Category Archives: Blog

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.

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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

 

 

Paul & Candice – at Home at Sal Salis

Welcome to Paul & Candice 

As we count down to the opening of the 2016 season, now less than a month away, we welcome Paul & Candice as our Lodge Managers …. this dynamic duo has a ton of talent from brilliant photography to up-cylcling & cooking!

Paul first came to Sal Salis as a guide in 2014.  We loved his expert guiding style, his ability to share his deep understanding of nature with interested guests and his calm assured manner.  We also loved his passion and impressive skill for photography.   Paul grew up on a tobacco farm in Zimbabwe and after studying in Cape Town,  spent time as a Ranger at a private reserve adjoining the world famous Kruger National Park.  His love of photography started as a way to connect with guests – helping them operate their, often very new, cameras.  Paul spent 2015 as a walking guide at Arkaba in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges.   Whilst he loved being immersed in a different Australian habitat, the lure of the ocean is strong!  Paul is happy to return to the turquoise water, white sand beaches & red rock of the ranges at Sal Salis.

Paul is joined by another of his great loves – Candice.   Like Paul, Candice grew up in Africa and has a deep rooted love for wildlife and nature.  Childhood holidays were spent with family in the Timbavati, an area of land adjacent to Kruger where she raised all manner of creatures by hand,  from king-fishers to bush babies.  Later holidays were spent scuba diving and swimming  with whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays in Mozambique. Candice carried her passion for the outdoors into her career by studying horticulture. She ran and owned a landscaping and up-cycling pallet business for nine years before eventually giving in to love and leaving South Africa to join Paul.    Candice swears that Paul is not the only attraction at Sal Salis – “It is the perfect balance of ocean & outback and one of the best places on earth to call home!”

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Turtle Egg Laying Time

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Sal Salis is currently closed for the season  so our Camp Managers Paul and Candice are finding time to enjoy themselves.  They had been out for an early morning paddle on the kayaks yesterday when they noticed turtle  tracks across the damp sand.  Following them they found this gorgeous girl who had just finished laying her eggs and was busy covering her nest.   She was exhausted and went at a VERY slow pace, eventually she trundled back down to the water and swam off.   Candice says the beach is covered in nests at the moment.

Three of the world’s seven marine turtle species nest on the mainland beaches and islands of Ningaloo Reef during the summer months.

  1. Green turtles (Chelonia mydas)
  2. Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta)
  3. Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Incubation is then around 60 days so through March and into April turtle hatchings on the beach are a very special experience for some of our lucky guests.   It is hard to describe how emotional you feel watching the tiny turtles – perfect and beautiful, strive for life.

Photos by Camp Manager – Paul Bester

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Meet Paul Bester

Our guides at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef not only have a passion for the environment and creating lasting memories for our guests, some of them have some pretty impressive talents. Guide Paul Bester has been making all of us here in the office jealous with his weekly Sal Salis photo updates!Let’s get to know a little more about our field guide Paul (aka photographer extraordinaire) …

Paul is a South African native who grew up on a tobacco farm and spent his afternoons looking for bird eggs and trying to outsmart the local antelope. At boarding school he met our very own lodge manager Tristan, where they both joined the falconary club and spent huge amounts of time out of the classroom and in the sticks. After studying in Cape Town, Paul joined a lodging group in South Africa and learned all the tricks of the trade – from fine dining to identifying animal tracks. From there he became a game ranger in Kruger for three years and grew his love of photography – a great way to relate to guests on a personal level by teaching them how to operate their cameras to get the best shots of leopards, cheetahs, elephants, lion, antelope… the list goes on and on!

After a busy season showing guests around the Ningaloo Coast, Paul says.. “And here I am. Still got the camera, Still living the dream!”With so many to choose from it has been a struggle to pick just 10 of Paul’s shots, but we’ve managed and here are some of our favourites,

cape range
Top of the Cape Range
“I loved the way the clouds formed the natural leading lines. Including a little foreground gives a feel of just how beautiful this place is…”
sal sail night sky
Night Sky
“Using the guest tent as my focal point puts the vastness of the night sky into perspective”
thunder storm sept
Thunderstorm
“This image was captured from the Sal Salis whale watching deck. The wind had picked up to a steady gail with a huge storm brewing over the ocean. I love the way the clouds draw the viewer into the picture with a bit of lighting up the footpath drawing you into the tents. That day we were all bracing for something big, fortunately it all blew over”
breath taking beaches
Breath Taking Beaches
“I took this picture just north of the lodge, then cropped it to give the viewer a feel for the open spaces along the Ningaloo Coast”
sal salis night sky
Stars Above the Lodge
“I love this photo of the main lodge with a full star trail behind. Having almost zero light pollution makes for amazing star gazing. I left the shutter open for half an hour which created the circle effect”
senic flight
Scenic Flight
“Hop onto a light aircraft and see the reef from above, a place where desert meets ocean. I captured this image at the airstrip, the red dust creates a whirlwind effect”
wild skies yardie creek
Wild Skies Over Yardie Creek
“This image was taken on one of our Yardie Creek Gorge Walks. The wind brings in the moisture over the ocean, making for a dramatic contrast between sky and land”
dingo exmouth 2014
Dingo
“Getting up before the crack of dawn does have it’s perks! Spotted this canine a little way up the road from the lodge. Having seen tracks on most gorge walks, actually seeing one in the wild is a bucket list tick for me! “
mandu cave 2014
Mandu Cave
“I’ve had my eye on this cave for a while and have tried many different ways to photograph it. Having my brother up, I made him lie on his back in a classic ‘outback Aussie’ position, waiting out the heat of the day”
main lodge 2014
Main Lodge
“Now this is wow!!”