Thanks to the detour Jetstar made me do and being slightly delayed I only touched down in Darwin at 0:45AM. Once I had my luggage I walked out to the shuttles and got one for $20. It´s still cheaper than a cab. Also here you can either make a reservation or just go directly. When I had finally checked into the Youth Shack and could go to bed it was 2 AM. I had to catch up with some sleep so I stayed in bed until 11ish. I skipped breakfast and after a shower went to a Thai for lunch. I walked around a bit to see where I was and got a few snacks at the supermarket for the tour which would start the next day.
The rest of the afternoon I spend in the hostel working on my blog. Then I packed my stuff for the 3 day tour to Kakadu Nationalpark and brought the rest of my luggage to the Chilies Backpackers, where I would stay after. In the evening I wanted to go to the Mindil Market and started walking there. There were many strange people on the street, also many homeless people begging quite aggressively. It was still daylight and I already didn´t feel very safe. I thought about that I would need to walk back in the dark, alone and decided to skip the market and rather find something to eat close bye. I got a falafel kebab for $10 and after went to the Shenanigans Pub for a beer. I was quite surprised about the crowd since it was Sunday evening. The pub was full, there was a band playing and people were drinking and partying heavily. Although some Kiwi wanted to pay me some drinks I didn´t stay very long since I had to get up early again. At 6:30 I was picked up by our guide Adam from Territory Expeditions. We were 16 people from all over the world: Israel, Germany, Australia, England, Belgium, Poland, Ireland and France. We first went to the Mary River Wetlands were we went on a boat cruise to see loads of birds and crocodiles.
Then we drove on to the entrance of Kakadu Nationalpark where we had a lunch break.
From there we went to Ubirr were we had a look at the Aboriginal art on the rocks and climbed up to the Nadab Lookout with a view over the flood plain.
It was super-hot and you couldn´t drink enough. One day in Darwin was not enough to get used to the climate here, so I struggled a bit climbing around on the hot rocks, but I managed. I made my hat wet and drank loads of water when we were back to the truck and felt immediately better. You really shouldn´t underestimate the heat up here! Heat shocks and dehydration are very common. From there we drove to our campsite. I shared a tent with Tom, the Australian guy. You could choose between big closed tents with bunk beds inside or normal 2 person tents with mattresses. The smaller tents didn’t have the outer part, it was basically just a mosquito net so you would sleep under the stars but be protected from all the insects, spiders and whatever else is crawling around there. I really liked that!
We had BBQ for dinner and made a fire. It was pretty warm even at night and way too warm for a sleeping bag. But at around 2 AM I woke up because I was cold and we used a sleeping bag as a blanket. Before falling asleep we watched the stars and even saw a shooting star. Beautiful! At 6:30 Adam woke us up and after breakfast we drove to Jim Jim Falls. The way to the falls was pretty much climbing over rocks and it took us about 45min to walk like 1 km. But it was nice, the right amount of adventure to be fun and a bit of a workout. We sweated like crazy and were all looking forward to jump in the pool at the falls. The trail is always next to water, but you can´t swim there, because there are crocodiles. Only deep in the gorge were the falls are you can actually swim. There can be freshwater crocodiles, but they are harmless. The only ones you need to worry about are the saltwater crocodiles. I was quite surprised about the nice beach at the falls. Wouldn´t have expected that in an area like this. The falls were pretty much dried out, but the pool was still nice and fresh.
We spend quite some time there before we went back to the truck and had another sandwich lunch. Then we drove to Maguk. The trail here was a bit easier than the one at Jim Jim Falls and we some more wildlife. Here there also was an actual waterfall. The water there came from a spring so it wouldn´t dry out in the dry season.
We had quite a scenic drive back with giant termite mounds in the sunset.
Back to camp we had Borritos for dinner and did a little night hike through the camp to look for animals. The next morning we had to pack up everything and left camp. We drove to the Anbangbang Billabong and had a short walk around. This waterhole is full of birds but also crocodiles so you have to stay away from the water´s edge.
We walked to the Nawurlanja Lookout and on the way back we found some Leichardt’s grasshoppers. At this time of the year they are bright orange and look really beautiful. According to the Aborigines they are the children of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man.
We drove to the Anbangbang Gallery, another area with lots of Aboriginal paintings on the rocks. There we learned about the story of Namarndjolg who committed incest with his sister. There is a rock formation that marks this crime. The sister fell off the rocks and died and Namarndjolg fled his punishment of being speared or burned by jumping into the billabong were he became a crocodile. The bumps on his back marking the blisters from the fire.
Last stop was the visitor center of the Kakadu Nationalpark where we got some more information, an ice-cream and also WiFi. From there we started our journey back to Darwin with a stop at a nice lake for lunch. Also there you couldn´t go too close to the water or swim due to crocodiles, unfortunately. The trees were full of flying foxes and birds.
We arrived in Darwin at 5ish. I checked in, got my luggage and reorganized that a bit before having a shower. Then I met with Tom and the friends he was staying with – Brett & Dee Dee – for dinner at the Tap bar. I had crocodile schnitzel. It was really nice! They had offered me that I could do my laundry at their place instead of paying $8 at the hostel for it. So we collected my stuff and drove to their place where we hung out until it was time for Tom to go to the airport around midnight. They dropped me off at the hostel on the way. That was really kind of them, thank you very much! I had a bit of a sleep in the next morning. Got a few things done in the morning like going to a pharmacy, asking how much a doctor´s visit would be to get some stuff for my skin that requires a prescription (decided that $85 just to see the doctor was too much), buying a top up for my phone, got some fruit and veggies and went to an outdoor shop to get a new head lamp since I had lost mine. The rest of the day I spent more or less writing my diary and on my computer saving and sorting pictures, paying some bills and blogging. I also jumped into the hostel pool and read on the sundeck for a bit. For dinner I cooked a healthy and yummie meal. The next day I started with a little workout and worked 2 hours on my blog before I went to the Wave pool lagoon. First I just swam at the free and safe (stinger and croc free) saltwater lagoon, but then I decided to go into the wave pool anyway although they have chlorine in the water there which my skin usually doesn´t like at all. It is $7 for the whole day. You get a wrist band and can come and go as you please. I had fun splashing around with either a body board or a ring in the waves, reading, chilling and having an ice-cream in between.
They close at 6 PM and I walked back to the hostel, where I had a shower and attended to my skin which wasn´t too happy about being in chlorinated water most of the day. After dinner I packed my stuff and put a bit more work into my blog. Then I went out for a last quick beer in Darwin and had an early night since I would need to get up early again for the 10 day tour from Darwin to Broome.