Do you need a 4WD to visit Kakadu National Park?

Do you need a 4WD to visit Kakadu National Park?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 09/25/2019

Reading time: 5 mins

The short answer is no, and the longer answer is still no, but it’s a bit more complicated.

A common question for those planning to visit Kakadu National Park is whether they need a 4WD. The good news is, no, you don’t! Renting a car can be expensive, and getting a four-wheel drive only makes it pricier. But don’t worry, there are ways to avoid the high costs.

Twin Falls is one of the many waterfalls in Kakadu only accessible by 4WD

  • Consider a 2WD car

    Lots of people choose to take a guided tour of Kakadu for a few reasons. One is that it’s easier than figuring out the park yourself. 4WD and safari bus tours are a great way to see Kakadu because they can take you to places you can’t reach with a 2WD. The guides also know which areas need permits and which roads are best for the time of year. Our 4-day and 5-day 4WD tours are perfect for those who aren’t used to driving off-road.

  • Join a 4WD tour

  • To be honest, if you want to see the best parts of Kakadu National Park, a 4WD is necessary. While you can see many great spots with a 2WD, you’ll miss out on waterfalls, gorges, and swimming holes because they’re all on gravel roads. Most of these tracks aren’t too hard to drive, but you’ll still need a 4WD. And it’s important to check road conditions every day, especially in the wet season. If you’re visiting then, your 4WD will need a snorkel too.
  • Advantages of 4WDs

  • 4WD vehicle prepares to cross Cahills CrossingWe’ll be honest, to access the best parts of Kakadu National Park, a 4WD is essential. Many great spots are accessible in a 2WD. However, you won’t be able to access any waterfalls, gorges or swimming holes as they are all located on unsealed roads. Most of the tracks are not particularly difficult to drive but still require a 4WD. It is also important to check road access daily to see what roads are safe to travel. If visiting in the wet season 4WDs must also be fitted with a snorkel.
  • Top 2WD-Accessible Places to Visit in Kakadu National Park

  • 1. Ubirr Rock Art

  • Sunset at the Ubirr lookoutThis is a must-see in Kakadu, with incredible Aboriginal rock art and stunning views. While there is no one spot to see them, they can be found in the southern part of the park. A short walk from the carpark takes you to the art galleries and lookout.
  • 2. Termite mounds

  • You can spot these termite mounds throughout the park’s southern area. They can be as tall as six meters and as old as 60 years! You’ll find lots of them along Maguk Road near Mary River.
  • 3. Yellow Water wetlands

  • This place is packed with wildlife, from crocs to birds. It’s also a good spot for fishing for barramundi most of the year. You can take a cruise through the wetlands to see everything up close. If you prefer a shorter visit, there’s a boardwalk and viewing platform open in the dry season. Nearby, the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre tells you about the history of the Bininj and Mugguy people.

Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Things to consider

Keep your wits about you

Whether you explore Kakadu with a 2WD or join a guided 4WD tour, always put safety first. Keep an eye on road conditions, follow signs and warnings, and leave the park as clean as you found it.

Camp for a truly immersive experience

Kakadu is not only a destination for day-trippers. It’s also a place where you can spend several days exploring its vast wilderness and diverse ecosystems. Camping facilities are available within the park, allowing visitors to extend their stay and fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty and tranquility of Kakadu.

There’s more than just beautiful nature to explore

Kakadu National Park is not just about adventure; it’s also a place to connect with nature and immerse yourself in Indigenous culture. Many visitors find value in taking the time to learn about the traditional owners of the land, their stories, and their way of life. The park offers various cultural experiences, including guided walks, talks, and cultural performances, which provide insight into the rich history and spiritual significance of the area.

In summary…

While a 4WD may enhance your experience in Kakadu National Park, it’s not essential for enjoying its wonders. Whether you choose to explore with a 2WD vehicle or join a guided tour, Kakadu promises unforgettable experiences and breathtaking landscapes that will leave you in awe of Australia’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

No matter which way you choose to see Kakadu, always remember to drive safe and smart. Keep an eye out for access updates, adhere to road signs and warnings, and leave the park as you found it.

Related article: How to get to Kakadu National Park?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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