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18 Best things to see & do in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

The large red flat mountain at sunset.

Bucket List Experience

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Rising up from the silent desert floor like a gargantuan monolith, ochre-hued Uluru is one of the world’s most bewitching sights – more so, as its colour and appearance constantly change depending on the season and time of day.

Formed more than 600 million years ago, and reaching a height of 348 metres, it overlooks wild and desolate desert landscapes, home for millennia to the Aboriginal people. The area is steeped in their legends and traditions; combined with the scenery, Uluru has an intense, unforgettable atmosphere. The thing has presence.

Climbing Uluru was banned in 2019, but there are still myriad ways to see and experience Australia’s most sacred site. Walking trails encircle the rock allowing you to get close to see the many fissures, gorges and galleries in to the sandstone, some containing centuries-old rock art, whilst learning about its mysteries and legends from local Aboriginal guides.

Those looking for a speedier or less strenuous introduction can opt for a Segway tour or a camel tour. Meanwhile, helicopter and scenic flights are the best way to truly appreciate the scale and strangeness of this geological anomaly sticking out from miles of flat landscape.

Good for age: 8+

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

A linen covered table at sunset

Bucket List Experience

Sounds of Silence

Arguably the best-known outdoor dining experience in Australia, the Sounds of Silence is an ideal way to round off a busy day exploring Uluru and Kata Tjuta. By Central Australian standards this is incredibly spiffy, with linen-covered tables, candles and silver service.

Guests arrive for drinks and canapés while watching the sunset over The Rock, then enjoy a buffet meal, didgeridoo music and a spot of stargazing.

The true majesty of the night sky is revealed in all its glory here, with billions of tiny stars wherever you look and the Milky Way prominent. After your meal, there’s a talk from the resident astronomer, who guides you through the many constellations in the southern night sky. Brilliant.

Adult price: £165

Good for age: 8+

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

A face of a red mountain on a clear winter's afternoon

Bucket List Experience

Uluru Base Walk

Rising up from the silent desert floor, this gargantuan, ochre-hued monolith is both ethereal and mesmerising – its colour changes depending on the season and time of day. The 10km walk around its base is Uluru’s signature experience and the best way to experience the rock.

Getting up close, you begin to see the complex and intricate beauty. Each part of the walk reveals something different; erosion has cut fissures, gorges and galleries into the sandstone, some containing centuries-old rock art, while some provide shelter for wallabies, possums or bats. You’ll even feel it – the thing has presence.

Along the way, local guides recount the rich, beguiling dreamtime legends that swirl around it. There’s wildlife here too. Despite the arid conditions, the area is rich in flora, ranging from acacia woodlands to grassed claypans.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 2-3 hours

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Tables in candlelight at sunset in the desert.

Bucket List Experience

Tali Wiru

Tali Wiru (which means ‘beautiful dune’) is the premium version of the ever-popular Sounds of Silence al fresco dining experience. Instead of a buffet, guests are treated to a four-course meal with silver service and premium Australian wines.

The menu features local ingredients such as wallaby, Davidson plum and lemon myrtle. The evening also features a didgeridoo performance and story telling by an Aboriginal narrator.

Adult price: £200

Min age 15

Good for age: 15+

Duration: 4 hours

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Silhouette of red mountain from back of a helivopter.

Bucket List Experience

Helicopter flights over Uluru

You can walk it, dine by it, even visit under starlit skies, but nothing matches soaring above Uluru’s majestic outline, with the vast, empty wastes of the Australian desert rolling out to the horizon. A helicopter tour is the best way to appreciate the jaw-dropping scale of the Northern Territories, encompassing everything from the ancient glory of Kata Tjuta – huge ochre-hued outcrops of rock – to Uluru itself. Pilot commentary during the flight gives an insight into the history and mythologies that have coloured the landscapes over the centuries.

Options range from an Uluru-only tour, which lasts 70 minutes, to a more elaborate Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta safari, which includes a guided walk at Kings Canyon and takes four-and-a-half hours to complete.

Adult price: £180

Min age 15

Good for age: 16+

Duration: 30 minutes

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

grubs on a leaf held out by a woman's hand

Bucket List Experience

Bush tucker tours

If ‘Bush Tucker’ makes you think of witchetty grubs and other horrors from the TV, a tour or workshop will provide a tasty introduction into the real native foods that characterise Australia’s outback dishes.

Unusual seeds, nuts and fruit – many increasingly sought out by chefs around the world because of their distinct flavours and health-giving qualities – feature in these tours, with plenty of opportunity to taste and try. Some include a cooking demonstration, showing how to use some of these ingredients once you get home.

Adult price: £30

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 2-3 hours

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

After Uluru, Kata Tjuta (formerly known as the Olgas) is the second most visited place in Central Australia. This remarkable geological formation consists of 36 weathered domes dating back 500 million years. It is steeped in Aboriginal history and legend – there are many Dreamtime stories, notably the great snake king Wanambi, who is said to live on the summit of Kata Tjuṯa. His breath was said to be able to transform a breeze into a hurricane in order to punish those who did evil deeds. Evildoers beware – he only comes down during the dry season, which is when you are likely to be visiting.

The only way to explore Kata Tjuta is on foot and there are several hiking trails available, including the famous Valley of the Winds – a 7.4km circular walk that takes around four hours to complete and passes by some spectacular viewpoints. The 2.6km Walpa Gorge Walk is one of the easiest to complete.

People staying at Yulara (around 50kms away) can book a guided walking tour, a sunrise tour or a scenic flight.

Good for age: 8+

  • Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

An overview of a red canyon

Bucket List Experience

Kings Canyon

The 100m-deep Kings Canyon gorge epitomises the raw desert beauty of Central Australia. A dramatic sandstone rock formation, formed more than 400 million years ago, it has a long indigenous history, stretching back some 20,000 years. Located in the protected Watarrka National Park, it is also home to more than 600 species of native wildlife.

Most visitors come here to hike. There are two main trails to choose from. The 6km Kings Canyon Rim Walk along the top of the canyon takes 3-4 hours and includes a stop at the ‘garden of Eden’ waterhole. The shorter Kings Creek Walk is 2km (return) and takes about an hour, and tracks along the bottom of the gorge.

Other great ways to experience the area are camel rides, quad bike safaris and helicopter flights are also popular – as is dining under the stars.

Good for age: 13+

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

tourists looking drawings painted on rock in Mutitjulu Cave along Kuniya walk

Bucket List Experience

Rock art at Cave Hill

The extraordinary cave paintings at Cave Hill are one of the most significant art sites in Central Australia. They portray the Yankunytjatjara version of the story of the ‘Seven Sisters’, a Creation myth found throughout Aboriginal culture.

A highlight of the all-day excursion is a tour of the caves accompanied by a local Anangu guide. A lunch featuring bush tucker is also included. Tours are not recommended for families with small children.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 7 hours

Didgeridoo Workshop

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

A man playing the Didgeridoo in the desert whilst a couple watches.

Experience

The digeridoo, a long and thin musical instrument of Australia’s indigenous people, is one of the Outback’s most iconic symbols – and sounds. Playing it relies on a technique known as circular breathing which is much harder to master than it looks. These workshops are free – so why not give it a go?

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 45 minutes

When: Twice daily

Freq: daily