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Top End Explorer

Embark on this inspiring journey with Swain Destinations and AAT Kings throughout the Top End. Starting off in the tropical capital city of Darwin, you will witness the history and culture of the Northern Territory. Explore the Mary River Wetlands and then enter the World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park. Travel through the spectacular Katherine region before settling back in Darwin for the duration of your stay. The mesmerizing landscapes, wildlife and luxury are perfect for any traveler.

Trip Type: Adventure, Cultural, Guided Vacations, Wildlife

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Day By Day

Day 1 – Welcome to Darwin, Australia
A private driver will meet you in baggage claim to transfer you to your first accommodation. 

Capturing the vibrant and multicultural character of the colorful Northern Territory capital, Hilton Darwin is one of the city's premier hotels. A central business district location just 20 minutes from the international airport positions, the hotel as the optimum point from which to explore Australia's unique and spectacular Top End. The Hilton Darwin is located in the heart of town with views of the Timor Sea. All major shops and business centers are within strolling distance and you have easy access to the sights and attractions in the surrounding areas.

Starting Accommodation: Hilton Darwin Hotel

Day 2 – Darwin to Mary River
This morning, meet your local Driver Guide and board your luxury 4WD vehicle to begin a journey of discovery in the Top End. Travel across the Finniss River to Litchfield National Park. Enjoy a swim  at the tumbling Florence Falls and also visit Wangi Falls, surrounded by tropical monsoon rainforest and hear about its importance in Aboriginal customs. Get ready for a cross-country journey via the unsealed Marrakai Track - through cattle stations and back country to the Mary River region.

In late-afternoon, you'll arrive at Wildman Wilderness Lodge, where you'll stay in private permanent safari tents. Situated in the Mary River Wetlands and renowned for its incredible wildlife, the property seamlessly combines comfort and chic with the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The lodge is the definition of outback luxury. Enjoy a beverage while the sun sets over the floodplains and after dinner sit back with a nightcap by the fire pit.

Starting Accommodation: Wildman Wilderness Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Mary River to Kakadu
Wake up to the evocative sounds of wildlife among the floodplains. Head out to Corroboree Billabong and enjoy a wonderful wildlife cruise. Join a local guide on a safari-style boat to see a myriad of different bird species, spot estuarine crocodiles and simply enjoy the stunning Mary River floodplains system.

Next stop is Australia’s largest National Park – Kakadu. World Heritage-listed, as both a cultural and natural sanctuary, Kakadu National Park is an Australian icon. Visit park headquarters and the Bowali Visitors Center before checking in to your hotel where the building is shaped to represent a crocodile – the region’s most famous resident! Relax and unwind with a refreshing dip in the hotel’s shaded outdoor pool or wander through the on-site art gallery before you join your driver guide on a sunset walk at Ubirr rock art site. See ancient rock art and take a walk to discover remarkable views over the surrounding wetlands and escarpments from the fantastic vantage point, Nadab Lookout. An Ubirr sunset is something that has to be seen to be believed, you will remember it forever. Return to your hotel for a delicious dinner.

Starting Accommodation: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Kakadu to Katherine Gorge
If you're an early riser, here is your opportunity to take an early morning scenic flight over Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Visit Nourlangie to see its fascinating Aboriginal rock art for yourself. Hear first-hand from your Driver Guide a detailed interpretation of the art and the rich Aboriginal culture as you explore the various outdoor 'galleries' with art that dates back some 20,000 years.

Later, veer off the sealed road and on to a gravel track for a scenic cross-country journey to Gunlom Falls. Take a hike to the top of the falls for a splash in a picturesque natural plunge pool and be rewarded with spectacular views over the National Park. Take in the natural beauty of the area while enjoying a picnic lunch.

This afternoon you'll continue through to Nitmiluk National Park, home to the spectacular Katherine Gorge. Indulge in five-star luxury at Cicada Lodge, a stunning architect designed eco-lodge surrounded by nature, where each room has a private balcony that opens to the glories of Nitmiluk National Park.

Starting Accommodation: Cicada Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Katherine
Today meet Manual Pamkal, a local Aboriginal musician, who will welcome you with a traditional song on the didgeridoo. He'll share with you stories of growing up in the bush and teach you the fine art of rarrk painting using a special brush from a reed called Julk. Call up the inner artist within you and paint your own masterpiece to take home!

Journey to Mataranka for a swim in the relaxing natural spring-fed thermal pool. The pool is said to have the power to soothe your aches and pains and bubbles up at a fairly constant 34 degrees celsius. This evening, relax on a special dinner cruise along Katherine Gorge. Marvel at the gorges while spotting wildlife and learning about the history and culture of the local Jawoyn people. Enjoy the peaceful ambiance during the candle-lit three-course dinner prepared on board your boat.

Starting Accommodation: Cicada Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Katherine to Darwin
This morning, either have a rest or take the opportunity to grab a canoe for a paddle on the river. It's the most relaxing way to experience the National Park, completely immersed in nature in the mystical morning light. Travel north along the Stuart Highway stopping at Edith Falls along the way for a relaxing dip. Continue to Adelaide River War Cemetery; during WWII, Adelaide River was headquarters to a large military base, and a large cemetery was created especially for those who gave their lives in the service and defense of their country. 

Finish your transfer back to the Hilton Darwin Hotel.

Starting Accommodation: Hilton Darwin Hotel (B, L)

Day 7 – Indigenous Litchfield Tour
An early start from your Darwin accommodation, take the back roads to the Finniss River and beyond, into Tess's family country. Stop at the shady riverside and discover the resources available from this river country. One of today's highlights will include a visit to the iconic Wangi Falls, its plunge pool seasonal swimming spot and a special place for indigenous women. Cool off with a swim or explore the nearby lush rainforest, home to a variety of birds and restless fruit bats. There may be an opportunity for a more challenging walk around the falls.

You will discover seasonal bush foods and medicines used by local Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Your guide will show you how string is handmade from local plants and describe the relationship of Litchfield's landscape features to local indigenous culture. See and learn about the termites, and the huge housing complexes they build - termite mounds. Guests will be amazed at how high these mounds loom above them.

As exclusive visitors to beautiful Woolaning Spring, enjoy a freshly cooked lunch of wild caught barramundi, crocodile and kangaroo in a natural rainforest dining room. Take a therapeutic dip in the warm spring waters or explore the remains of Tess's family sawmill camp.

Next, we head to the stunning Florence Falls, with views from the plateau-top lookout, a short walk from the car park. Keen swimmers can tackle the 135 stairs that lead down to the clear, refreshing waters of Florence's stonewalled gorge and plunge pool. Easier walks allow swimming too, in the warmer waters above Florence Falls. Then, settle back for the return to Darwin.

Starting Accommodation: Hilton Darwin Hotel (B)

Day 8 – Darwin Hotel to Domestic Airport
A driver will meet you in the lobby for your transfer to the domestic airport. 

Starting Accommodation: Hilton Darwin Hotel (B)

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DarwinHilton Darwin Hotel
Mary River WetlandsWildman Wilderness Lodge
KakaduMercure Kakadu Crocodile Lodge
KatherineCicada Lodge


Pricing for this package is on request. Please call a Swain Destinations Specialist to customize this journey.

Terms and Conditions

Prices are per person, twin/double share in USD. All highlighted savings are reflected in the price. Travel may be limited to certain days of the week. Hotels and tours remain subject to availability. Cancellation penalties and other booking or alteration restrictions may exist. Please note blackout dates may apply to Christmas, New Year and local special event periods. Pricing may increase over Holiday and special event periods and may not be reflected in price grid. Prices indicated remain subject to change without notice. Prices are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed. CST #2012413-20 See our full Terms and Conditions: