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Extreme Palau: a Survivor experience

Thursday, May 26, 2011
On her first visit to Palau, Kelly Landry loved the experience of swimming in the amazing Jellyfish Lake. Her next assignment wasn't quite as gentle.

She signed up for a Sam's Tour to see if she could survive all Palau has to offer. The Tarzan Tour involves cave free-diving, snorkelling through marine tunnels, cliff jumping and rope swinging. There's endless colourful coral to ogle at low tide, accompanied by thousands of fish.

Sam Scott is American and first visited Palau to join his stepfather. He immediately began exploring the vast reef systems, hidden waterways, offshore fishing grounds and forgotten jungles. His knowledge of Palau's natural wonders and hidden secrets is second to none.

It is an extreme adventure but the rewards are superb. Palau's rock islands hold so many secrets, hard paddling and one or two bruises are forgotten when their beauty is revealed. Kelly was amazed that entering a cave could open up a brand new world. She described it as a "private Eden".

There are around 200 rock islands, which were coral reefs formed millions of years ago and thrust to the surface by volcanic activity.

The Blue Room is a crystal filled series of air chambers hidden in the heart of a rock island and accessible with a free dive through turquoise waters to around 3m. Kelly says if you can hold your breath underwater for around 30 seconds it's not to be missed.

The 10th season of the American reality show Survivor was filmed there in 2004. It's where they faced multiple challenges and may have been so focused on winning they didn't get to enjoy so many of the things on offer.

Kelly loved the sounds of the jungle, particular a beautiful and peaceful hooting sound. It comes from the endemic Palau Fruit Dove. The national bird is camouflaged in a green canopy and seen only when flying. It features on Palau's postage stamps.

Kelly wasn't as impressed by the hissing of a couple of courting snakes. They are venomous but gentle. As with most snakes, you leave them be and they return the compliment.

She was a lot happier being surrounded by thousands of fish in what is called "the fish bowl". All colours and sizes, Kelly knew she would never have found them without the assistance of Sam.

His tours run every day and there's a full range of half and full day outings. From their headquarters in Koror it is around 40 minutes by speedboat to the outer reef and 10 minutes from ship and plane wrecks from World War II.

It's no surprise that Palau is considered one of the best dive and snorkel destinations in the world.

Related pictures: Swimming with jellyfish in Palau

Location

The Republic of Palau, 800km east of the Philippines.

Cost

Sam's Tours Palau Tarzan Lake Tour is $115 per person for a full day. They rely on tides and other conditions, but there are six alternate routes available. Transfers, naturalist guide, lunch, refreshments, dry bags and boxes are supplies.

Prices correct May 26, 2011.

For further information

Sam's Tours
Ph: +680 488 7267
www.samstours.com
reservations@samstours.com

Visa: Australian tourists do not require visas. All travellers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days.

Electricity: 120V at 60Hz.

Time zone: GMST +10.

Currency: US dollar.

International dialling code: +691.

It is recommended travellers to Micronesia see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.

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