Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest terrestrial National Park, and enjoys national and international fame for many good reasons. Its spectacular ancient landscapes, its numerous rock art sites that lay testimony to one of the oldest surviving living cultures on our planet, untouched nature and untamed wildlife, along with its many opportunities for hiking, swimming & exploring. It is, for many, a once in a lifetime adventure that will create lasting memories.
Most visitors come to Kakadu in the dry season, between the months of June and August, when the local weather is warm & sunny, yet not too hot or humid. However, there are many reasons why you should consider visiting outside of the peak season. The wet season is a great time to visit Kakadu National Park, particularly from February through to April. Find out why below.
Beat the crowds
Obviously, one of the strongest arguments to visit Kakadu National Park in our wet season is that there won’t be any crowds at the many park attractions. The park is very quiet at this time of year, and you will be very likely to enjoy the real tranquillity of Kakadu’s breathtaking natural environment with hardly anyone else around. During the high season popular sites can get quite crowded, which can dampen the experience for some. If you prefer a quiet experience, visit outside of the peak season.
Spot more wildlife
The wet season is an awesome time to spot wildlife in Kakadu National Park, and the Top End in general for that matter! The higher humidity and seasonal rainfall brings out all of Kakadu’s diverse and unique species to play! Visitors to Kakadu National Park in the dry season are often surprised and sometimes disappointed at the lack of wildlife they can observe in Kakadu. It is a fact that, when Kakadu’s landscapes dry up, wildlife will often go into “survival mode” and take shelter from the dry heat. Moreover, the increased human activity in the park occurring from June to September further discourages open wildlife activity. Our local wildlife is nocturnal, seasonal and illusive, therefore during our wet season as the wildlife responds to local conditions, there is always much more activity. The increased rainfall and humidity provides fresh food and resources, and an ideal environment for wildlife to feed, mate and play. You are much more likely to encounter wildlife in the wet than in the dry season.
Enjoy the weather and witness spectacular wet season storms
Enjoy the weather? you might ask. Is it not unbearably hot and humid? Well, that lays in the eye of the beholder. Sure, if you are looking for blue skies, sunshine and no chance of rain, the wet season might not be the best choice for your Kakadu visit. For some of us, that might also sound a little boring. While the weather during our “build up”, October – December, can be stiflingly hot and humid with hardly a drop of rain, once the rains and true green conditions arrive, its an incredibly stunning time to visit Kakadu. January to April is a beautiful time to visit Kakadu, with a striking mix of blue skies and towering cumulus clouds and refreshing afternoon showers, without the heat and humidity of October- December. While January is the wettest month in the Top End, February historically experiences a drop in rainfall, and the average daily temperatures of 33.1 degrees celsius are actually some of the lowest of the year after June & July. It is in fact lower than August, which has an average maximum daily temperature of 33.7. The high humidity of the wet season can be a challenge, but frequent swimming under pristine waterfalls, in natural swimming holes or even your hotel pool will cool you down nicely.
It is important also to keep in mind that rain in our Tropical Top End is mostly confined to a couple of downpours a day, so it is not as if it will be raining all day every day. There is still plenty of great weather for exploring, and even if you do get caught in the rain, it’s not cold, but rather a refreshing and exhilarating experience without the inconvenience. You could also witness some of the most spectacular tropical storms anyone could ever see, something that you might not have ever witnessed before, or might not again. It is a truly impressive sight.
See Jim Jim & Twin Falls in Full Flow from the air
Jim Jim and Twin Falls are just two of the iconic attractions of Kakadu National Park, and one of the reasons why many people wait for the dry season to visit. Like some other Kakadu attractions, due to seasonal conditions, Jim Jim and Twin Falls are often not accessible via road until June – July each year. When they are accessible, it is quite a journey to get there. A 4wd vehicle is required to access Jim Jim & Twin Falls, and the walk especially into Jim Jim Falls is challenging and strenuous (I am talking over 1km of rock hopping and boulder scrambling). Its also important to know, in managing your expectations of these areas, by the time the dry season rolls around Jim Jim Falls has mostly stopped flowing. A scenic flight over the falls areas in the wet season might present a much more attractive option for some. However, scenic flights do not operate once walking tracks open, due to the wilderness aspects of the area and unacceptable noise levels created by aircraft. During the wet season, fixed wing flights operate daily and you can enjoy a very stunning and unique sight: Jim Jim and Twin Falls from the air, in full flood thanks to the wet season downpours! You will also witness the Arnhem land Plateau with its stunning escarpments that dominate this ancient living landscape. This is an unforgettable sight and awesome photo opportunity, and truly gives you a perspective of how rugged and inaccessible most of the Kakadu landscape is.
Make your travel dollar go further
As much as we all would like to splurge and indulge while on holidays, it is undeniable that Northern Australia is not a cheap holiday destination. Airfares, accommodation, provisions and possibly guided tours, can soon add up to a considerable expense. Due to the old supply and demand factor, of course the high season in Kakadu will see a hike in prices. Moreover, you need to plan and book well in advance as availability is tight. If visiting in the wet season, you will experience much lower seasonal prices, from park entry tickets to hotel rooms to airfares, and even 4wd guided tours of Kakadu. You will have much more choice and get better value for your precious holiday dollars. The few tour companies that choose to operate through the wet season are not only “the passionate few”, they are able to offer more affordable accommodated tour packages to Kakadu National Park. We at Charter North 4WD Safaris offer “Wet Season Tours” to Kakadu in February and March, which include private air conditioned character accommodation. This will allow you to sleep comfortably during those warmer green season nights. The seasonally reduced cost of your Kakadu Park entry pass, Darwin accommodation and airfares during the wet season, all combine to make your visit to the Top End even more affordable!
Improve your photography skills
As mentioned earlier, you can witness impressive wet season rain showers in Kakadu National Park, and the local wildlife is noticeably more active with fewer people around. What better conditions and opportunity could there be to grab your camera gear and go for it? Just ask the many devoted Top End photographers that spend most of the wet season scrambling for that ideal sunset or wildlife pic! Whether it be simply sitting at a billabong and getting that perfect shot of one of the many unique bird species, or capturing a storm rolling in through the lens, there are plenty of challenging and rewarding photo opportunities. Our wet season clouds can not only produce some of the best lightning activity ever witnessed, the sunsets are the most striking and colourful events of the year.
Gain bragging rights
Let’s be honest, who wants to do what everyone else is doing? Don’t we all like to be a little different? Some people will call you crazy for visiting Kakadu National Park in the wet season! But if you buck the trends, it could be one of the best holiday decisions you have ever made. The tranquillity, the uniqueness, the breathtaking power of nature… there is just nothing like it. One disadvantage (if there are any at all?) of visiting Kakadu in the wet season, is that some attractions of the park are inaccessible. However, Kakadu being as large and diverse as it is, there is plenty to do to fill at least three days in the park. If you like the idea of a guided tour, some tour operators have special access permits during the wet season. On our Charter North Green Season Tours, we have special access to areas in the park that we are almost guaranteed to have all to ourselves. It is a pretty special feeling, I must say, to walk around Ubirr Rock Art sites with no one else around, and witness sunset from the lookout, with soaked floodplains, without the high season crowds!
Of course it goes without saying, any time is a good time to visit Kakadu National Park. If you have the opportunity, it is great to see it at different times of the year. You will be able witness first hand the seasonal changes the Kakadu landscapes endure. Over the years we have had many repeat visitors keen to see the dramatic changes that occur in our Top End throughout our calendar year. However, if you are only visiting once, and you enjoy tranquillity and don’t mind a little heat or refreshing rain, the wet season is definitely a great choice for your Kakadu National Park visit.
Interested in a guided Kakadu Green Season Tour?