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Monthly Archives: January 2017

What expedition cruising in the Kimberley is really like

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on January 28, 2017

After exploring the world on cruise ships ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 passengers, it came as quite a surprise to me to experience an expedition cruise.

The very term 'expedition cruise' conjures up myriad visions of abseilling down cliffs, crawling through caves or wading through a swamp.

I had this vision of waking up at 5am to trek through the jungle in search of a rare bird. After eight hours of slashing our way through the jungle covered in leeches we finally come across the last pink bird of paradise in existence.

Now, it is true that you can find really strenuous and challenging expedition style holidays if you want.

However, I soon found out that expedition cruising was nothing like that. The expedition cruises I have been on have been the most relaxing and enjoyable of my 30 year career in travel writing.

 

Kimberley Cruise Great Escape

 

Let me take you through a day aboard a typical expedition cruise.

Today, I have something really special for you. We are visiting one of Australia’s most iconic adventure destinations, the spectacular Horizontal Falls on Australia’s wild Kimberley Coast.

The first thing I notice on rising at 7am is the ship entering the stunning Talbot Bay with high cliffs all around. I race upstairs to get some pics and video as the sun rises over the sea. Many of my fellow expeditioners are already up, enjoying a morning walk. Breakfast is from 7.30am and is a buffet with a wide selection of goodies available.

At 9am we walk on board our 50 seater expedition tender and settle in. I get there early so I can grab my favourite spot for filming and photography.

We go on an exploration cruise through the many striking bays and passages of this massive inlet. The water is very still on this particular day and the huge white clouds above are mirrored in the water giving an amazing photo opportunity.

The tender's engines comes to stop and we glide through the still blue water, allowing us to fully appreciate nature at its most majestic display.

We then head for the world famous Horizontal Falls which most people on board rate as the highlight of our entire cruise. The ship’s two zodiacs are waiting to us through the Falls.

In groups of five clad in life jackets, plus the skipper, we climb from the explorer boat on to the zodiac. It is surprisingly easy to get aboard and perch on the outer inflatable side of the zodiac.

 

Horizontal Falls Kimberley Cruise

 

The 12m tide is really racing through the small gap in the cliffs and looks a bit like the rapids in the Grand Canyon.

We race along bumping and jumping across the angry, swirling monster.

Am I scared? Not really, the exhilaration of that ride soon eliminates any second thoughts you may have about it all.

David Attenborough described the Horizontal Falls “one of the greatest natural wonders in the world”.

 As we surge through the gap at its wildest point, it’s easy to agree with the world’s most famous nature adventurer.

 

Zodiac Horizontal Falls Kimberley Cruise

 

We enter a wide bay and then discover another horizontal waterfall further on which has the same intensity as the first one.

Our skipper cleverly steers us through the narrow, roaring, raging gap with sheer cliffs on either side. Returning through the two falls is just as exhilarating.

Back on board the explorer tender everyone is excited about the unique adventure they have just experienced.  They cheer each returning group on the zodiac and the zodiac people yell back in excitement. Surgeons from New York and CEOs from Germany are jumping and down like 10-year-olds.

 

horizontal falls on a kimberley cruise

 

We return to the ship just after midday and a mouth watering buffet awaits us. How the chefs on board can turn out such sumptuous food in such a small galley is beyond me. I guess it all comes down to forward planning and a natural talent for what their guests like to eat. Most of my fellow travellers have experienced fine dining around the world, so our ship's chefs have to impress with their food.

At 2pm lunch is finished and we climb aboard the explorer boat for another leisurely cruise, this time to Silica Beach on Hidden Island. We revel in its white sands and crystal clear waters. There's even the chance for a cooling dip.

This shorter excursion is a relaxing wind down after the dramatic events of the morning.

We return to the ship just after 4pm which gives everyone time to sort through their photos or have a quick nap.

At 5.30pm I nip up to the top bar for cleansing ale with my fellow adventurers. At 6pm our Expedition Leader gives us a quick rundown of the day’s events including some photos of all the action. He then lets us know the plans for the next day.

 

coral discoverer on a kimberley cruise

 

Dinner is served at 6.30pm and I enjoy a nice Australian Semillon Sauvignon Blanc with a stunning seafood à la carte dinner that would compliment even the most fastidious restaurant ashore. All the talk is about the Horizontal Falls and the amazing day we have just experienced.

An older lady from Hornsby named Madeline on my table confesses she was ready to pull out of the zodiac ride after seeing the falls.

“I never thought I’d do it even though I had dreamt about it for years. But I did it!” she said, her voice wavering. “And now I can tell my grandkids. I really achieved the dream of a lifetime” she said excitedly.

The table went quite for a short time and then I lead a toast: “To Madeline!” Eight wine glasses clinked as one.

“To dreams,” Madeline replied raising her glass.

After dinner I head to the back of the ship where many people are enjoying the warm night air of the Kimberley.  It was just one day in our lives, but what a day it was.

 Like many days on an expedition cruise, it is a day we will remember forever. For Madeline, the dream of a lifetime had come true that very day.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

 

You can experience Horizontal Falls for yourself on all of our Kimberley expeditions. For this story, Dallas travelled aboard Coral Discoverer, and you can have similar experiences aboard True North, Great Escape and Kimberley Quest II.

 

kimberley cruising aboard coral discoverer

The mighty Amazon's most amazing adventure

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on January 16, 2017

Last week I was having a chat with Expedition Cruise Specialists’ general manager Andrew Castles and out of the blue I asked him what he considered to be the most remote and exclusive adventure cruise in the world?

Now, Andrew is an expert on all things small ship cruising so it didn’t take long for him to come with an answer.

“I would say the Amazon cruise aboard Cattleya is the most exclusive adventure. The ship takes only eight guests and its small size allows it to reach the most remote region of the Peruvian section of the Amazon.”

So I immediately clicked www.expeditioncruisespecialists.com/ships/cattleya and there it was!

 

Amazon cruise aboard cattleya journey

 

The amazing photo of the tiny ship is enough to stir the Indiana Jones in all of us. There it is carefully plying a narrow stretch of water surrounded by the Amazon jungle.

Then you scan down the page and come to unique photo gallery. Wow! How did they cram so much into such a small ship?

This is boutique river cruising at its very best. Cattleya was launched in 2014 but it features a very traditional riverboat design.

There are only four suites accommodating up to eight passengers and 10 staff including two expert guides.

 

amazon cruise suite

 

Cattleya cruises to the very remote point known as Tres Fronteras where guests get to visit three countries in one day – Peru, Colombia and Brazil. Cattleya is the only ship that can reach this point so far up river.

The upper Amazon and the tributaries in the region are also home to age old settlements where the villagers still live in the traditional way. Wildlife in this area is also abundant.

You can choose from a five or an eight day itinerary and bookings are available right now simply by clicking on the web site or by contacting Expedition Cruise Specialists and talking with an expert on 1800 90 20 80.

 

amazon cruise wildlife

 

If you would prefer to explore the Amazon on a larger vessel, Expedition Cruise Specialists have a wide range of packages and ships available.

Before I give you some examples, there is something important to remember. The Amazon and South America in general is a very complex region. To get to unique places you need the assistance of an expert in planning your trip.

The Delfin IDelfin II and Delfin III ships are stunning. They have a shallow draft which allows them to explore extensively on the Peruvian Amazon while offering luxury river cruising at its very best. In fact, our recent blog on the Amazon's most luxurious suites rated the Delfin I as the ultimate in luxury! The wildlife parks in this region are stunning.

Alternatively, you can cruise by traditional riverboat aboard the Tucano up Brazil's isolated Rio Negro which is a narrow, winding tributary of the Amazon that flows through three types of rainforest. The region is only visited by a few people each year.

Finally, the outstanding feature of Amazon cruising is that there is a ship to suit every need, every dream, and every call to adventure.

 

amazon cruise villagers

 

So, I will be writing a blog on South American and Amazon cruising in the near future where I hope to pass on some info and advice you won’t see anywhere else, so stay posted.

In the meantime, you will find out a lot of information and be able to check out all the South American packages by clicking on www.expeditioncruisespecialists.com/destinations/south-america

There are four pages packed with information and packages, plus some outstanding photos.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

 

cruising the amazon aboard cattleya

Galapagos Islands - Charles Darwin's Laboratory

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on January 01, 2017

 

The Galápagos Islands can lay claim to be the greatest natural wildlife region on earth and every adventurer should plan to visit the region at least once in their lifetime.

You go to the Galápagos not just to observe, but to immerse yourself in the wilderness. This can take the form of non intrusive hikes to snorkelling in crystal clear waters and cruising the shoreline in expedition boats with penguins and sea lions literally an arm’s length away.

Three ocean currents overlap in the Galápagos region, bringing together a unique environment where the cold water wildlife combines with equatorial species.

 

 

Unlike most expedition cruises, the Galápagos is not about taking in the local culture, but rather it is about exploring a region largely unspoilt by human interference. Some tourists do stay on the Galápagos Islands in tourist facilities, but by far the best way to see it, experience it, live it, is on an expedition cruise.

We have the Ecuadorians to thanks for the unspoilt Galápagos archipelago. While most third world countries don’t have the inclination or resources to protect wilderness regions, Ecuador was the stand out exception.

They have always jealously guarded their unique region of volcanic islands located 1000 km west in the Pacific Ocean. In 1934 most of the region was declared a wildlife sanctuary and in 1959, the uninhabited areas became a national park.

 

 

In 1978, they were included on the first list of World Heritage sites and ever since there has been a constant battle to control visitor numbers to the region, reduce the effect of human visitation to the islands and stop illegal activities such as fishing and shark finning.

The area was listed as being in danger of being lost at one stage as visitor numbers surged and tour operators pushed for more and more people to be allowed ashore. The problem seems to be easing and the Galápagos is once again safe from massive intrusion.

Charles Darwin visited the region on the Beagle in 1835 and what captured his imagination was the fact that all the islands were of similar geographical composition, but each island had developed its own unique species.

 

 

He realised that the species on each island had to develop in accordance with it the island’s microenvironment and unique diet.

Many years later this became the basis of his world changing book titled On the Origin of the Species which he released in 1859 to both worldwide acclaim and derision.

The islands have remained largely unchanged since his visit and since becoming a world heritage site, only 50,000 visitors are allowed in the region each year.

Expedition Cruise Specialists has an extensive selection of Galápagos adventures available on its site www.expeditioncruisespecialists.com

The selection is the result of the vast experience of the company’s expedition experts and features the very best expeditions and small ships available in the Galápagos.

If you check out the various itineraries, you will be stunned by the variety of experiences available. Land based and marine iguanas with their stunning colours and giant tortoises are the immediately recognisable wildlife symbols of the region.

 

 

But when you include penguins, sea lions, sharks, birds, flightless cormorants, turtles and sun fish you realise what an amazing destination the island region provides.

The selection of vessels available ranges from a 16 passenger luxury ships up to larger 48 passenger ships, allowing you the space to enjoy the islands in a small group. No matter which ship you choose, you will always be accompanied by expert naturalists and guides who will interpret the stunning array of wildlife and provide insight into these remarkable islands.

For more information and Expedition Cruise Specialists' recommended Galápagos Islands expeditions visit www.expeditioncruisespecialists.com

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.