Classic koala sighting on an Australian Safari (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 24 June 2019

Best Australian safari trips: 11 adventures from the Outback to the coast

Epic landscapes. Abundant wildlife. And the chance to sleep under canvas with a blanket of starry skies. These Down Under safaris are like their African cousins, but with a distinctly Aussie twist...

1. Explore Australia's mythical East Arnhem Land

Bush tucker in Arnhem Land (Shutterstock)

Bush tucker in Arnhem Land (Shutterstock)

Journey to the farthest reaches of remote Northern Australia on this expeditionary adventure to East Arnhem Land with Intrepid. 

This vast and rugged wilderness is where the Yolngu people have lived for millennia and where, even today, you’ll still find clans fishing, sailing and enjoying the homeland of their ancestors. Of course, you'll also be lucky enough to be shown the very best wildlife watching spots. Expect to see crocs and dugong, and barramundi fish, among other species.

You’ll get privileged – and exclusive – access to this beautiful stretch of traditional land, learning how to hunt and gather, dance and make bark paintings under the guidance of clan leaders. 

After sitting around the campfire with East Arnhem Land’s traditional owners and listening to the stories and songs of their people, you’ll depart the mainland for nearby Bremer Island, a real castaway experience.

Trip: Australia Expedition: Journey into East Arnhem Land

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Sep

How long: Seven days

How much: From £3,435 (exc. flights)

2. Go on an east coast wildlife adventure

Manta ray on the Great Barrier Reef (Cox & Kings Travel)

Manta ray on the Great Barrier Reef (Cox & Kings Travel)

Encounter Australia’s iconic wildlife – and enjoy a touch of indulgent luxury on this incredible journey from Kangaroo Island to the Great Barrier Reef with Cox & Kings Travel.

Your adventure begins on Kangaroo Island, where wildlife vastly outnumbers humans, before flying to the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, where you’ll explore the outer reefs by catamaran and swim with manta rays and turtles.

You’ll explore Mossman Gorge, go on a tour along the colourful sands of Rainbow Beach and visit the zoo made famous by the ‘crocodile hunter’ Steve Irwin. Along the way you’ll enjoy stays in a luxury rainforest treehouse, an eco-retreat on its own private island and a resort in a nature reserve on the East Coast.

Trip: Australian Wildlife Adventure

Who: Cox & Kings Travel

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 16 days

How much: From £4,895

3. Discover Australia's Galapágos

Kangaroos hopping a long beach (Shutterstock)

Kangaroos hopping a long beach (Shutterstock)

Meet the incredible wildlife of Australia’s very own Galapágos Islands on this immersive trip to Kangaroo Island with Intrepid. 

Check out a sea lion colony in Seal Bay, try sand boarding in Little Sahara and head out on a walk in search of Vivonne Bay's wildlife.

You’ll also spot koalas in Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, clamber amongst the bizarre natural sculptures of Remarkable Rocks, and peer out at the ocean through the natural overhang of Admirals Arch.

With plenty of activities on offer and abundant adorable wildlife, this short-but-sweet trip makes for a unique island getaway. 

Trip: Kangaroo Island Adventure

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: Two days

How much: From £270 (exc. flights)

4. Encounter a Kakadu wildlife bonanza

Anbangbang Billabong, Kakadu National Park (Dreamstime)

Anbangbang Billabong, Kakadu National Park (Dreamstime)

Explore a wild land where brolgas fly across the sunset, huge crocodiles laze on riverbanks and the sandstone shimmers with the oldest art in the world, on this adventure through Kakadu National Park with Wildlife Worldwide.

Kakadu is the emerald gem of Australia’s tropical Top End, a vast wetland that is full of animals but very few people. You’ll wake to the manic calls of flying foxes and cockatoos, look out across a billabong filled with waterlilies, and walk on rocks that formed some 600 million years ago.

If you love adventure and wilderness, you’ll love this trip through Kakadu and Mary River National Parks.

Trip: Kakadu Wildlife Bonanza

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Tailor-made

When: Aug

How long: 14 days

How much: From £6,595 (exc. flights)

5. Penguins and koalas along the Great Ocean Road

Koalas along the Great Ocean Road (Shutterstock)

Koalas along the Great Ocean Road (Shutterstock)

Enjoy a unique urban-based safari on this 11-day adventure along Victoria’s extraordinary Great Ocean Road and beyond.

Using the bustling city of Melbourne as your base, you’ll explore the wild coast along Great Ocean Road under your own steam, undertaking a variety of optional activities as varied as a canopy walk, seal watching, a glow worm tour or a helicopter flight.

Back in the city, you take two expertly guided full-day excursions to visit Phillip Island and see the best of local wildlife, including the adorable fairy penguins, before joining a four-day small group tour to explore East Gippsland's forests and the Wilderness Coast accompanied by a naturalist guide.

Trip: Penguins, Koalas & Great Ocean Road

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Tailor-made

When: Sep to May

How long: 11 days

How much: From £3,395 (exc. flights)

6. Discover Western Australia's Coral Coast

Emu walking through The Pinnacles Desert (Shutterstock)

Emu walking through The Pinnacles Desert (Shutterstock)

Experience Western Australia’s extraordinary landscapes and fascinating wildlife on this 17-day adventure west coast safari with Flight Centre.

The excitement begins on Rottnest Island, where you’ll meet quirky quokkas and swim in aquamarine seas.

Back on the mainland, you’ll head north past sweeping sandy coastlines and the dramatic desert landscape of The Pinnacles, waterfalls, gorges and rainforests to Ningaloo Reef. At this remote and untouched marine reserve you’ll get the chance to swim with whale sharks.

Trip: Western Australia's Coral Coast

Who: Flight Centre

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 17 days

How much: From £1,959 (inc. flights)

7. Explore South Australia from the outback to the sea

Wild Major Mitchell's Cockatoo in Gawler Ranges National Park (Shutterstock)

Wild Major Mitchell's Cockatoo in Gawler Ranges National Park (Shutterstock)

Travel from the outback to the sea on this South Australian adventure from Gawler Ranges National Park to Kangaroo Island with Wildlife Worldwide.

It’s a unique opportunity to observe South Australia's finest wildlife up close, including koalas, red, western grey and euro kangaroos, Australian sealions, glossy black cockatoos, echidnas and if you are lucky, platypus.

Beginning in the Gawler Ranges National Park, known for its spectacular rock formations, you’ll head first to Baird Bay, where you’ll share the shallow waters with sea lions and dolphin, before continuing to Kangaroo Island – a haven for Australian native species. 

Trip: Kangaroos, sea lions & The Gawler Range

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: Nine days

How much: From £7,245 (exc. flights)

8. Uncover the hidden Kimberley

El Questro Gorge and waterfall (Shutterstock)

El Questro Gorge and waterfall (Shutterstock)

Explore one of the world’s final frontiers on this small group 4WD journey through the seemingly impenetrable Kimberley with Wexas Travel. 

You’ll journey through one of the world’s last great wildernesses, a remarkably colourful landscape of searingly blue skies and ochre red earth and ancient rock art dating back 1000s of years.

You’ll travel through a world of rugged gorges and tumbling waterfalls cascading into the cool depths of watering holes, before following the legendary Gibb River Road and unique beehive striped domes of the Bungle Bungle range.

Trip: El Questro, Gorges And Purnululu

Who: Wexas Travel

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: From  £5,645 (inc. flights)

9. Experience a classic outback camping adventure

Starry skies over desert landscape in remote Outback Australia (Shutterstock)

Starry skies over desert landscape in remote Outback Australia (Shutterstock)

Spend your nights camping under the spectacular outback skies as you explore some of Australia’s most iconic sights on this small group adventure with Intrepid, over five days. 

With no set itinerary, and in the company of a a well-versed local leader, you’ll explore the Red Centre at your own pace.

You’ll get to all the big name attractions – Uluru/Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell range, but it is the memories of the lesser-known sights like Trephina Gorge, Owen Springs, Ruby Gap and the East MacDonnell range that will linger longer.

The once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching an Uluru sunset will mean even more, informed by the stories told to you by the local aboriginal people.

Trip: Outback Camping Adventure

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: Five days

How much: From £720 (exc. flights)

10. Walk the iconic Larapinta Trail in style

Your campsite in the West MacDonnell ranges (World Expeditions)

Your campsite in the West MacDonnell ranges (World Expeditions)

Explore the best sections of the iconic Larapinta desert trail while enjoying the comfort of a spectacular semi-permanent campsite on this supported trekking holiday with World Expeditions.

Following high ridge lines of the West MacDonnell ranges, you’ll see the vast flood plains that form this ancient land and be dwarfed by the immensity of Ormiston and Serpentine Gorge.

Take a dip in idyllic waterholes as you watch the dramatic colour changes in the rock formations at Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm before returning to you architect-designed camp. Hot showers, comfortable lounges and gourmet three-course dinners await.

Trip: Classic Larapinta Trek In Comfort

Who: World Expeditions

Type: Small group

When: Apr to Sep

How long: Six days

How much: £1,630 (exc. flights)

11. The classic Australian Outback safari

Uluru after sunset (Shutterstock)

Uluru after sunset (Shutterstock)

Discover Australia’s wild and rugged north on this iconic six-day journey from Alice Springs to Kakadu.

You’ll experience Australia’s Top End at it’s very best. From secret waterfalls to towering gorges, bubbling hot springs, giant termite mounds (yep), croc cruises, and everything in between, it’s an adventure you just have to experience.

The best bit? Sleeping under the star-filled Australian sky, in a traditional Aussie swag, every single night.

Trip: Alice Springs To Kakadu

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: May to Sep

How long: Six days

How much: From £849 (exc. flights)

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