We started the day with a buffet breakfast that was quite pricey but we all decided it was well worth the money. It was in the Desert Gardens Hotel in the Mangata Bistro. Following breakfast we headed off to explore the beautfiul Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. I have to say I was quite surprised at what they are charging to enter the park. They only sell a minimum three day pass, even though we would only be going in for the day. It was $25 per person, so $75 for the entry fee for the three of us.
We were booked into a Segway Tour around Uluru at 1pm, so had to make sure we were back in time for that. We decided we would just have enough time to squeeze in one of the shorter hikes at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Really glad that we did. We did the shortest hike, the Walpa Gorge Walk, and we really enjoyed it. I would prefer to do the longer hike, The Valley of the Winds, if we had the time but it was still great to see this beautiful place up close. We definitely got good use out of our fly nets!
I would always recommend taking a fly net with you on any hike in Australia as the flies can really ruin it if you are not used to dealing with them in those numbers. I had one that had a material back which helps protect against sunburn and it has an elastic bottom which also helps to keep the pesky flies out. It does reduce your visibiltiy which is a bit disappointing, but I would still prefer to keep the flies at a distance. You also need to take plenty of water with you as you generally drink a lot more than you expect to. I bought a 4 litre water bladder that is more comfortable to carry in a back pack than multiple bottles of water. Buy one with the foil bladder and avoid plastic ones as they can make your water taste gross, then you only need one bottle that you can top up. Always wear good hiking boots or closed in shoes and take a first aid kit that includes a heavy crepe bandage in case of snake bites. It is worth brushing up on your first aid knowledge if you are going to any remote spots. Consider taking an Electronic Positioning Emergency Radio Beacon (EPERB) or a Satellite Phone to ensure you can reach emergency help if required. We did find that some hikes provided these communication spots for emergencies and the places we were hiking were not particularly isolated so we did not take an EPERB or Sat Phone on this trip. Other than that be sun smart and respectful of the places you are exploring. Always do some research of the areas you will be going, Parks and Wildlife and Visitor Information Centres are a good place to start. It is really important to be prepared before you go.
We made it back in time to do the Segway tour around Uluru. It started with a training session of how to use the Segways and there was a broad range of ages and skill levels there. Once everyone is competent handling their Segway you set off on a 2 and a half hour tour around the base of Uluru. While the tour was fun, I really felt that it detracted from the experience of seeing Uluru. I found that I was more focussed on the Segway and it was not the up close, magical experience that it was when Col and I walked it back in 2015. There was also a big group in our tour, there were 11 people in a convoy. The off-road segways are speed limited to prevent you going too fast, which proved incredibly frustrating when Sam had a stack and his segway switched itself off and I had to try to chase down the rest of the group to get the tour guide to switch it back on again. So, so frustrating! I was leaning as far forward as I could and going at the maximum speed and not gaining any ground on the group. It took quite a while to catch them up and get help. Luckily Sam wasn’t hurt, he was just stranded.
We then had to rush home to get changed for the ‘Sound of Silence’ dinner. This I would highly recommend. They collect you in a bus from the resort and take you to a viewing area overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta to watch the sunset while having drinks and nibbles. Then you join a larger table for your meal. We had poeople from China, UK and USA at our table. It was great to meet and talk with people from around the world. It was a buffet style meal served under the stars. The food was great and we enjoyed the company. Following dinner they did an Astronomy session and there were a couple of telescopes set up to look through. It was an expensive evening but we all felt it was a highlight of our trip and well worth the money.