Top End & Arnhem Land Adventure
The northernmost section of the remote Northern Territory, Australia’s Top End packs an unbelievable punch. This is where the tropics meet the Outback, sandstone escarpments are decorated with ancient First Nations rock art, and the national parks are bursting with plunging waterfalls, monsoon forests and breathtaking waterholes. This five-day adventure spends ample time at Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park and Litchfield National Park and includes exclusive access to Arnhem Land. Spend time with the Traditional Owners of Wulna Country, take a croc-filled cruise along the East Alligator River, check out the spectacular Jim Jim Falls and swim in the breathtaking locations on this unforgettable adventure through Australia’s far north.
Ages: 12 - 99
Accommodation: Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights), Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Welcome to Darwin, the Northern Territory’s tropical capital. There’s no time to waste, so get cracking at 6.50 am and hit the road to Wulna Country, where your Limilngan-Wulna hosts – the land’s Traditional Owners – will greet you with a Cul Cul or ‘Welcome to Country’. Learn about their culture during bush tucker talks and didgeridoo and basket weaving demonstrations. Continue to the border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land for a Guluyumbi cruise along the East Alligator River with a Bininj guide. Learn about the cultural importance of the East Alligator River to the Bininj people and take in the tranquillity and rugged beauty. Back on land, jump in a private vehicle and drive to Arnhem Land’s Mawurndaddja. This sacred complex (only recently opened to visitors) has a spectacular series of rock art that research indicates is over 50,000 years old. Spend the afternoon exploring this atmospheric site and learning about its history from your guide. Head to Kakadu for an overnight stay.
After fuelling up with an early breakfast, head to Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu's most iconic natural attraction. Take a challenging walk through monsoon forest and over boulders, then recharge with a cooling dip in the clear waters beneath the falls. After lunch head to Anbangbang, another incredible site that features ancient art on what was originally Warramal land. Sadly, there are no surviving Warramal people, so the care of the site is maintained by the neighbouring Mirarr and Djok communities. This afternoon, you have the option of taking a scenic flight over Kakadu or visiting the Bowli Cultural Centre.
After breakfast, head to either Gunlom Falls or Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) for a swim in another pristine waterhole. Maguk flows down the steep walls of rugged gorge into a beautiful natural plunge pool, while the steep climb to the Gunlom Falls plunge pool is rewarded with sweeping views of Kakadu and the welcome shade of gum trees. Neither option will disappoint. After a relaxing morning, it’s time to hit the road. Stop in the old gold-mining town of Pine Creek for lunch before continuing for another 3 hours to your private campsite on the doorstep of Nitmiluk National Park. Once comfortable, have dinner with the group before settling in under the stars for the night.
Spend the day exploring the deep Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and greater Nitmiluk National Park, a wonderland of colours, ancient rock art, waterfalls and wildlife. While here, you can explore on foot or choose to take a cruise or rental a kayak to get a closer look. Keep in mind that these optional activities are seasonal and at your own expense. In the afternoon, travel to Edith Falls, a hidden oasis of clear, cool waters surrounded by bronze boulders. After a quick swim in the huge rock pools, continue to tonight’s camp located at the edge of Litchfield National Park, where dinner awaits.
After breakfast, head to Litchfield National Park. A bit of a local secret, Litchfield is awash with tropical rainforest, gorgeous waterfalls and crystal-clear waterholes. Visit Florence Falls, Wangi Falls or Bluey Rockholes, then tuck into a picnic lunch. Enjoy a stroll through the steamy rainforests and refreshing dip in one of the park’s gorgeous swimming holes. In the afternoon, make the 2-hour drive back to Darwin.
- Wangi Falls
Default pick up - The Cavenagh Motel 06:50am
12 Cavenagh Street
Central Darwin accommodation
To get the most out of this trip you need to be prepared for walks of between 3-9 km on some days. This may be on rough ground and perhaps getting feet wet in rivers and creeks. From Oct to March in the Red Centre, West Coast, and South of Australia you will experience temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius (and sometimes well into the 40’s) so be prepared to endure extra physical stress due to the heat at these times, especially while on walks. In the Top End of Australia (Kimberley and Kakadu) temperatures in the shoulder months of April, May and September, October humidity levels can be high and sometimes slightly uncomfortable.
These extreme outside temperatures can also place stress on the air-conditioning units within our vehicles which can make travelling uncomfortable. Your tour guide will assist with regular breaks and information to assist in keeping well hydrated.
1. Tour commences in Darwin on Day 1 at 6.50 am and finishes in Darwin (Day 5) at approximately 6 pm.
2. Onward travel from Darwin must be booked for the following day.
3. Strict luggage limit of 10 kg applies in Kakadu. Excess luggage can be stored at Darwin accommodation.
4. This trip requires a sleeping bag
5. Please note there is no single supplement available for this trip.
All group trips are accompanied by a group leader. In Australia your group leader is also your driver, taking you from start to finish in a specialised vehicle. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Yor leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, organise the camp and cooking for camp or kitchen cooked meals (though passengers are required to help out) as well as recommend great local eating venues. They will also introduce you to our local friends along the way. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the areas visited on the trip, including historical, environmental, cultural and social aspects.
REMOTE AREA TRAVEL: We carry a satellite phone on all of our remote/overland trips to be used by our leaders in the event of an emergency and for your safety. In addition, all of our leaders are First Aid trained and certified. HYDRATION: Daytime temperatures can be extreme from Oct to March with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. Please bring a large refillable water bottle. We strongly recommend the use of dehydration salts and sports drinks as a way to combat dehydration during times of extreme heat.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Wireless (wi-fi) is common across accommodation in Australia. Some properties may charge a fee for usage.
Cafe's and pubs across the Northen Territory may have wi-fi for a fee, with those in tourist area's offering it for free. Shopping centre's, airports and other public spaces offer limited free wi-fi access.
Even travelling a small distance from populated areas will see internet access stop. Many of our camps have little to no internet access (any access at all is expensive) being as remote as they are. Turn your phone off and enjoy the beauty of this part of the world.
Australia’s main telecommunication companies all operate in towns in the NT. Different networks will work in outback or regional area's. Pay phones (most are prepaid card only) are rarer than hen's teeth but can be found in most campsites we use.
If you are spending longer in Australia, it might be a good idea to purchase a local SIM card for data and your mobile device. if you need to purchase a phone locally. look for Telstra's 'blue tick' phones with better coverage in rural areas.
Guides are equipted with satellite phones for emergencies only
All travellers, except New Zealand citizens, must obtain a visa or travel authority before travelling to Australia. Failure to do so means you may not be allowed to board your flight to Australia. Most nationalities can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority via the internet before arrival. Please check the following website or with your relevant Australian visa issuing office for your nationalities requirements. http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/
Why we love it
See rocky red cliffs, monsoon forests, plunging waterfalls and some of the Top End’s best landscapes with visits to three national parks: Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park and Litchfield National Park.
Learn about the cultural importance of these spectacular landscapes through the eyes of experienced knowledgeable guides including a local Bininj Guluyambi guide
Enjoy the flexibility of a private vehicle, the local knowledge of a passionate guide and the magic of camping under the great southern sky.
The Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex offers a unique insight into ancient Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander culture– with rock art spanning from the present time to many thousands of years of age.
Rumble through the Top End’s best-known national Park, Kakadu, on an adventure, stopping to check out the spectacular Jim Jim Falls.
Hike through the rich greenery of Litchfield National Park, cooling off with swims in Florence Falls, Wangi Falls and Buley Rockholes.
Is this trip right for you
You'll spend some nights of the trip sleeping in outback camping grounds. While conditions can be basic and facilities are minimal, this is all part of the adventure. You'll need to pitch in with preparing meals and cleaning.
This trip requires a moderate level of fitness as it involves a lot of walking, allowing you to truly enjoy the surrounding nature. Some hikes are longer and more challenging than others. Please bring sturdy, comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing.
Temperatures in the Top End can be extreme. During the day the weather can be hot (and the Australian sun is strong) so please bring appropriate clothing, use sun protection and drink plenty of water. In the evenings temperatures really drop, so ensure you have base layers and warm clothing.
This trip has a strict luggage limit of 10kg. Excess luggage can not be carried however, it can be stored at Darwin accommodation.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Food and dietary requirements
On most days, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.
Our tours are activity and participation based. During your travels with us you will have the opportunity to assist with daily activities such as setting up camp, helping prepare meals and clearing dishes. None of this is difficult however many hands make light work and any assistance provided to crew is always much appreciated. Most people agree that this type of activity helps you feel like less of a tourist and more of an explorer.
All food for this trip is purchased and packed prior to your group leaving on day one. After we’ve left town it can be very difficult to source special dietary requests.
Travellers with special dietary requirements or food allergies are required to advise us at the time of booking.
You may be asked to pay for any additional food if you have not advised us of any special dietary requirements. Due to the often remote nature of our trips, food is basic but plentiful and delicious.
The below dietary needs can be easily catered for.
Dairy Free (soy available )
Please bring your own staples (nuts, bars, snacks) if you require a diet differing from the above.
* Religious and more specific dietary requirements are generally unable to be catered for on these trips.
The Australian Dollar (A$) is the currency of Australia.
Credit and debit cards are readily accepted just about everywhere in Australia. Occasionally there may be a minimum spend for both in smaller shops. You can usually withdraw money from shops where EFTPOS is available. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are common across Australia. ATM's may be limited in remote areas and your leader will advise you when to withdraw extra cash.
Credit cards in Australia require a pin number rather than a signature and may have a small surcharge for purchases.
Tipping is not expected but appreciated.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.
Please keep your luggage to a minimum. Due to limited space and strictly enforced road laws regarding weight limits, Intrepid travellers can carry a maximum of 10 kg. One small soft-sided bag plus a day pack is essential. Please do not bring hard/externally framed suitcases as they are difficult to store and can damage equipment and other travellers' belongings. If your trip is beginning and ending at the same location, excess luggage can usually be stored at your arrival/departure hotel and can be collected after your trip. If your trip does not return to the same starting point we suggest you look at freighting your excess luggage. One option is with greyhound: http://www.greyhoundfreight.com.au/
Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.
- Lightweight clothing. You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing and layers. Long shirts and pants are useful to protect against the harsh Australian sun. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry.
- Comfortable closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings.
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
- Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your guide, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent.
- Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity.
- A headlamp or torch is recommended for around your accommodation at night.
- Camera with spare batteries.
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Ear plugs
- A good book, a journal and music player
- Binoculars for spotting wildlife
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day. Consider purchasing a portable powerbank just in case as a backup.
If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.
Climate and seasonal
WET SEASON & WEATHER:
Given the unpredictable nature of weather and travel in the tropics, we are sometimes forced to make late itinerary changes due to unexpected heavy rain and/or storms and road closures. In the event of this occurring, itinerary changes may need to be implemented after commencement of you trip. In this event, your Tour Leader/Driver has full authority to change the itinerary and/or order of activities and substitute alternative destinations and activities as necessary. No refunds are available due to itinerary changes and missed activities caused by extreme weather conditions and/or road closures.
Note: Should any of the attractions on days 1-3 of the standard itinerary not be open as a result of National Park decisions surrounding accessibility and safety, the activities listed below will be substituted. The standard attractions will be visited immediately as they begin to reopen. The opening and closing of ‘dry season’ activities varies from year to year. Please read the ‘Important Notes’ section of the trip notes for more information.
SHOULDER SEASON ITINERARY (May apply in the months of April/May and September/October)
Day 1 – Mamakala Wetlands | Ubirr |Overnight camp at Jabiru (LD)
Day 2 – Gubara | Nawalundja lookout | Bowali Culture centre | Waradjan Culture centre | Camp at Cooinda (BLD)
Day 3 – Motorcar Falls and Boulder Creek Falls | Overnight camp at Katherine (BLD)
Day 4 – Katherine Gorge | Edith Falls | Overnight Camp at Litchfield (BLD)
Day 5 –Florence Falls | Wangi Falls | Bluey Rockholes | Return to Darwin (BL)
*Should any of the attractions on days 1-3 of the standard itinerary not be open as a result of National Park decisions surrounding accessibility and safety, the above listed activities will be substituted. The standard attractions will be visited immediately as they begin to open. The opening and closing of ‘dry season’ activities varies from year to year.
During Apr – May & Sep – Oct it is likely that you will experience temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius with high humidity. Be prepared to endure extra physical stress due to the heat at these times, especially while on walks. These extreme temperatures can also place stress on the air-conditioning units within our vehicles which can make travelling uncomfortable. Your tour guide will assist with regular breaks and information to assist keeping hydrated. Please come prepared for all extremes.
Access to Arnhem Land can be restricted by conditions and the water level at Cahills Crossing especially early in the season. (Apr-May) Please note that this trip may occasionally be rerouted if the crossing is impassable
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
TOP END: ALL general enquiry must be directed to our Reservations team on 1300 654 604. In the case of a GENUINE EMERGENCY, or concerns about a missed pick-up on the DAY OF DEPARTURE ONLY please contact our Operations Manager in Darwin. If your call does NOT warrant an emergency situation you will be asked to call our Reservations team in business hours.’
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
OTS Darwin Operations: 1800 807 278
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Australians are not required to be covered for hospital care due to being covered by Medicare. However we strongly recommend that Australians have a domestic travel insurance policy which covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. It is also strongly advisable that Australians have current ambulance cover in the case of emergency evacuation or incidents requiring ambulance transportation.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all international travellers and should be taken out at the time of booking. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation with a recommended minimum coverage of US$200,000 for each of the categories of cover. We also strongly recommend it covers cancellation, curtailment, personal liability and loss of luggage and personal effects. You must provide proof of your travel insurance on the first day of your trip; you will not be able to join the trip without it. If you obtain travel insurance through us you acknowledge that you are satisfied with the level of insurance we have arranged.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CULTURAL EXPERIENCES & COMMUNITIES:
Please note due to cultural sensitivities, entry to particular parts of local First Nations communities may be unavailable. Where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guides are unavailable in the Red Centre an Intrepid guide will lead the interpretive cultural walk. Top End cultural experiences are only available during the dry season (May-Oct) as site is subject to flooding (contact our customer service team for availability). Participants may be absent due to cultural commitments with minimal prior notification and Intrepid reserves the right to amend the itinerary in these circumstances with no obligation to refund.
WET SEASON ITINERARY
A tropical summer itinerary applies in Kakadu April/May and September/October
Itineraries may vary and/or attractions be substituted for any cause including seasonal conditions (including the opening and closing of Jim Jim Falls and other natural attractions), weather extremes, traditional owner and national park requirements.
Itineraries may vary and/or attractions be substituted for any cause including seasonal conditions, weather extremes, and traditional owner/national park requirements. Note that the opening dates of waterfalls (including Jim Jim Falls) and attractions vary each year and can change on a daily basis in the wet and shoulder seasons. Visit this website to see live updates on which areas of the park will be open: http://kakaduroadreport.wordpress.com/ or contact our Reservations team.
Due to National Park rules and road laws, we cannot guarantee the opening of Jim Jim Falls and other attractions at any time. Alternative activities will be substituted at the tour guides’ discretion, dependent on local conditions.
The relationship between ATA and Intrepid Australia
For over 25 years, Intrepid Travel and Adventure Tours Australia have been leading brands in the adventure travel business. With Intrepid’s global product range and Adventure Tours’ local knowledge, the two brands joined force in 2011 to provide the ultimate range of Australian product with Intrepid running all of it’s local trips under the Adventure Tours Australia name. Today we’re proud to bring Aussie-made trips to the world, both here with Adventure Tours and overseas through the Intrepid brand, so no matter which brand you have booked through, you’re travelling with the best.
Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights),Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)