How to Plan a Trip to Uluru and Kuta Tjuta

Instantly recognised around the world, Uluru is one of Australia’s 20 UNESCO Heritage areas. If you have decided it’s time to visit Uluru you have come to the right place, below we share everything you need to know to plan a trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Uluru, in the middle of nowhere, and very pricey, it’s likely this is your one time shot to see the iconic red rock and like any once in a lifetime holiday you will want to make sure you get everything right.

Uluru is not the biggest monolith in Australia. That title belongs to Mount Augustus in Western Australia it’s 2.5 times larger!

If you are anything like me you will probably spend more time trying to plan the perfect Uluru itinerary, thank you will visiting 😉

Well, I recently organised a special trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta for my birthday and dragged four of our friends along. I made notes, lots of notes, and then I spent four days testing them out so that I could share the results here.

What follows are the answers to all the questions I had about visiting Uluru in an easy to follow guide so that you can plan your own memorable trip to Australia’s red centre.

Choosing the best time to visit Uluru

If you have a choice on which time of year you visit Uluru then great, if not, don’t worry, there is never a wrong time to visit the Rock, you just need to be prepared for the season.

What is the weather like at Uluru?

Weather can have a significant impact on your time in Uluru. If you are not an early riser, this is even more important. In the middle of summer, it is often too hot to walk after 11am, so your days need to start early if you hope to see a lot in a short time.

  • Spring is pleasant and sees highs between 26C-34C and lows of 17C-9C
  • Summer is a challenge with highs between 35C-38C and lows of 17C-21C
  • Autumn is perfect with highs between 23C-28C and lows of 17C-8C
  • Winter is comfortable but cold after sunset highs are between 22C-20C and lows of 5C-3C

What about the crowds?

Peak season is June to September when prices hit their peak, and everything will cost more from flights to hotels. Also, keep an eye on Australia school holiday dates as these push prices up as well. Major events like Opera and the anniversary of the closing of the climb can also impact rates.

Did you know? Uluru Is 2.5 times taller than the Sydney Harbour Bridge

So when should you go?

Taking into consideration weather and prices the idea time weather-wise is April and May or September and October.

How long to stay in Uluru?

Trying to decide how many days to spend at Uluru is the first thing most people struggle with when planning their trip. We believe three days in Uluru is a comfortable minimum. This will give you enough time to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Sails in the Desert at Uluru is the 5 star choice

If you plan to explore Kings Canyon add another day at least, preferably two so you can stay overnight there. You could easily fill five day if you like to take things slowly and relax a little by the pool.

If you are on a tight schedule and only have two days, it’s probably best to book a camping tour or glamping style package so someone else can make sure that you don’t miss anything.

Have you seen our Uluru Accommodation tips?

The best way to get to Uluru

The nearest airport to Uluru and the Ayres Rock Resort is Yulara. Alice Springs is the other option, but it’s more than 4 hours drive away.

There are daily direct flights available from Sydney and Melbourne. Flights from other cities are available a few times a week, or you may need to change in Alice Springs or Sydney/Melb. Flying time from all cities is about 3-4 hours.

Flying into Yulara

When flying into Yulara, there are free transfers from the airport to all the accommodation at the resort.

Want to see Uluru from the plane?
If you’re curious about which side of the place to sit to see Uluru from the air, book a seat on the left side of the plane for the best view of as you fly into town. You will get as close as 2km from the rock.

Train to Uluru

You can take the Ghan from Adelaide or Darwin, the trip from Adelaide is 23 hours so its this is a ride you take for the journey and not the destination.

The Ghan Outback train
The Ghan Credit: Tourism NT Steve Strike

It’s also quite expensive, but a once in a lifetime experience. The Ghan stops at Adelaide where you can join a bus or flight to Yulara.

Bus to Uluru

The only direct bus to Uluru is from Alice Springs. You can take a Greyhound bus from either Darwin, 22 hours, or Adelaide 21 hours to reach Alice. These services can be useful for backpackers wanting to stop at some of the sites along the way like Katherine and Coober Pedy.

Getting around Uluru

Uluru Resort Shuttle

Once you arrive at the Yulara resort, there is a free shuttle bus that stops at all the accommodation along with the Visitors Centre, Town Square and Camel Farm. This free service does not go to Uluru or Kata Tjuta.

Service begins at 10.30am and ends at 12.30am and operates every 20 minutes, a peak times they seem to come a little more frequently.

Uluru Hop on Hop off (HOHO) Service

If you wish to visit the Rock or Kata Tjuta and you don’t want to rent a car you might consider the Uluru HOHO offers. They offer both transfer services to Uluru or Kata Tjuta or 1, 2 and 3 day passes.

Distances to Major Sites from Yulara

  • Ayers Rock Airport to Yulara Village — about 10 km
  • Yulara Village to Kata Tjuta — about 55 km
  • Yulara Village to Uluru — about 25 km – and then 11km to drive around it!
  • Yulara Village to Kings Canyon – about 280kms
  • Yulara Village to Alice Springs – 450kms
  • You can fly from Alice Springs in 1 hour or drive in 4.5hrs

Is Driving in Uluru difficult?

Renting a car is the best way to see Uluru unless you are a solo traveller. While petrol is expensive so are day tours so with three or more a car is certainly more economical.

If you have not driven on this side of the road, this could be a good place to start. There are not many cars around, and the streets around the resort are generally in excellent condition.

The biggest danger occurs when driving at dusk or dawn when there is a danger of hitting animals who seem to like to be on the road at this time of day. For this reason, either avoid this time of day or drive with this in mind and also make sure you have proper insurance.

Tips for renting a vehicle

  • You don’t need a four-wheel drive. They cost a lot more in fuel and are not required for the terrain.
  • If you book your car at the airport, make sure it includes unlimited mileage, especially if you are planning to visit Kings Canyon.
  • You can hire a car for just one or two days if you don’t want it for your whole visit.
  • Many rental companies have conditions attached to your rental agreement that stipulate you will not be covered by insurance for driving between sunset and sunrise. This does not include within the resort and National Park areas. It mainly refers to driving between Alice Springs and Uluru or Kings Canyon and Uluru.
  • If you are coming from Alice Springs, ask about relocation deals on vehicles they can save you a bunch!

Uluru rise 348 metres above the ground making it taller than the Eiffel tower and there are another 6 kilometres underground!

Things you need to pack for your Uluru trip

  • A national park pass – a 3-day pass will let you explore
  • A fly net – or buy on arrival
  • Good walking shoes that are NOT white
  • An empty credit card
  • A one-litre water bottle
You may think they look ridiculous now but you need a fly net.

Must-do experiences at Uluru

My must-see may not be yours, so here is a pretty comprehensive list of things you can do and see for you to work through.

  • See the sunrise at Uluru
  • See the sunset at Uluru
  • Do the Base Walk at Uluru – on foot or bicycle or segway
  • Take a chopper flight over the entire site
  • Do the Kuniya Walk and see the Mutitjulu Waterhole walk at Uluru
  • Spend some time in the Cultural Centre
  • See the sunrise at Kata-Tjuta
  • See the sunset at Kata-Tjuta
  • Do the Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta
  • Do the Walpa Gorge walk
  • Visit Bruce Munro’s art installation – Field of Light
The view of Kata-Tjuta from our cocktail spot before the Sounds of Silence dinner

How to save money on your visit to the rock

First of all, you need to accept that this is not a budget holiday but there are ways to reduce your costs a little.

  • Buy your National Park pass online and make sure you select the 5-day option. It’s no more expensive than the standard 3-day pass.
  • Resist the urge to stay in Alice Springs; it’s not cheaper – it’s a 4-hour drive!
  • Free camping is not a good idea – The nearest free camp, Curtis Springs Station is 100km away – you will spend your savings on fuel and will have to get up very early to see the sunrise. The Uluru campground is approx. $35 a night
  • Buy your flynet when you get there – they are cheap 2 for $15
  • There is a decent-sized IGA at the resort where you can buy groceries.
  • You can buy take away alcohol from the Outback Pioneer Bar. Beware, it is costly. I paid $41 for a six-pack of beer.

Please don’t mark the rock – your initials are not cool

Safety

It’s not generally unsafe to be on the park/walking afternoon, earlier in summer, but the weather/restrictions are a good indication. The tracks will close when the temperatures reach 36 degrees.

Don’t ignore these closures, we walked in 29-degree heat, and it felt very much hotter with limited shade and only two water taps on our 11km hike – and the water did not taste good at all! Carry water with you, more than you think you will need.

Save this advice to Pinterest for when you plan your trip to Uluru.

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Plan a trip to Uluru and Kuta Tjuta
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Have a question? Need some specific advice? Pop over to our Australia Your Way Facebook Group and ask a local.

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