Visiting the Uluru and Kata Tjuta outback feels like stepping into the glowing heart of Australia.
Stay: The Ayers-Rock-Resort Yulara is the basecamp and village outside Uluru-Kata-Tjuta national park. Here you find all sorts of accommodations from camping grounds to hotels as well as some essential shops and offices. Sails in the Desert Hotel offers nice rooms, a pool and good breakfast. From the resort it’s about 20km to Uluru and 50km to the Kata Tjuta.
Do: The Uluru and the equally stunning Kata Tjuta are unlike everything you’ve ever seen. It’s best to explore this unique landscape by hiking some of the marked trails. Because of the extreme nature and climate it is important to prepare for the walks accordingly. It gets extremely hot and some trails might be closed when temperatures climb over 36 degrees so we drove into the park when it was still dark and experienced the sunrise right when we started walking. This is the only time when the heat is bearable and you’re basically alone with the landscape. Also this early in the morning you don’t have the millions of flies circling around your face which gets very annoying during the day. In addition, take enough water with you, wear sturdy shoes and always stay on the marked tracks. The Base Walk takes you around Uluru on a beautiful 10km long trail where you can see the rock from all angles and experience the special nature around it. Start from Mala car park and walk left counterclockwise. Shorter is the Kuniya Walk that leads from the car park to a mystic waterhole in the rock. At the Kata Tjuta hike the Valley of the Winds Trail. It’s a bit steep and rocky but takes you into another world. The geological formations and nature are just breathtaking. Another must-do is seeing the sunrise and sunset over Uluru. There are clearly marked spots along the road where you can park and enjoy the view. Also the other marked lookouts are always great places to stop and take in the unearthly scenery. From the many attractions and experiences you can book and do around the area, we first did the Field of Light Tour. A bus picks you up and brings you to an area close to the rock where you can wander around a huge field of colorful flower-like lights. It is nice but maybe not a must-do. What we absolutely loved was the Outback Sky Journey, an astro tour where you experience the night sky and learn about the stars and galaxies. Because the area is so remote there is almost no artificial light and you can see the bright sky with your bare eyes. You can also explore the sky with telescopes or just stare into the universe and ponder about our wondrous world. If you’re interested in indigenous life, culture and art take a look inside the Wintjiri gallery and museum in the resort or the Cultural Centre inside the national park. For all information around the area and tours check out Ayers Rock Resort.
Eat: When you don’t want to eat in one of the hotels you can either buy some groceries in the supermarket, check out the takeaway cafes Kulata Academy Cafe and Ayers Wok or buy and prepare all kinds of meat at Pioneer BBQ&Bar.
Getting around: Shuttle buses pick you up at the small airport and bring you into the resort. You can book a lot of guided tours and experiences but we preferred to explore the area on our own so we rented a car for our stay there. There are shuttle buses going around in the resort but it’s very small also possible to walk if the heat is bearable.