Trip Report – Western Australia & Sal Salis
Here is a nice trip report from a client who had a very unique encounter with a 20+ foot shark last month!
The only thing I can say is FABULOUS!!!!!! We had the most amazing trip – kudos to you for planning it so perfectly.
After our 30 hour trip from Atlanta to Perth, we arrived at the Richardson in Perth. It is a terrific place to stay – we had 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a sitting area, kitchen and outside balcony. The perfect way to recover from our long trip. The next day, we had a one day private tour, and the driver took us all around Perth and the nearby countryside. It is a beautiful city – the Swan River is so wide, it looks like a lake. We had such beautiful weather.
The next day we were picked up early in the morning for the flight to Exmouth and then a 1½ hour drive to Ningaloo Reef. This was the highlight of our trip. Sal Salis is incredible – it reminded us a lot of the camps in Africa but even more rustic – only solar lighting, 20 minute limit on water usage per day per tent, and loo toilets – all of which we expected. Amazing how quickly you can get ready in the morning with no hair dryers and a 5 minute shower.
The 1st day we arrived mid morning, just as one group was leaving and the next group was not arriving until afternoon. So, for about the first 6 hours, Robin and I were the only guests at the resort – very cool. The staff gave us a snorkeling lesson, a beautiful lunch, and the rest of the time we just relaxed on the beach.
The new group arrived in time for cocktails and dinner, so we met lots of great people and swapped stories on our Australian adventures.
The next morning, we headed out for our whale sharks trip, full of anticipation, and we were not disappointed! After a brief stop to don our wet suits and go snorkeling to get acclimated to the ocean swim, we went in search of the whale sharks. We were briefed thoroughly on what procedure to follow, and were divided into 2 groups. After a very short wait, the captain yelled, and our guides said Group 1 get ready – we eagerly complied. In the water we went…
I had been in the water for maybe 5 seconds when Jade, one of the guides, who all wear a red top while in the water, suddenly swam in front of me and pulled me backward – felt a bump on my backside and turned around and realized the bump was from the whale shark. I did not expect to get that close!
When we were back on the boat, I found out that the whale shark had suddenly changed direction, and Jade had pulled 2 other swimmers away, before she got to me. Everything went so quickly after that, I am not sure how long we were there, but each group made 5 dives into the water, and each time we saw a whale shark. It was non stop action – Group 1 out of the water – Group 2 into the water, Group 1 get ready, Group 2 out, Group 1 into the water, etc… It was exhilarating and exhausting and something I would recommend to anyone.
After all our dives, we were rewarded with a beautiful lunch and another brief stop for more snorkeling before we headed home. Once again we were blessed with beautiful weather and calm seas. As you can imagine, there was lots to talk about that evening at dinner!
Early the next morning at 3am, we had a ferocious storm with a heavy, driving rain and high winds, but the tent held strong and we added that to our adventure list. We were so glad we had already taken the whale shark trip, because the ocean was much rougher after the storm.
Our 6am gorge walk was postponed until 10am due to the weather, which was fine with all. It was a great walk – saw many rock wallabies – the climb to the top was steeper than I had expected, but I made it to the top, and the view was stunning – well worth the effort. After lunch, we went to Yardie Creek and Kangaroo Beach. Along the way, we rescued 2 separate echidnas. Peta, our guide, said it was rare to see them.
Next day was departure day for us – all the others left on a snorkeling trip, so we once again had the place to ourselves. Walked on the beach and relaxed until our driver came to pick us up to head back to Exmouth. Said our goodbyes to the camp manager, Justin, who was so wonderful to us throughout our stay, as were all the staff – can’t remember all the names, except Peta and John. Please know the chefs were great and each meal was unbelievable.
We arrived in Perth collected our rental car and drove to Fremantle. We were so glad we spent the night in Fremantle. The next day was Friday, and the market was open and that was great fun.
We then headed out to Margaret River – once again GPS is essential if you do not know the area! You were right Cape Lodge is the place to stay, and the food is as good as advertised. Once again, we had a one day tour scheduled, and it turned out to just be the 2 of us, so were able to tell our guide exactly what we wanted to see. We limited it to one winery, which gave us time to see the coastline with the surfers, the forest, Bridges Cave. Then we drove down to Augusta to see the Leeuwin Lighthouse on the tip of land where the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet. Had lunch at Hay Shed Hill winery, then stopped at the little town of Margaret River to walk around about 30 minutes before heading back to the lodge.
The next day we headed back to Perth with Matilda, our name for our GPS spokesperson, leading the way. Dropped the car off with Hertz, driving only on fumes, but we made it. Then headed to our gate for our flight to Melbourne.
We had the most wonderful time, and we cannot thank you enough for arranging everything.