12 Ways to See Uluru
Featured destinations: Uluru
Published 31 May 2017
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, has stood for in the middle of the Australian desert near Alice Springs for over 600 million years. After its ‘discovery’ by Europeans in 1872, interest in the monolith increased steadily and the first visitors arrived in 1936. But now that climbing it is a no no, what’s the best way to see Uluru? There’s plenty of choice, so read on to find out…
Uluru is of huge spiritual importance to local Aboriginals, who prefer tourists not to hike up it. While it is not illegal to climb, it’s more respectful (and to be honest, more interesting), to walk around it. You don’t have to go the whole way around either, as some lovely short walks are available, but if you do, it will take about three and a half hours, giving you ample time to appreciate its sheer size, take it in from all angles, and get a closer look at the rocky details. Don’t forget to bring a sunhat and sunglasses and take plenty of water.
On a bike
If you’d prefer to do it a little quicker, ride around the rock on a bicycle. You don’t even need a guide; just a map and a sense of adventure. Bikes can be hired for the six-mile circumnavigation from the Uluru Kata-Tjuta Cultural Centre or from Ayres Rock Resort, where prices include return bus transfers to the rock itself.
On a camel
Have you ever dreamed of riding a camel through the desert to see Uluru in all its glory? No? Well start now because this is a great and unusual way to experience the rock. Camels may sound like a strange choice but it makes sense when you consider that the first camel, named Harry, arrived in Australia in 1840 for use as transport. Further camels were imported until the introduction of cars in the 1920s, when many camels were released into the wild. There are now thought to be more than 300,000 of the one-humped variety running free in the desert. The camels used for Uluru tours come from a camel farm where they are well looked after and treated like members of the family.
It’s one thing to see Uluru from the ground, but quite another to see it from the air. So, if you’re feeling flash, choose a helicopter ride over the desert. These range from short hops to longer flights including Kings Canyon and the Olgas, often at sunrise or sunset. Transfers to and from local hotels are usually included too.
By light aircraft
If a helicopter isn’t floating your boat, perhaps try a light aircraft flight instead. Most take off from Ayers Rock Resort and again include transfers. Just like with the helicopters, some take in Kata Tjuta, and you can add an extra dimension to the experience with a sunrise or sunset flight.
Flickr: Leo Li
While you’re up there in the plane, why not jump out of it as well? Choose from tandem jumps at 10,000ft or 15,000ft and feel the rush of desert air followed by the tranquil descent to terra firma. On the way down you’ll be treated to views of the Olgas, Lake Amadeus, Mount Connor and of course Uluru itself. If you’re only going to skydive once in your lifetime, then what a place to do it.
It could not be easier to drive to Uluru. It’s well signposted and there are hardly any roads round here. Just make sure you have enough petrol and carry water. You don’t even need a 4x4 as the roads are in very good condition, and you can stop as and when you choose to soak up the scenery.
For a more relaxed approach, watch the sunset over Uluru while tucking into a tasty three-course dinner. With the Sounds of Silence tour, you can watch the Uluru sunset over canapes and a glass of sparkling wine, then feast on a delicious bush BBQ crafted from native bush ingredients. As the night sky lights up, you’ll learn all about the planets and constellations and have the chance to look for Saturn’s rings through the telescope.
With a glass of wine
If you don’t want to splash out on the whole dinner, or are short on time, then head to Uluru on a sunset tour and watch the changing colours of the desert with a chilled glass of wine in hand. You’ll be picked up from your Ayres Rock hotel and taken to a top sunset-watching spot, where you’ll enjoy various nibbles and sundowner snacks before observing the sunset over Uluru itself. Bliss.
From your hotel
Not a lot of hotels can boast a prime view of Uluru from the windows, but Longitude 131 Lodge is one that can. This luxury hotel, surrounded by desert sands, offers fabulous views of not just Uluru, but the desert too. Wake up to the reds and golds of sunrise and fall asleep to the purples and pinks of sunset in your luxury tented room, and spend your days sampling the impressive food menu, which offers contemporary Australian cuisine with a sprinkling of indigenous flavour.
With an Aboriginal guide
For a true insight into Uluru and its significance for the aboriginal people, take a tour with an aboriginal guide. A member of the local Anangu community, who live in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, will take you on a walking tour to the base of Uluru, and explain more about their beliefs and traditions while teaching you about the fascinating plants and animals of the outback.
From a hot-air balloon
Hot-air ballooning is a wonderfully relaxed way to take to the skies. The balloon drifts with the wind, so you barely feel it as you ride the breezes, soaring above the desert landscapes below. Riding a balloon over the Red Centre is a fabulous way to gain a new perspective on the scenery, and gives you a chance to look for kangaroos too. Most flights take place pre-dawn, so that you can watch the changing colours as the sun begins to rise. Note that hot air balloons do not usually pass above Uluru, but see it from a distance, which will depend on the day’s weather conditions.
All images courtesy of Tourism NT, except where specified.
Explore Uluru with Round the World Experts Northern Territory Holidays.