Ultimate Guide to Ayers Rock - Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park
Read our ultimate travel guide to Australia and Ayers Rock. Find our best tips and advice on the best things to do, top attractions, must visit places, tips on where to stay and eat while exploring the Red Centre.
The endless flat road, unnaturally red ground and unbearable heat.
These three signs herald the fact you are getting closer to Australia's Red Center, and to the highlight of the trip which rises from the plain land: Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park.
We spent three marvelous days near Uluru and honestly it was much better than we have expected.
The area is world-famous because of rock formation Kata Tjuta, also known as Olgas but especially for the monolith Uluru alias Ayers Rock which is one of the symbols of Australia. Uluru itself is 348 meters high, but what is even more impressive, its underground part reaches a depth of 5 km!
5 best THINGS TO DO AT ULURU & Kata Tjuta - Olgas
We have created a list of top activities you can do around Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta - Olgas so you can experience the best of this amazing place.
And what were the best things to do at Ayers Rock we liked the most?
Sunsets and sunrises. I know that nobody likes waking up in the middle of the night, but the play of light, shadows and the ever-changing color of Ayers Rock is totally worth it.
You also shouldn’t miss walking around Uluru, it’s about 10 km under the scorching sun, but the views, shapes, and rock formations are otherworldly.
Walpa Gorge Walk is a gentle in and out 2.6 kilometers long walk through fascinating red gorge suitable for all hikers with various level of physical ability.
Valley of the Winds is our favorite hike in Kata Tjuta National Park. The trail will lead you around 500 hundred millions years old red domes and leave you in awe. Just make sure you bring enough water as the sun heat is unforgiving.
The last tip is red dunes. Yes, you are in the Red Center, and there are sandy red dunes around you when you are driving from Alice Springs to Yulara. You can enjoy the views from the car, or if you are more adventurous, stretch your legs and climb one of them. Look out for the snakes though!
How to Get TO AYERS ROCK
You have two options how to get to this National Park.
Travel by rental car, or you can fly to Yulara's airport from Sydney or Alice Springs. We opted for the former as this place was one of many we wanted to visit on our road trip.
Grocery and Eating Out
Prices in the grocery store were slightly higher but nothing unaffordable.
They had a sale for cooled sodas in the store all the time, and even though we never buy it in our ordinary life, it was so hot that we just had to! The trick is to finish the drink as fast as you can once you leave the store as it won't stay cool more than five minutes.
We found restaurants quite expensive there, but it is up to you to consider a state of your bank account. There is even an option to book dining experience within the park boundaries with the view of Uluru during sunset.
As a tourist, you'll most likely buy a three-day adult pass for AUD 25.
Families and kids have discounts, check the rates on the official websites. In case you are going to be in the area longer or plan to visit multiple times, you might consider purchasing an annual pass for AUD 32.50.
When to go
We visited Uluru at the end of December (December to February is the hottest time of the year) and were completely fine but if you do not tolerate the heat well, avoid this time.
Scorching afternoon temperatures were hitting 40°C in the shade and walking around these natural wonders was demanding and exhausting.
Probably the best time to visit is May to November - cooler temperatures (it can get surprisingly cold during nights) make the hikes safer. March and April receive the highest rainfall but only in consideration of desert climate.
The highest risk within a park comes from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Try to start your hike before 11 am, wear a hat and drink a lot of water.
Park management can close trails when the outside temperature reaches certain level early the day (usually 36°C before 11 am).
Also, make yourself familiar what to do during mulga snake (especially King Brown Snake which is very dangerous) and dingo encounters even though it is unlikely you will see them when walking in designated areas.
Climbing the Uluru - Yes or No
There's always been a debate if people should climb the monolith.
Uluru is a sacred place for aboriginal inhabitants who are also traditional owners of this piece of land and they discourage tourists to climb. The climb itself can be dangerous, and because of the heat, you won't be allowed to start after 8 am.
In November 2017 the news was announced that starting October 26, 2019, the climb will be officially banned. Be ahead and follow the decision from now already. In our opinion, climbing up will not give you anything extra, it is more interesting to watch the Uluru from the designated path and walk around then to disturb the sacred place.
Be grateful you can enjoy this place, we did not climb up and did not have a feeling we missed something.
Bear in mind that if something goes wrong, the help might not be as close as you think.
The distances in Australia are vast, and the same applies to the Red Center. Drive from Yulara to Uluru is 20km long, Yulara to Kata Tjuta is 55km.
There is a small Medical Centre in Yulara, but the nearest hospital is almost 450 km distant in Alice Springs.
How Many Days to Stay
Before you start planning how many days you want to spend in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, take a short break.
Sydney is almost 3000km away from Yulara, the flight tickets are expensive and getting there by car is not for free either, and is time-consuming. Well, one day won't be enough (and it would've been a shame to visit for such a brief period), two days could be too busy and overwhelming, three and more sounds much better!
As we have mentioned before, we spent three days in the area, and it seemed to us as a bare minimum as there is so much to do and see near this Australia's national landmark.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ULURU & KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK
The area around Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the Australian outback is dry and hot, and the sun is unforgiving, it is not uncommon to experience high temperatures around 40°C.
Not many people can imagine though that from May to September, nights are very cold, and temperatures can drop below zero. As you can see, the climate in the Red Center is extreme, and you should pack following the most essential things to ensure your trip will be comfortable.
- Hiking Boots for Him & for Her | Hiking is the best way how to enjoy the unique scenery, the 10 kilometers long walk around Uluru was unforgettable, so bring sturdy shoes with you.
- Protection Against Sun - Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Lipbalm with Sunscreen, Hat | Sun in the Red Center is harsh, do not walk outside without proper protection.
- Swimsuit for Him & for Her | Almost every hotel or even campground has a swimming pool to cool down, so don't forget to bring your swimsuit.
- Long Pants for Him & for Her | It can be really cold during Australian winter, so pack long pants, but some people prefer to wear long trousers even in summer because almost everything in Australia is poisonous, and it is better to have legs covered.
- Headtorch | Uluru and Kata Tjuta are the most famous for sunrises and sunsets, and it means one thing. You need headtorch as you will be getting up early and going to bed late at night.
- Camera | Australian Outback is so photogenic, consider buying a quality camera to capture the beauty.
- Water Bottle | It is important to stay hydrated. We drank every day more than four liters because of terrible heat. Do not underestimate it!
Do I Need 4WD?
No. The roads are sealed and in very good condition. The only risk while driving comes from the wildlife on the road and running out of gas.
WHERE TO STAY IN AYERS ROCK
Only 10 minutes drive from the park entrance is Ayers Rock Resort, an artificially built village with accommodation, restaurants and a grocery store.
You can find a place to stay and eat which suits your needs and budget.
We stayed at Ayers Rock Campground because we could park our rented car there. Non-powered site cost us AUD 43 per night, but we could use a pool, WIFI, shower and open kitchen with refrigerators which was great as we could finally use fresh ingredients again and cook a little bit more than usual.
If you like to splurge, this is your place! Ayers Rock is a premium location, the lodging availability is limited and the hotels are expensive.
We recommend you to stay at Desert Gardens Hotel - featuring a hotel pool, rooms set among native gardens, air-conditioned spacious rooms, and just 5-minute walk to the Uluru sunset viewpoint.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!