Lots of people like to travel on a budget and constantly look for information on destinations to save money and time. Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is no different. This wonderful natural area of Australia is packed with plenty of fun activities and there are many ways you can save money when traveling the 257kms east of Darwin.
Here are some ideas on how to travel to Kakadu National Park on a budget.
If you don’t have a 4wd vehicle you will need to rent one so you have access to all areas of Kakadu National Park. Many of the more remote spaces within the park will require a 4wd vehicle and if you plan on traveling Cahill’s Crossing your 4wd vehicle will need be outfitted with snorkel gear in order to cross rivers. Alternatively, you might consider going on a Kakadu Tour – you won’t have to worry about a rental, and you’ll have the added bonus of learning about Australia’s flora, fauna and indigenous culture from a guide.
Entrance Fees to Kakadu National Park
No matter how you slice up your trip you will need to pay an entrance fee. Fees for Kakadu National Park are $25 AUD for adults and $12.50 AUD for children. There is a family pass available for $65 AUD which grant admission for two adults and two children for one week. The family pass is an excellent way to save money when traveling with children on a budget.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Kakadu National Park
The time of year is important for budget travellers too. The dry season is the best time of year to travel to Kakadu National Park. Dry season in the Darwin area is generally from April to November with less rainfall which allows for easier access to many of the waterfalls and attractions within the park. Viewing waterfalls and swimming in the plunge pools is ideal thing to do in Kakadu National Park that doesn’t cost an arm or a leg to enjoy.
Lodging at Kakadu National Park
There is lodging in all four hubs of the park that include hotels, cabins, and campsites for tents, campervans, and larger caravan vehicles. Camping is the most economical way for budget travellers to experience the wonders of Kakadu National Park.
There are several campgrounds in all regions of the park. Campgrounds vary from minimum amenities like pit toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables to solar powered showers, water stations, and flushing toilets. All campgrounds run by park staff are first come first serve basis. Other campgrounds that are run by resorts in the area require reservations and have upgraded amenities like swimming pools, restaurants, shopping, and cultural experiences. There are bush campsites with little or no amenities which are free. But for most of these campsites you will need a 4wd vehicle to access campsites.
For those budget travellers looking for indoor lodging there is budget lodging available at several places within or nearby to the park. You can check the rates at Kakadu Lodge, Caravan Park in Jabiru, and Gagudju Lodge Cooinda. You can also try Lakeview Park Kakadu. Indoor accommodations may cost a little more than camping but after a hot day in the sun, you might look forward to an air-conditioned room.
Free things to do in Kakadu National Park
There is a plethora of free things to do in Kakadu National Park for budget travellers. First off, there are 30 established trails that are suitable for all types of hikers including families.
Swimming at Gunlom Plunge Pool which was made famous by the 1986 Crocodile Dundee movie is a must do free activity within the park. There are six other places within the park for swimming opportunities. They include Motor Car Falls, Twin Falls, Maguk, Jim Jim Falls, Barrk Marlam, and Boulder Creek. You will need a 4wd vehicle to access some of these waterfalls and their associated plunge pools. The season you travel to Kakadu National Park will decide on which of the areas are best suited for swimming.
Budget travellers should also visit Ubirr where you can view 20,000 year old rock art that details the existence of the local Bininj/Mungguy aboriginal people.
Viewing natural wonders is always an affordable option when you travel to Kakadu National on a budget. Sunset and sunrise is best viewed from Nourlangie Rock Viewpoint. There is also ancient rock art at the overlook and this is a great spot for you to bring picnic for breakfast or dinner.
Range guided activities are great free thing to do in Kakadu National Park for budget travellers. Each guided activity is free and included in your park pass. Ranger guided activities include everything from learning about rock art and Aboriginal culture to visiting with local artisans and weaving baskets to understanding the ecosystem of wildlife, plants, and landscape within the park. You will need to check at the Bowali Visitor Centre in Jabiru or the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Yellow Water for times and activities.
In the end, the biggest expense you will encounter traveling to Kakadu National Park on a budget is renting a 4wd vehicle and lodging. With plenty of free things to do in Kakadu National Park you can decide whether to save your money on lodging and take an exciting tour such as a helicopter ride above Jim Jim Falls or a cruise down the Yellow Waters to fish for Barrimundi.