Planning a trip and looking for things to do in Uluru? In three days, you can see all the main highlights of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Following my tips in this blog post will make it even easier to make the most of your time in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.
Things to do on arrival day
The day you arrive will likely leave you with about a half day. In Uluru terms you’ve missed your window for walks for the day. It is advised that you avoid walking in temperatures over 36 degrees, tracks will close at that point. Use your first day to get your lay-of-the-land. Make your way to IGA in the town centre for snacks and any other supplies you need for your stay.
Other ways to spend your afternoon
Take a look on the Ayers Rock Resort website. They highlight the current experiences on offer and a range of things to do in Uluru, some include:
- Relax by the Sails Resort pool
- Check out the camels at the local camel farm
- Bush food tasting experience
- Guided garden walks
- Dot painting workshop
- Didgeridoo workshop
Field of Lights
In 2016 international artist Bruce Munro installed the Field of Lights installation. It was only expected to be a two year exhibition, but following incredible success, the Field of Lights experience has been extended to 2027.
To make your first night one to remember, buy a ticket to see the Field of Lights. It has become a much loved experience considering all activities and things to do in Uluru. The Field of Lights is an installation made of of over 50,000 glass spheres. Changing colour in the evening sky there are a range of experiences you can take. These start from the basic walk through the installation at sunset to other packages including champagne and canapés or a three course bush tucker inspired menu. Best to book in advance and plan accordingly as the number and types of packages vary depending on the time of year.
Day 1 – Things to do in Uluru
For your first full day take the time to understand Anangu culture and natural beauty of Uluru.
Wake early for sunrise, allowing about 20 minutes to drive to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaki sunrise viewing platform. From here you’ll have the opportunity to view both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Allow about an hour before sunrise to drive and settle in so you can the magic of sunrise as the first light hits and watch the colours of the rock continue to change.
After sunrise and a light snack in the car, make your way to the Mala car park for the Guided Ranger walk at 8am (October to April and 10am May to September). The Mala walk (Mala after the local wallaby), is about two kilometres and takes about 1.5 hours. This walk comes highly recommended, as you will see Anangu rock art, caves where the local Anangu people lived and ask questions to the local guide. Our guide explained to us that the National Park employs a number of local Anangu people however at the time of my visit the local men were away for sacred mens activities.
Another easy walk is the Kuniya walk to Mutitjulu waterhole. Just a kilometre return walk and 30-45 minute walk will take you to the Mutitjulu waterhole or oasis in the desert as we called it. Here you’ll see the remains of what would be a stunning waterfall after rainfall.
The local Cultural Centre should be on your to-do list. It’s an opportunity to learn a lot more about the Anangu culture, histories and way of life. It’s also a great place to view authentic Aboriginal artwork from local Anangu and obtain the story behind their paintings.
At the time of writing (COVID), the Cultural Centre has paused its daily 10am presentation and opportunity to see some of the Anangu Elders painting in the gallery. It’s still highly recommended that you visit and see the Cultural Centre to get a better appreciation for the culture here.
For the traditional postcard view of Uluru at sunset, make your way to the car sunset viewing platform. From here you will see the classic Uluru sunset shot.
For an alternative view, the Talinguru viewing platform provides a view of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. The colours of the sunset won’t surround Uluru like in the postcard shots you’ll see but it’s a good alternative.
Day 2 – Things to do in Uluru
After you’ve familiarised yourself with the local culture around Uluru, spend day 2 at Kata Tjuta. Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ and is very sacred as an Anangu men’s site. Parts of Kata Tjuta are extremely scared and you are asked to limit taking photos and avoid sharing photos on social media.
Start your day at the Kata Tjuta dune viewing platform to observe sunrise. From here you will see the sun rise close to Uluru in the distance and the magic of Kata Tjuta come to life as the light transforms it. About 30 kilometres from the Ayers Rock Resort, allow 30 minutes to reach Kata Tjuta viewing platform.
Walpa Gorge walk
One of my favourite walks was the Walpa Gorge walk. The gorge provides refuge for many plants and animals. Here you’ll find a stunning little lush oasis of rare plants and running stream. The shear size of Kata Tjuta is felt as you travel through the gorge. Arriving straight after sunrise you’ll experience second sunrise as the sun emerges over the top of Kata Tjuta.
Valley of the Winds
Valley of the Winds is a very popular but challenging hike. It is highly suggested that if you choose to do this 4 hour 7.4 kilometre full circuit hike, you leave early and take plenty of water. If you’d prefer to see the highlights we suggest focusing on the first two sections.
A relatively easy one kilometre hike will bring you to the top of the Karu look out. From here you’ll be enticed to continue onto the second look out.
Continuing to the Karingana lookout is well worth your time. You’ll walk up steep rock faces, along creek beds and through bird habit. If you’re lucky enough you’ll see native budgies and the colourful parrot. The track is challenging in parts but the view from the look out is incredible. The additional lookout is 1.6 km from the Karu lookout.
We highly encourage taking plenty of water, leaving early to avoid the heat of the day and looking at the latest advice before leaving for your hike.
Sounds of silence
The sounds of silence is an amazing highlight to fill the last night of your Uluru experience. The experience starts with scanapés while watching a panoramic view of sunset across the desert landscape. Uluru in one direction, Kata Tjuta in another. The sounds of a didgeridoo play as the sun begins to set. Ushered to tables of eight, you begin the formalities of the evening – a three course dinner under the stars, star gazing, listening to a bush poet. This unique experience comes highly recommended.
Day 3 – Things to do in Uluru
On your final day wake up to catch your last sunrise, you’ll be glad you did. On your final day use it to get up close with Uluru. There are a number of options you can take to make your way around the rock
Uluru base walk
The Uluru base walk will take about 3.5 hours to walk the 10.6km circumference. Starting and finishing at the Mala car park you’ll follow the signs around the circuit to learn more about the vegetation, animals and geological features of the park.
Depending on the time of year you can also opt to ride a bike or Segway around the base of Uluru.
- Camel rides
- Helicopter ride
- Spa treatment
Where to stay
There are many accomodation options within the Ayers Rock Resort. We chose the Sails in the Desert to make use of the pool, but there are enough options depending on your budget and holiday style l, including camping.
How to get around Your options are either to rely on tour buses which can get expensive. A sunrise tour alone costs $100. We suggest to rent a car to allow yourself the flexibility and to make your most of your stay. This itinerary was planned with the intention of having your own car.
Prior to arriving in Uluru there are a number of pre planning activities you must arrange.
NT border pass
During COVID, the Northern Territory government introduced the NT border pass. To enter the territory, you must apply for the pass by declaring you haven’t been to COVid hotspots or … The pass is free to apply and can be purchased here.
Uluru Kata Tjuta National parks pass
During your visit, you’ll also be required to purchase a three day national parks pass. The pass will give you access to Uluru and Kata Tjuta and you’ll be required to scan every time you enter the park. A three day pass will cost $38.
The lovely officers may also extend your pass for an additional morning if you are due to depart just after your pass expires.
What to pack
- Covered shoes – it is really important to bring covered shoes. On the walks you’ll do it goes without saying but in summer, snakes are active at night. Bring covered walking shoes for the field of lights
- Walking gear – your daily activities will include walking, bring appropriate clothing which includes shirts that cover your shoulders and neck as much as possible
- Wide brimmed hat – the sun can be brutal. Make sure you have a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and neck.
- Water bladder – it’s recommended you drink a litre of water for every hour of outdoor activity. Take a bladder to make that easier
- Fly nets – you’ll be happy your brought a fly net with you
- Nice clothing – ensure you bring some nicer clothing for the ‘Sounds of Silence’. This includes covered shoes as you’ll be outside and as mentioned above snakes aren’t uncommon.
- Bring electrolytes – in the case of avoiding dehydration it’s highly recommended to bring some electrolytes with you.
- Check the National Parks website for advice – the local website will provide a good resource in ensuring your safety.
- Do your hikes early and be done by 11am or don’t hike at temperatures over 36 degrees – the tracks will be deemed closed at this point.
- Download the Ayers Rock Resort Planner to help you plan your experiences and visit.
Planning an extended stay in Australia?! Check out my other blog posts for travel around Australia.