It’s no secret we love a good Aussie adventure. From the Tarkine to the Top End, our domestic charity treks are more popular than ever. Short flights, no visa requirements, and no jetlag (not to mention the spectacular scenery!) all make travelling in our own backyard pretty appealing. While seven days under the stars and over the red dirt of the Larapinta trail is hard to beat, sometimes you’ve only got a weekend. Here are our best tips to make the most of a short trip to Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park in the Northern Territory.

If possible, rent a car

All accomodation in the national park actually sits just outside its boundaries (in a resort town called Yulara) so you’ll need a vehicle to get around. There are plenty of tours and shuttle bus options, but the flexibility and economy of renting your own car means you can save money and travel on your own schedule. You do not need a 4WD rental, all roads around the accomodation and within the national park between attractions are sealed and in excellent condition. Beware of kilometre restrictions on rentals also, especially if you head further out. Although, in reality, including a trip to King’s Canyon (320kms from Uluru) isn’t quite feasible in a two or three day trip.

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Get up early

We know, setting your alarm on holiday doesn’t quite seem fair. But trust us on this one.  Most of the tours and activity in the park are centred around sunrise and sunset, and for good reason. First, for much of the year, midday can be oppressively hot as the sun climbs high in the sky. Second, and more importantly, sunrise and sunset are magical times in the desert. If you can, get yourself up about an hour before sunrise and drive to the Kata Tjuta viewing platform. You’ll sit in the quiet of night, stars overhead, as night’s curtain begins to lift behind Uluru off to the east. As the sky lightens the domes of Kata Tjuta slowly come into focus from inky black to glowing ochre. It’s pretty amazing! Once the sun is up, you’ll be in a perfect position to head over to Kata Tjuta for the Valley of the Winds or Walpa Gorge walk.

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Consider flying directly into Ayers Rock airport

If you only have a weekend, the time you’ll spend driving to and from Alice Springs airport will seriously limit the amount of time you can actually spend in the park. Some will say the drive from Alice Springs to Uluru is half the fun and that might be true if you have a few extra days. But for us, landing just 10 minutes from the park made much more sense.

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Learn about Anangu culture

Uluru and Kata Tjuta are both central in the traditional belief systems of local Anangu culture. We highly reccomend hiring a local guide to bring these stories, called Tjukurpa in Pitjantjatjara language, to life. There is an easy park ranger-guided walk called the “Mala Walk” at the base of Uluru each day which was a fantastic primer to these intricate and vast tjukurpa. After learning about Uluru’s reverence in these stories it’s easy to see why the more respectful option is not climbing atop it.

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