Days 1-2 Fly to Darwin
- After arriving in Darwin, we meet our naturalist leader and head to Mary River National Park, stopping en route at the Fogg Dam, known for its water birds. The drive out to Fogg Dam and nearby Adelaide River also gives us the opportunity to spot various raptors, kingfishers and the blue-winged kookaburra, as well as to see a blend of savannah woodland and paperbark forest habitats.
- In Mary River, we settle into our lovely wilderness property with time to unwind from the long flight – surrounded by nature and getting ready for an extraordinary wetland wildlife experience.
- Mary River is a good spot to try and see the endangered Gouldian finch, and after dinner we listen for bush stone-curlew, tawny frogmouth and barking owl at night.
- Accommodation: Wildman Wilderness Lodge, 1-night on full board basis
- Waking with the first rays of sunshine, we enjoy a cruise in the Corroboree billabong, watching nature come to life. This is a great opportunity for a close encounter with the charismatic saltwater crocodile, and also to observe wetland birds across the floodplains. The birdlife here is fantastic and will undoubtedly see a huge variety of species.
- After breakfast we drive to Jabiru via Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide, corssing over the South Alligator River floodplains on the lookout for yellow chat, spotted harrier, letter-winged kite and zitting cisticola. Then to Mamukala Wetlands, where there is a dedicated bird hide for wetland and woodland birds, as well as birds of prey. Mamukala is beautiful all year but is at its most dramatic in the late dry season (September - October) when thousands of magpie geese congregate to feed - a must-see for avid photographers and birdwatchers.
- Accommodation: Anbinik Kakadu Resort, 2-nights on full board basis
- This morning we go on the Manngarre Walk on the East Alligator River in search of rainforest species such as rainbow pitta, little shrike-thrush and rose-crowned fruit-dove and we visit the Ubirr art site to see the great collection of Aboriginal rock paintings. We then explore the Burrungkuy Region (Gubara Pools, Nourlangie Rock, Anbangbang Billabong)
- We then drive to Jabiru and check into our lodge before heading out on an afternoon cruise on East Alligator River. This is an intimate cruise with an Aboriginal guide, who will share his insight into his rich culture. The area is also a fantastic birding location.
- After dinner, we head out to spot some nocturnal birds such as spotted and large-tailed nightjars.
- In the early morning we enjoy a sunrise Yellow Water boat trip, an intimate cruise in a fantastic birding location with chances to see several bird species, as well as saltwater crocodile.
- We then drive south to Pine Creek and stop along the way to Nourlangie Rock and Gunlom Falls in search of sandstone endemics, the range-restricted black wallaroo, banded fruit-dove, white-lined honeyeater, little wood swallow, black-tailed tree creeper and helmeted friarbird. Pine Creek is considered to be the best place to see the stunning hooded parrot.
- After checking into our accommodation, we visit Copperfield Dam, another good place to see Gouldian finch.
- Accommodation: Pine Creek, 1-night on full board basis
- In the morning, we go birding around the lodge and in the Pine Creek region, where we hope to see hooded parrot, red-winged parrot, Gouldian finch, northern rosella, white-throated gerygone, diamond dove, cockatiel and dollarbird.
- We drive to Leliyn (Edith) Falls, another great spot for Gouldian finch and hooded parrot. We then continue to the very scenic Katherine Gorge / Nitmiluk region, where the central attraction is the deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River. The area offers great birding opportunities, best seen from the water on cruises. Indeed, Yinberrie Hills Important Bird Area was identified as such by BirdLife International because of its importance for endangered Gouldian finches.
- Accommodation: Nitmiluk Chalets, 1-night on full board basis
- We drive to Timber Creek and search for various bird species on route; with luck we may see hooded parrot or the even more elusive crested shrike-tit, and possibly black-tailed tree creeper, rufous-throated, black-chinned and buff-side robin.
- Accommodation: Timber Creek, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today we drive west and cross over to West Australia, to the gorgeous Kimberley area. Along the way we might see raptors as we go, such as square-tailed kite and the very rare Pictorella manikin.
- Accommodation: Lakeside Resort, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today we explore the fascinating Lake Argyle, Australia's largest freshwater lake, for our grand finale of the tour. Home to a great diversity of water birds, we are on the lookout for two key highlights, the yellow chat and white-quilled rock pigeon.
- In the area we also aim to see more brolga, silver-crowned friarbird, blue-faced honeyeater and also hopefully some short-eared rock-wallaby and northern nail-tail wallaby.
Day 12 Transfer to Kununurra airport and depart for the UK
Day 13 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Guided activities
- All meals
Properties range from beautiful wilderness retreats to comfortable eco lodges, and the occasional small rustic hotel in more remote locations. Accommodations are usually located in the wilderness in outstanding locations. All rooms are ensuite.
All meals are included.
Breakfast is generally continental type with cereal, fruit, yoghurt, tea and coffee. Lunch on travel or exploring days is usually a packed lunch at a chosen picnic spot, while dinner normally consists of several options for a main with a choice of either an appetiser or a dessert.
With over 400 bird species, the Northern Territory boasts almost half of all bird species in Australia. It is home to some truly spectacular birds, including unique endemics such as the gorgeous Gouldian finch, colourful hooded parrot and rainbow pitta.
- Rainbow bee-eater
- Black-necked stork
- Barking owl
- Comb-crested jacana
The Top End is home to 150 mammal species, some of which are extremely rare and close to extinction such as the Eastern quoll.
- Agile wallaby
- Brush-tailed phascogale
- Black flying fox
- Northern brown bandicoot
With 300 species, this region boasts a fantastic population of reptiles and is best known for its gigantic saltwater (estuarine) crocodile.
- Saltwater crocodile
- Freshwater crocodile
- Oenpelli python
- Frill-necked lizard
There are over 320 species of dragonflies and damselflies across Australia and the males are usually the more colourful.
- Common crow butterfly
- chocolate argus butterfly
We travel through some diverse habitats: from rainforest, eucalypt woodland, freshwater and coastal marshes, to grassland, mangrove, rocky outcrops and open ocean trenches.
The Top End offers many opportunities for boat trips: cruising the Mary River Wetlands for saltwater crocodile, or the billabong at Arnhem Land Nature Reserve with its incredible birding opportunities. Exploring Katherine Gorges-Nitmiluk National Park by boat offers an incredibly scenic experience and we also visit Lake Argyle on a dawn birdwatching cruise.
Photographic opportunities on this trip are good to excellent, with chances to capture water birds, crocodiles and incredible scenery.
Some forest trails can be steep in parts, or slippery after recent rain. However, we will take these slowly.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Darwin and Kununurra – London.
Ground transportation is by 4 wheel drive vehicle, with private driver.
September is the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season, which is perfect to see nature‘s transformation, blossoming under the first rains. Temperatures are comfortable from 21-30C, while humidity levels are low.