Exploring the Kimberley
Untouched landscapes and ancient attractions make this one of the most compelling destinations in the world
this is big sky country! And this is the Kimberley, the vast north-western expanse of Australia’s Top End. It’s also one of the most captivating expedition cruising regions in the world.
Nature has coloured it in a palette you’d be forgiven for thinking was more akin to Mars than our blue planet. You anchor beside pristine beaches before stepping out onto warm sand with no footprints other than yours. Thundering waterfalls and swollen billabongs await you on every excursion ashore – crocodiles top the list of flora and fauna, a reminder that you’re well and truly in the wilderness.
Above all else, the Kimberley is remote and largely inaccessible, with few roads penetrating its sometimes-dangerous terrain, which is jaw-dropping in its beauty.
DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS
Fortunately, expedition cruising in this region is having its moment in the sun. With smaller ships, purpose-designed to go where other ships can’t, you can get both an intimate feel and adventurous itinerary. If you haven’t considered this form of travel yet, be convinced by such cruises to this stunning region.
You will experience the perks of an all-inclusive holiday, as well as participating in an immersive adventure, including into Broome and Darwin, plus normally inaccessible locations, such as King George River and the Horizontal Falls.
YOU’RE IN ANCIENT LANDS
The area takes its name from its most imposing landmark – ancient mountain ranges towering above the unforgiving coast, which claimed many unfortunate seafarers over the centuries before Europeans first set foot here. Australia’s first people have called the Kimberley home for what some believe is more than 60,000 years.
WILDERNESS TO REMEMBER
Covering more than 400,000 square kilometres, yet with just 30,000 people, it is a place acknowledged as one of the world’s last, and most beautiful, wilderness areas. Its archaeological, art and rock wall paintings and cultural significance are among the most amazing in the world.
Add to that awesome fishing opportunities, ending in delicious dining with the day’s catch, and you have a near perfect package! And, while all the on-board experiences are memorable, with personalised service and stylish facilities, of course the big attraction is the exotic destination itself.
TICK OFF THE BUCKET LIST
All variety of vessels offer a wonderful balance between the spacious comfort of a large ocean liner and advantages such as small group sizes. Generally accommodating between 30 and 100 guests per cruise, hopping off at each stop along the way is easy, especially with the option of taking part in the inclusive on-shore excursions offered by local guides. All up it makes for the absolute bucket-list trip of a lifetime.
Nowhere has seen the growth in river cruising quite like Europe. And it’s really no wonder.
A river cruise is the best way to see Europe’s incredible array of historic cities, farming regions and castles especially. Being tactical defensive posts, castles were set in naturally elevated positions overlooking the main transport routes throughout Europe, which were the waterways. A river cruise now allows you to discover centuries old castles and fortified homes that can’t be seen from the roads, but can be admired perfectly as you chunter down the river with champagne in hand. Now that’s travelling! Castles aside, there’s plenty of other reasons you’d want to add a European river cruise to your bucket list. The choice of countries are yours to cruise and going ashore is possibly the ultimate pleasure of your holiday, as you shop, wine, dine, visit museums, gardens or just walk the wonderful streets to excite and delight you before you reboard ship to reminisce about your day as you enjoy your evening cocktail. Then apart from the luxurious comfort of your suite, where you can watch the world pass by as you rest and relax by day and night, the living is made even easier with all-inclusive fares for meals, drinks, transfers, shore excursions, care for your every need and more. What could be better?
SLOW BOAT IN CHINA
The same joy of cruising carries across the world to exotic and thrilling destinations in the East. River cruising in China typically takes place on the Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world behind the Nile and the Amazon.
Because most cruises on the Yangtze come with a few days postor pre-trip in Shanghai and Beijing, the tranquillity of the cruise is the perfect tonic to the somewhat
manic pace of vibrant, modern China. The highlight of the Yangtze is the Three Gorges region, where you will see the cradle of ancient Chinese civilisation set to the backdrop of misty mountains, bamboo and dramatic cliffs. A side excursion to the Three Gorges dam will leave you in amazement at the scale of this feat of human engineering.
Major players in China river cruising include APT, Viking, Avalon, Uniworld and Victoria.
JUST AS EXCITING THE AMAZON
Since the first Spanish Conquistadors entered into the Amazon in the 16th century, people have been drawn to, killed by and even sent mad by South America’s most famous river. These days, a trip down part or all of the Amazon as it slices through Peru and Brazil is a far more relaxed and dazzling affair. Well, relaxed yes, but civilised no! The Amazon still offers access to some of the world’s great wilderness and a biodiversity of flora and fauna that is second to none. While jaguars and puma stalk its banks, monkeys and sloths swing from the branches, and manatees, pink dolphins and the infamous piranhas swim beneath its surface. Great clouds of butterflies float above them all. Excursions to witness village life along the river is a highlight for many who choose this destination. Then there’s canopy walking in Tambopata, Peru and the ‘meeting of the waters’ in Manaus, Brazil, where the sandy water of the River Solimoes converges with the black water River Negro, both Amazon tributaries. You can watch their colours mixing for a few kilometres as they flow side by side. Put yourself in the Amazon picture. With all the excitement and adventure of the wilderness, there is as much luxury and comfort river cruising there as anywhere. Have a look at G Adventures and Aqua Expeditions for their Amazon options.
Talbot Bay will give you the ride of a lifetime. Gear up for excitement-plus as you ride the Horizontal Falls. End beautiful days with sunset drinks – heaven! CORAL EXPEDITIONS
An unforgettable walk into Pangali Cove. CORAL EXPEDITIONS
Not to be missed, go meet the crazy wildlife.
Look no further than your bed if you wish as you cruise on by. Activities aboard when the day’s touring and cruising is done. Yes please. It’s no wonder Aussies have fallen in love with European river cruising – look at that view! Take in the architecture in Vilshofen as you cruise down the Danube from Budapest to Munich.
It’s fabulously ‘untamed’ but you can still cruise the Amazon in style. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the East on one of the many cruise offerings, such as APT’S RV Amalotus. Be spellbound by the historic Three Gorges region, as part of your tour down the river Yangtze. The Celestial Suite (left) aboard the SanctuaryExplorer exudes fivestar luxury – perfect for watching the world go by.