A must-do Red Centre experience: The Valley of the Winds
The famous sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta are at a convenient distance from Uluru, just 50km away. Enough to make this formation an attraction in its own right, but close enough to squeeze it all in in just one day if needed.
Kata Tjuta, meaning “many heads”, is in a sense actually even more fascinating than Uluru, the single monolith. The domes of Kata Tjuta huddle together to create interesting formations, deep gorges and fantastic landscape views.
Two walks are offered here, the Walpa Gorge Walk and the romantically named Valley of the Winds. The former can easily be explored with little kids or by other less mobile walkers, the latter can at least be partly experienced.
We follow the walk to the Valley of the Winds first, our destination being the Karu Lookout which can be reached after only 1.1km. The walk is flat and relatively easy to negotiate, however it is good that we wear sturdy shoes as there are some lose rocks and pebbles along the way. At times the surface is rough and we need to treat more carefully.
The walk in the afternoon light is lovely and very rewarding. I love the round and soft forms of Kata Tjuta, its surfaces, now that the sun is setting, turning into ever deeper shades of red by the minute. The rock’s colours contrast perfectly with the light greens of the shrubs, trees and grasses, some of them producing the most alien of flowers.
The walk is unprotected from the sun. This is fine now in winter, but in summer it must prove quite a challenge. In fact, most parts of the Valley of the Winds walk are closed during extreme heat to protect the visitors.
We climb all the way to the Karu Lookout. This is the actual starting point of the Valley of the Winds walk which we will not attempt today with our small children and so late in the day. But no doubt, this 4km round walk must be awe inspiring.
But still, just making it to the Karu Lookout is worth the effort. From here you have fantastic views deep into the green valley, it is almost surreal. The name Valley of the Winds is justified – the breeze is cool on our faces and makes us blink. It is not a bad idea to spend some time here to enjoy the views which we do before we make our way to the last walk of the day, my favourite of all the walks in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the Walpa Gorge Walk.