Kakadu National Park has a size of close to 20,000 km² and a biodiversity found almost nowhere else in the world. It is a magical place of timeless landscapes and cultural significance. Not surprisingly, this incredible, World Heritage listed park is on many Australians’ bucket lists. The park is also attracting many international visitors.
When planning a visit to Kakadu National Park, one of the most significant decisions for your Kakadu experience is your travel timing. There are many factors to consider when deciding when is the best time for you to visit Kakadu.
Kakadu from mid- June to mid- August
This is the most popular period for visits to Kakadu National Park- for a number of reasons. Firstly, Australian school holidays are concentrated between mid- June and the end of July, giving many families no other choice but to travel during these months. This means, of course, that Kakadu gets particularly busy with families this time of the year. Secondly, the weather in the Top End is, in many peoples’ view, at its best between June and August. Days are sunny with hardly any chance of rain and average temperatures range between 30- 35 degrees Celsius. There is often a lovely south- easterly breeze and low humidity. Night time temperatures cool down to a very comfortable 20 degrees. Last but not least, some of the main attractions of Kakadu, including Jim Jim & Twin Falls, often are not accessible before June, depending on how much rain the previous wet season produced.
Sounds like the ideal time to visit, right? But, hold on: depending on your personal preferences, there might be better alternatives.
Kakadu from April to mid- June
The Top End’s dry season officially starts in April, and there are great reasons to visit Kakadu National Park early in the dry. Most importantly, waterfalls are still pumping from their wet season top up. And while some sights in Kakadu might not be accessible on foot, there are amazing scenic flights that allow you to witness places like Jim Jim and Twin Falls from the air. An unforgettable spectacle! Moreover, the park is much quieter than in the peak season. Key sights like Maguk, Gunlom and Ubirr usually open in May. If you decide to participate in a guided tour, your chosen operator might have special permits to visit specific attractions before their official visitor opening. We at Charter North have a number of such special permits, meaning we can show you sights before anyone else can access them, having them all to ourselves. While the weather in April- May is still a little warmer and more humid than in June – August, it is definitely bearable and can be seen as a part of the experience. Late May and the first half of June are a good compromise if you would like to avoid most of the crowds, and most of the hot weather. Remember, whenever you visit, you will have plenty of opportunities to cool down at gorgeous swimming spots. Occasional short showers early in the dry are also helping to keep the country -and you- cool. If you want to avoid the crowds of the peak season, this might not be a bad time for you to visit.
Kakadu from mid- August to October
Coming mid- August, visitor numbers at Kakadu start to decrease, while all the park’s key attractions are accessible. On the other hand, the weather starts heating up in September, and October is definitely at the hotter side of things in the Top End (“build up” time). If you are willing to tackle the heat, however, you will be rewarded with solitude and serenity not found at any other time of the dry (OK, no promises, but the chances are high).
Kakadu from October to March
Many people are of the impression that there is no point in visiting Kakadu in the wet season, or “green season”, as we call it. Wrong! It is true that attractions start to become inaccessible once the big rains set in, usually during the month of November. However, depending on what you would like to get out of your visit to the park, this time of the year can be an amazing choice to witness Kakadu’s natural beauty. Moreover, prices for park tickets, accommodation etc. drop, making your visit more affordable. Kakadu can become a bit of a “ghost town” during the wet season, so if you are looking for a quiet experience with very little other visitors in the park, this is the time to come (this time it’s a promise!). Special access permits, as described above, still allow you to visit key locations such as Ubirr Rock & lookout, provided you are visiting on a tour with an authorised operator like us. Even as a self-driver, you can visit beautiful billabongs, watch wildlife lured out by the rain and humidity or participate in wetland cruises that operate year round. There are also a number of walks and waterfall attractions that are accessible in the wet, for example Motorcar Falls and Gubarra Springs. There is plenty to do in Kakadu, so if you are not necessarily looking at ticking the big attractions like Jim Jim and Twin Falls off your bucket list, this is still a great option. The weather can, as we all know, get a bit challenging with high temperatures and humidity. However, there is lots of swimming and, in a good wet, short but sweetly refreshing rain showers. The wet season in Kakadu has a whole different feel to it. It can be a very lush, serene and rewarding experience. Even if you have visited in the dry before, returning in the wet can give you an entirely different but equally amazing Kakadu experience. At Charter North, we offer fully accommodated “green season” programs, allowing you to relax and cool down in you air conditioned room after an active day of exploring.
In conclusion, when the best time to visit Kakadu National Park is for you depends on your personal preferences and whether you are restricted to a specific travel period. Every time of the year has its own advantages, and with the right planning, a visit to Kakadu will always be an unforgettable experience!
Getting itchy feet? Check out our Kakadu Tours.
Have more questions? We are here to help, please contact us.