Remember the good old days? You know the ones… you played outside until dark, jumping in puddles, basking in the sun, going on adventures and spending time with friends until it was time to go inside for dinner. In those days, your allowance stretched as far as it needed to, purchasing things that brought delight instead of necessities (i.e. you could always afford to buy something from the ice cream man).
Pete West has created a Karijni Old Skool experience to bring you back to the carefree days of your youth at a price that’s sure to put a smile on your face. The Flying Sandgroper’s Old Skool Karijini tour is a two day, two night adventure designed for budget-conscious travelers and backpackers who are fit, active and ready to have the time of their lives. Throughout the entire tour, the other guests and I kept saying we were so glad we joined The Flying Sandgroper’s tour. Read on for 7 reasons I loved this tour and I know you will too.
Access to Karijini if you don’t own a 4WD
Before finding The Flying Sandgroper, I thought I’d need to be content with hearing stories of Karijini from fellow travelers and seeing photos on Instagram. Karijini is most easily accessed by a 4WD and rental car companies forbid travel into the area since the roads are so rough.
The Flying Sandgroper has a special 4WD bus that’s equipped to take you through the bumpy roads. And flashpackers, don’t fear! It’s also equipped with USB ports to charge your techie gear.
The Old Skool Karijini tour is timed to allow travelers without a car to venture north on the Integrity Bus on a Monday night and continue on to Broome at the conclusion of the tour on Wednesday evening. Integrity Coach Lines offers a Perth to Broome hopper pass for $395 that’s good for 12 months. I found this a safe and easy way to get to Karijini and on to Broome.
Driving a campervan or a rental? Only able to join the tour for one day? This tour can accommodate you, too!
Awesome Karijini tour guides
I booked my trip through owner, Pete West, who was helpful throughout the entire process. He helped me plan my bus trip and calmed my last minute fears of not having my own sleeping bag (they can provide one). His passion for the area and welcoming travelers is evident in every aspect of the tour he created.
The national park is over 2,400 mi², so there’s no way to see it all. With a great guide, though, we were able to see four different gorges and swim in several refreshing (read:cold) pools. Left to my own devices, I’d probably still be in the first gorge, taking my 1,000th photo and missing out on even better spots! Our guide for the two day trip, Brent Pike, was enthusiastic and full of interesting information, encouraging us to enjoy the moment while getting us excited for the next spot. His knowledge of the area and its history made the beautiful gorges even more gorge-ous (get it?).
Nature! Poisonous Nature!
Despite its fairytale-esque beauty, Karijini can be a dangerous place. We traversed slippery water crossings, clambered down Class 5 trails and even spotted a brown snake crossing out path. To quote the Australian mom after we warned her about the brown snake ahead on the path, “Nature! Poisonous nature!” Slips, falls and wildlife pose a threat, so it’s always best to go with someone who knows the area and has access to emergency communication… just in case. Keep your eyes open and always listen to your guide and you’re sure to have the very best time.
Walk amongst ancient history
Western Australia’s second largest national park is home to the oldest exposed rock in the world. Walk amongst stones 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 years old, which were pushed out of the seabed to create the gorgeous gorges we have today.
Ever heard of a Stromatolite? A fossil of the earliest life form on the planet is visible on a walk through Dale’s Gorge. Dinosaur fossils have nothing on a stromatolite!
Slip into Fern Pool, a former aboriginal birthing pool. It’s a special, sacred place to the indigenous people, and should be treated as such. Without our guide, we would have been one of those oblivious tourists, cannon-balling into the no-splash zone. Approaching this historically and culturally significant site with reverence made the experience even more powerful.
Amazing swimming pools
If Disney were to dream up a paradise-themed water park, they couldn’t improve on the natural formations of Karijini. Rock waterfalls? Check! Thick flora to create a shaded area? Check! Sunny beach for sunbathing or drying off? Check! Unreal shades of blue and green water? Yep.. got that too!
One of the guests in our group kept asking whether the features were natural or man-made… She just couldn’t believe a place could be this perfect. Be prepared for two full days of feeling awestruck.
The Flying Sandgroper website claims that eating good is high on their agenda. Y’all know I am a girl who loves my food, so I was anxious to discover what they had in store for us. Breakfasts of pancakes, porridge, and yogurt parfaits were a perfect way to get our energy up before an action-packed day.
And the wraps at lunch were so good, one Portuguese man told his wife he would eat them at home from now on. (She’s been trying to convince him wraps are good since they got married.) On our first day, the wrap was filled with freshly cooked marinated kangaroo. That’s certainly one way to get a taste (literally) of Australia.
Dinner was a spaghetti bolognese packed with tons of fresh veggies. By the end, we were so full we could hardly move. Between the filling meal and the action-packed day, we all slept soundly that night.
Everyone on the tour helps with set up, cooking and cleaning. Bond with your fellow travelers and build a little team spirit over the suds of dishes!
Camping for non-campers
I stayed in a tent all by myself for the first time in my life on this tour. So it would be correct to say I’m not much of a camping kind of girl… but this was just one step down from glamping. My tent was tall enough to stand up in and the sleeping bags were laid out on a cot, so no uncomfortable rocks digging into my back. Plus, there was enough room for my explosion of stuff, which is practically a miracle.
All of this came together for a perfect getaway to Karijini. I’m already missing the red dirt, the ancient rock formations, and the refreshing swims from the best Karijini tour out there!
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Note: I was a guest of The Flying Sandgroper for the Old Skool Karijini Tour, but as always, opinions are my own and I won’t recommend anything to you that’s not awesome.