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Published January 27th 2013
A magnificent and completely different experience to Uluru
If you have made the long, but rewarding journey, deep into Australia's Red Centre you have probably come to see Uluru. But as majestic and culuturally significant as Uluru is, your journey will not be complete until you visit Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas.
Aerial view of Kata Tjuta, image courtesy of Reflexio via Wikipedia
Kata Tjuta forms part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which is located about 375 km southwest of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The Park is open year round, however the best time to visit is generally in the Spring or Autumn (April-May or September-October) to avoid the worst of the heat.
Access fees apply to the park but you can purchase a three day pass which allows you multiple entry.
Kata Tjuta is a Pitjantjatjara word meaning 'many heads'. There are 36 domes structures that are part of the Kata Tjuta formation. The colouring is similar to Uluru but it is almost as if you have been transported to another world as you wander through the domes.
There are a variety of walking tracks, each with varying degrees of difficulty. The Valley of the Winds walk is the most popular, but can be challenging in some areas. You will walk between the domes structures which have sheer walls and the most amazing colour variations. Sections of this track can be quite steep, with loose rocks underfoot. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended and be sure to allow plenty of time to complete your journey. The full circuit is 7.4km and while there is drinking water available at the start and midway points it is highly recommended that you bring your own water and sun protection.
If you are not up for the full circuit, there are other tracks and viewing destinations that offer a different, but equally stunning view of Kara Tjuta. There are areas designated as the best viewing of the dunes at both sunrise and sunset that do not require too much walking and are easily accessible.
There are organised tours available, but if time and budget allow, hiring your own transportation will allow you to visit both Kata Tjuta and Uluru at your leisure and at different times of the day to get the full experience. Kata Tjuta is approximately 50km by road from Uluru so you are not able to walk between the two structures. The roads are sealed and in good condition so driving is not difficult and does not require a 4WD vehicle.
Top tips for visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park include:
Book accommodation, tours and vehicles well in advance
Self-drive if possible to allow yourself the opportunity to explore at your leisure and at different times
Take plenty of water and sun protection and stay to the marked trails
• Invest in one of the fly-net protectors that can be worn over your head. You may feel silly with it on but it is so much better than having flies in your nose, eyes and mouth. And there are LOTS of flies.
• Respect the local culture. It's not hard and it won't take anything away from your visit.