Darwin, Australia / EmbarkArrive in Darwin, a frontier town of crocodile and buffalo shooters and pioneer cattlemen. Retaining much of this flavor today, Darwin is also Australia's tropical capital and the starting point for your voyage. Transfer to the National Geographic Orion. Spend the night at sea.
Com / At SeaSettle into your cabin and prepare for amazing photographic opportunities in the Kimberley with talks and hands-on instruction by an onboard National Geographic photographer and Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor. The ship makes a brief technical stop at Com before continuing into the heart of the Kimberley.
Wyndham & The Bungle Bungle
Wyndham is the perfect staging point to discover Purnululu National Park, home of the breathtaking Bungle Bungle Range. These ancient hills resemble giant beehives forming deep chasms with palm trees and long gorges. This strange landscape is even more remarkable from your included charter flight.
Alternatively, you can enjoy an Ord River Cruise to Lake Argyle. The Ord River is one of the most stunning river systems in Australia. Navigate a massive stretch of river between Kununurra and Lake Argyle (Ord River Dam), view the Lake from a scenic lookout, and have a visit to the historical Durack homestead.
King George River & FallsThe Orion drops anchor here and zodiacs take you up the spectacular King George River. Featuring dramatic, vertical sheer canyon walls, the river drains into the highest single-drop falls in the Kimberley. Early in the season, it is best to hang back in the thundering mist. Later in the year, you may have the chance to get right up close - even under - the cool fresh waterfalls. For guests looking for even more adventure, there is a challenging walk to the top where you can cool off with a swim in one of the freshwater rock pools.
Vansittart BayJoin the naturalists on an exploration of an outdoor Gwion Gwion Aboriginal art gallery. The rock images, thought to be up to 40,000 years old, were discovered by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891. There is also the wreck of a DC-3 aircraft nearby, which became lost and crashed during WWII. If time allows, explore the crash site and the remains of the plane.
Hunter River (and optional helicopter to Mitchell Falls)Sail for one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast: Hunter River. The area is lined with green rainforest, mangroves, and soaring red cliffs. The Orion drops anchor near Wunumpurramarra, or Naturalists Island, a stunning backdrop for the day. Many crocodiles live in the the Hunter River and you may see them on a zodiac trip through the mangroves. For those wishing to explore some of the Kimberley’s vast interior, today presents a wonderful opportunity. The distance from Naturalists Island to the famous Mitchell Falls is about 30 miles, which you may choose to visit via an optional helicopter excursion.
Montgomery Reef & Raft Point
Arrive at Montgomery Reef at high tide and, if conditions are right, the tide may drop rapidly enough for a raging torrent of water to erupt. This phenomenon allows miles of surrounding reef to rise out of the ocean. Take a zodiac into the reef to watch cormorants, egrets, and sandpipers forage for sea life trapped on the surface of the reef.
Next, land at Raft Point and take a guided climb up to rock saddle which forms an outdoor Aboriginal art gallery. The art is an account of the Wandjina clan on the ‘Great Fish Chase.’ View the images of the Wandjina spirits with their distinctive haloes, plus dugong, crocodiles, fish and snakes.
Talbot Bay / Horizontal WaterfallsThe Horizontal Waterfalls in the Buccaneer Archipelago are created by the rapid tidal fall on the ocean side of the cliffs. When conditions are right, a ‘waterfall’ up to ten feet high may form as the trapped landward waters cascade out through the narrow gap to the ocean side. Zodiacs take you for an exhilarating trip to witness this extraordinary phenomenon. Later in the day, you can join the naturalists on an excursion to Cyclone Bay to explore the twisted geological folds of the ancient seabed.
Nares Point & Crocodile CreekJust off Koolan Island, this geological finger of sandstone protruding into the ocean provides great opportunities for Zodiac safaris and guided beach walks. Nearby Crocodile Creek defies its name, with several vertical embankments keeping it ‘crocodile free’ allowing you to take advantage of the cool freshwater natural swimming pool to relax and beat the Kimberley heat.
Broome, AustraliaArrive in Broome and disembark the National Geographic Orion. Transfer to the airport for your connecting flights onward.