Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory, just a few hours away from Darwin. It’s actually the largest national park in Australia, and there is a lot to explore in this natural wilderness park. We spent a week in this park with our campervan and definitely recommend a visit to this amazing park. There is so much to do in Kakadu National Park. Be sure to take your time when exploring this beautiful place and plan to stay at least three days. In this post we share 10 things to do in Kakadu National Park. We also share how you get there, park prices and fun tours in Kakadu National Park.
Guide to Kakadu National Park
Our land has a high story. Sometimes we tell a little bit at a time. Come and hear our stories, see our land. A little bit might stay in your hearts. If you want more, you come back.
– Jacob Nayinggul – Manilakarr clan
Facts about Kakadu National Park
The name Kakadu comes from Gagudju, an Aboriginal language that was spoken in the north of the park at the beginning of the 20th century. Kakadu National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage in recognition for its amazing natural values and as a living cultural landscape. For more than 50,000 years Aboriginal people have inhabited Kakadu, even as far as before the last ice age! In Kakadu you can find ancient rock art that each tell their own story, various wild life, plants, amazing rock pools, waterfalls, great look outs and so much more.
The Aboriginal people in Kakadu are known as Bininj/Mungguy. Both words are similar to the English word “man”. Bininj and Mungguy have lived in Kakadu for tens of thousands of years. Since the Creation time, one generation to the next have passed on different aspects of cultural responsibility, such as language, kinship, ceremonies and caring for the country.
How to get to Kakadu National Park
Kakadu is a three hours drive away from Darwin. We recommend that you go with your own car or rent one, so you can make your own route and are not dependent on a tour bus – unless if you prefer going on an arranged tour of course. The park is very big, 20,000 square kilometers, so be sure to take your time and know which places you want to visit. Once you are in the park you are required to purchase a park pass. These can be bought at the visitors’ center and various other locations in the park. It’s also possible to buy one online beforehand.
Plan your visit: Bowali Visitors Centre
At the Bowali Visitors centre you can get help from the staff to plan your visit in Kakadu. Here you can also watch different documentaries, visit the library and enjoy other cultural activities. While we were there, they organized a arts and crafts where people could paint their own art! In Kakadu national park there are different ranger talks and cultural tours you can go on. The staff in Bowali can give you a guide with the schedules for this.
Kakadu National Park Tours
If you rather want to explore Kakadu National Park with a tour than by yourself, then there are plenty of tours to choose from. We share a couple of them below!
Kakadu National Park Full-Day Sightseeing Tour
See the wildlife, wild rivers, Aboriginal sites and wilderness of Kakadu National Park in the full-day sightseeing tour. Some of the highlights are the crocodiles you spot on the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise, the birdlife watching and the Aboriginal Rock art at Nourlangie. This tour includes lunch, a driver and guide and you travel in an air-conditioned coach.
Four Day Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield 4WD Glamping Tour
This tour is for the real adventurers out there that also want to see the three big National Parks in the Top End: Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield. With this tour a private vehicle is included and a private guide.
5 Things to do in Kakadu National Park
1. Admire the aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie
While we were in Kakadu we visited various spots were you could see remaining rock art. We loved the fact that many of them had different stories, even though we didn’t always quite understand them. It is even the case that some paintings are considered sacred and dangerous, and can be seen only by senior men or women. When you see the rock art, there are often multiple paintings covering each other. This is because the act of painting is considered more important than the painting itself. In the park you can visit various sites where you can find rock art. Such as at Ubirr, Nourlangie and Nanguluwur.Kakadu’s rock art showcases one of the longest historical records of any group of people in the world. Bininj/Mungguy still paint, but on bark, paper and canvas.
2. Go on a Yellow Water Cruise
If you are planning on cruising on the Yellow Water Billabong, then you’ll most certainly go on a Yellow Water Cruise. They have exclusive use of these waters and operate all year round. It is a great way to experience the wetlands of Kakadu! All the different seasons provide a different experience. It is even a different experience on different times on a day. The sunrise and sunset cruise are the most popular ones, and it is recommended to book in advance. We decided to go on the sunset tour, and were rewarded with an amazing red sky when the sun went down. To be honest, I wasn’t too fond of crocodiles, and while we were walking past water shores in Kakadu, I would be quite scared that one would jump out and snatch Jeffrey away. But once we were in the boat, cruising around and seeing all those crocodiles that clearly weren’t planning on attacking us, I found it very interesting to see them in their natural environment. One crocodile even decided to take a little swim next to our boat for a while. It was a great experience!
3. Watch the wildlife in Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park is home to a lot of wildlife. There are around 10.000 crocodiles in Kakadu, which is the tenth of all crocodiles Northern Territory. There are two types of crocs: freshwater and saltwater crocodiles.
Besides crocodiles, you can also encounter grasshoppers, quolls, turtles and lots of birds.
If you’re keen of encountering wildlife, here are some tips:
- Best time to see wildlife is early morning or sunset.
- Use binoculars for a better look
- Don’t approach or disturb wildlife
- Always pay attention for crocodile warning signs and stay away. People have died!
4. Visit Gunlom Falls
This was definitely one of our highlights! It was quite a bumpy ride to get there though. An unsealed 2WD road, but during the ride up there felt more as a 4WD road. Luckily, it was well worth the effort in the end. Gunlom is a combination of a gorgeous waterfall and serene pools on top of the waterfall. The climb up to the plunge pools, to the top of the waterfall, was quite challenging. But the impeccable view and refreshing crystal clear waters makes you forget that in an instant.
We camped the night at Gunlom and luckily when we left the next day, the road was made a lot smoother and it was an easier ride.
5. Climb Ubirr
Our first night was spent at camp ground Merle, which was close to Ubirr. Here you can enjoy an absolutely beautiful sunset. The climb up the rocks is very easy and offers an endless view.
Accommodation Kakadu National Park: camping and clamping
There are multiple campgrounds in Kakadu National Park. It’s based on first-come, first-serve basis and there is no booking service. There are campgrounds that are managed, include showers, toilets, picnic facilities and fire pits. A camp manager always shows up during nighttime to collect the camp fee. The unmanaged campsites that include toilets, basic picnic facilities and fire pits are paid via honesty boxes on site. The free campsites do not have any amenities. For more information about the prices and the campgrounds, click here.
It is also possible to spend the night in a hotel, cabin or safari camps. For more information about the possibilities, click here.
This post is currently being updated! More things to do in Kakadu and other useful information for your visit are coming soon. Have you ever been to Kakadu National Park?