Welcome to Darwin, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and the striking Northern Territory, where rich Aboriginal history abounds in the sacred sites, elaborate rock art and mystical Dreamtime stories of the land. On arrival in Australia’s smallest capital city, you will be met by a local Luxury Escapes representative at Darwin Airport (DRW) and transferred by private air-conditioned vehicle to your hotel — Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront.
The launchpad to your Darwin experience, located within the iconic Waterfront Precinct and overlooking Stokes Hill Wharf, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront is minutes from the city’s biggest attractions and events, including the Esplanade, Mitchell Street, Crocosaurus Cove and the WWII Oil Storage Tunnels.
Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner at the incredible Wharf One Food & Wine, a short walk from the hotel.
After breakfast, settle in for a long drive through pristine wetlands to arrive at Kakadu National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, Australia’s largest national park is in a league of its own. This vast swathe of land encompasses more than 20,000sqm of wilderness with jaw-dropping gorges decorated with ancient rock art, waterfalls that thunder over the edge of escarpments and floodplains that stretch into the seemingly unending horizon.
Visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre, before boarding an iconic Yellow Water Billabong cruise. As you drift silently through these calm waters, keep your eyes peeled for the golden glint of saltwater crocodiles peering at you from within the depths of the river and spy the magnificent birdlife.
Afterwards, you will be transferred to Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, a hotel architecturally shaped like a crocodile — complete with eyes and sharp teeth. Following check-in, the remainder of the day is yours to spend in the inviting swimming pool, perhaps sipping a cocktail in the Escarpment Restaurant (additional costs apply) or relaxing in your spacious Superior Room, beautifully appointed with Indigenous prints and artwork.
This morning after breakfast, experience the magnificence of Ubirr, one of the jewels in Kakadu’s well-studded crown. One of two popular Aboriginal rock art galleries, this sacred site invites you to marvel at Indigenous artwork that ranges from as recent as 150 years ago to 15,000 years old.
Admire the famous paintings of animals, gain a fascinating insight into Dreamtime folklore and see ‘contact art’, showing impressions of first contact with white explorers. Afterwards, make the 30-minute climb to Nardab Lookout for sprawling views over the floodplains, woodlands and the dark ribbons of the rainforest surrounding the wetlands.
Then, together with your local guide/driver, you will take the Guluyambi Cultural Cruise along the East Alligator River, where an Aboriginal guide will provide cultural insights into local mythology, food and bush survival, before arriving at Arnhem Land. Unlike anywhere else in Australia, this is one of the country’s last untouched wilderness areas, covering more than 100,000sqm. With special permission of the local Indigenous people, you go ashore. Visit Bowali Visitor Centre before returning to Darwin in the late afternoon.
Unearth the immensity, grandeur and mystery of Australia’s Red Centre, a spiritual place where one of the world’s oldest cultures still thrives, as you depart Darwin for Alice Springs this afternoon. Spend the morning at leisure before you’re transferred to the airport for your included internal flight. You might choose to discover Darwin’s iconic Austin Lane, clad in graffiti murals, or perhaps watch prehistoric saltwater crocodiles leap from the depths of Adelaide River.
On arrival in Alice Springs, you will be met by your local Luxury Escapes representative who will transfer you to the iconic DoubleTree by Hilton Alice Springs. En route, stop at Anzac Hill lookout — Alice Springs’ most-visited landmark — to marvel at the panoramic views across the township and towards the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges.
If you’re hungry, see if you can snag a table at the fine-dining Hanuman — the sister restaurant of Darwin’s acclaimed restaurant of the same name. Offering delicacies to rival that of the big smoke, Chef Jimmy Shu (known for his Taste of the Territory television series) delivers a spice-driven menu that champions Thai, Indian and Nonya (Chinese Malay) influences with a Top End twist.
Departing after breakfast, you will be transferred to Kings Canyon, arguably Australia’s Grand Canyon. Along the way, enjoy a lunchtime pit stop at Kings Creek Station. This property is rich in history: learn about the first pioneering families of the area as well as the legacy of Ian and Lyn Conway and their dedication to Aboriginal children and the region's remote communities.
Then, you’ll be transferred to Kings Canyon Resort, nestled amid the spectacularly rugged outback scenery of Watarrka National Park. After a day of exploration, the indulgent deep-soaking spa in your Deluxe Spa Room will be a welcome reprieve.
Rising early this morning, Kings Canyon and the sunrise await along the Canyon Rim Walk. A 6km hike filled with hidden treasures in the form of a sandstone domed lost city, a rock amphitheatre and a swimming hole known as Garden of Eden, this incredible region take on an ethereal quality as you watch the light spill across the gorge below. If you’d prefer a more relaxed pace, you could take the optional creek bed walk.
After you’ve sufficiently worked up an appetite, enjoy a lunchtime pit stop at Curtain Springs Station, a gem in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Sate your hunger with a quintessential BBQ lunch.
Your journey then continues past Attila (Mt. Conner), often mistaken for Uluṟu, and the mystical domes of Kata Tjuṯa (The Olgas). Spend time admiring their mammoth stature — some 546m tall — along the Walpa Gorge Walk, before you’re transferred to the iconic Sails in the Desert.
A mirage of white sail awnings signals your arrival at this five-star desert resort, where Uluṟu and the vibrant landscape of Australia’s Red Centre serve as a striking backdrop.
This morning you will be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle as you rise before the sun to experience the renowned Field of Light Uluṟu art installation by artist Bruce Munro.
Inspired by desert seeds springing to life after the rains, this monumental art installation is made up of 50,000 spindles of light, breathing and swaying in beautiful ochre, deep violet, blue and gentle white. With a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate in hand, watch in awe as the desert sands transform from deep charcoal to its final burnished orange, illuminating Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa.
From here, your local expert guide/driver will transfer you to the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa Cultural Centre where you will enjoy breakfast and learn more about Australia’s spiritual heart. Afterwards, enjoy a guided tour of the sacred sites nestled around the base of Uluṟu, walk to the sacred Mutitjulu Waterhole and admire ancient Aboriginal rock art.
As evening looms, join an unmissable ‘Sounds of Silence' dinner (weather dependent). Located in a private desert setting, this incredible experience invites you to enjoy a dining experience like no other as the sun dips behind the many domes of the soaring Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Uluṟu. Savour a gourmet BBQ dinner to the sounds of a didgeridoo.
Tonight, return to Sails in the Desert for your final evening in Australia’s Indigenous heart.
Make sure to soak in the breathtaking beauty of Uluṟu's majesty this morning, as you're transferred to Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ) for your onward journey after breakfast.