Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Kata Tjuta is a collection of large domed rock formations that is located within the Uluru-Kata Tjua National Park, southwest of Alice Springs and considered a sacred site to the Aboriginal people of Australia. Unlike the single stone mass that makes up Uluu, there are 36 formations in total, with the tallest one standing at just over 1000m above sea level called Mt Olga.

Kaja Tjuta was the name given to the area by the local Indigenous peoples. It translates to “many heads” in their language, and this undoubtedly refers to the 36 individual rock formations. A European explorer by the name of Ernest Giles christened the tallest mountain Mount Olga, in 1872. As Giles had received support from Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, he was “told” to name the mountain in honour of Duchess Olga of Württemberg, a member of the Russian Imperial family.

 When you visit for a guided tour, you will learn all about its history, and discover more about the geology and ecology of the local area, from the rich red sandstone and feldspar of the rocks themselves to the intriguing splashes of lush greenery that appear amid the desert landscape.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Uluru-Kata Tjuta is situated to the south-west of Alice Springs – the primary starting point for tours, and the location of the region's major airport. The national park is 450 km from Alice Springs by road, and is around a five-hour drive, which is one of the reasons why the services of an experienced tour guide are so important. If you’re impressed with Uluru, and it is difficult not to be, you can expect a similar experience at Mount Olga. It is much larger than its more famous neighbour and equally as imposing as it sits in the middle of all the other “heads.”

Kata Tjuta is a breathtaking sight from afar, but it is even more remarkable when viewed close up from one of the many walking trails that delve deep into the 515-square-mile park. It is only when you engage with these rock formations at close quarters that you really gain an understanding of the vast scale of the rock formations, which have been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Some people believe that the views along these walks can be otherworldly, so get ready for some memorable photographs and memories. While the rocks themselves are predominantly red, they also tend to change in appearance at certain types of day. This is why a Kata Tjuta sunrise trip is to cherish, although sunset tours are equally as impressive as the surface changes from red to pink and even purple.

Kata Tjuta Walking Trails

Among the many ways to immerse oneself in the awe-inspiring beauty of this ancient landscape, the walking trails that wind through Kata Tjuta offer a truly unforgettable experience. Enveloped by the rugged grandeur of this arid region, these trails provide an opportunity to connect with nature, marvel at the geological wonders, and discover the cultural significance that permeates every inch of this sacred land.

There are 4 walks available:

 

The Walpa Gorge Walk

This trail takes you into a beautiful gorge between two of the larger domes of Kata Tjuta. It is a relatively easy walk, around 2.6 kilometers long, and allows you to experience the unique rock formations up close.

Karu Lookout

Only a short walk (2.2km return), the Karu Lookout is a prominent feature near the start of the Valley of the Winds trail. It offers breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the awe-inspiring rock formations.

Karingana Lookout

The second lookout along the Valley of Winds circuit is a 5.4km return trip. The walk out and back from Karingana Lookout takes about 2.5 hours and is challenging in sections with many steps and steep spots.

Though shorter than the Valley of Winds track, leaving the walk early to return to the main car park from here is actually more difficult than continuing the circuit due to the terrain.

Valley of the Winds Walk

The Valley of the Winds walk is the longest option and includes two lookout points, the Karu Lookout and the Karingana Lookout. It is a circuit that winds 7.4km down into the valley and creek beds and steeply up to the beautiful lookout points. Care should be taken on this walk because of loose rocks and steep inclines.

AAT Kings Kata Tjuta Tours

Exploring the park on foot is a wonderful way to really get to know this area. There are several different options available, and you can tailor your choice based on the suggested fitness requirement and overall duration.

Kata Tjuta at Sunset

There is something magical about a sunset, as the day begins to shift gradually, and then more quickly, towards night. And this is made all the more magical when that sunset is experienced in a place like this. Factor in the satisfactory element of exploring under your own steam, and you will find yourself on course for memories that will last for years to come. 

The Kata Tjuta Sunset Half Day Tour starts from Uluru and lasts around 2.5 hours in total. You'll be able to watch the sun go down in a remarkable setting while also enjoying the services of an experienced guide and comprehensive commentary. Travel in an air-conditioned coach with complimentary sparkling wine and nibbles toadd to your comfort. This is a magical experience as the colours change minute by minute while the sun makes its journey beyond the horizon.

The Valley of the Winds

Nestled within the Kata Tjuta rock formations is The Valley of the Winds, a site that is of great significance to the Indigenous. A visit to this incredible location requires exploration on foot, and those who take the time to do so will be greatly rewarded.

To see a little more of the natural rock formations, consider a Kata Tjuta Sunrise & Valley of the Winds tour. You'll enjoy a light breakfast and coach transfer on this half day tour, which will take in sunrise at the rock domes, as well as a walk into the Valley of the Winds, taking you to the heart of Kata Tjuta.

Experiencing Uluru and Kata Tjuta Together

Witnessing the majesty of Uluru is a singular experience, but many travellers choose to enhance the thrill still further by combining this with a visit to Kata Tjuta on the same trip. If you opt for this, make sure to give yourself time to explore the walking trails in the area so you really get the most from your visit.

The Uluru and Kata Tjuta two-day trip from Alice Springs provides the comfort of an air conditioned coach, as well as local hotels in the national park. You'll also benefit from the knowledge of an experienced guide as you experience sunrise at Uluru, and then explore Kata Tjuta later in the day.

Explore the Cultural Significance of the Region

Indigenous culture retains an intimate connection to the local environment. This is why walking and exploring on foot are so important. Getting to grips with the area in this way helps you to understand more about the rich traditions and history of the area, especially pre-European history. Engaging the services of an expert guide helps you enrich this understanding still further.

The Uluru and Kata Tjuta Cultural Adventure is a three-day tour, comprising sunrise and sunset at Uluru, a walk into the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta, and a full base walk of Uluru. This is a unique opportunity to really understand the cultural significance of this area to Indigenous peoples, and includes accommodation, coach transfers, and, most important of all, the services of an experienced and knowledgeable guide.

The Field of Light Art Installation

Bruce Munro's Field of Light art installation offers a unique twist to an already spellbinding area. The English-born artist has created a singular work of art featuring 58,800 fibre optic spheres.

The Uluru and Kata Tjuta Sights and Sounds tour is a three-day short break that includes Munro's  otherworldly art installation. You'll also experience Uluru up close, dine under the stars at the Sounds of Silence Dinner, and explore the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta.

Other Must-See Locations in the Area

This portion of Northern Territory is like nowhere else on Earth, and it is important that you get to experience as much as you can while you are here. Kings Canyon, a sandstone gorge with walls 100 metres tall at their highest points, Katherine Gorge, and the Kakadu National Park provide incredible memories for all who visit.

The Outback Safari, enjoyed as part of  an 11-day guided holiday, is an excellent way to experience all the area has to offer. You will walk 6 kilometres along the rim of Kings Canyon, and cruise Katherine Gorge, where you'll spot crocodiles and learn about the culture and history of the Jawoyn people who call this region home. The Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, as well as a visit to the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, are more highlights on this memorable trip. Bear in mind that you will need a moderate level of fitness for this tour.

Frequently Asked Questions - Kata Tjuta Tours

There are a few walks at Kata Tjuta, including the Walpa Gorge Walk (2.6km) and walks to the two lookouts: Karu Lookout (2.2km return) and Karingana Lookout (5.4km return), with the longest walk circuiting through and around Kata Tjuta being the Valley of the Winds walk at 7.4km.

The Valley of the Winds walk is difficult, with many steep and rocky sections that require some care to navigate. The whole circuit takes 3-4 hours to complete, but fully exploring mighty conglomerate rock walls of Kata Tjuta is well worth it.

To access Kata Tjuta in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park you need a park pass. The pass can be purchased online, or comes with any AAT Kings Kata Tjuta tour. Multiday or full day tours with professional tour guides are the best way to see everything Central Australia has to offer.

So long as you have a park pass, you are free to walk around Kata Tjuta, but it is important you stay on the paths so as not to damage or disrupt the area. There are marked walking tracks available that will take you to all the most beautiful sites at Kata Tjuta.

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