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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
When we pass the jacanas, I get really happy. Several chicks jump from one leaf to another. 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.
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.
After a short inspection of the aircraft by the pilot, it was time to board and the adventurous 30 minutes could begin.
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.
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.
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
For more information about Kakadu National Park, visit the website Kakadutourism.com