I always wanted to do some crocodile spotting in Kakadu National Park and now was my chance. You can visit the area independently but as I had limited time and was travelling on my own, I thought I would take a tour into Kakadu National Park. There was plenty of tours to choose from as well. I chose a 3-day tour taking in many sights and activities. Activities including taking a cruise on the Adelaide River to do some crocodile spotting.
Crocodile Spotting in Kakadu during the Day
There are a number of places to spot crocodiles in the Kakadu National Park and one of them is along the Adelaide River. Now you wouldn’t go close to the water’s edge because their just might be a crocodile lurking nearby, waiting for a tasty morsel to dip their toes in the water. The best way to see the crocodiles is to take a cruise along the Adelaide River and see the crocodiles jump. They jump out of the water because they are jumping for food. The tour guides on the boats will put a little piece of meat at the end of a pole and hang it out of the boat. While waiting for one of the crocs to jump you will hear tales about the individual crocodiles and even learn their names!
It is quite spectacular to see the crocodiles jump. Being so close to these ancient creatures that would snack on you without hesitation I thought was just awesome. But the best was yet to come.
Crocodile Spotting in Kakadu at night
We had just finished a fantastic evening barbecue at our Kakadu hostel. Most of us were settling in for an evening of drinking, talking and fighting off insects around the camp fire. I wasn’t expecting what was to happen next. Night crocodile spotting in Kakadu.
“Come on everyone, let’s go croc spotting” the hostel host said enthusiastically.
“Croc spotting!” someone exclaimed “but it’s night time?”
“Well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to” he said somewhat disheartened before adding. “I just thought you’d like to! Kakadu is another world at night!”
He paused to think of what else he could say to sway those hesitant.
“You don’t know when you will be back? But I’ll leave it up to you. I will be leaving in 10 minutes which will give you enough time to grab a jumper, a torch and put on a pair of walking shoes. Therefore, if you decide to come, you can meet me at the hostel gate”.
I already knew that I wanted to go. Afterall, I didn’t come all this way to miss out on anything.
Off we headed into the darkness, a mini bus-load of city dwellers. We were led by a bearded, bare-footed reptile lover along a moon lit dirt track in search of saltwater crocodiles.
After a 15 minute walk which involved brief stops to look at the local flora and fauna. This included a spider which could have easily slapped someone with one of its huge legs, we arrived at a causeway.
What is that smell? What are those orange dots?
“This is close enough” said our host.
The causeway can be crossed by foot during the dry season, but as we weren’t quite in this season yet the causeway still had water rushing over it. Apparently it was a great fishing area. Unfortunately, we were told that only the week before a young boy was taken by a crocodile while fishing with his father here.
Our host spotlighted the causeway with his torch. We were about 50 feet away from it. A long, rough, grey croc tail disappeared over some rocks. This brought gasps of “wow”. It truly was an incredible sight to see a crocodile in its natural habitat. He then scanned the river with his torch.
“Look”, he said excitedly. “see those two orange spots?”
I squinted into the darkness until I saw those two orange spots.
“Well that’s a croc” he said “and a bloody big one too”.
“How can you tell?” someone asked.
“The larger the eyes the bigger the croc. I’d say that one is at least 6 foot long, even more”.
“Wow” someone said. Wow seemed to be the word of the evening as most of us stumbled for words to describe what we were seeing.
The area turned out to be mission control for our crocodile spotting. We all took turns standing next to our host looking at those illuminated, transparent, marble-like eyes. They were hypnotising. I felt like a kangaroo staring into some headlights.
More pairs of orange marbles appeared hovering in the darkness ahead of us. There must have been at least a dozen. No doubt, the buggers were thinking, food, succulent live food of all shapes and sizes, all waiting for an underwater roll. I was glad they were all over there and we were here.
“Have you ever smelt croc before?” our host suddenly asked.
“No” someone said, and I thought, I don’t think I want to.
“Can you smell that briny, salty water smell?”
I stuck my nose out into the darkness and let the smell fill my nostrils. It was an odour I was familiar with. It was similar to the smell of drying seaweed on a beach.
“RUN” our host yelled.
It took a few seconds for what our host said to register, but when it did, I and everyone else joined our host hightailing it back up the track.
Whether this was a joke or not I am not sure. However, if you take a trip into Kakadu and your host of the hostel asks you to come for a walk to do some night crocodile spotting in Kakadu make sure you stay behind him at all times. Or ensure you can run faster than him!
How to organise your Crocodile Spotting in Kakadu Trip
I organised my trip to Kakadu from my Darwin hostel. I had found the hostel by booking it ahead on line through Hostel World. If you want to go on a tour in to Kakadu and go crocodile spotting plus see aboriginal art, learn about Aboriginal culture and more, there are tours available for a variety of days and nights run by small tour operators – following. Going crocodile spotting in Kakadu was one of the highlights from my time in the Northern Territory.
Sharyn was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia. Thanks to her dad who worked at Sydney Airport she spent many holidays travelling in and around Australia and overseas. She maintains this blog to help others live, work and play in Australia – just like she does. She currently calls Melbourne home.