Wild Top End – Wildlife Adventure

7-day wildlife tour Northern Territory: Kakadu & Mary River national parks

AT A GLANCE

Dates30 August – 5 September 2022 – BOOK NOW !

Travel Hint: Why not stay longer in The Top End after this trip and join the Katherine Bird Festival. Find out more at the end of this itinerary.
Activity LevelEasy to moderate – for anyone who is reasonably active
Duration7 days, 6 nights
PricesFrom $3500 per person twin share
From $600 single supplement
Group sizeMinimum 4, maximum 10 participants
Featuring regionsDarwin, Kakadu NP, Mary River NP, tropical rivers of the Top End

WHAT TO EXPECT

Australia’s tropical outback – The Top End – is a wild land where brolgas fly across the sunset, huge crocodiles laze on riverbanks and sandstone shimmers with the world’s oldest art. But even here wildlife faces threats. Shorebirds (waders) fly to Australia’s Top End from Siberia and the Arctic, encountering disappearing habitats and shrinking food resources.  Our conservation mission on this trip is to help protect them while they are in the Top End.

Feel the timeless peace of a landscape full of animals and very few people.  Wake to the manic calls of flying-foxes and cockatoos, look out across a billabong filled with water-lilies, walk on rocks created 600 million years ago.

Get to know Kakadu and Mary River national parks including some of the lesser-known walks and rock-art sites. In Darwin, help us count shorebirds at regular roost and feeding sites. These long-distance world travellers are threatened by human disturbance, so our conservation mission is to help grow awareness amongst the community. 

ITINERARY

DAY 1: Welcome to Darwin and the Top End

Today’s activities depend on the tides. You will be informed of timing well in advance.

Your wildlife guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you out to an important shorebird (wader) site to help count and record these threatened birds.

Darwin is home to intertidal zones (mudflats, beaches, estuaries, mangroves) that are critical to a wide variety of birds that migrate along the East Asian-Australasian flyway every year.

Some of our shorebird sites are highly used by the public, and disturbance from humans and dogs is the biggest threat to these birds. We take the opportunity to count and discuss shorebirds and their challenges.

We may also visit some of the other wildlife highlights of Darwin, including the Darwin Botanical Gardens and East Point. 

Potential wildlife sightings today: Migratory and local waders, finches, owls, pigeons and doves, bowerbirds, thick-knees, agile wallabies.

Accommodation: your first night in Darwin is at your own expense (or we can help you to arrange accommodation at an extra cost).

No meals are included today.

Day 2: Darwin to Kakadu/Jabiru via Fogg Dam and Mamukala Wetlands

Explore two of the Top End’s most famous wetlands

After an early pick up from your Darwin accommodation we’ll head east into the tropical outback. On the way we’ll stop at a number of beautiful locations including famous Fogg Dam (part of the Adelaide River floodplain) where we’ll take our first walk into a monsoon forest and view some of fantastic birdlife and wildlife of the Northern Territory. Then we’ll get on our way crossing a number of the huge rivers that drain the tropical wilderness, including the Mary River where we might see our first crocodile. We enter Kakadu National Park and stop at Mamukala Wetland and take a walk to get our first taste of the tropical wonders of Kakadu. We end the day in the small town of Jabiru and move into our accommodation for the next three nights.

Potential wildlife sightings today: Brolga crane, glossy ibis, magpie goose, black-necked stork (Jabiru), wandering and plumed whistling-ducks, egrets, herons, pratincoles, finches, herons, raptors and honeyeaters. We may see crocodiles, pythons, lizards, dragonflies and butterflies.

Accommodation: Anbinik Jabiru, bush bungalows with external bathrooms (private to you). Upgrade to a private cabin (en-suite) – contact us for more information.

Lunch and dinner provided.

Day 3: Nourlangie Kakadu

Aboriginal heritage, black kangaroos, red-winged parrots, sunset at Nawurlandja.

The Nourlangie region will be our first access to the magnificent Arnhem Land escarpment and its unique wildlife. It also helps us to understand the enormous importance of Kakadu to the Aboriginal people. Ancient sandstone ranges rise directly out of the Kakadu floodplains in a landscape that epitomises the dreamtime in Australia. We’ll visit a number of places in this region including the Nanguluwur Rock Art site, Anbangbang Billabong and Nourlangie Rock Art site containing some of the most powerful Aboriginal paintings in Australia, including a depiction of the Lightning Man. You will begin to feel the incredible power of this landscape. After a picnic lunch we’ll head back Anbinik for a siesta (or a swim in the pool) during the heat of the afternoon before heading back out to the bush to watch the sunset over the Kakadu escarpment from Nawurlandja lookout. Twilight often heralds the flight of tens of thousands of fruit bats winging their way silently through the tropical dusk. Return to Jabiru for dinner.

Potential wildlife sightings today: Bush birds ranging from tiny finches to the large red-tailed black-cockatoo. Rare chestnut-quilled rock pigeons, partridge pigeons and red-winged parrots. Emerald doves, sandstone shrike-thrush and black wallaroos may be seen at Nourlangie. Waterbirds, many species of water lilies and estuarine crocodiles.

Accommodation: Anbinik Jabiru 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

Day 4: Tropical rivers

Morning at Ubirr – East Alligator River. Afternoon – wildlife around Jabiru.

Ubirr is possibly the most beautiful place in Kakadu with some of the most compelling wilderness landscapes on Earth. It has a presence that takes humans back to their beginnings. Nearby the tidal (saltwater) section of the East Alligator River bounds the vast Aboriginal lands of Arnhem Land – to go any further requires special permission. But on the Kakadu side there is a wide variety of activities to choose from including gentle walks near the river, views of elaborate Aboriginal rock art sites or a climb to the top of Ubirr Rock with its stunning views across Kakadu. We’ll also take the Bardedjilidji Sandstone Walk, which take us deep into some of Kakadu’s most remarkable geological formations where we learn how the Kakadu escarpment was formed millions of years ago. During the heat of the day we’ll return to Jabiru for a rest and refreshing swim in the pool before heading back out in the afternoon to explore wildlife in and around Lake Jabiru.

Potential wildlife sightings today: Dainty short-eared rock-wallaby, occasional sightings of the black wallaroo. Blue-winged kookaburra, brolga, pheasant coucal, peaceful dove, water birds and raptors abound on the wetlands, rainbow bee-eaters, Jabiru storks and brolga cranes. Estuarine crocodiles, water monitors, pythons.

Optional tour today (not included in tour price): Aboriginal guided boat tour out into the wilderness of the East Alligator River. This 2.5-hour tour follows the river upstream beside brilliantly coloured sandstone escarpments and provides a full commentary by a local Aboriginal guide about the significance of Arnhem Land to Aboriginal people. Have an opportunity to take a walk on the east side of the river onto Aboriginal land – normally requiring a special permit. For more information see Guluyambi Cultural Cruise.

Accommodation: Anbinik Jabiru

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided. 

DAY 5: Mary River National Park

Into the vast Mary River catchment: Jabiru to Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge.

Today we travel westward out of Kakadu to Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge beside Mary River National Park. Our route takes us along the paved Kakadu highway then onto the dirt roads heading north into Mary River National Park – we’ll stop at a number of special little places, visited by few. We sometimes see dingoes and the elusive Antilopine kangaroo. We’ll finish up at Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge, check in, cool off in the pool, then take a peaceful walk through Jimmy Creek rainforest right beside the lodge. Here you’ll see the huge nesting mounds of orange-footed scrub fowl – a bird the size of a chicken that builds nests up to 3 metres high! The grounds of the lodge abound with the beautiful little agile wallaby. Cockatoos and parrots of various species abound. In the afternoon you will experience some of the ultimate magic of the Top End with a special open vehicle safari and walking tour beside the magnificent wetlands and billabongs on the vast Opium Creek private reserve.

Potential wildlife sightings today: Agile wallabies, Antilopine kangaroo, dingoes, Australian bustard, brolga, rose-crowned fruit-dove, pied imperial-pigeon, little corellas, channel-billed cuckoo.

Accommodation: Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

DAY 6: Mary River by river and road

Crocodiles in the wild in a wetland wilderness.

The Mary River is famous for its abundant wildlife including some of the largest crocodiles in the world. These tough reptiles have outlived the dinosaurs. The freshwater crocodile is reclusive and will usually flee from humans. On the other hand the estuarine (saltwater) crocodile can be an unpredictable and dangerous creature. Both are magnificent and regal animals and, if treated with respect, they can be seen at very close quarters. This morning we can see crocodiles in their natural environment as we travel in a specially constructed boat to view them – and lots of other wildlife – on the Mary River. With luck you will see numerous large saltwater crocodiles and some smaller freshwater crocodiles. You’ll also see an unbelievable variety of birds including white-bellied sea-eagles – the Mary River is famed for its abundance of this raptor, which may be seen nesting beside the waterways. Lunch will be a picnic on high land overlooking the huge Mary River catchment. Later today we head as far north as we can go where the Mary River becomes a vast delta and floodplain 15 kilometres from the sea. Surrounded by wildlife of all kinds we enjoy our final sunset looking out over the waters of the Mary River. Huge saltwater crocodiles often swim lazily nearby. As the night rises we head back to the lodge for dinner.

Potential wildlife sightings today: Finches of many types including the increasingly rare Gouldian finch, numerous raptors including the black-breasted buzzard and the rufous and barking owls, white-bellied sea-eagle, Brahminy kite, falcons (hobby, brown, black and kestrel), little and azure kingfisher, black bittern, all the Australian egrets, glossy ibis, Jabiru stork, brolga, freshwater and saltwater crocodile.

Accommodation: Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

DAY 7: The wonders of Bird Billabong – Point Stuart to Darwin

A grand finale before returning to Darwin

Today after an early breakfast we head out into the bush before sunrise for our last special Northern Territory wildlife walk at Bird Billabong in the Mary River National Park. This large wetland – unlike any others we have visited – is nestled beside Mt Bundy Range, an ancient granite outcrop in the middle of the Mary River catchment. Thousands of birds move to this billabong as the surrounding country dries after the monsoon season. Every conceivable species of bird move across the water in huge multi-species skeins fishing and squabbling. The surrounding savannah is home to hundreds of wallabies that appear at every turn of the walking track. Raptors regularly visit in search of prey, creating havoc as they fly over the wetland. After a relaxing morning walk we’ll depart to Darwin having lunch on en-route. You will be dropped at your accommodation in Darwin OR we can arrange transfers to Darwin Airport if you are flying out today.

Potential wildlife sightings today: Whistling-ducks (both plumed and wandering), spoonbills, ibis, magpie geese and pygmy geese, Jabiru, great bowerbirds, black-tailed treecreeper, southern boobook owl and a variety of finches.

Breakfast and lunch provided.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:
  • Five nights accommodation as per itinerary
  • Experienced wildlife guide throughout days 1–7
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary by private, air-conditioned charter vehicle
  • Wetlands cruise on Mary River
  • Meals included: daily breakfast from day 2–7, 6 x lunches, 5 x dinners
  • Goods and Services Tax
COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE:
  • Accommodation or meals on day 1 in Darwin
  • Domestic or international airfares
  • Pre-registration, late check-out or day use at hotels other than specified above
  • Guide services other than specified
  • Meals/beverages other than specified
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Optional tours/services

WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN US IN KATHERINE ?

Consider staying in Darwin a little longer after Wild Top End – Wildlife Adventure and participate in the Katherine Bird Festival 8-11 September 2022. Send an email to travel@australiangeographic.com.au or call 0413 560 210 to find out more.

COVID-19
  • Accommodation and meals:  Strict hygiene conditions apply to the way accommodation is prepared for your stay and in the serving of meals.
  • Vehicles, hygiene & social distancing: all activities will involve careful adherence to cleanliness. Hand sanitiser will be available in many locations and in all land-based vehicles and water-based vessels. Social distancing will always be an issue on board vehicles and vessels; it would be sensible for you to bring your own face masks and hand sanitiser. We may not fill all seats in a vehicle to allow for social distancing.
  • The NT government approved COVID-19 Safety Plan is in place and all suppliers are Covid Clean accredited.

CONTACT US

Want to know more or register your interest ?

Send us an email to travel@australiangeographic.com or call 0413 560 210.

We look forward to hearing from you !

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