My recent expedition cruise on board Silversea's Silver Discoverer began with an introduction to the culture, folklore and traditions of Indonesia, exploring the islands of Bali, Sumba and Savu. We visited traditional homesteads, learned how the locals make Ikat textiles, and watched the 'Pasola', a fierce martial arts performance on horseback.
The highlight was Komodo Island, where we witnessed the fearsome Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. We were able to get within six feet of the dragons as they basked in the early morning sun, and the guides gave us a great tour of the park, sharing their knowledge and stories about these powerful lizards. Later that morning we anchored off Pink Beach, where we snorkelled in the crystal clear waters and gazed upon colourful anemones, corals and tropical fish, like a scene from 'Finding Nemo'.
Our time in the Kimberley region began in Wyndham, with an exhilarating ride along the Ord river. This is the only place to see freshwater crocodiles, and the trip didn't disappoint; we also saw brahminy kites, bee-eaters, dragonflies, whistling kites, flying foxes, osprey, white-bellied sea eagles, dollarbirds and herons, to name but a few.
The highlight of our entire trip was the King George River. The Kimberley had experienced record rainfall during the wet season, and Silversea's Expedition Team had never seen so much water gushing over the falls. A gentle zodiac ride up the river allowed us to take in the striking colours and rock formations before arriving at the thundering falls. Our zodiac driver, Jamie, drove us closer to the action, where we were engulfed by foam from the crashing water - perfect for thrill-seekers!
In the Hunter River Region we took another zodiac tour, and saw saltwater crocodiles, manta rays, mudskippers, fiddler crabs and numerous birds, including the beautiful brahminy kites hovering above the mangroves. Heading back to the ship, we also spotted tawny nurse sharks and reef sharks, who seemed curious about our presence.
In the Buccaneer Archipelago, we were introduced to aborigines who explained the stories behind the Windjana and Gwion rock art and we trekked across a salt water lake to see the wreckage of a C-53 plane from World War II.
The real highlights of this archipelago were Montgomery Reef and Talbot Bay. Montgomery Reef is a tide-dependent, semi-submerged world that stretches over 400 square kilometres. Timing of the tides is crucial here; at low tide, up to 13 feet of the reef is revealed and you'll see it teeming with reef birds, turtles and, if you're lucky, dugongs (which are related to manatees). Zodiacs are the best vehicle to explore this reef, and we were able to travel up a small creek to view the cascading waterfalls.
Our final day in the region was spent in Talbot Bay, where we cruised along Cyclone Creek and took a speedboat ride through the Horizontal Falls. Sir David Attenborough has described these falls, created by tidal changes over millions of years, as one of the natural wonders of the world. It was an incredible spectacle, and the speedboat was a thrilling ride right through the falls. It was the perfect end to our time in the Kimberley, a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip to a destination that should definitely be on everyone's bucket list.