We'll cover waterfalls, wildlife and rock art, along with a couple of hiking trails thrown in for good measure.
It's also important that we mention our itinerary is by no means exhaustive. There are loads more campgrounds and things to do that we didn't get to. On our trip around Australia, we had our trusty little VW transporter which was wonderful, but not a 4WD which really limited some things we could visit in Kakadu. Head over to the Parks Australia - Kakadu website or more in-depth information on everything in the park.
First things first you'll need a Park Pass. When we visited (September 2020) entry was free due to COVID-19 and its impact on the tourism industry. The pass usually costs $40 in the dry season and lasts for 7 days by default, this can be extended to 14 days at no extra cost.
As always when visiting a national park ensure you check the parks websites for any warnings or closures. Trails can be closed for a variety of reasons including fire danger and extreme temperatures.
We visited Kakadu during our 4 week trip of the Northern Territory in August/September 2020. To see our 4 week road trip itinerary click the button below!
Day 1: Mamukala Wetlands, Cahill's Crossing, Ubirr & Merl Campground
When arriving in Kakadu National Park from Darwin you'll come to the Mamukala Wetlands before you reach Jabiru. There is an impressive bird hide overlooking the wetlands making it a bird lovers paradise. Depending on the time of the year that you visit, you may see huge numbers of the magpie geese.
After visiting Mamukala the next stop is Merl Campground. Grab yourself a site (it's first in, first served) before heading to Cahill's crossing to hopefully spot some crocs! It's important at the crossing to time the tides right so that you can get a real indication of just how many giant lizards there are in this little stretch of water. As a general rule, incoming tides are good, but depending on lunar cycles and actual tide heights, there can be a few hours variation on when this will be the best. At the time of month that we were there, we found that right on high tide was the best as this was the only time there was plenty of water washing over the crossing. If you're not sure, either check the tide chart here, or try to ask a ranger or a local with plenty of boating/fishing knowledge. If all else fails, just plan to show up and be patient.
From Cahill's Crossing you can head onwards to Ubirr for a little hike visiting some beautiful indigenous art and a glorious view including some of neighbouring Arnhem Land and the sunset over the Savanna.
Day 2: Bardedjilidji Walk, Cooinda Campground and Yellow Water Sunset Cruise
Start your day with the Bardedjilidji Walk near Cahill's Crossing. It's always best to get your activities done early in the day before it heats up - it was 39 every day we were in Kakadu!
After that check out Cahill's Crossing one more time if the tide is right, as there is no such thing as too much croc watching in my opinion.
Head back towards jabiru and onwards to Cooinda. Book yourself a campsite for the night and a spot on the Yellow Water sunset cruise (I'd suggest booking this in advance, we didn't and got lucky but friends of ours missed out!).
Next up hang out in the pool to cool off (never thought I'd write something like that but there you go, the 39 degree weather will get ya.)
Head off on your sunset cruise to see loads of crocodiles, birds and more. If you've got binoculars bring them!
Day 3: Yellow Water Sunrise Cruise and Maguk Plunge Pool & Waterfall
Wake up bright and early to head out for your sunrise cruise. If you book two cruises then the second one is 50% off, and these cruises are seriously worth the money!
After the cruise head back to camp and have some breakfast before setting off for Maguk. The 10km entry road to Maguk Plunge Pool is labelled as 4WD, however we have seen, and spoken to many people who have done it in a 2WD, it's just corrugated.
We rode in on our bikes - and it was worth it! It's a beautiful spot and nice to be able to swim in a natural water source!
There is a campground 1km from the Maguk Plunge Pool, it's in a great spot for those in 4WD's and those willing to drive their 2WD's in.
Next up head back to camp for an early night, you'll be up bright and early to do the Barrk Sandstone walk in the morning!
Day 4: Barrk Sandstone Walk and much, much more in a 4WD!
Due to the high temperatures in Kakadu it's important to get up bright and early for this hike. The Barrk Walk is a 12km loop that climbs over and around the large sandstone rock Burrungui (Nourlangie) it also goes past the Nanguluwur art site.
Download the PDF for the walk from the Parks Australia website here
Extras that we didn't get to do:
Here are a variety of things we didn't get to do either due to time constraints or not having a 4WD (the bug bear of travelling the Northern territory!)