Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef
For the last part of our trip, we treated ourselves to a few days at Sal Salis, the only operator allowed to operate within Cape Range National Park. Staying in camping style tents but with super comfy beds, it has the eco thing down pat. Powered completely by solar energy, compost toilets and only 20 litres of water a day per person, you can be assured your carbon footprint is minimal. We reckon anything less we will literally be sleeping on the beach.
What did I say about “Glamping”
However, unlike camping, everything is catered for – breakfast, lunch and dinner. That includes hot and cold drinks (alcoholic and non as well). And when I wanted to snorkel one afternoon, one of the guides went along with me. Even Aidan didn’t have to play chess alone. So if you are into “Glamping“, this is definitely for you. Depending on the weather, activities are set out each day and you have a choice what to do.
The only “drawback” if you could put it that way, are the water rations. Just imagine, 20 litres of water is equivalent to 10 x 2L milk bottles or if you like, a 2 minute shower!! This was a challenge for us which was not helped by the fact that the hot water does not kick in till a minute later! However, as none of us wanted to be banished to the outside hammock every night smelling like dried seaweed, we made sure we followed the instructions and had a drill sergeant with a stopwatch. What happens when the water runs out, I hear you ask? Apparently you’ll just have to make do and I was not volunteering to find out.
So it was off with the clothes, step into the shower (ooh, a bit cold and gusty in the shower tent), turn on water and wet yourself (brrr . . . the water’s even colder!), turn it off and soap yourself (BRRR . . . I must be in ANTARTICA!!! . . . the gusts of winds are freezing!!!) and finally turn the water on again to wash everything off (Ahhh . . . finally the hot water kicks in . . . phew!)
Remarkably, all of us managed this despite the boy commenting whether we actually did a good enough job cleaning ourselves. Fair point. Nevertheless, Peter recalls camping in his teens when they didn’t even shower at all.
Our first day, we opted for Mandu Mandu Gorge. This is a 3km walking trail which we started at the creek bed which was quite interesting. Having done Yardie Creek Gorge, we were quite surprised to find ourselves walking on a bed of white smooth pebbles, just like a dried up river bed! However, this made us more careful as the chances of rolling an ankle on these smooth stones were highly likely! Especially with our guide pointing at birds and rock wallabies perched on the cliff, you literally had to grow another set of eyes to make sure you didn’t trip whilst walking and looking at the same time.
The walk then traversed up a steep hill. It was quite a climb and in some sections, you had to use your hands to hang on and pull yourself up. However, once you get to the top, you get rewarded for your efforts. You can then opt to walk back at the top of the ridge or make your way back down. We decided to retrace our steps since one of the guests couldn’t make it up the climb and the guide didn’t really want to leave them to get back to the car by themselves.
You can also snorkel just off camp at Sal Salis. Less than 50m away, it was perfect. However, the weather was less than kind to us and for the most part, windier than normal. Great for hiking but it did make the seas a bit choppy. When we were there, the currents were quite strong and we didn’t enjoy it as much as oyster stacks. Even though we walked quite far up the beach, the drift took us back to our original spot in almost no time. Also I found it a challenge to get back to the shore, even with flippers!!
The other days we spent taking it easy. Being so close to the beach, it was delightful to be able swim and snorkel whenever we wanted. And if that was too tiring, just swinging in our shaded hammock was a favourite. With only eighteen guests, we all dined together and the relaxed, friendly atmosphere is absolutely charming not to mention deliciously prepared food. We don’t think we could have asked for a more relaxing end to our trip to the Ningaloo Coast of Western Australia.