As one of the most diverse and spectacular wilderness areas in the world, Kakadu National Park seems to have it all – waterfalls, canyons, rivers and canoeing plus rich and strong aboriginal culture. Combined with the huge sense of space and remote walking tracks (with tourists few and far between!), the feeling of having it all to yourself is unmatched.
Known for its unique ecosystem that receives a deluge of rain in the summer months, Kakadu’s billabongs, stone country, floodplains and low ridges are home to a diverse array of animal and plant species.
Travellers who explore Kakadu on foot are usually treated to an endless series of pandanus-palm fringed swimming holes, crystal-clear waterfalls and spectacular gorges. And with guides who know the area well, accessing secret places few visitors ever see is one of the reasons why it is so relaxing and easy to forget the worries of the world when you are in the middle of a tropical ‘nowhere’. Here are the top six highlights when spending a week walking in Kakadu National Park.
Time-travel at the Nourlangie ancient rock art sites
Nourlangie is a living museum of art galleries, history and spirituality in Kakadu. Some of the art galleries housed in sheltered caves provide insight into the mythology of the traditional owners. Near Nourlangie is the Anbangang Gallery, where the famous Lightning Man is painted; this Dreamtime ancestor is said to control the violent wet season lightning storms.
With an Aboriginal heritage dating back at least 20,000 years, a visit to these ancient sites offers a unique chance to discover the history and heritage of the area.
Explore the wildlife-rich Yellow Water Wetlands
One of the highlights of Kakadu is a cruise on the Yellow Water billabong, home to an astounding variety of wildlife. Here you may encounter brumbies, wallabies and goannas drinking from the waterside, saltwater crocodiles and thousands of birds including Magpie Geese, Brolgas, Cormorants, Pelicans and Jabiru, Australia’s largest flying bird.
Keep your arms and legs out of the water though, as it’s estimated that there are four crocodiles every 100 square metres!
Experience the famous Jim Jim and Twin Falls
Visit Kakadu’s most famous waterfalls, the Jim Jim and Twin Falls, which during the wet season turn into a roaring waterfall that gushes over towering red escarpments. While these reduce to a trickle in the dry season, the towering cliffs are a spectacle in their own right.
Encircled by 140-million-year-old sandstone cliffs, the Jim Jim Falls has a small sand-fringed plunge pool at the base of the falls. Trek through the monsoon rainforest to reach the falls – a short 900m walk that rewards spectacular views.
The Twin Falls, on the other hand, is a cascade waterfall that has breathtaking views into the gorge below.
Walk to the spectacular Gunlom Falls
Kakadu’s most iconic plunge pool and waterfall is renowned far and wide for its natural infinity-edge pool.
Made famous by Crocodile Dundee, the emerald green pool and white sandy beach is a show stopper. Add in the most panoramic views of the southern-most parts of Kakadu National Park and you have a perfect spot to relax.
The sunset views from the swimming pool on top of the Gunlom Waterfall are some of the most published images of the NT, thanks to the sweeping views across stone country and woodland to the southern hills and ridges.
And no need to worry about crocs, the swimming holes we visit on our Kakadu walks are safe to swim in and are crocodile-free.
Close encounters with some of the Top End's exotic animals
Kakadu is home to a diverse array of wildlife, birds and animals that can rival the diversity of a safari trip in Africa! Home to countless mammals and over 2000 plant species, it is a melting pot of extraordinary local wildlife.
The most well-known, of course, is the largest reptile on the planet: the Saltwater Crocodile. This huge, territorial and iconic animal can be found all throughout Kakadu – there are over 10,000 of them in the area! Don’t worry, though, the swimming holes we visit are high on the escarpment, far from the reach of the ‘Salties’!
While in the wilderness you can also expect to see flatback turtles, mini quolls, snakes, wild pigs, river sharks and buffaloes; however one of Kakadu’s most iconic creatures is actually a grasshopper! Called the Alyurr, or ‘child of the lightning man” it is a local grasshopper that is brightly coloured in blue and orange.
Walk among lush wilderness
One of our favourite things about Kakadu is that after the wet season rains, we are almost guaranteed a breathtakingly lush walking season from April onwards. With up to 350mm of rain per month falling between January to March, the billabongs, rivers and creeks receive a copious amount of new freshwater, cleansing the earth, refreshing the waterholes and encouraging new growth for plants growing in the plains and wetlands.
Often, between April to June, the plains are covered with water lilies and lotus flowers- just in time for the trekking season! The conditions during April to September provides the perfect breeding conditions for the huge populations of brolgas, egrets, black-necked storks, eagles, magpie geese and many more bird species, so timing your visits during these months is ideal for nature lovers!
Experience it yourself
Join the Kakadu Explorer, a six-day walking adventure to Kakadu’s top spots and best kept secrets! This guided walking tour spends evenings at our exclusive semi-permanent campsites to give travellers creature comforts in the remote Top End Wilderness. Find out more >
Or join the Kakadu Supported Cycle Tour, a 5-day immersive experience of all of the Top End's highlights. Explore the backroads of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks by bike, enjoy wildlife cruises, and hear about local culture from Indigenous guides. Find out more >