Crocs, Choppers, Airboats and Glamping: An Amazing Weekend at the Top End Safari Camp

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Life in tropical Darwin can be dissected into two major seasons – the wet and the dry. The wet is characterised by intense humidity and monsoonal rain and the dry by balmy nights and stunningly warm winters. However, there is also a season that lies on the cusp of these two seasons.

The build up lasts from late September until late November (and sometimes into late December – lord have mercy!) and this is the time of year when the weather starts becoming more and more humid, but the rain hasn’t yet arrived, and thus the humidity has no way to break.

For most Darwinites, this is the absolute worst time of year.

However, this shoulder season does bring a few benefits, a major one being that local tours and experiences can be booked for super discounted rates!

I had seen the well known Top End Safari Camp offering a half price low season special so I messaged Chels to see if she was game and before you know it, our little two day getaway was booked and only a few short days away.

Owned by wildlife wrangler and local celebrity Matt Wright, the Top End Safari Camp aims to combine quintessential Top End experiences such as airboats, choppers, giant termite mounds and crocodile spotting with a bespoke glamping experience like no other.

After arriving to the camp, dropping off our bags and getting a quick lowdown on how the day would go, we set off in an airboat down the river. The landscapes were green and gorgeous and the airboat was certainly a unique way to see them.

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Next, we were treated to a 10 minute scenic helicopter flight over the area. It was an absolutely stunning ride and seeing it from above really allowed me to appreciate the complexity of the landscapes. We spotted huge magnetic termite mounds, crocodiles submerged in the murky water and so much more. To make things even better, the chopper had all of the doors off, so it was a wild and windy ride – which made it feel extra exciting!

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Top-End-Safari-Camp-Darwin-Northern-Territory-Outback-Australia

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Don’t ever go swimming in these waterways!

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Because the heli could only hold a maximum of three people at any one time, the group split up into couples and trios and commenced taking it in turns for their heli ride. We were one of the first groups to arrive back at camp, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of having the run of the place.

Our main priority? Cooling down in the pool!

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Top-End-Safari-Camp-Darwin-Northern-Territory-Outback-Australia
Chels has truly mastered the art of the hair flip!

However, the most epic part of the tour wouldn’t happen until later in the evening. Matt Wright is most famous for his crocodile wrangling, so it comes as no surprise that he has a few ‘pets’ on his vast outback properties.

We had the privilege of meeting one of these ‘pets’.

Tripod is an 80+ year old saltwater crocodile, weighing in at around one tonne and measuring over 17ft (over 5m). He was named Tripod due to the fact that he is missing one of his legs. He is one of Matt’s most favourite creatures and I can certainly see why – he is undeniably impressive!

We were able to get up close and personal for an epic encounter and some awesome photos. When I posted this next photo on the ‘gram, almost everyone thought he was fake! If you scroll down a little further you will find a short video uploaded so that you can see just how real (and powerful) this crocodillian really is.

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Top-End-Safari-Camp-Darwin-Northern-Territory-Outback-Australia

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Top-End-Safari-Camp-Darwin-Northern-Territory-Outback-Australia

Turn your volume up, you definitely want to hear the power of the chomp!

Once the sun was truly almost gone, we left Tripod and made our way back to camp. We had just enough time to crack some cold beers and get some photos of our unique little mushroom tent before the sun totally disappeared.

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Later, we enjoyed dinner with the rest of the group and toasting marshmallows on a glorious fire before retiring to the tent for the night. Despite the hot wet season temperatures, our tent remained relatively cool and we were both able to get a reasonably good sleep.

I did, however, end up waking up quite early, but that ended up being a blessing.

I flew the drone up just as the sun had started to rise, and got some epic fog-filled shots of the landscapes below.

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I mean, goodness, how bloody beautiful is the Top End!?

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Top-End-Safari-Camp-Darwin-Northern-Territory-Outback-Australia

We were treated to an early morning brekkie before it was time to head back to Darwin. Our overnight tour had lasted less than 24 hours, but in that short time Chels and I were able to create epic memories that would last a lifetime.

When you visit Darwin and the greater Northern Territory, I highly recommend booking a trip to the Top End Safari Camp (not sponsored).

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THE  LOWDOWN

Top End Safari Camp: Overnight tours include transfers from Darwin, a crocodile encounter, a 10 minute scenic heli ride, an airboat cruise, a sunset cheese board, dinner under the stars, accommodation in a glamping tent and a BBQ breakfast. These overnight tours generally go for $595 per person, but I recommend following them on Instagram as they may offer low season promo rates again in the future. We only paid $250 each for our tour! Click here to visit the website and here to visit their ‘gram
Safety: Despite the close proximity with crocodiles, these tours remain extremely safe. Just remember to follow the directions of the guides and wildlife handlers
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses as well as with a DJI Mavic Pro Drone (now discontinued)
Remember: For the love of all that is holy, don’t swim anywhere but the pool!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

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