Get up close to some of the Northern Territory’s most incredible natural wonders with one of our favourite walks. Here’s what to know about Uluru’s Mala Walk and Base Walk, the Rim Walk at Kings Canyon and the Valley of the Winds Walk at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).
MALA WALK, ULURU
2km return | 1.5 hours | Very easy and wheelchair accessible
This gentle route along Uluru's north-western side is a visitor favourite. You'll pass caves where the Mala people camped on their first arrival at Uluru and see striking rock art before arriving at the sheer vertical walls of Kantju Gorge. The trail, which begins at Mala Carpark, can be busy in mid-morning and late afternoon, but is typically surprisingly quiet at sunset. Even if you’ve seen an Uluru sunset from afar, the deeply serene setting you’ll find at Kantju Gorge is well worth the ramble.
BASE WALK, ULURU
10km return | 3.5 hours | Moderate and completely flat
To truly appreciate the icon from all sides, take this walk around the base (it’s especially striking at sunrise or sunset). Begin in the Mala Carpark and, facing the rock, set off clockwise. Each section of the walk looks and feels totally different: Some spots are green and lush with loads of small wildlife, while others feel totally open, with little shade. The trail meanders through acacia forest, native grasses and past several watering holes, all with sacred significance in Aboriginal culture. Taking this walk with an expert guide will help you appreciate the many legends represented by the natural features you’ll pass. Either way, it’s a stunning tramp.
RIM WALK, KINGS CANYON
6km return | 3-4 hours | Intermediate
Many call this the region’s best views, but you’ll need to work for them. The track begins with an initial climb of about 1,000 steps before flatting out along the top of the canyon — but don’t worry, the views will keep you motivated! This is an exposed walk with little shade and panoramic views along the route. Go all in with a stay at Kings Canyon Resort and a night at their popular Under the Desert Moon, an unforgettable outback dining experience under the stars.
VALLEY OF THE WINDS WALK, KATA TJUTA (THE OLGAS)
7.4km return | 2-3 hours | Challenging
Hike near these soaring rock domes at sunset and watch them change colour in the desert landscape. This trail is steep, rocky and difficult in places, but it keeps you going with plenty of jaw-dropping views of the lunar landscape surrounding Kata Tjuta from two lookout points along the track. Drinking water is available halfway along the track. For a shorter option, try walking to one of the lookouts — Karu (2.2km return, 1 hour) or Karingana (5.4km, 2.5 hours) — and returning. You’ll come across very few other trampers after the first lookout, which makes the Valley of the Winds a perfect place to soak up the great outdoors.
HOT TIP: The full walk is easier than the return journey to the second lookout (Karingana).