Right in the Red Centre of Australia, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to the world-famous landmark Uluru (Ayers Rock) – a ‘must-see’ icon whether you’re on a round the world trip or simply visiting Australia on holiday. Despite its popularity, there is plenty of information out there that can make planning your visit to Uluru a little bit confusing, so here’s our guide to finding the perfect way for you to experience the sights of the Red Centre.
To reach The Red Centre, you can fly into either Alice Springs or Ayers Rock airport. Both airports have plenty of domestic connections in Australia, but no international options. To fly into the Red Centre from outside Australia, you would normally arrive into Darwin or one of the other state capitals and make a domestic transit from there.
Ayers Rock Airport is very close to Uluru, so it’s well suited for a fleeting visit if you’re short on time. Alice Springs is a 5 hour drive from Uluru but as it’s a larger town, there’s a lot going on so it is worth spending time here before touring to Uluru.
Joining a group tour is a really popular way to seeing as much as possible in the Red Centre. The other benefit is that all your transport and touring is all pre-organised - so all you have to do is turn up and enjoy yourself!
There are two kinds of tour which are very different: small group camping tours or larger coach tours.
Joining a small group tour with a 4WD vehicle is the best way to get a really authentic experience of the Outback. Most of these tours travel between Alice Springs and Uluru (or you can fly into Ayers Rock airport and join the tour from here).
They generally stop at Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, a camel farm and the MacDonnell Ranges, depending on the length of the trip. Being in a 4WD means that you can easily get off road and out to places that you wouldn’t normally visit on your own. Not only that, but there will be an experienced guide to explain the landscape and traditions of the area.
These small group tours are normally camping tours – but don’t panic! There is usually a choice between “glamping” in permanent tents with proper beds and linen or ‘roughing it’ in a traditional ‘swag’ under the stars. If you haven’t heard of this before, a swag is an Australian bed roll with a foam mattress and a sleeping bag – it’s comfortable and really quite cosy. This is ideal if you’re eager to experience sleeping out in the open under starry night skies - so magically visible with the lack of light pollution.
If camping isn’t your cup of tea or you’d just prefer a little more comfort, you can still enjoy a group tour of the Red Centre. We work with a specialist touring company that runs insightful trips departing out of the Ayers Rock Resort. During these multi-day trips, you stay in the same hotel for several nights but explore different parts of the National Park each day. This means that you’ll see all the highlights of Uluru and the surrounding area, with the benefit of being based in one comfortable hotel. You can choose your own standard of accommodation, so whether you are happy with 3* standard or you want to splash out on 5*, you’ll still enjoy the same touring experience each day.
Despite the size of the Northern Territory, the Red Centre is reasonably compact by Australian scales, so self-driving is a great way to get about. If you’d like to visit both Alice Springs and Uluru, they’re around 5 hours apart by road, with a couple of roadhouse stops along the way. It's worth knowing if you're planning a Red Centre road trip.
If you love a bargain and like to be flexible, exploring the Red Centre by campervan could be the one for you. It’s also a great way to travel if you are building a trip to Uluru into a bigger Australia adventure. You only have to unpack once and you can move on whenever you please, whether you stay for a couple of nights or over a month! We have a huge range of campervans to choose from, including 4WD options, so we can help you decide which type will suit you and your journey best.
If you would prefer to hire a car and drive independently from Alice Springs to Uluru, we can organise this too.
If you would like to stay in one hotel as a base, so that you don't have to move on every night, we recommend staying near Uluru and exploring each day from there. We can tailor make your itinerary, choosing specific tours that we think you'll enjoy, from stargazing and dot painting to hiking and sunset dinners.
As you can see, there are lots of different ways to experience the Red Centre. Whether you want to sleep under the stars or plump for a luxury hotel room, travel in a group or explore on your own – the Red Centre is a great option for your next trip!
In case you’re wondering – it’s not recommended to climb Uluru. It’s technically possible until October 2019, but out of respect for the indigenous owners and for your own safety, we seriously recommend you don’t try and climb a sacred site in their culture. Instead, just ask your local guide any questions that spring to mind and he/she will be more than happy to fill you in! You won’t be disappointed seeing the beauty of Uluru whilst walking around its base, so climbing the rock really isn't necessary.
If you would like to plan a trip to the Red Centre and need some advice about the best way to explore, we can arrange everything for you. We can recommend hotels and tours that suit your personal travel style and budget, to tailor-make your Australia holiday just for you.
To start planning, call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.