Urulu is often considered the burning heart of Australia. It is a beautiful place with a great history. You could easily stay a week without realising how much time has passed. But as time is always a limiting factor: here is a suggested itinerary for two days in Uluru-Kata Tjuta based on our own experience. This should allow you to make most of this exceptional place.
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Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park
Sacred mountain to the Aboriginal people (the Anangu), Uluru is the main attraction of the Uluru Kata-Tjuta (Olgas) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
500 million years old, the rock of Uluru is 3 kilometers long and more than 9 kilometers in circumference. It rises 348 meters high, with most of the rock lying underground.
Ayers Rock was the most commonly used name until 1993 when the rock was officially renamed Ayers Rock/Uluru.
Entry to the park costs $38 per person and is valid for 3 days. Once you have your tickets, you no longer need to go through the main ticket office.
Day 1: Exploring the Kata-Tjuta (Mount Olgas)
About 30 kilometers from Uluru are the Kata-Tjuta (or Olgas). These rounded rock formations, less known than their neighbour Uluru, are no less impressive.
Walk through the valley of winds
The whole calk is 7.4 kilometers and is very well marked. There is a bit of elevation it is perfectly feasible for most levels of fitness. You will have the chance to be in the heart of the rocks with breathtaking views, where only the birds come to disturb the silence. I advice you to do this walk in the morning to evade the heat. Make sure to bring water. Two spots for drinking water are available along the walk. Drink a lot, we did not realise it, but we sweat!
If you do not want to do the whole loop, no problem. There are two viewing points along the way: The Karu Lookout (2.2 km round trip) and the Karingana Lookout (5.4 Km round trip).
Shaded picnic tables are available right next to the car park for lunch. If you feel like it you can then follow the Walpa gorge (2.2 km round trip, very easy)
Yulara and its activities
If you have walked enough for the day, Yulara offers plenty of free activities such as discovering the ‘bush-tucker’ (food from nature), learning about planting and using plants, astronomy exhibitions and theatre.
For opening hours and the locations of these activities ask for the program at the Cultural Center or at the reception desks.
Sunset at Uluru
If you stay at the resort for the night there is a walk that will take you to a lookout from where you can see the sunset on Uluru. Not to be missed!
Sunset on the Kata-Tjuta
Only thirty kilometres from the resort you will find an alternative for the evening. There is a beautiful lookout (Sand Dunes view) to see the sunsets on Kata-Tjuta (with Uluru in the distance). As the shadows of the trees grow longer you will see the rocks turning all shades of red. At this moment everything is ablaze, even the sky!
Day 2: Exploring Uluru
The ‘base walk’ in the early morning
My advice would be to get up early, before sunrise, to do the Uluru base walk. This 10 km walk is all around Uluru and features great explanations of the sacred places (you are not allowed to take pictures here!). We were there in August (winter) and wild flowers covered the park making for a truly beautiful sight.
Seeing the sunrise at the foot of the rock with nothing but silence and a tea thermos has something magic about it. As mentioned I strongly recommend getting up early as the site fills up very quickly. The feeling of loneliness and immensity that filled us is really worth it!
Free guided tour
The advantage is that you are well awake and fit to take the ‘free guided tour‘ led by a ranger. I can highly recommend it! The appointment is at 10am from the Mala walk. The tour takes around four hours total. Three hours for the guided base walk another 45 minutes to an hour for the ride with the ranger.
Our guide Nick is a great enthusiast. He could answer all our questions with passion. We were a large group (about 20 people) with a guide who transmits his passion and RESPECT for the site to all of us. I do not want to give any orders, but do it, really!
The cultural Centre
Stroll to the cultural center of the park. Here you will find lots of information, photos, testimonials and a video report. They provide insight into the chaotic history of Uluru, as well as its importance to the Aboriginal people.
If you ever decide to do some shopping, know that the profits are shared with the Aboriginal people owners of this place, unlike Yulara.
Evening at the free camping spot
Do not hit the road at night to get back though. Spend a last night at the free camping ground to enjoy the breathtaking views of Uluru at sunset. You will be much less close to the rocks compared to the Sand Dune View of Kata Tjuta. However, you will be able to see both formations. Once again, a beautiful display of colours awaits you.
Important: Climbing Uluru
Since 2019 the climbing of the rock is prohibited to tourists. Indeed, Uluru is a sacred place for the Aboriginal people who still live here. The ascension is an attack on the beliefs of these tribes. Many accidents have also contributed to its closure. So to observe the landscapes from a little height, you have 2 options left: a helicopter flight or skydiving.
Best period to visit Uluru Kata Tjuta NP
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are amazing all year round. However, the climate in central Australia varies from season to season.
The best time to go there is between May and September (winter season), when the maximum daytime temperature is between 20 and 30°C. It rains very little and the cool weather makes the walks easier.
The months of October to March (spring – summer) can be extremely hot, with daytime temperatures above 35°C. However, the warm weather also brings thunderstorms and rain, which fills the waterholes and kicks off the Uluru waterfalls – spectacular!
Where to sleep?
The pass to enter the park is valid for 3 days. You will therefore have to find accommodation not far from the national park to avoid traveling too much each day and wasting time.
There is no accommodation in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The accommodations (campsite, hotel, lodge, etc.) are located in the Ayers Rock complex in Yulara. In addition to accommodation, you will find shops, restaurants and many places to visit on site. Ayers Rock Campground will offer you all the necessary facilities for a comfortable stay ($43 to $52 without/with electricity in a tent or $185 a night for 2 in a cabin).
Staying at Yulara will also give you the right to buy alcohol, with a paper license that you must show every time you buy something.
Another option, if you continue to drive on Hwy/State Route 4, less than 1 hour from Yulara, the town of Curtin Springs offers the unique experience of camping on a breeding station in full operation.
There is another free option. North of Yulara is a free campsite. If you do not have Wikicamp, just pass Yulara, the mechanic’s road, the airport and after 9km you will see on your right a small sandy road. Do not hesitate to take the road as it is accessible to 4×4 as well as 2WD vans. If you have a 4×4 you can ride the dunes which offers a breathtaking view of Uluru and Kata-Tjuta. If your vehicle can not deal with this kind of off roading climb on foot and mount your tent up in the dunes! The nights can be a bit chilly, but seeing the sunrise, sunset as well as the Milky Way stretching over Uluru will make you forget everything.
REMINDER: Camping is allowed but keep in mind that this is aboriginal land wilderness not a bush party place!
Where to eat?
In Yulara you have an IGA supermarket, restaurants, cafes and everything you might require to stock up. There is also a gas station, keep your IGA receipt if you shop there as it entitles you to a discount of 4ct on the next full tank!
If you are lazy one night and what a barbecue we tested the Outback Pioneer Kitchen. For 35 AUD you will have an assortment of meat (kangaroo, emu, crocodile) and access to the salad bar. It also has live music. The atmosphere is good and the staff is friendly.