Alice Springs welcomed me with over 40C degrees. The bus dropped me off at the Jump Inn Alice Hostel where I checked in and could see Elly again, finally - yay! The Hostel was nothing special, our room was not even cleaned and the staff pretty much not motivated. Not the first time we faced this, I guess this happens when tourists with a work & travelvisa are working in hostels they are mor interested in their travels than work.
Anyways, we decided to have a walk around the town. But Alice Springs is definitvely nothing special and I wouldn't feel safe to walk there alone in the evening - we faced enough troublemakers even during daytime.
And so we were looking forward to our next tour where we booked 3 days and two nights and stopped the tour then at Ayers Rock. And here is one thing you should consider when planning to do a tour like this:
- normally the tour starts end ends in Alice Springs. With a surcharge you can change the end to Ayers Rock which we did for two reasons:
1. the flight from Ayers Rock to Sydney which was our next destination was much more cheaper than from Alice Springs.
2. I thought it's a nicer stay being close to Ayers Rock (Uluru) than staying in the city.
So far so good, but what I only realised after booking the flight:
1. There are only 3 resorts at Ayers Rock. As the land belong to the Aboriginal people again, it is sacrified land and it is not allowed to build more hotels and resorts. And you can imagine the price for one night was much more expensive than budgeted.
2. When you are not going back to Alice Springs, the tour drops you off at a petrol station (we had to wait around 1.5 hours) where you get picked up by another bus for one hour and then you have to switch bus again. Reason is that you drive from Kings Canyon the same way to Ayers Rock as on the first day.
Your choice - I didn't consider possible accommodation first and couldn't know about the bus swaps to Ayers Rock before, but I was still happy with the decision as it was really cool to have an additional night close to the holy mountain instead of Alice Springs.
Last but not least: get a fly net! We could have used it on our WesternAustralia trips too, but we just bought one in Alice Springs and were happy to have one. Bloody flies, this is the most annyoing Australia has to offer :) Only guy who resisted to get one was a Chinese who was not willing to pay 8 AUD when he knows it got produces for 50 cent in China :).
Uluru is the aboriginal name for Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta might be known as The Olgas as well. As the land got handed back to Aboriginal people, I take their naming. But before we got there, we got welcomed by our tourguide. It was actually his first tour alone and he did a great job. On the way there we got to see Fuluru, the so-called fake Uluru as there are tourists who have seen that mountain, thought it is Uluru and returned back to Alice Springs :) To be honest, first I thought the same as it was the first mountain to be seen in the middle of nowhere although I thought Uluru looks different from the pictures I have seen before :). When the group was completed (some had to be picked up from the airport Ayers Rock and some others from the resorts there), we had lunch at the campsite and after a refreshing swim in the pool which was all we were asking for as it was boiling. Struggling in finding the pool (must be a funny scene, two girls in bikinis lost on the campground), but finally we made it and the pool was surprisingly cool - yay!
Later on we had an easy walk (1 hour) at Kata Tjuta which was next tu Uluru before we were heading close to Uluru to see it at sunset and having prosecco. Unfortunately we haven't seen much of a sunset as it was cloudy. But we were lucky, one week before there was a sandstorm and you didn't see anything at all apart from red sand everywhere.
Here is another thing I recommend and I actually regret (the only thing I regret). There are locals who sell their aboriginal art and paintings to a very good price (no need to negotiate). I was listening to a girl explaining her paintings and I really liked them and thought I'll get back to her once we have to return to the bus. Un
If you're interested to get aboriginal art have a look at the sunset sessions and you have a great chance to get somethin really cool. Just don't hesitate too long or think you can get it later, they are gone (too) soon.
it has been a while since we swagged (sleeping in Swags, last time was in SouthAustralia), I got a very comfortable one but had another conflict: Face out and getting touched or bitten by the animals or insects flying around, with bad luck having a dingo in front of me - or face inside my sleeping bag and getting cooked as it didn't really cooled off at night. I couldn't decide, but night was short anyway as we got up at 3.45 am to get again to Uluru, this time for a sunrise walk around the mountain (well part of it). I really enjoyed the walk, there were some sacrified sections where it is not allowed to take pictures, but it was interesting to see other parts of the mountain which are not that famous.
One stop was at the waterhole and we got some stories told about it which are lessons for life too. You will experience it when you're there :)
I get often asked if I climbed up Uluru. Answer: No, I didn't. Since the land has been handed back and Uluru is considered as the holy mountain, the Aboriginal people doesn't want that people climb up for ethical reason. In addition it is not too easy and when you read some information, it makes you feeling bad anyways. On 26.October 2019 it will be closed for good and it won't be possible anymore to climb up. Exactly 20 years back to that date, was the day when the land got handed over back to the Aboriginal people and they found an agreement that the climb can be closed only if less than 10% of the tourists coming to Uluru are climbing it up. It took 20 years to change that as before this was the touristattraction nr. 1, but today with other possibilities around they made it.
Also here we had a look at a Cultural Centre, headed back to the Camp for lunch before we had a 4 hours drive to the campsite close to Kings Canyon.
After passing the highway to hell :) we arrived at the campsite. It was still over 40 degrees and we couldn't find anything cold (water in shower was boiling too). We decided to walking up the hill up for sunset session. When we just were on the hill, we spotted two dingoes which seemed to be curious what we had to offer for lunch. Latest by then my decision was clear, I won't sleep outside tonight and we even added a Dingoe barrier to make sure they can't come into the tent and get our shoes (somehow they like to steal shoes of tourists). If you don't know what a dingo is: Somehow a mix between a wolf and dog. Not something I want to meet at night :). Another marshmellowsession after dinner completed the day before we were in our tents and still sweating until somewhen a refreshing breeze started.
But the morning started early again as well and so we got up at 3.45 am to make our way to the ground of Kings Canyon. This was actually part I was getting excited about as I heard the hike must be fantastic. No later than 6 am, we started the hike (as by 9 am it was closed because of the heat), equipped with 3l of water for 3 hours. If we would have carried less, wer were not allowed to join. So you see, dehydration is a serious thing and happen on a regular base especially when you're exposed in the dry heat.
So we started by getting up the heart-attack hill. When you name it already that way, it can't get worse right? :) But actually the way up was not too bad and definitvely worth! What an amazing hike it was with fantastic views and probably much better than climbing Uluru. Honestly it was one of my favorite hikes I did in Australia, it was just amazing and took around 3 hours (who has been back from a 3 hours summer hike at 9 am before? :))
Happy to ended the tour with such a highlight, we got dropped off at the petrol station where we had to wait for our bus back to Yalara (the place just next to Uluru) and after another bus swap we checked in, enjoyed another sunset session from a lookout, had a lovely three course dinner, a Schlummi with a Swiss Couple who joined us on the tour and booked the same flight for Sydney the next day.
It was a perfect last tour and I am happy that I made it to the Red Centre finally. It is very toursity yes, but somehow still a spiritual and special place and definitively worth to go
After many weeks of camping and blessed with unforgettable moments nature provided to us, I was also looking forward to some city life - Sydney here we come!