Last Updated: 5th May 2011
by – Tash, Tour Manager, Australia and Europe
One of the highlights for any Northern Territory tour is a visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).
Nearly 400,000 people visit Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park each year, making it the most popular arid land National Park in Australia.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta were taken out of the Aboriginal Reserve and established as a national park in 1958. By 1985 the traditional owners were granted ownership of the National Park and today many of the local Anangu people work within the Park as well as having a majority on the Park Board of Management. The Park became listed as a World Heritage natural property in 1987 and re-listed again in 1994 as a significant cultural landscape.
Contiki stays at the Yulara Resort which is located about 20km north of Uluru on the Park boundary.
The Cultural Centre within the Park, which you will visit was established in 1995 and is great place to visit first upon arrival at the Park. Armed with a little knowledge of Anangu culture and the wider environment will make exploring the park more interesting. You can learn about Tjukurpa (pronounced: ‘chook-er-pa’ – meaning Aboriginal law, religion and knowledge) as well as Anangu art, their way of life, foods they eat, wildlife, etc.
There are excellent displays, photo collages, sound panels outlining oral history, videos, artefacts, and more. Explanations are in Pitjantjatjara, English, Italian, German, French and Japanese.
Together with your Tour Manager, you are able to do a hike around the base of Uluru. It takes a good 3.5 – 4 hours to do this walk so it will definitely give you an appreciation of the shear size of the rock.
Local Anangu ask that people don’t climb Uluru. There is no law to stop you however Contiki does discourage passengers from doing so for a few different reasons. One is that the path crosses over an important Tjukurpa site and Contiki wishes to respect the Anangu people. Just as important is the Anangu, as custodians, feel a sense of responsibility for visitor safety. In the end, the choice belongs with the individual to make up their own mind.
It’s actually quite a long and initially very steep walk up that takes about 3 hours to complete. For those deciding to climb, they should take plenty of water and have good walking footwear on – do not climb in leather soled shoes. Be aware of the heat as the rock gets mighty hot in summer and Park Management do close the climb outside certain temperature ranges.
You will also get to experience Uluru at Sunrise and Sunset. You will be amazed at the difference in the colours at various times of the day. It is truly breathtaking and you will get some amazing photos especially at these times of the day and you’ll be able to toast the Sunset with a sparkling wine with your tour mates!
Kata Tjuta (more commonly known as ‘The Olgas’) is less well known than Uluru but won’t disappoint either. It is 40 minutes driving time from Uluru and is spectacular.