A few years ago, I went on a 3 day Kakadu Camping Tour Adventure from Darwin. Due to the long wet season, all roads in the park were closed. So I had to reschedule my travel plans and travel to the Top End of Australia for later. So I returned to Darwin in May when tour companies could operate tours within Kakadu’s restricted area in the Northern Territory and Arnhem Land.
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A 3-day Kakadu Camping Tour from Darwin
I wanted something different from the average tour for my Kakadu trip, and after my research, I was lucky to find a trip that matched my expectations. The most important about choosing among the best Kakadu Camping Tours are there three things: the itinerary, the activities and the number of participants. The 3-day Tour from Darwin I picked focused on natural attractions, a morning river cruise, rock art and aboriginal culture, hiking and swimming. And also camping as the highlight. So, all in all, a perfect Kakadu adventure.
Day 1. from the wetlands to the Kakadu waterfalls – Fogg Dam
These vast floodplains are a place for a sensory experience. The magic of the colours, from green to blue, blended into a concert of harmonious nuances. An excellent place for seeing native Australian birds. From Fogg Damm, we drove further to reach the Cooroboore Billabong, where we went on a river cruise. This is a true paradise for spotting various native and unique birds, kangaroos and saltie crocodiles while sitting on the boat and floating on the calm waters.
The Corroboree Billabong Cruise was the highlight of the first day of our Kakadu Camping Tour.
I had heard a lot about Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls. Going there was a treat that added that wow effect. These massive falls are stunning places in the Top End of Australia. When we left Darwin, we knew that many places were closed due to the heavy rainfall; fortunately, on Saturday morning, a ranger informed us that the 4WD road access to Gumlon had been re-opened public access. A visit to Gunlom Falls made our treat for the second day of our guided tour.
The green water of Gunlom lake (the colour in the photos is genuine with no filters) has a magnetic and relaxing power that made it difficult for us to leave this place. I indeed could have stayed there a few days.
Two hikes started from the base of the falls, but the access was closed that day. Nonetheless, we were thankful that we could reach the bottom of Gunlom Falls and enjoyed our swimming. Next to Gunlom Lake also has a vast green area for a picnic, parking, and staying overnight.
Motor Car Falls
As Gunlom Falls was not on our itinerary, the warm, sunny weather was ideal for a hike in the Kakadu woodlands. After a short walk, we reached the Motor Car Falls. Boulders surround this small and shady rock pool, so you have to climb over the rocks to access the rock pool, but it’s an easy climb.
Marlenne Water Hole
To reach some hidden places like this Marlenne Water hole, you need a 4WD vehicle. We drove up to the summit for 15 minutes on a bumpy gravel road.
Day 3. Admiring the Kakadu Rock Art
On our 3. day, we visited a few iconic rock art sites of Kakadu. Nourlangie Rock is the most known and truly massive rock, which used to be the home and shelter for aboriginal people living in Kakadu. This is an excellent place to learn about aboriginal art and culture. We were lucky to spot a rock wallaroo hopping around the site.
Ubirr Rock is another excellent place for aboriginal art, with a terrific look out over the wetlands. Below, you can get a photo of this fantastic place with a 360° panoramic view all around the region.
Getting up close with the indigenous culture
Within the Kakadu National Park, there are a few cultural centres where you can learn about this park’s cultural significance to the indigenous people who have lived there for millions of years. On our last day, on the way back to Darwin, we spent a few hours at the Window in the Wetlands, an aboriginal cultural centre where we could meet with aboriginal people and listen to their stories and traditions.
A fun Kakadu Camping experience
Our guided Kakadu Tour from Darwin included two nights on campsites. Camping is probably the best way to soak in this park’s atmosphere, and no Kakadu trip is complete without a camping experience. There are many campsites; you can get a list of all Kakadu campsites from the official parks site.
Most camping grounds in Kakadu are managed campsites, and you can stay overnight by paying a small fee, usually between 5 and 10 dollars, but many campgrounds are free to visit. We spent two nights camping in two locations on our Kakadu trip. The first was a free campground, a nice place with a rock pool nearby to chill out, and the other was a managed campsite.
Spending a night at Kambolgie Campground
We arrived on a Friday evening, and our tour guide warned us that it would be crowded. So we hurried up to make sure to get a space. A free campsite has no facilities, and only the basic toilet is provided, so there are no flushing toilets, showers and drinking water. You must bring pure water, food and all the necessities with you. We stayed overnight at two different campsites. Click on the link to learn more about the places we visited and the fun we had.
A Kakadu campsite with a rock pool
The great thing about this national park is that there are small gorges and swimming pools to chill out everywhere. Besides the major significant Kakadu waterfalls, there are hundreds of small rock pools and canyons. Those are less-known places you come across while hiking or from your tour guide.
This rock pool was like an oasis after a long drive on the first-day tour. A quick jump into the refreshing creek, just a few minutes’ walk away, was very rewarding before setting up our campsite. We headed off through the bush, walked over a suspended bridge and reached this beautiful natural rock pool.
Kakadu Camping: setting up a campfire
I had always dreamt of sitting at a campfire in the Australian bush. Looking for small wood and sticks is part and parcel of any camping adventure. We stopped along the road to the Kambolgie Campground and packed the vehicle full of dry tree branches that we used to lit up our campfire at the campsite.
Cooking a campfire dinner
When we got back to the Kambolgie Campground, our appetite was big. Cooking at a campsite is good fun and something I enjoyed as an authentic Outback experience. That night we cooked basic food: vegetables, noodles, and meat. Here is one of our pasta dishes.
After cooking our dinner at the campfire, the most relaxing part was watching the stars, enjoying the glowing flames soaring high and falling asleep in front of the fire.
Sleeping in the Australian Swag
If camping is a must when travelling in the Australian Outback, the Australian swag is another thing you must try out to enjoy a Kakadu camping experience fully. I had camped before in Australia, but it was my first time sleeping in an Aussie Swag on a camping tour. Below, you can see the rolled-up swags in our Kakadu camping ground.
What is Australian Swag?
A swag is a ready-made bedroll that includes a foam mattress and a built-in fabric tent for shelter from wind, flies and mosquitoes. In the past, it used to be carried by travelling shearers and drovers on foot. Modern swags are still used by most Australians travelling and camping in the Outback. Here is how the rolled-up swag turned into a lovely combination: a tent with a bed unit.
That night was a beautiful dry night with a full moon and thousands of stars lit up the sky. The balmy wind woke me up at some point, and I was thankful because I could witness this amazing Kakadu night sky.
Spending the last night at Mardugal Campground
For the second day, we had planned to spend the night somewhere else on the way to our next destination. The Mardugal is one of the Kakadu camping grounds with kitchen, toilets and shower facilities. The idea of having a warm shower cheered us all, but we did not know what to expect at the campsite. An army of aggressive mosquitoes ruined our night there.
I had never seen such giant insects. We had to fight, and there was nothing that we could do scare them away. The only way to avoid the bites was to wrap yourself up in a towel as if facing a dust storm in the desert, but they still got to bite me. At the end of May, thousands of them were still around, as waterfalls were filled with water.
One of the advantages of visiting Kakadu in winter is the absence of all those annoying insects. Here are some photos of our Kakadu camping experience with the tents facilities. The campsite had a well-kept recycling station too. You can also opt for a more extended Kakadu camping adventure and go on a four or five-day camping tour.
Find the Best Kakadu Camping Tours
If you doubt what camping tour to go on, I will choose at least a multi-day trek, on average, 3-5 days. The longer, the better to maximise your time and the overall experience. You can also choose a camping safari that takes you to all three national parks, two nights at Kakadu, and two more nights in Litchfield or near Katherine. Below, you can browse our selection of the best Kakadu camping tours. Check out this page to see what’s available among all Camping Tour Adventures.
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The Kakadu National Park Guide