Touring the Rock

How to visit Australia's Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock and The Olgas)

"Uluru" and "Kata Tjuta" are the proper, Anangu (local Aboriginal) names for what are still commonly referred to as Ayers Rock and The Olgas, dramatic outcroppings of red sandstone in the heart of the Outback which, along with Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, make up the trinity of top Aussie sights.

There are four main ways to tour Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park: by small bus tour (actually, there are quite large tour buses as well, but I'm ignoring those), via a non-tour shuttle bus, with your own rental vehicle, or on a specialty tour.

Keep in mind that, no matter how you go, during the high season of the Australian winter (July to October), you'll be jostling for space at the sunrise and sunset viewing spots peppered around the park (the rocks go through spectacular color changes at dawn and dusk).

Also know that few tours include the A$25 (free under age 16) park admission ticket in their quoted prices; you usually have to buy that on your own when the bus pauses at the park gates.

Bus Tours of Uluru/Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta/The Olgas

There are heaps of tiny buses heading out from the lone resort complex for half- and full-day tours of the park and its famous rock outcroppings, each offering from a handful to a dozen or so themed tours, walks, and cultural experiences, from sunrise visits and champagne sunset tours to desert safaris and aboriginal experiences.

The best are the Aboriginal-owned and -led Anangu Tours (08/8956-2123,, offering short tours, walks, and dot painting workshops for about A$58 to A$90, and longer and combo tours for A$119 to A$190.

The next-best option is probably Discovery Ecotours (08/8956-2563,, an outfit with a good field record offering small group tours ranging in price from A$80 to A$230.

The Uluru Shuttle Bus

If you want to ship the guide commentary and group scene, you can simply cadge a lift on the Uluru Express Shuttle Bus (08/8956-2152, between the resort and Uluru/Ayers Rock (A$35, or A$40 at sunrise) or the resort and Kata Tjuta/The Olgas (A$50 to A$55).

If you're planning to spend a good couple of days exploring the park and its walks, you can plump for an unlimited-ride two-day (A$125) or three-day (A$140) pass.

Drive Yourself

If you've rented a car of motorhome/RV, you can simply pay the park admission (A$25) and wander at will. If you've arrived by bus or train and want to rent wheels just for your stay in the area, there are car rental desks at the airport for Thrifty, Hertz, etc. Expect to pay around A$75 to A$100 per day for a small or medium car with a 100km or 200km daily limit.

Uluru/Ayers Rock by Camel, Harley, Helicopter, or Plane

Tours of the Rock have only been around for a few decades, but already people are hungry for something different, and local operators have obliged.

Feel the wind in your hair and some Aussie driver's body in front of you by taking an Uluru Motorcycle Tour (08/8956-2019) on the back of a Harley Davidson (A$85 to A$155 for various Uluru/Ayers Rock rides, A$210 to A$225 for Kata Tjuta/The Olgas). If you have a motorcycle license, they'll even rent you your own hog starting at A$225 for two hours (up to A$650 for 10 hours)

Back in the 19th century, before the spread of mechanized transport systems, Aussies imported camels (and Arab handlers) to carry heavy loads long distances across the great Australian deserts. By the 1920s, trains, planes, and, later, highways put the camel drivers out of business, and the collective herds of some 7,500 animals were simply released into the desert to fend for themselves.

The camels did so quite admirably, and the Outback is now home to something approaching 1 million feral camels (only significant population of wild camels left in the world). You can ride some tamed ones about the park (A$50 for 90 minutes) or to sunrise/sunset viewing points (A$95 for 2.5 hours) with Uluru Camel Tours (08/8950-3030,

Finally, you can see Uluru/Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta, Mt. Conner, King's Canyons and surrounding bushland and saltpans from the sky with a helicopter tour— Ayers Rock Helicopters (08/8956-2077) charges US$75.14 for an hour-long flight of around the Rock and Kata Tjuta/The Olgas—or aboard a little one- or two-engine prop plane starting at A$149 (40 minutes, Uluru and Kata Tjuta included) with Ayers Rock Scenic Flights (08/8956-2345).

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

Related Articles



This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

about | contact | faq

Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.