Kakadu National Park tour - Northern Territory Australia

Kakadu National Park: Ubirr, Yellow Water Cruise & Scenic Flight

The Kakadu National Park has been high on my list for a while now. Especially now that we live in the north of Australia, it really had to happen. Kakadu National Park is located near Darwin. From Darwin it is about a 3 hour drive to this huge nature reserve.

About our Kakadu National Park visit

We stayed 2 nights at Cooinda Lodge Kakadu and did 2 tours: the Yellow Water Cruise and the Kakadu Air Scenic Flight. Except these tours we also made several beautiful hikes in Kakadu. We visited Ubirr Rock, Maguk and Nourlangie Rock. Read our experiences now.

Cooinda Lodge Kakadu

If you want to go to Kakadu, you have the choice to stay in Jabiru or Cooinda. Our choice went out to Cooinda, because we spotted a nice package for 2 nights in a lodge including tickets for the Yellow Water Cruise and tickets for the 30 minute Air Kakadu Scenic (fun) Flight. That made our discion easier.

Our room – Cooinda Lodge Kakadu

Cooinda Lodge Kakadu is a beautiful, centrally located park with lodges, safari tents and a campsite, where there is a very nice atmosphere. From Cooinda Lodge Kakadu you can go in various directions. For example: you can reach the Yellow Water Cruise in a few minutes and the airport of Kakadu Air is only a few minutes drive away.

The restaurant and terrace of Cooinda Lodge Kakadu - Kakadu National Park
The restaurant and terrace of Cooinda Lodge Kakadu

The rooms are very neat, just like the bathroom. At the lodge, there is a seat at the front so you can enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning sun.

Enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning sun
Enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning sun

In the morning, afternoon and evening you can eat at the park itself. There is a coffee bar where you can order sandwiches (in the toaster) in the morning and afternoon. The restaurant is open in the evening, where you can order Italian, Greek and Australian dishes. The food is okay, but don’t expect too much of it.

The nice thing about this restaurant is the good atmosphere. When it gets dark the torches go on and the small lights illuminate the trees. Read more about Cooinda Lodge Kakadu

Good atmosphere at Cooinda
Good atmosphere at Cooinda

Ubirr Rock

After checking in and installing in our lodge it was time for our first trip. The Ubirr Rock was on the program, which is a rock formation in the East Alligator region of Kakadu National Park. The Ubirr is known for its rock carvings and phenomenal views.

Start of the Ubirr Walk
Start of the Ubirr Walk
Rock art at Ubirr Rock
Rock art @ Ubirr Rock
Beautiful view through - Kakadu National Park
Beautiful view through

After a short walk through a green oasis we arrived at the rock paintings and the start of the climb. Compared to other hikes this climb is not that bad. Make sure you wear good shoes, bring water and a cap with you, because you have to climb a lot over rocks and stones in the bright sun.

View from the Ubirr Rock
View from the Ubirr Rock
Amazing 360 view from the Ubirr Rock
Amazing 360 view from the Ubirr Rock
Enjoying the amazing view
Enjoying the amazing view

After about 15 minutes of climbing we reached the top of the Ubirr, where a magnificent view was our reward. At the top you have a 360 degree view over Arnhem Land and the Nadab floodplains. A view that will make you quiet for a while. Read more about the Ubirr Walk

View from the other side of the rock
View from the other side of the rock

Ubirr Walk video

Yellow Water Cruise

The next day we didn’t have time for breakfast, our alarm clock went off at 05.30 hours. But it was for a good cause: the Yellow Water Cruise during sunrise was on the program. We had been looking forward to this tour for weeks, we were very curious what to expect. From Cooinda we were picked up with several Australians with a van which brought us to the boat.

Start of the Yellow Water Cruise
Start of the Yellow Water Cruise

The boat left at 6:45, just before the sun came up. This is what makes this tour so special. Just after the first bit of sailing we see the sun slowly rising and the fog disappearing. Because of this we were treated to an enchanting landscape. A landscape that will make you, as a photographer, totally happy.

Amazing sunrise during the Yellow Water Cruise
Amazing sunrise during the Yellow Water Cruise

In the meantime, we’ve already spotted the first animals. We see several crocodiles lying in the water and the birds are getting more and more active. We also see horses along the side in the middle of the fog. You wouldn’t expect such a landscape in the tropics, when you say that this picture was taken in the Netherlands you believe it too.

Horses in the fog
Horses in the fog

The temperature doesn’t feel tropical either. A cool breeze blows over the water, our vests are not for nothing. The further the sun rises the warmer it starts to get and the more the fog pulls away.

Sunrise and fog
Sunrise and fog

Once the sun is visible we continue our search for more wildlife. Soon we see more crocodiles, which are very hungry early in the morning. One of them has all our attention, which a big water snake snaps away in his mouth. What a beast and what a prey, wow!

A crocodile eats a water snake at the Kakadu National Park
A crocodile eats a water snake

Besides the crocodiles, the area is also known for its many water birds. It is a great sight how all the animals wake up and become active to look for food. Sometimes it seems as if they are consciously posing, just like this Darter below.

Darter bird - Kakadu National Park
Darter bird

When we pass the jacanas, I get really happy. Several chicks jump from one leaf to another. How cute!?

The Jacana Bird
The Jacana Bird
Jacana chicks - Yellow Water Cruise
Jacana Chicks, how cute?!

It really is quite an experience to sail through the wetlands of Australia. Besides the many water birds and crocodiles, nature is also beautiful. From water lilies, to the most special trees, everything passes by. Don’t forget your camera when you do the Yellow Water Cruise.

Jabiru bird - Kakadu National Park
Jabiru (bird)
Beautiful trees reflecting as a mirror in the water - Kakadu National Park
Beautiful trees reflecting as a mirror in the water
Crocodiles are everywhere - Yellow Water Cruise
Crocodiles are everywhere

We wouldn’t have wanted to miss this cruise, for us it was a very nice experience. The sunrise made this tour extra special. I recommend to go for the morning tour. Watch our travel video about the Yellow Water Cruise below.

Video about the Yellow Water Cruise

Air Kakadu Scenic Flight

A few hours after the Yellow Water Cruise a new adventure awaited us. It was time for the Air Kakadu Scenic Flight, also known as the fun flight. We had been told beforehand that we had to gather at the reception of Cooinda, where our pilot would be waiting for us.

Our pilot, from Canada, drove us to the runway which is about 2 minutes drive from the reception of Cooinda.

Our airplane - Kakadu Air
Our airplane, Kakadu Air

After a short inspection of the aircraft by the pilot, it was time to board and the adventurous 30 minutes could begin.

Short inspection of the airplane
Short inspection of the airplane

The runway cannot be compared to a normal airport. The typical red outback sand and gravel form the runway of our aircraft. After a short run we see in no time the impressive landscapes of Kakadu National Park. We start with a quiet landscape with some trees, after which it soon changes into a rough landscape full of mountains. Wonderful to be able to fly up here.

Above the hills of Kakadu National Park  - Kakadu National Park
Above the hills of Kakadu National Park

Besides the rugged landscape we also see many rivers, in which we can even spot crocodiles from that distance. Really bizarre to see!

The pilot also reminds us of the river in which we had made the Yellow Water Cruise a few hours ago. And yes indeed, we see the boat sailing through the wetlands.

Air Kakadu Scenic Flight - Kakadu National Park
Beautiful landscapes passing by

The Scenic Flight of Air Kakadu is quite an experience. It may not be cheap if you book this fun flight separately, but if you book a package just like us, it is very affordable. Absolutely recommended if you ask me. We are still reminiscing!

Air Kakadu Scenic Flight video

More information

For more information about Kakadu National Park, visit the website Kakadutourism.com

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