Category Archives: Blog

Star Struck at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

 

There’s a starring cast of billions just waiting to be discovered at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef.

Nestled amongst the dunes, alongside the world’s largest fringing reef, beneath of blanket of countless stars lies Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef.

Like a moth to a flame, we are mesmerised by the megawatt sparkle of the Milky Way – Mother Nature’s finest light show. Our guests often remark that the stars shine brighter here at Sal Salis. We keep it real for them by ensuring artificial lights are kept to an absolute minimum so the real stars of the show have their time to shine.

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef Camp Manager, Mr Paul Bester said the minimal light pollution at Sal Salis was something quite unique in this day and age.

“Sal Salis is a situated in a designated dark sky area, which provides uninterrupted views of the Milky Way,” Mr Bester said.

“Seeing the Milky Way spanning from horizon to horizon is something very special indeed.”

“We really enjoy pointing out constellations to our visitors, and guests from the Northern Hemisphere are often thrilled to see the Southern Cross shining brightly before their eyes for the very first time.”

“Depending on the time of year, we see other constellations as well, including Orion and Scorpio, which seem to chase each other around the night sky to the delight of our guests.”

“It’s wonderful that our guests get so excited about seeing the stars here, and I believe more and more people will visit for this experience, especially as stars become less visible elsewhere due to the effects of light pollution on the night sky.”

“We have a pair of Acuter night vision binoculars for guests to use and we can provide visitors with tips on how to capture these magic moments in photos.”

“In this age of new technology, where people spend so much time in front of a screen, we give our guests a unique opportunity to enjoy a complete digital detox; the chance to switch off digital devices and disconnect from the stress of daily life.”

“By day, our guests can explore the nearby gorges of the Cape Range National Park, and discover the myriad of colourful marine life on the UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Ningaloo Reef. In the evening they can unwind with sunset canapes and drinks, followed by an exquisite chef-prepared meal. Their day ends on a high as they stare into space at billions of sparkling stars.”

Do you dream of swapping your screen for an unforgettable night of star gazing? How would you like to drift off to sleep in the comfort of your eco-luxe safari tent beneath a blanket of stars while listening to the waves crash on the outer Ningaloo Reef? Why not turn your dream into reality?

There’s no better soul food than star gazing at Sal Salis, located on the shore of Australia’s Coral Coast in Western Australia. Sal Salis awaits…

Image at top by Marc Hillesheim
Background image by Paul Bester
Image below by Lauren P Bath 

Reinvigorating Salted Souls yoga retreat to be held at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

Reinvigorating Salted Souls yoga retreat to be held at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

Does your soul feel weary? Do you need a break from the daily grind to reconnect? We may have the solution you’ve been searching for.

One of Australia’s leading yoga therapists and spiritual healers, Denby Sheather, is offering a week-long spiritual adventure to be held at Sal Salis, Western Australia in August 2018.

This eco-luxe pilgrimage aims to nourish tired souls through restorative yoga, soul-seeking meditation and daily healing in the pristine Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area located at the northern tip of Australia’s Coral Coast.

Denby believes that eco-luxe resorts like Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef invoke an immediate sense of presence and peacefulness.

“Sal Salis is regarded as one of Australia’s best glamping locations, offering eco-certified deluxe accommodation and facilities and contemporary cuisine,” Ms Sheather said.

“The focus of our stay will be the wilderness around us; the marine and land inhabitants. The camp has been designed to operate in tune with the fragile environment, and as such, it abides by strict principles of minimal impact and sustainability.

“We’ll walk, climb, dance, stretch, swim, sing and dream our way through some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery.

“We’ll practice yoga on location, hike through the magnificent Mandu Mandu Gorge and cruise quietly up Yardie Creek spotting black-footed rock wallabies and other wildlife.

“Through healing ceremonies and wildlife adventures, we’ll remember our authentic self.

“We’ll sail out with the be-spoke eco-tour company, Live Ningaloo into the Ningaloo Marine Park on private tours to see and interact with a myriad of marine life, from humpback whales, turtles and manta rays to dugongs and dolphins.

“There will also be plenty of time to pause and relax on the beach or in the privacy of your eco-luxe safari tent.

“By night, we’ll enjoy dining under the stars and we’ll breathe ourselves back into balance by the pulse of the shifting sea.

Denby has 18 years of experience in the field and has founded the innovate practice, Mana Yoga, a unique flow that reflects her own journey with yoga, energetics and motherhood.

Her shamanic work weaves an empowering layer to the yoga; unbinding and aligning, inspiring and recalibrating bodies, hearts and minds through an intuitive sequencing of remedial and seasonal postures, breath work, meditation and mantra. You will be moved, in many ways on many levels, to the point you may feel like you’ve just received a massage, counseling session and yoga practice all rolled into one.

Inspired? You don’t need any previous yoga experience to sign up for Salted Souls, so why not join this once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvigorate yourself at our remote beachside camp in the Cape Range National Park?

Leave your troubles behind and return home restored on all levels.

For further information and to book, visit www.denbysheather.com

 

Have a whale of a time at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia!

Are you looking for a great excuse to visit Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef? We are happy to oblige with a whopping big reason! Our whale shark swim partner, Live Ningaloo, now offers the unique opportunity to swim with humpback whales on Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef!

Humpback whales are known for their intelligence, size and distinctive body shape, which they spectacularly flaunt with some pretty impressive acrobatic displays!

 

Humpback whale

 

Following a highly successful first season of conducting the Humpback Whale Swim and Adventure Day in 2016, Live Ningaloo is thrilled to offer this bucket list experience again from 1 August until 31 October 2017.

Live Ningaloo’s Sonia Beckwith said that swimming with humpback whales was incredibly exciting because the whale determines the interaction.

“Once the spotter planes have located whales and they’ve been observed for a while, we line the boat up 400-600 metres in front of them and then the guests slip into the water. The boat moves away and then cuts the engines. The small group enters the water, adjust their masks and dip their faces in the water, but leave their ears out so they can hear updates on where the whale is from the skipper, who counts down for them,” Ms Beckwith said.

“Before you know it, he’s saying: ‘They’re coming!’ the whale comes into view and you see a whale’s eye focusing on you.” “They’re checking you out!”

“It’s a brief, magical encounter which is calming and surreal.”

“People holler and hoot when they get back on the boat and we’re often told that swimming with humpback whales has been a life-long dream.”

Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s an overview of how your Whale Swim Adventure will unfold.

After waking up in your eco luxe safari tent and enjoying a delicious gourmet breakfast at Sal Salis, you’ll transfer to Tantabiddi Boat Ramp and will be issued with all the gear you’ll need for your epic aquatic adventure.

Passengers are offered a light morning tea while we cruise out on the Indian Ocean in search of humpback whales. It won’t take long – these enormous migratory mammals are easy to spot! You’re sure to be amazed to see them breach, lunge and slap the water!

Before long, a group of up to five people will enter the water with these massive gentle giants of the sea. Imagine that – you’re in the water with a whale up to 16 metres long! INCREDIBLE! You may even get to swim with more than one whale over the course of the tour.

You will also get the opportunity to see a great many other marine species while you’re out on Ningaloo Reef. You could encounter whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, dolphins and dugongs!

After all the excitement, you’ve earned the mouth-watering lunch offered on deck.

You’ll arrive back at Sal Salis by mid-afternoon with enduring memories of this once in a lifetime experience. Enjoy a well-deserved afternoon siesta in your hammock, then regale fellow guests about your Whale Swim Adventure over evening drinks and canapes.

The foodie genius behind Sal Salis’ seasonal and local menu

We are known at Sal Salis for providing the best eco-luxe experience, right in the heart of the Ningaloo Coast. As well as offering an amazing chance to immerse yourself in nature, we also tantalise your taste buds with an outstanding all-inclusive menu.

Our chef, Brendan, affectionately known as Tassie, works hard to provide a varied and stunning menu from breakfast to dinner.

When you wake in your tent to the sounds of the waves crashing and a kangaroo hopping by, you may also be greeted by the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Breakfast is a feast of granola, yoghurts and fresh fruits, along with a menu of about 5 choices. Think baked eggs and hollandaise like you’ve never tasted! Some mornings, when the conditions are just right, the team may even treat you to an impromptu beach breakfast! There’s nothing like watching the sunrise with a coffee in hand and bacon and eggs in your tummy!

Lunch is normally a light and tasty salad, featuring some delicious local delicacies. For the vegetarians, this could be something like pumpkin, goat’s cheese and pomegranate salad and for the carnivores, it’s got to be freshly caught Exmouth prawns.

Lunch at Sal Salis

Lunch at Sal Salis

At 5.45pm it’s time for sundowners and canapes. Time to grab a drink from the well-stocked self-service bar and relax with your fellow camp mates. We encourage people to chat and relax together as a group. It makes for a fun and relaxed environment, and who knows, you might even make some new friends!

Sunset at Sal Salis

Tassie will let you know when it’s time to be seated and will also explain the menu to you. Communal dining is where it’s at. Dine under the stars, at a table lit by oil lamps and candles.

A three-course menu awaits! From local bug ravioli, Coral Bay steaks and freshly caught barramundi, you’re sure to enjoy every bite. Just make sure you save room for dessert; who can resist chocolate and almond torte with Frangelico garnish and fresh berries or a pineapple pannacotta?

Dining at Sal Salis

Tassie says he loves to work with local produce and what’s fresh that day or week. The menu changes three times a year in line with the seasons. So, if you’re visiting in Summer you’re more likely to see light, fresh options, whilst if you come to Sal Salis in Winter, the warmth and depth will be dialled up a notch!

Find out more about our dining options and book your foodie escape today!

Guest Perspective – Whale Shark Swim

Swimming with whale sharks is a bucket list experience for many people, and something lots of our guests choose to do here at Ningaloo Reef. To help explain what this experience is really like, we asked one of our recent guests, Jodie, to describe the day she met these gentle giants of the deep.

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“Today I had THE most incredible experience of my life… I swam alongside ENORMOUS whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef!

When I woke up in my eco-luxe safari tent at Sal Salis this morning, I could hardly contain myself! I was so excited and just a little bit nervous. I’d been looking forward to swimming with whale sharks for YEARS, and today was the day!

We enjoyed a gourmet breakfast before being kitted out with snorkelling gear and transferring to Tantabiddi Boat Ramp. Before we knew it, Live Ningaloo’s boat, Wave Rider was cruising to one of Ningaloo Reef’s finest snorkelling spots, where we would encounter an aquatic paradise, which was positively teeming with colourful marine life.

While our intimate group of ten immersed ourselves in this unspoilt underwater wonderland of coral and sea creatures busily going about their business, a spotter plane was looking for whale sharks for us to swim with. After a little while, we jumped back aboard Wave Rider and waited for the signal.

It wasn’t long before the stars of the show were close by. We all gathered at the edge of the boat. We could hardly wait to jump in and swim alongside these gentle giants of the deep.

Whale sharks may be the largest fish in the sea, but they are completely harmless to humans… That’s what I kept telling myself, as I waited for the signal to take the plunge of my life!

Captain Murray gave his two thumbs up signal and we didn’t hesitate. We slipped into the water and as we looked down, white spots came into focus below us. A massive whale shark was making its way to the surface. It was gracefully moving through the water just a few metres away from us, completely unfazed by our presence. I wasn’t the least bit frightened of it. The adrenaline was rushing through me and I felt so ALIVE! We swam as fast as we could to keep up with this delightful creature, but it had soon disappeared into the deep. It was the most exhilarating experience of my life!

We could hardly contain our excitement as we jumped back aboard Wave Rider and devoured a delicious lunch of crisp salads with vinaigrettes,  cold meats and freshly baked bread.

We wanted more time with whale sharks, and we weren’t disappointed. We were given several more opportunities to swim with these amazing marine creatures in the world-renowned turquoise waters Ningaloo Reef throughout the day.

I am so happy I’ve finally ticked this amazing experience off my bucket list, however, I fear everything else on my list will pale in comparison!

Back at Sal Salis the team followed up our experience with talks by another biologist and then a bushwalk with one of their guides. This really helped to set the scene in terms of the ecological significance of not only the whale sharks, but the Ningaloo Reef and the Cape Range National Park.

Now it’s time for sunset drinks and canapes by the water followed by some star gazing… I haven’t even left yet and I already want to do it all again!”

 

Sal Salis Team become Turtle Trackers on the Ningaloo Reef

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Summer is here on the Ningaloo Reef, and that means it’s turtle season! This year our Lodge Managers Paul and Candice and our Head Guide Julian have completed their training to become official Turtle Trackers for the Ningaloo Turtle Program. The turtle volunteer program was developed by the Cape Conservation Group, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Murdoch University and WWF Australia in 2002 and is a unique way to help conserve, study and understand these amazing marine creatures.

Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the largest fringing reef systems in the world. Teeming with a diversity of corals, fish and invertebrates, the reef provides habitat for some of the world’s threatened marine species, including dugongs, whale sharks, humpback whales and of course, turtles.

Three of the world’s seven marine turtle species nest on mainland beaches and islands of Ningaloo Reef during the summer months from November to March. The green turtle, the loggerhead turtle and the hawksbill turtle.

Sal Salis managers Paul and Candice and guide Julian have the unique privilege of living at Sal Salis on the beautiful Ningaloo Reef, so are perfectly placed to help track and monitor the turtles over the Summer.

Sal Salis manager, Candice, said: “We are located in the Cape Range National Park, on the shores of Ningaloo Reef; both of which are World Heritage listed sites. We are surrounded by a pristine natural environment, an amazing diversity of fauna and flora and prolific marine life. We are passionate about our environment and want to be a part of protecting and conserving our amazing wildlife.

“The training done by DPAW was fantastic and we can’t wait to begin our monitoring work. We will also be passing this knowledge and information onto our guests to help educate and inspire them about marine life and conservation. We love to immerse our guests in the wildlife and marine species here at Ningaloo Reef and this is another great way to get them excited about conservation.”

If you are interested in becoming a Ningaloo Turtle Program volunteer visit http://www.ningalooturtles.org.au/datesturtle.html for more information.

king and old mate [ possible brother ]  alex , putting in a totem

Left: Paul and King,  turtle trackers!   Right:  Alex putting in a totem.

feral prints  gps recording - green turtle nest site

Left:  Feral footprints! The course includes interpretation of tracks.
Right : The GPS marks the spot!

Lonely Planet Award Sal Salis 4th Best in the World!

Wow are we Happy Campers!

The team at Lonely Planet have published their Best in Travel 2017 lists and Sal Salis has scored the number four (yes that’s right # 4) place in the world to stay!!   You can imagine how thrilled we are with that accolade and it is all thanks to our great team in camp and the amazing location in which we are privileged to operate!   To be honest, we have to share this accolade with the guys at the Department of Parks & Wildlife, with the Cape Range National Park and the Ningaloo Marine Park – as without them, there is no us!

As Lonely Planet rightly point out, Ningaloo is Australia’s ‘other’ dramatic reef …. Less well known than the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo offers miles and miles of white sand beaches (260 kms to be precise) and scarcely a soul in sight.  For great stretches, the coral reef and colourful fish are literally 2 x flaps of your flippers from the sand …. and that’s on a high tide!

Back to Lonely Planet’s lists! Online you can find some information, click here for the following

  • Top 10 Countries
  • Top 10 Cities
  • Top 10 Regions (congratulations to South Australia, number 5, a state we all know well and love!)
  • Top 10 Value

But there is lots more in the book including the other 9 best places in the world to stay and it is an eclectic line up!   A House in Essex in the UK, a Tree Hotel in Sweden,  the world’s first hotel staffed by robots (in Japan, no surprise there), Scotland Yard turned five star hotel and  a prison converted to a hostel in Russia. There are lists of micro-distilleries, bike-packing ideas and sustainable travel tips (congratulations Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, another place we admire enormously).

Any lover of travel is going to love this book, it’s perfect as a Christmas gift or to inspire you to save those travel dollars & start planning …. one things for sure, there are some seriously AMAZING experiences  out there in the world!

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Winter Wildlife Bonanza

It is the middle of winter in Western Australia and we have had more rain than usual in the Cape Range National Park.  No doubt the farmers of the Pilbara are pleased with the ‘greening’ of the countryside, but for us, life on the coast and under canvas can be pretty challenging.   Yet, every cloud has a silver lining and ours is the wildlife activity –  July is a busy time both in the Park and in the water off-shore.  Here is a sneak preview of what you might see at Sal Salis.

echidna

Camp Manager, Paul Bester, took this photo of an echidna – it looks more like a crown of thorns, or some strange cactus but look carefully and you will see his little nose poking out the front.  Echidnas are incredibly special animals as they are monotremes or egg-laying mammals of which there are only two types, the other being the platypus of eastern Australian, we don’t have them in the west.  Our echidnas are Short-beaked echidnas and over the last month we have been seeing them quite a lot as they are out searching for mates.

Smaller dingo

Sal Salis team member, Amy Beck saw her first dingo recently and managed to get some great photos.   The ancestry of Australia’s wild dog is still debated and recent studies indicate that they may have originated in southern China, travelling to Australia anywhere between 4600 and 18,300 years ago.  Dingos need a good supply of fresh water so we see them more often when there has been plenty of rain.

Perenties Lizard

We know this animal is not everybody’s favourite but he really is lovely and very well behaved around the camp.   This is a Perentie, the largest of the monitor lizards that are native to Australia, and the fourth largest lizard species in the world.   This photo was taken by our guest Natalia Leal and she did well as Perenties are quite shy and are not commonly seen.  Historically they were a favoured food item among desert Aboriginal tribes, and the fat was used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.

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The guys on board Live Ningaloo’s boat Wave Rider have been seeing good numbers of Manta Rays and this photo is fabulous!   Like whale sharks, mantas are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they swallow with their open mouths as they swim.  Gestation lasts over a year, producing live pups. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites and, like whales, they breach … for reasons we don’t understand.

Lastly – thanks to guest Nanda Haensel, who visited us from Singapore, she took our background photo while out on a walk in the Cape Range National Park.

Amy & Julian Love Life at Sal Salis

Amy is with us for a second season, returning this year as Lodge Supervisor. Having grown up in the UK, she studied Art and Photography at school and then University. Since moving to Ningaloo, her art practise has reflected and been inspired by the unique natural landscape of the area. Wildlife has always been one of her greatest loves and provides inspiration for her travels, including to Latin America, where she fell in love with diving and had her first shark, dolphin and croc encounters! She has also had very memorable trips to the USA, Asia and of course Australia.

The beauty of the reef and the stunning marine environment of Ningaloo are what keeps her happy living so far away from home.

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Amy shares her life with Sal Salis Head Guide, Julian. Also born in the UK, Julian is just mad about the great outdoors and being on the water.

Growing up in the Great British countryside he spent his free time exploring the fields and wildlife that surrounded his house and he fished for pike and perch in the rivers of Norfolk. Being half Italian, every summer he went to visit family in Naples where his uncle took him fishing for for giant Bluefin tuna, XOS tailor and dorado with his uncle.

He’s managed to combine his love of fishing with his love of travel, which has taken him to Central and South America, fishing the murky depths of the Amazon, the supersize tarpon of Nicaragua, the crystal clear flats of Belize right through to jigging for amberjack and wahoo in Mexico. On the Central America trip alongside Amy, he also discovered a love of diving, so the Great Barrier Reef and eventually Ningaloo seemed obvious destinations to explore!

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It appears we have him well & truly hooked!   Working as a guide for the last year, Julian spends his days-off  snorkelling, diving and of course fishing both from boats and from his kayak, where he has had some serious adventures – being bumped by feisty bronze whaler sharks, encounters with minke and humpback whales and being stalked by a large tiger shark, to name a few. Kayak captures have included the biggest Spanish mackerel caught from a kayak in Australia in 2015 and most notably, the first and only Billfish to have been kayak caught on the West coast of Australia.

As with most of our local sports fishermen, Julian’s love of all things marine means most fishing is  ‘catch & release’  but occasionally he brings something home to enjoy with Amy and his Exmouth mates.

JULIAN L-A Shibish-50

Above image of Amy by L-A Shibish, background image of dingo by Amy.

Kinky Whale Shark Spotted

Sal Salis guests have been heading to sea in search of whale sharks since 01 April and on the 2nd they spotted the whale shark known as Kinky!!

Each day begins with a transfer to Tantabiddi Boat Ramp, a snorkel test, kitting out in wetsuit & snorkel gear followed by morning coffee as you cruise out into the Indian Ocean.  The spotter plane will be out ahead and looking for the whale sharks.

When they are found our photographer/guide and guests leap into the water ahead of its path and wait as this huge and wonderful giant appears from the shadows.  Sometimes the water is so deep you cannot see the bottom (and you try not to think about what might be down there) but recently we have been lucky and found the whale sharks in quite shallow water.

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So far this month the spotter planes have been seeing up to 20 whale sharks in one day which means the boats are finding 4 or 5 to swim with.

Wave Rider’s skipper Murray was pleased to see that KINKY was spotted on Day 2 of the season.   Researchers give the whale sharks names to identify them and this fellow below really deserves his name.   Murray speculates that this young male (perhaps 15 years old and 5 metres long) was injured when young and he has managed to adapt to his kinky body shape.  Like all sharks, whale sharks have an amazing ability to heel themselves.   Science does not yet have all the answers but it is thought that these gentle giants might live to over 100 years.

Kinky Whale Shark