Arnhemlander Cultural & Heritage Tours and Guluyambi Cultural Cruises on the East Alligator River operate throughout the dry season from May to October. The commencement of dry season operations is dependent on when the wet finishes. Traditionally this seasonal unpredictability has been quite suitable for free-independent-travellers (FIT’s) though most travellers on packaged tours book visits from May to October.
During the wet season Kakadu Cultural Tours (KCT) offers modified touring and cruising products subject to safety of operations. These may not be regular daily operations depending on prevailing weather.
Essentially there are two main seasons, the wet season and the dry season. Between these main seasons are two ‘transition season’ periods, from wet to dry and from dry to wet. There are no definitive dates for the transition of seasons. Generally the dry season operations are from May to October.
The dry season, once it starts, is very predictable – it is dry, with no significant rain that would impact on tour operations. The nature of the wet season is unpredictable and often there are on-again, off-again rain patterns. It is often difficult to forecast if the rain will continue for any significant period of time.
Kakadu Cultural Tours do not operate during cyclone periods or dangerous water levels due to monsoonal flooding. Such occurrences can account for around 3 to 5 weeks (accumulative) of the wet season. This site currently lists products for the dry season operations which can be booked well in advance. The very popular Wet season products are short term operations and are only advertised locally in the Top End. They can only be booked a week in advance due to the quickly changing nature of wet season water levels. » Bureau of Meteorology Radar Loop
When Magela Creek is Impassable
An extremely popular wet-season service operates to Ubirr when the Magela Creek reaches a certain flood level preventing vehicular traffic to Ubirr. During this period visitors are able to traverse the flooded Magela on the Guluyambi boats, down through the flooded paperbark forest out on to a majestic billabong where nesting crocodiles and sea eagles can be viewed before re-entering the paperbark forest on the far side of Magela where tour vehicles are waiting to take passengers on to Ubirr.
This product is called the ‘Ubirr/Magela Combo’. It can only be booked locally a week in advance as the start and finish times of this product are dependent on local rainfall. Local Top End ticket sellers are advised of when KCT commence and finish these services.
Some visitors may choose to do the Cruise component only and not continue on to Ubirr, (‘Cruise Only’). When the water levels of the Magela drop too low for safe navigation the Ubirr/Magela Combo ceases. At this point the road may be open to high clearance 4WD only – water levels still too high for 2 wheel drive vehicles. When safety permits, KCT begin to operate its 4WD buses through the Magela Crossings and take visitors up to Ubirr. Some 4WD FITs prefer to travel with Kakadu Cultural Tours rather than subjecting their vehicles to submersion. Once safe boat operations can commence on the East Alligator KCT will operate the Ubirr/East Alligator Combo package which includes the Ubirr visit followed by a Guluyambi Cruise on the East Alligator.
Wet season products are dependent on conditions for safe operations – the products on offer vary as water levels go up and down throughout this season. Kakadu Cultural Tours does its best to operate product during this period in order to offer satisfied visitor experiences, though it is the luck-of-the-draw as to what is operating at any given time. Kakadu Cultural Tours reserves the right to alter or cancel tour and cruising products due to safety or cultural issues.