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Get to know the Cape Range National Park

If you’re a fan of rugged landscapes, unspoilt beaches and abundant wildlife, the Cape Range National Park may well be your new favourite destination. The north tip of Cape Range National Park is just 40km from Exmouth, on the Coral Coast of Western Australia is the place we call home.

The Park covers more than 50,000 hectares and has been recognised as a World Heritage Site with “outstanding universal value.”

Located adjacent to the famous Ningaloo Marine Park, Cape Range National Park boasts spectacular rocky gorges carved by ancient rivers that adjoin one of the most pristine and beautiful coastlines in the world. We take our guests out on a number of guided experiences through the Park, including snorkelling trips along the coast and hikes at nearby gorges. You can also make your own way to these attractions before, after or during your Sal Salis stay if you have your own vehicle.

Becah and ocean

Wildlife

Wildlife is abundant in the Cape Ranges, with more than 100 species of land birds and marsupials found in the Park. When driving through the epic landscapes, you will spot a variety of birds, emus euros and kangaroos. If you take a hike at one of the gorges or creeks, keep your eyes peeled for black-footed rock wallabies, echidnas and lizards.

There is a bird hide at Mangrove Bay where you can settle in and get a close-up view of the amazing variety of seabirds and waders including mangrove fantails, mangrove whistlers and yellow white eyes. In October, you will see tracks in the sandy beaches where sea turtles have laid their eggs, and in January, you may even be lucky enough to see the baby hatchings make their dash back to the ocean.

This area is probably most famous for its aquatic wildlife, as the Ningaloo Reef is one of the most accessible spots to swim with whale sharks and humpback whales in the world. Whale shark season runs from April to July and the humpback season begins in August and ends in October. You can also swim with the majestic manta rays here from May to November.  Year-round you can expect to see rays, dugongs, turtles and countless species of fish enjoying the pristine reef and abundant coral – just steps from our camp!

Hiking

The National Park is the perfect place to lace up your walking boots and head out to one of the amazing hiking trails. We take our guests on guided walks through Mandu Gorge and Yardie Creek. We take our kayaks and SUP boards to Yardie creek so you can enjoy a tranquil paddle and soak up the amazing scenery.

Snorkelling

Sal Salis is located on the shores of the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, so you’re literally steps away from some of the best snorkelling in Australia. Don your mask and snorkel, step into the crystal-clear Indian Ocean and discover a myriad of marine life just metres from the shore. Immerse yourself in this unspoilt underwater wonderland of coral, turtles, rays and fish.

Our favourite snorkel spots are right outside our camp, as well as Oyster Stacks, Turquoise Bay and Lakeside. We often take our guests up to these spots for a snorkel trip and our guides will point out the amazing fish, coral and other marine creatures as you swim by.

Swimming

There’s 50km of coastline in the Cape Range National Park, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to swimming spots. Turquoise Bay is probably the most famous beach in the Park, and rightly so. It was voted Western Australia’s top beach by Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice. It boasts crystal-clear waters and a long, white, sandy beach.

Jurabi Coastal Reserve is also a great stretch of coastline for swimming. A bonus is that in-season you can also view nesting turtles right here on the beach as the sun sets. On a low tide, check out the rock pools as you’ll find heaps of hidden delights including sea urchins, anemones, starfish and octopus!

The private beach at Sal Salis is an oasis of calm. The pretty pink stones, washed up from nearby Yardie Creek make sunsets here pastel perfection. We have SUP boards and kayaks if you want to go for a little paddle, or you can just relax in our comfy chairs and watch the waves roll in.

 

 

Top tips for stargazing in 2020

Did you know Sal Salis has some of the darkest night skies around?

We are nestled into the Cape Range National Park, miles from any other light sources. We keep lighting to a minimum, dining by candlelight and giving guests a lantern to find their way back to their tents; so you can really experience the stars and the Milky Way in all their glory.

A woman stand under a starry sky with a headtorch

If you’ve never seen a truly dark sky and witnessed the Milky Way, the nights at Sal Salis are going to blow you away. You don’t need to be an astronomer to enjoy these amazing sky shows, they’re just as impressive viewed from the deck of your tent with a glass of wine in hand.

We do have a telescope here in the Lodge, so if you’re keen to know more, just ask one of our camp guides and they’ll happily point out some of the main constellations and planets for you.

Here are some of our top stargazing tips:

  • Stargazing is best done before the full moon, so if you’re super-keen to see the best starry night skies, check the phase of the moon before you plan your trip!
  • If you want to try your hand at some astrophotography, make sure you bring your DSL camera, your kit zoom lenses and a tripod. The tripod allows for a stable platform so you can shoot at a really long exposure. Use manual mode, a fast aperture of F/2.8-F/4 and set the ISO to the highest level you can. Change the shutter speed to slow and exposure length to 15-30 seconds.
  • There are some great in-depth tips for astrophotography here.

AstroTourism has also shared with us their top tips for stargazing events in 2020:

January and February

It’s a great time of the year to see two galaxies in the southern night sky and you don’t even need binoculars or a telescope! The Magellanic Clouds can be seen with the naked eye. Kick back on the beach and enjoy. When’s the best time to see the Magellanic Clouds?

March

Turn your attention towards the outback landscape in the east. Watching a Supermoon rising is getting more and more popular each year. Choose a favourite location where you can see clearly to the eastern highway and you’re all set for a great evening out. What is a Supermoon and when does it rise?

April and May

This is Western Australia’s most iconic constellation. It’s on the flag and in our hearts! Did you know it can only be seen from the Southern Hemisphere? Starting this month, you can track it over time as it graces the southern skies. How do you find the Southern Cross?

June

Milky Way Season has just begun! If you’ve never seen the Milky Way on a moonless night in country WA, June and the months either side are the perfect time to experience it. Sometimes this thick band of stars look so close, you could almost reach out and touch them. The Milky Way is simply stunning…

July

The Southern delta-Aquarids Meteor Shower occurs at a good time to try and spot some meteors (or “shooting stars”). There’s no moonlight at the time of the meteor shower’s peak which makes it easier to see more meteors as they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. How many can you count?

August

Most of us know about the saucepan in the sky. That’s part of the constellation of Orion. Did you know there’s also the shape of teapot in the sky? See if you can find the teapot in Sagittarius…

September

Did you know that Mercury is visible with the naked eye? It is easy to see it this month in the early evening sky! There’s a great time this month to spot the closest planet to the Sun.

October

It’s definitely a treat at Halloween this year! In WA, there are two full Moons in October. They are both what’s popularly known as Micromoons! We’re in for a Micro Blue Moon on Halloween! What is a Micromoon and when does it rise?

November

To see the Andromeda Galaxy you need a very dark night sky. Sal Salis is the perfect location! Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away and they say it is the most distant object visible to the human eye! Will you be able to see Andromeda?

December

A spot of summer night stargazing is a great way to relax and unwind at the end of the year. Get ready for the busy Christmas Day by spending a lovely time out under the stars. On Christmas Eve you’ll spot three of the brightest planets in the evening sky. Where will Mars appear?

2023

In April 2023, Sal Salis is in the path of a total solar eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, totally or partly obscuring the sun from our vision. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun’s and all direct sunlight is blocked, turning day into darkness.

Are you tempted to see the beauty of a Ningaloo Reef sky? Book your escape with us today and make it a reality.

 

That’s a wrap on for the 2019 season at Sal Salis

That’s a wrap! Another season at Sal Salis has officially come to an end. We’re packing up the tents and reflecting on how incredible 2019 has been for us. Thanks to all of our guests and operators who’ve made it such an epic year at Sal Salis, and we wish our wonderful team a relaxing break 💙 Here’s a little taste of what 2019 looked like at camp.

Say hi to the humpback whales!

Set your watches folks, humpback whale season is just around the corner! From August through to the end of October each year, these magnificent giants swim through the waters of the Ningaloo Marine Park.

Did you know humpback whales are one of the largest whale species and can range from 12 to 16 metres? They love swimming close to the surface and breaching up out of the water, which makes for spectacular viewing. We can often see them in the distance right here from camp, which makes for a pretty spectacular experience.

Since 2016, we’re no longer limited to the coastline when it comes to whale spotting, you can now get into the water and swim right alongside them.

This is a truly transformative experience for all nature lovers; we’re talking serious bucket list material!

We can organise a humpback whale swim for you with one of our preferred suppliers in Exmouth. This is one day trip you don’t want to miss! Your day will begin with a 25-minute transfer from camp to the Tantabiddi boat ramp, where you’ll board the vessel. Once on-board you will be given your wetsuit and snorkel gear and a briefing on the day’s activities. Enjoy a delicious morning tea as you sail through the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean towards the edge of the Ningaloo Reef. A spotter plane will be above you, ensuring they know just where to find these ocean giants. They monitor their behaviour to ensure they meet all the requirements for a swim. Once their path has been identified, it’s into the water for an out of this world experience. As you tread water you’ll hear the guide counting down the distance as the whales approach, then it’s faces in the water to catch an amazing view of the beautiful whales.

On your way back to the coast, your team of guides will be looking out for other marine life, like whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, dolphins, dugongs and sea birds.

We also have an amazing special offer running this August.

For a strictly limited time, all new 3-night bookings at Sal Salis will receive a complimentary humpback whale tour! (Valued at $1,200 per couple twin share). Valid only on new bookings made before 11 August 2019, for travel from 01 September 2019 to 31 October 2019.

To find out more about the magical experience, check out our blog post or contact us today. 

Get to Sal Salis via the Coral Coast Highway

Our location here in the Cape Range National Park may be remote, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to get here.

Becah and ocean

You can fly from Perth to Exmouth, where we will be waiting to transfer you to our camp. If you fancy a self-drive adventure, you can also take the 1200km Coral Coast Highway from Perth to Exmouth!

This is one of Australia’s great scenic drives and along the way you will discover a combination of some of Australia’s most amazing attractions and experiences, many found nowhere else on earth, as the road hugs the Indian Ocean coastline.

Road trip highlights include:
• the famous Pinnacles Desert,
• fields of amazing wildflowers in Spring,
• meeting the dolphins at Monkey Mia
• the Yamaji Drive trail in Greater Geraldton and surrounds where you can see the sites of the Wadjari community
• a night tour under the stars Malgana tribe of Gathaagudu in Shark Bay, where you can cook up red mullet and play the didgeridoo

This adventurous self-drive route is the perfect way to start your holiday to Sal Salis so you can enjoy everything this gorgeous part of the world has to offer.

Avis are now offering great deals on fly and drive holidays, so you can drive up to Sal Salis and then fly back to Perth. Find out more on the Coral Coast website.

Turtle tracks herald the start of Ningaloo’s turtle nesting season

As we say goodbye to our staff and guests at the end of our 2018 season, mature female turtles are starting their gruelling journey from the sea to the beaches along the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area to lay clutches of eggs.

Located just metres from our front doorstep, spanning 300 kilometres in length, Western Australia’s Ningaloo Coast is considered one of the world’s most important breeding grounds for endangered green and loggerhead turtles. Hawksbill turtles also nest on this spectacular coastline.

Ningaloo’s turtle nesting season occurs between late October and March each year. Approximately six weeks after nesting, tiny turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests and scurry to the deep blue sea of the Ningaloo Marine Park at the northern tip of Australia’s Coral Coast.

Although most of the hatching takes place during the Sal Salis closure between January and March, some of our guests were lucky enough to witness the hatching of turtles at our private beach in April this year.

 

Turtle hatchlings at Sal Salis

 

It’s no secret that many of our guests visit Sal Salis to swim alongside Ningaloo Reef’s famed big three: whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays. And with good reason; swimming with these majestic gentle giants is nothing short of AWE-INSPIRING, however, guests are often just as excited about encountering our resident turtles on a snorkelling tour with us in the coral gardens of our private beach.

We love our turtles and we know where to find them. There’s a special location in the ocean near our luxury camp ground where we take our guests to spot turtles. Swimming with them is a truly amazing and it’s always a buzz, even for our guides who are lucky enough to do it often.

 

Guests snorkel with turtles at Sal Salis

 

Accommodation at Sal Salis is fully inclusive, and a number of activities and tours are offered to guests daily. Our knowledgeable guides tailor tours each day to best suit the weather conditions at the time. We have plenty of equipment for guests to use, so just remember to pack your bathers and we’ll supply the rest of the gear for a snorkelling tour that you are sure to remember for the rest of your days.

Epic encounters with creatures of the deep at Ningaloo Reef

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to swim with the whale sharks? Our social media manager, Jodie, took a trip to Ningaloo last week and went out with our preferred tour operator, Live Ningaloo. Here’s her take on the big bucket list item many people come to Sal Salis to tick!

“I’d been whale sharking before, but it didn’t even come close to the experience I had with Live Ningaloo last week.  As Sal Salis’s social media manager, I’d been working closely with Live Ningaloo for a while. I knew their unique selling points and had high expectations of having a memorable day of swimming alongside whale sharks at Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef.

I’m delighted to say my high expectations were blown out of the water! The tour was INCREDIBLE from start to finish and memorable for so many reasons.

We started the day with some snorkelling and spent some time swimming alongside a beautiful green turtle. and even saw some rays! I have a particular fondness for turtles, so the tour started on a high.

Conditions were optimal – minimal wind, warm temperature, calm water, excellent visibility and not a cloud in the sky. Welcome to ‘winter’ in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area!

It wasn’t long before Live Ningaloo’s spotter plane located a whale shark for us to swim with. One of the main benefits of choosing Live Ningaloo is that they only take ten passengers per tour, which means you get to spend the maximum amount of time swimming with whale sharks. Other vessels take more passengers, but only ten can swim with the whale shark at a time so you take turns with other passengers.

We had received an entertaining and informative brief from Katie (the onboard marine ecologist) and Doug (our attentive deckhand) and were eagerly awaiting the signal to gently enter the water.

There it is! Onboard photographer, Chris Jansen, has spotted the whale shark and Katie is lining us up so that we can form a V around it and follow its path. Masks below the surface, we are all so excited to see the whale shark appear in front of us and we swim as fast as our fins will carry us to keep up with this deceptively fast enormous fish! We must’ve spent about ten minutes swimming with the whale shark, who at approximately four-metres long was a juvenile, but certainly no less impressive than swimming with a larger one.

We jumped back onto the boat, all buzzing from the experience. While were waiting for our next drop, we saw a yellow sea snake float past the boat, which was a first for me. What a beautiful creature.

We were lucky enough to have another three long swims with the same whale shark. One of the great things about the day was that we were all able to see the whale shark from different angles – alongside it near the dorsal fins and also behind its massive tail as it swayed mesmerisingly from side to side.

It was on the last drop that we were in for the biggest surprise… Having swam with the whale shark a few times, we had now worked out what we were supposed to do, so had all found positions alongside it and were swimming along happily when all of a sudden, it disappeared.

I looked up to find Katie to get instructions on where to go when suddenly I saw a humpback whale gently emerge just a few metres away and check us out! No sooner than the whale had appeared, it had disappeared back into the depths. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned around to see if the others had seen it too. I made eye contact with a fellow Sal Salis guest, Barry. Barry’s eyes were like saucers! Barry is an experienced diver and has had some amazing marine experiences under his belt and he was like a kid in a candy store. Chris Jansen, the onboard photographer has also spent a lot of time in the ocean and even he was excited.

We couldn’t stop talking about it. The whale didn’t display any aggressive behaviour, it was just curious, so it popped up to see what was going on and it was AMAZING!

After that, the spotter plan wasn’t able to find our friendly whale shark again, but it was more than fine with us. We finished whale sharking on a high and had time to see other marine creatures.

Our captain, Murray, took us to see some more humpback whales and even found a pod of dolphins who danced around the boat to our delight. We finished the day with a spot of snorkelling over some massive coral bombies and saw many different species of colourful coral and fish.

We went back to Sal Salis that night and couldn’t stop talking about our epic unexpected encounter with not one, but two gentle giants of the deep at Ningaloo Reef.

It was a taste of what is yet to come. Live Ningaloo will run their last whale shark tour of the season on 31 July, and will commence offering humpback whale swims from 1 August. As if we needed another reason to visit! Count us in! Our humpback whale encounter was way to short. We’re not ticking it off the bucket list yet. Care to join us?

 

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.