hydraulic platform
- Relax in the library with a good book
- Complimentary 24-hour room service
- Experience the underwater lounge "The Blue Eye"
- Pillow Menu - select the pillow that best suits you

Darwin to Darwin

Itinerary

Expand Collapse  all days
Day 1
Darwin

Darwin is located in Australia’s Northern Territory which is also known as the “Top End”. It is the capital city and the most populated town of the Northern Territory. Darwin is a beautiful tropical city, a melting pot of people and cultures, over 50 different cultures live and work side by side. A city that prides that prides itself in its unique and friendly laid-back lifestyle. Come discover the town’s recent history through its emblematic buildings such as the new Parliament House opened in 1994, a magnificent example of tropical architecture or the historic Old Admiralty House, a tropical style home elevated on stilts that has survived two cyclones and numerous air raids.

  • Embarkation: 4pm to 5pm
  • Departure: 6pm

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Dinner
Darwin
Darwin | Credit: ©Ponant - Lorraine Turci
Day 2
Pulau Meatimiarang

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. Your expedition team will be offering an enrichment programme focusing on Australia, its history and flora and fauna. Perhaps take the opportunity to be out on deck sunbathing or sampling culinary specialties prepared by our Chef and Galley Team.

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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Pulau Meatimiarang
"The Blue Eye" onboard Ponant Le Laperouse | Credit: ©Ponant - Christophe Dugied
Day 3
Wyndham

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 & wetlands in the Kimberley. Including the spectacular Ord River, the man-made Argyle dam, and Purnululu National Park, home to the Bungle Bungle ranges.

3 possible excursions to this stopover:

  • Ord River Tour (8 hours) - Enjoy the scenic one-hour drive from Wyndham to Lake Kununurra before boarding your boat from the Marina. The Ord River is one of the most stunning river systems in Australia. Your cruise will navigate a massive 55km stretch of river between Kununurra and Lake Argyle (Ord river dam). From your modern and shaded vessel, you will witness an ecological system that has developed from the damming of the Ord River. For those into bird watching the Ord River will provide your best opportunity on the entire Kimberley voyage. It is also the best location to spot Freshwater crocodiles. A buffet lunch will be provided either at one of the riverside camps, with refreshments provided along the way. Your tour includes a ground tour of Lake Argyle, including viewing the lake from a scenic lookout, and a visit to the Historical Durack Homestead. The return scenic drive from lake Argyle to Wyndham port is approximately two hours duration.

Transfers are by modern air-conditioned coach. Boats are equipped with shade and toilet facilities. Includes a simple buffet lunch served at a scenic riverside camp. Includes a visit to the historic Durack Homestead and museum. Minimal walking is involved.

OR 

  • Bungle Bungle Scenic Flight (5 hours) -  The scenic flight from Kununurra to the Bungle Bungle is a feast for the eyes the whole way! Fly past the Diversion dam, Lake Kununurra and over the Ord Irrigation area before crossing the Carr Boyd range, which holds back the waters of the inland sea, Lake Argyle. Enjoy aerial views of the Ord Dam and the full expanse of Lake Argyle. Fly past Lissadell Homestead, over the Osmand Range and on to Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungle massif. From an aircraft it is an imposing sight. The orange and black stripes across the beehive-like mounds, encased in a skin of silica and algae, are clearly visible from the air, as is a hidden world of gorges and pools, with fan palms clinging precariously to walls and crevices in the rocks. We spend around 20 minutes here, and then return via the Argyle Diamond Mine with panoramic views the whole flight. In flight commentary is provided. The scenic drive between Kununurra and Wyndham provides a different perspective, offering an opportunity to see scenery from ground level.

The aircraft used on the day is determined by Aviar and will be a combination of Cessna 208 Caravans or GippsAero GA8 Airvans. Aircraft are air-conditioned. Each flight will have a maximum of 12 guests. Flight time is approximately 2 hours. High winged aircraft for good photography opportunities. Aircraft loading and seat position is determined on a weight basis by the pilots. Includes a one-hour scenic drive from Wyndham to Kununurra and return. Commentary is provided in English only. A reasonable level of mobility and fitness is required to alight the aircraft.

OR

  • El Questro Tour (12hours) - Departing from Wyndham enjoy a 1-hour scenic drive to El Questro in the far East Kimberley. As one of the best-known, most spectacular gorges of the Kimberley, Emma Gorge is a sight to behold. The brisk 1-hour walk ends at a large cool waterhole, graced by a 65m droplet waterfall, perfect for a relaxing swim. Nestled beneath towering cliffs, a second smaller thermal water outlet trickles from the rocks. Take the short hike to Zebedee Springs, through dense Livistona palms that open to a series of rocky thermal pools and enjoy a relaxing soak. Enjoy a ‘Beef or Barra’ lunch at The Steakhouse followed by an afternoon Chamberlain Gorge cruise. Boating the Chamberlain Gorge is a must. Only accessible by boat, this 3 km fresh waterhole is bound by diverse flora and fauna, and belittled by a towering escarpment. Enjoy sparkling wine and fresh fruit on the afternoon cruise as you take in the breath-taking scenery.

Modern air-conditioned vehicle. The Chamberlain Gorge vessel is shaded. Swimming is possible at Emma gorge and Zebedee springs. A good level of fitness is required to undertake this tour. The walk into Emma gorge is over rough and uneven terrain.

*We recommend pre-selecting your shore excursion in advance to avoid missing out.

In addition, a shuttle bus will operate around the small township of Wyndham.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Wyndham
Purnululu National Park
Day 4
King George River

The journey up the King George River is nothing short of breathtaking. 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 you travel further up the river creating a continually 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. 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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
King George River
King George River | Credit: ©Ponant - Nathalie Michel
Day 5
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 and more dramatic Wandjina art, Gwion Gwion art has gained global prominence in recent years. It is generally thought that this art may be up to 30,000 years old 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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Vansittart Bay
Vansittart Bay | Credit: ©Ponant - Morgane Monneret
Day 6
Hunter River

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

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hunter River
Hunter River | Credit: ©Ponant - Laure Patricot
Day 7
Collier Bay

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.   

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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Collier Bay
Montgomery Reef | Credit: ©Ponant - Morgane Monneret
Day 8
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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lacepede Islands
Lacepede Islands | Credit: ©Studio PONANT-Nathalie Michel
Day 9
Collier Bay

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.   

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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Collier Bay
Buccaneer archipelago | Credit: ©Ponant - Morgane Monneret
Day 10
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. King surveyed the western coast to complete the map initiated by Flinders 20 years earlier. The HMC Mermaid had been leaking badly and King needed to find a shallow sandy bay where he could careen his boat to undertake repairs. At a high tide, on a warm September afternoon, he ran the HMC Mermaid onto the sands. For ten days the HMC Mermaid crew worked hard before refloating the vessel. 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!

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Careening Bay
Take a dip after a day exploring Careening Bay ©PONANT-Olivier Anrigo
Day 11
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 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.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Swift Bay
Kimberley Region
Day 12
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space.

As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Overnight stay onboard Ponant Le Lapérouse.

All-inclusive beverages - mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee and tea.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
At Sea
Relax in the spa onboard Ponant Le Laperouse | Credit: ©Ponant - Nick Rains
Day 13
Darwin

Darwin is located in Australia’s Northern Territory which is also known as the “Top End”. It is the capital city and the most populated town of the Northern Territory. Darwin is a beautiful tropical city, a melting pot of people and cultures, over 50 different cultures live and work side by side. A city 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 the historic Old Admiralty House, a tropical style home elevated on stilts that has survived two cyclones and numerous air raids.

  • Arrival: early morning
  • Disembarkation: 7am
Breakfast
Darwin
Darwin | Credit: ©Ponant - Lorraine Turci

Additional information

Official language
English
Currency
Australian Dollars (AUD)
2021 Packages - Book Now
2021 Packages - Book Now
12 nights
from AUD15,050
per person, twin share
Australia
Darwin
Darwin
Nature
Independent Holiday Packages
29 August 2021 - 10 September 2021

Hotel options

Ponant Le Lapérouse
Ponant Le Lapérouse

Environmentally friendly, fitted with innovative equipment and complete with lounges designed to be largely open to the exterior, this new and intimately sized yacht offers a unique type of cruise experience. Onboard this ship sailing under the French flag, you'll experience the incomparable pleasure of a cosily intimate cruise offering the possibility of exploring an ever-increasing range of destinations in an ethnic chic ambiance and with five-star service. The Blue Eye, a multisensorial underwater lounge offering a unique experience unlike anything else in the world. 

Maximum 184 guests, 92 staterooms & suites, 112 crew members, spa and 2 restaurants.

Stateroom facilities:

  • Individually-controlled air conditioning
  • Stateroom layout: king-size bed, or twin beds, interconnecting staterooms available (Children welcome)
  • Minibar
  • Flat screen satellite TV
  • Video on demand
  • Bose™ Bluetooth speaker
  • Desk with stationery
  • Safe
  • Hermès® bath products
  • Dressing table, bath robes, hairdryer
  • Direct line telephone
  • 110V American (two flat pins) /220V European (round sockets with two round pins)
  • 24hr room service
  • WIFI internet access

Image ©PONANT - Nick Rains

Important notes

This same itinerary can also be taken on the following sailings:

  • 6/8/2021 to 18/8/2021 Darwin to Darwin onboard Le Bellot

Please contact our friendly team for more information on these sailings. Please note that prices and inclusions vary for different ships.

Open Bar

From the moment you board and throughout your cruise, unlimited drinks are included*, at any time of the day. A drink with friends at the bar, refreshments on your return from an excursion or in the serenity of your Stateroom’s balcony: enjoy a large selection of beverages (mineral waters, soft drinks, wines, beer, champagne, spirits, coffee, tea). A selection of premium alcoholic drinks are also available à la carte.

*Does not include top shelf premium alcoholic drinks indicated on the Bar Menu. Valid only for individual personal consumption, without limitations.

National Geographic

For more than 130 years, National Geographic has strived to push back the limits of knowledge by exploring the world. The passion and enthusiasm which inspire the adventurers, journalists, scientists and photographers of National Geographic are the driving force of this mythical magazine.

In-depth reports and world-renowned photographs thrust you to the heart of the great expeditions and introduce you to the most important scientific and archaeological discoveries of our society.

Today, National Geographic is one of the most modern magazines and one of the best connected to the great geographical and geopolitical issues. It looks at the world as a whole, its challenges, its beauty and its future.

For more than a century, the teams from National Geographic have been exploring the multiple facets of our planet and they will share their knowledge and experience aboard the PONANT ships during expedition cruises placed under the sign of adventure and discovery.

Please note prices are subject to change, this package includes the 20% Ponant Bonus which is subject to availability. Please contact our team for an exact quote.

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