While most people are familiar with Uluru, not as many are aware of the other red gem that resides in the great outback. Visiting Kata Tjuta and hiking Valley of the Winds is as impressive as its more famous neighbor.
The site is estimated to be over 500 million years old!
In fact, when you visit Uluru, you are actually entering the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. For this reason, people visiting Uluru factor in a trip to Kata Tjuta as well.
Here is my experience exploring the majestic Kata Tjuta and hiking Valley of the Winds!
Discovering Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta is a series of 36 domes around 564 meters above the ground. It’s taller than Uluru and is believed to have been one giant formation that weathered down over the years.
The result? A series of unusual and magnificent peaks. Referred to as The Olgas for some time, it was restored to its original name as a respectful gesture to the Aboriginal people.
The area was originally owned by the Anangu people for around 30,000 years. The local Aboriginal people and Parks Australia now manage the area.
Located just 30km from Uluru, Kata Tjuta forms a part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The park is also classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.
With both natural and cultural significance, the area represents one of the oldest civilizations on earth. It also has some of the most fascinating geology discovered to date.
When you get to Kata Tjuta, you can either choose to admire it from the road or venture into the region on one of the two accessible routes. Although there are several tracks in the area, only the Anangu tribes can roam freely.
The land is extremely important to the natives. With the high tourist traffic to Uluru, Kata Tjuta has become the primary location for tribal ceremonies by the Anangu.
Should you opt to take a walk, I recommend the Valley of the Winds over the Walpa Gorge (which is the shorter and easier route, but less satisfying).
Valley of the Winds Hike
Having braved the 7.4km circuit route myself, I can assure you it’s worth the steep incline. The hike is likely to take you around 3-4 hours and you need to be moderately fit to manage.
Remember that it also gets extremely hot here! It’s best to start early to avoid the harshest sun.
Allow yourself time to absorb the scenic surroundings and take some picture perfect shots for the gram. And be sure to wear comfortable shoes! Hydration is essential, so stock up on water beforehand. There is a less strenuous hike to the Karu lookout that is just 2km from the starting point.
Though I strongly advise getting to the Karinga Lookout if you can manage. The views are so worth it!
Having done the loop trail through the region, I can safely say it’s the most meaningful way of exploring Kata Tjuta. With an overwhelming amount of beauty surrounding you, it’s quite difficult to pinpoint a specific moment as a favorite.
One of the most spectacular moments for me was when we arrived at a split between two of the rock formations. Steep wall faces open up to showcase distant rock domes while the valley below is splattered with greenery. The sight of the red rocks and green plant life against the bright blue skies is magical.