The Wet Season In Kakadu National Park
Should you visit Kakadu National Park in the wet season?
The wet season is generally considered a less than ideal time to visit Kakadu National Park. But not everyone agrees. And not everyone can schedule their holidays when they would like to.
So what if you happen to be in northern Australia during the wet season? Does it make sense to visit Kakadu during that time of the year? Or is it madness? ...
I think it makes sense. Most people who live in Australia's tropical north consider the wet season the best time of the year. So do I.
But it is important to understand that a wet season visit is nothing like what you see advertised for the average Kakadu tour, and that it is very unpredictable how the weather will turn out. Depending on what you are looking for it may not make sense for you.
What is the wet season like?
A visit to Kakadu National Park during the wet season will be a totally different experience to a dry season visit.
But it will most certainly be a memorable experience!
The most important thing to understand is just how unpredictable the wet season is!
We can't predict when it starts. Some years you get early storms in September, some years it hardly rains at all until March.
Also, when it rains it doesn't rain continuously. Far from it.
We can't predict when it will rain, where or how much. Just that at some stage, somewhere, it will bucket for days and all the roads will be under water...
November/December most rain falls in form of thunderstorms in the evenings. The country is very dry and can absorb staggering amounts of water. Flooding is very unlikely.
It's an uncomfortable time of the year, stinking hot, but at least you won't get stuck. All highways should be open. But many unsealed roads will get closed, and that means many attractions in Kakadu National Park can only be accessed by air, on a scenic flight.
As for the heat, camping would probably not be a particularly pleasant experience. The nights are sweltering and make it difficult to sleep. During this time of the year even I would be tempted to pay for a room with air-con... And that means something!
The thunderstorms are an awe-inspiring experience. The purple and green clouds pile up on the horizon, roll in, the temperature drops, with the first clap of thunder the wind starts to howl and then the tension of the whole day releases in a sudden deluge... ankle deep water rushing down the roads within minutes...
The spectacle is followed by a lightning show on the horizon that lasts for hours, and a deafening frog concert that lasts all night.
As soon as it starts raining the country explodes into life. The vegetation grows inches over night and all birds and other animals are frantically mating and breeding.
The country looks beautiful during the wet. The colours are so intense, at times they seem fluorescent, the fresh, lush green and the glowing reds against the stormy skies.
The crocodiles are particularly active and aggressive. Spectacular to watch but also dangerous!
Christmas, New Year and early January are very quiet. This is when EVERYBODY in the north goes on their well deserved holiday. For most business owners it's the only time of the year they can afford to take a big break.
January to March can be very wet and the temperatures drop. Cyclones are always a posssibility. In between cyclones it can be sunny and hot for weeks. If a cyclone passes on the coast you may experience up to a week of low, grey skies and non stop rain.
If you have a chance to see those waterfalls now, it will be a sight you never forget! The flooded wetlands in Kakadu are also an impressive sight. So are the swollen rivers and the inundated roads. Depending how deep the floods are, the sealed roads stay open and many of the tour busses have no problem driving through the deep waters. It's normal to us, but to overseas visitors such a trip is a great adventure!
But... the water may get too deep and that's it. Another section of the park cut off...
Even the main highway can get cut off at some stage. But we can't tell you when, where, or for how long.
If you have to be somewhere at a certain date, fly. Don't plan to drive across the north unless you can afford to be a week late!
So... how adventuorus and flexible are you? Does this sound like something you might enjoy experiencing? Can you handle the heat? If a wet season visit to Kakadu National Park makes sense is something only you can decide!
Here a couple more helpful links for those who are interested:
Since most of Kakadu is inaccessible in the wet, the official Kakadu National Park website has itineraries specifically for the wet season.
And if you want to know exactly which roads are open and which are closed, you can always find the latest road reports for Kakadu here.