Before you book a tour to Uluru, there are a few things you should know about in order to enhance your experience.
First Nations people have lived in the area around Uluru and Kata Tjuta for at least 30,000 years, and it continues to be a significant region for the local Anangu who tell creation stories of these ancestral lands as part of their Tjukurpa. In 1873, surveyor William Gosse sighted ‘the Rock' and in honour of the then Chief Secretary of South Australia Sir Henry Ayers, named it Ayers Rock. It wasn't until 1993 that Uluru became the first icon in Australia to be given back its Aboriginal name, making it the first official dual-named feature in the Northern Territory.
There is an incredible amount of Indigenous Australian art and culture in the surrounding region. Uluru tours give you the chance to learn about Aboriginal creation stories and ancestral beings, admire local art and discover the significance of the several walks available. Stop by the Uluru Cultural Centre, the best place to get acquainted with Anangu country. A wander through the "Tjukurpa Tunnel" will introduce you to the culture of the Anangu people and Aboriginal law, religion and moral systems. (Tjukurpa).
Walking around the 9km perimeter is one of the key highlights of many Uluru tours, but with plenty of walking options, it may be difficult to know where to begin. At AAT Kings, we recommend the Kuniya Base Walk and the Mala Walk, both rated highly by tourists and locals. While walking along these trails, you will encounter sacred Indigenous sites and art.
The Kuniya Base Walk is an insightful track that leads to the Mutitjulu waterhole. Along this walk you can learn about the deadly battle which took place here between two ancestral beings – Kuniya, the woma python, and Liru, the venomous snake. You'll gain a unique insight into the sheer physical and spiritual enormity of Uluru and pass by ancient cave paintings and other sites of significance to the local Anangu and the early explorers.
The Mala Walk leads you past several areas of ancient rock art and sacred sites where Aboriginal communities live and prepare for ceremonies. It's believed that as you walk through this area, you'll be surrounded by the spirit of the Mala Tjukurpa – the hare-wallaby people. This adventure will also take you to the peaceful Kantju Gorge.
There is plenty of local wildlife to see when you travel to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and its surroundings, such as the dingos and the rufous hare-wallaby. You will also be able to encounter the largest land mammal in Australia, the ‘red kangaroo', which can be found in the plains, woodlands and even deserts. Birdwatching is also a popular activity for those who visit the Red Centre as many birds take shelter within the park's rocky slopes. The Uluru region is home to over 178 species of bird throughout the arid landscape, making this landmark a remarkable place to spot some rare species. You will be able to encounter the brown falcon, the black-faced woodswallow, zebra finches, and more - so remember to keep an eye out.
As the two most popular rock formations in the Northern Territory, adventures of Uluru and Kata Tjuta are often featured together in several top Uluru tours. Sitting approximately 40km to the west of Uluru, Kata Tjuta is a unique experience with its flowing rock domes, which light up beautifully at sunrise and sunset. There are various walking trails to choose from, such as the Walpa Gorge Walk or the Valley of the Winds Walk.
All the best Uluru tours put you within striking distance of Alice Springs, the gateway town to Australia's Red Centre. The town of Alice Springs has plenty of its own landmarks to explore, including Anzac Hill and the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve. Many of our Uluru tours go to and from Alice Springs/Mparntwe, making it an excellent town to stay in if you are keen on exploring the Red Centre.
Watarrka National Park is approximately 300km southwest of Alice Springs and is a protected region encompassing much of Kings Canyon. The rocky terrain is perfect for those seeking a hiking adventure outside of their comfort zone, with it taking around 3 hours to walk the park's circumference.