The Best Darwin to Kakadu Tours 2023

There are several Darwin to Kakadu tours ranging from one day to week long camping trips, so how do you decide which Kakadu National Park tour is the right one for you? Well, you start by working out the things you want to see in Kakadu and then you decide on the level of adventure (and comfort) you are after.

Booking a Kakadu tour is the best way for most visitors to experience the beauty of Kakadu National Park, Australia’s largest national park. If you are on an extended visit, then a self-drive tour can be a good option but if this is your first time in the outback or you are on a limited time, a Kakadu tour will get you to all the best places in the park without the stress a DIY tour might cause.

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We have visited the top end and done a few of these tours, including a great five-day camping tour. We struggled to choose our tours each time, so we thought we would share a few of our favourite tours from Darwin to Kakadu and give you the pros and cons of each and help you choose the best Kakadu trip for your needs.

If you have plenty of time a self-drive tour can be a great option but if you don’t have a four-wheel drive or this is your first time in the outback or you only have a few days to spare a Kakadu tour organised by a local specialist is hard to beat.

Kakadu National Park is one of only three sites in the world that are both World Heritage Area and UNESCO sites, recognising thousands of years of indigenous culture.

Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to explore Kakadu, the park is half the size of Switzerland

What is included in a Darwin to Kakadu tour?

We have written before about what sites and attractions your tour should include, so if you have not seen that have a quick read and come back!

Darwin to Kakadu Tours
Kakadu Landscape

Places you will find included in most Darwin to Kakadu day tour itineraries:

  • Aboriginal Rock art at Ubirr Rock and or Burrunguy (Nourlangie Rock)
  • Bowali Visitors Centre
  • Jumping Crocodile cruise or Yellow Water Billabong Cruise
  • Fogg Dam
  • Maguk Waterfall

While many tours list Gulom Plunge Pool – Gunlom walking track to the lookout and pools above the falls is currently closed because of cultural reasons. Check the access report for all areas of the park before your visit.

Features of sightseeing tours to Kakadu that vary according to the tour

  • Size of the tour group – almost all are small group tours, some smaller than others.
  • Number of hours on the road – They are 12 hours or more (usually from say 7am-7pm)
  • Most are only suitable for kids over 6 years
  • Number of pickup locations
  • COVID-19 safety is paramount to protect the local Northern Territory communities.

Things that vary between operators

  • The amount of walking/hiking opportunities
  • Size of tour group and minimum age of participants
  • Comfort level of the transport offered
  • Whether it includes your National Park entry ticket
  • Whether a cruise is included or an optional extra
  • Whether there is an option to add a scenic flight – do it if you!

Bininj and Mungguy People are the traditional owners of this land

Top 5 Kakadu Day Tours from Darwin

If you only have one day, don’t worry, you can still discover stunning Kakadu National Park’s highlights, learn more about its indigenous culture and get a great taste of this ancient part of Australia.

Kakadu Wildlife & Rock Art Tour

If you only have one day to see the best of Kakadu, this 12 hour tour is a good mix of wildlife and amazing rock art sites.

kakadu wildlife rock art tour

Your tour itinerary includes:

  • Kakadu National Park entry fees
  • A quick visit to Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve
  • Ubirr Rock art visit
  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Cahills Crossing for a chance to meet the local crocodiles.

What’s not included:

  • Optional upgrade to include the famous Jumping Crocodile Cruise (+$40)
  • Lunch

Need to know: Not suitable for kids under 6 years of age.

Kakadu National Park Day Tour

This 12 hour small group tour with Off-Road Dreaming offers an ecologically sustainable tour exploring the diverse natural landscapes of Kakadu National Park. You will learn about Australia’s Aboriginal rock art and hear dreamtime stories from a local guide before a brief trip to Arnhem Land.

kakadu national park day tour from darwin
Offroad Dreaming’s tours have excellent guides Credit Offroad Dreaming via Travello

On this day in Kakadu, you will:

  • Take a guided walk through the Ubirr Rock Art Shelters
  • Visit amazing Nadab Wetlands Lookout
  • Learn on a Guluyambi Cultural Cruise that includes a brief visit to Arnhem Land

Your tour includes

  • Pick up and drop off to your Darwin city accommodation
  • Fully air-conditioned deluxe transport
  • Enjoy freshly prepared lunch, snacks and free ice chilled water all day
  • No more than 20 guests

What’s not included:

  • National Park Entry pass – either buy online or purchase on the day.

This tour is probably best suited to those who like an early start with departures from 5.30am!

Kakadu National Park Explorer

This AAT Kings 1 day Kakadu tour is one of the more expensive tours on our list, but this 13 hour-long journey comes with everything included. It’s also one of the few that allows kids under 5 years (min. 2 yrs).

kakadu national park explorer AAT
AAT Kings National Park Explorer Credit: AAT Kings

This tour is probably best suited to those who like an early start with departures from 5.30am!

The itinerary gives you the chance to:

  • Discover crocodiles on the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise
  • View ancient Nourlangie rock art site
  • Explore the Warradjan Cultural Centre and learn more about the Bininj people

Your tour includes:

  • Travel in an air-conditioned coach
  • Lunch at Cooinda Lodge.
  • National Park Entry Ticket

The tour is suitable for young children and wheelchair users who have some help as while there is wheelchair access; the ground is uneven in some parts. There is little walking with only about 15 minutes to the viewing point at Nourlangie.

Flood Country Alligator Rivers Kakadu Tour

This small group tour from Ethical Adventures NT will have you out of bed before dawn so you can experience a stunning sunrise on the wetlands. You will spend your day in the northern half of the park and give you a deep dive into and culture and history of the traditional owners of Kakadu.

Australian tourist couple hiking at Ubirr rock looking at the dramatic landscape view  Kakadu National Park Northern Territory of Australia.
Ubirr Rock

Your May to September itinerary includes

  • A 90 minute Guluyambi Culture Cruise touching down on Arnhem Land
  • Join a guided Aboriginal rock art walk of Ubirr
  • Visit Murrawadi Art Centre & Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Local indigenous guides to help you learn about this diverse country

Tour inclusions:

  • National Park entry
  • A light breakfast & homemade snacks & refreshments throughout the day
  • A delicious & healthy picnic lunch while croc spotting at Cahills Crossing
  • Transport onboard a spacious, air-conditioned Mercedes Sprinter for the ultimate driving comfort
  • Maximum of 10 guests

There is the option to add a scenic flight to your day tour.

Top End Safari Camp Tour

OK, so this is not sticktly a Kakadu tour, but rather a top end tour, however it is such a great experience we need to include it here for the adrenaline junkies among you.

top end safari camp day tour
Top End Safari Camp Tour – Credit: Travello

If visiting the top end is a bucket list experience for you, then this is your tour. From a scenic helicopter flight over Litchfield National Park, an airboat ride into the rain and a chance to watch National Geographic’s ‘Outback Wrangler’, Matt Wright feeds a rescued crocodile.

Cruise Sweets Lagoon ‘Cyclone Creek’ whilst enjoying lunch, then enjoy a swim in Australia’s only nature-based croc safe pool.

Finish the tour getting up close and personal as you experience a live feeding and interaction with one of the rescue monster crocs.

Your tour includes:

  • Return air-conditioned bus transfers from selected Darwin pick up locations (self-drive is also available)
  • 4 hrs onsite at the safari camp
  • A crocodile encounter & feeding with one of the largest crocodiles in the world.
  • An airboat cruise
  • A billabong cruise
  • Scenic helicopter flight over floodplains
  • Croc safe pool swimming
  • Gourmet BBQ lunch

This 4 hour tour does not go into Kakadu National Park, but it does give you memorable experiences of the top end landscapes and wildlife perfect for a brief trip to Darwin.

Read more of our thoughts on Kakadu include Why we think you have to visit Kakadu and where to stay when you get there.

Got a question? Head over to our friendly Australia Travel Tips Facebook Group and ask a local.