Experience the Power of Kata Tjuta in the Valley of the Winds
Have you ever stood in a landscape, so immense that you felt your chest well up as your eyes feasted on what lay before you, behind you and encompassed you?
If not – (or you want to experience it again) – Go to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia and walk the Valley of the Winds 7.4km (4.6mile) circuit walk.
The Park suggests the walk will take 4 hours, which seems a ridiculous over estimate for that distance, but this is no ordinary walk –
With such awesome scenery engulfing you, you’ll need every minute of the 4 hours to absorb and enjoy this stunning patch of Australian outback.
The walk falls naturally into several parts.
From the Valley of the Winds car park (stop off at the Sunset Viewing car park on the way to make use of the only loos in the area!) you start the walk up a cobbled and gravel track 1.1km (0.7mile) to the first vantage point – Karu Lookout.
If the temperature is going to be over 36C (97F) this is as far as you’ll get if the clock has struck 11am as the track will be closed for your safety.
Starting at first light to do this walk is a great idea no matter what the time of year – but in the hot summer months it’s essential.
We did this walk in August, which is considered to be a cooler time of year but I still needed all of the 2 litres of water I carried, even though it was cool enough when we set out (shortly after sunrise) to be wearing a light jacket – The dry desert atmosphere seems to suck the moisture out of you!
The Kata Tjuta Landscape from Karu to Karingana Lookout
From the Karu Lookout the track descends down a rocky path to the Valley floor.
Ensure you choose footwear that will give you the support your body requires – I wore light hiking boots with ankle support, so I could relax and enjoy the scenery.
The track now splits in two for the start of the circuit. We headed right to go up to Karingana Lookout first, and so do the walk in an anti-clockwise direction.
Here is a taster of what we saw in this first section:
(If you can’t see the video below click here: http://youtu.be/70hDK8JRjPw )
You can hear some finches tweeting in the background, who were gathering around this precious water source that I was standing beside…
They appeared to be a young family of Zebra finches being taught the ropes of how to survive in this harsh climate.
The track is best described as rugged (classed Grade 4) as it dips down over dry creek beds, and in places rises steeply directly onto the smooth rusty red outcrop surface.
The domes of Kata Tjuta, which in Pitjantjatjara means ‘many heads’, gradually become bigger and bolder until one feels one is virtually entering an amphitheater, being surrounded on all sides by steep rising rock faces.
(Video not showing? Click this link: http://youtu.be/XVKsPnGi3Xk )
The power of these immense red rock faces in the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta is awe inspiring –
Beyond this ‘amphitheater’ like space is a gap between two of the domes that takes you through to the second named lookout on the walk – Karingana Lookout.
Here, the Valley opens out ahead of you again – and although only 2.7km (1.7miles) into the walk from the carpark (the full circuit is 7.4km (4.6mile)) the distinct change in landscape makes it a perfect spot to sit awhile, have a snack and take a final look behind you at the domes while at such close range.
It’s definitely a walk that requires the time to…
Walk… stop… look… breathe… feel the Valley of the Winds brushing over your body and enveloping your being… then…
Walk… stop… look… breathe…
Some people make the Karingana Lookout the turning point and return by the same way – ie 5.4km return (3.4 mils)
But we went on down into the Valley and across the open plain below where we experienced a real outback sensation of being out in the middle of nowhere with the wind whistling through the dry grass and wild flowers, and… we met this spinifex pigeon – who wooed us!
I’ll write about that in the next post –
Here’s the link: Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds – Acoss the Open Plain
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Have you been to Kata Tjuta?
Do share in the comments – How was your experience?