Your guide to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a dual World Heritage-listed park in the heart of the Central Australian desert, about 280 miles from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Named after two of Australia’s most spectacular sites: the iconic sandstone monolith of Uluru and the red domes of Kata Tjuta, the land is owned by the Anangu people.
With so many sights and activities to explore within the park, it’s hard to know where to start. So to help you plan your trip, here’s our guide on the best things to do, where to stay, the best time to visit, and how to get around once you’re there.
The best things to do in Uluru-Kata Tjuta
1. Embark on a learning journey at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre
A visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre is a great way to start your Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park stay. You’ll deepen your understanding of the park’s natural environment and learn about Anangu culture through exhibits and free presentations. Check out the displays, Aboriginal art galleries, and community-owned shops, plus inquire at the visitor information desk.
You’ll need approximately two hours to explore the cultural centre fully, and it’s open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Top tip: there’s a picnic area behind the cultural centre with uninterrupted views of Uluru–be sure to check that out.
2. Dine under the stars with Sounds of Silence
Can you think of anything dreamier than dining under the canopy of the desert night while a storyteller shares tales as told in the stars? Sounds of Silence offers a magical 4-hour experience: an evening of dining under the outback sky.
Start the night on a long dune with sunset canapes and sparkling wine as you admire the 360-degree view of the vast landscape. Then, as the sun sets, enjoy a BBQ buffet of authentic Australian delicacies and fine wines. Next, you’ll look towards the night sky as a ‘star talker’ guides you through some of the world’s best stargazing.
This experience includes Ayers Rock Resort transfers. Make sure you book this unique event in advance.
3. Be dazzled by Bruce Munro’s Light at Sensorio, featuring Field of Light
Once nighttime arrives, Field of Light Uluru comes alive. Created by the world-renowned British artist Bruce Munro and named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ in local Pitjantjatjara, this exhibition is the size of seven football fields! The giant fantasy garden contains 50,000 spindles of light, each swaying delicately in the breeze and lighting up the desert.
Munro has recently added his latest exhibit to the site. The installation, titled ‘Light Towers’, comprises colorful 6-foot-tall towers made up of more than 17,000 wine bottles. Designed to celebrate Paso Robles’ wine country environs, the colors from the glowing optic fibers morph to a musical score. Entry is included with admission to Field of Light, at no extra cost.
This is a super popular event, so book your tickets early.
4. Enjoy a scenic flight
A 40-minute scenic flight is the perfect way to see Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Departing from Ayers Rock airport, you’ll meet your pilot ready for take-off. During the flight, enjoy views of the northern and western faces of Uluru and the north and west faces of Kata Tjuta. What’s more, you’ll see the eastern face of Kata Tjuta: an experience that’s not accessible to the public from below. Highlights include spotting traces of ancient waterfalls and coral reefs and views of Lake Amadeus in the distance. Hotel pick-up and drop-off are offered for select hotels.
5. Learn dot painting at Maruku Arts
Running twice daily (morning and afternoon), Maruku Arts hosts a 1.5-hour dot painting workshop taught by a local Anangu artist and an assisting interpreter. In the class, you’ll learn about traditional art, tools, and symbols, plus you’ll be introduced to Pitjantjatjara, the local language spoken by Anangu.
Through the Maruku Arts workshops, artists share a part of their culture with you, so you can learn something, create, and share with others.
6. Walk the entire base of Uluru at sunrise
Ever dreamt of walking the entire circumference of Uluru at sunrise? Now you can, with all of the tour details taken care of. After your transfer drops you off at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, your 6-hour pre-dawn tour will see you trekking 7 miles around the base of Uluru with a guide. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
You’ll stop mid-hike for a hearty picnic breakfast (provided) as you take in the spectacular scenery. And once your tour is complete, you’ll be dropped back at your hotel, ready to relax and admire the many photos you took.
7. Take a camel tour at sunrise or sunset
For an authentic outback experience, book yourself a camel riding tour around Uluru and Kata Tjuta, located within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Customize this experience to work around your itinerary and budget by booking either a morning (sunrise) or afternoon (sunset) departure.
A pick-up at your hotel will be arranged. Your cameleer and camels will be waiting for you at the departure point within the park. Before heading off, you’ll hear how Australian pioneers relied on camels for transportation through the desert in the 19th century. During the ride, you’ll hear about the wildlife and ecology of the region, and you can take as many photos as you like–you’ll want to!
Where to stay in Uluru-Kata Tjuta
1. Sails in the Desert
If you’re after a touch of outback luxury during your stay in Uluru, the 5-star Sails in the Desert hotel is ideal. White sails shade 228 rooms and suites out the front, and a gumtree-lined heated swimming pool awaits outside. Sails in the Desert is perfect for those who want to soak up Uluru’s raw natural beauty while still enjoying modern luxury.
2. Emu Walk Apartments
Just 12 miles from Uluru, Ayers Rock Resort’s Emu Walk Apartments offer fully serviced one- and two-bedroom apartments that are ideal for families, couples, and friends traveling together. Throughout the property, you’ll see Indigenous design elements.
3. The Lost Camel Hotel
The Lost Camel Hotel is a contemporary boutique-style hotel located in the heart of Ayers Rock Resort, just 20 minutes from Uluru. Here you’ll find brightly-decorated compact studio-style rooms. The hotel is furnished in a mix of Aboriginal and urban themes.
Check out the hotel’s swimming pool, participate in one of the many free daily guest activities, or enjoy a meal at one of the cafes in the Resort Town Square.
4. Longitude 131°
Longitude 131° is a luxury desert basecamp at Uluru-Kata Tjuta. Visitors who stay here do so to make the most of the area’s World Heritage-listed wilderness through a range of guided excursions. Dining brings together native ingredients and produce sourced from around Australia.
Luxury tents boast contemporary furnishings, mod cons, and artwork by local Indigenous artists. Take in views of Uluru from your bed or balcony–an experience you’ll never forget. Head to Spa Kinara for an Indigenous-inspired treatment or enjoy a sunset drink on the Dune Top overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Best time to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta
Visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta between May and September, when the maximum temperature during the day is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler weather makes it more pleasant for walking, and there’s very little rain too, so you’ll stay dry. The colors of the rock are much more vibrant at this time of the year, too.
Sunset and sunrise is the best time of the day to visit. You can see the rock changing color before your eyes at these times. Water vapor in the atmosphere and dust particles act as filters, removing the blue light from the incoming sun rays. This enables the red light to shine through, reflecting against the rock and its surrounds, offering vivid colors.
How to get to and around Uluru-Kata Tjuta
It’s super easy to get to and around the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Fly directly with Virgin Australia, Qantas, or Jetstar to Yulara (Ayers Rock/Connellan Airport) from many Australian cities, including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Darwin, Adelaide, and Alice Springs. The longest flight out is from Brisbane, just 3 hours and 15 minutes.
If you’re not driving your own car, you can rent one at the Ayers Rock Airport, Yulara, or Alice Springs. There’s only a limited number of rental cars in Yulara, so we recommend you book weeks in advance.
Perhaps you fancy including Uluru-Kata Tjuta as part of an Australian outback road trip. The famous Red Centre Way is a multi-day drive that includes Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Watarrka (Kings Canyon), Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges), and Alice Springs.
You can purchase an Uluru hop-on, hop-off bus pass or join one of the many bus tours on offer.
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