Travel Icons… by the Back Door

Northern Territory, Australia

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – Australia

Visitors per year: Around 270,000

A sacred place to the aboriginal Anangu; to the many visitors headed to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the sight of the red-rock behemoth of Uluru rising out of the dusty outback is inspiration enough to make the long drive from Alice Springs – even if they are far from alone…

Front door: Most visitors self-drive the 690km Red Centre Way from Alice Springs to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Entry to the park is AUS$25 (£13), with sunset and sunrise the busiest periods. During these times, the viewing areas fill up fast as people jostle to watch the rock change color with the light. During the day, the 10km base walk is popular and is dotted with rest stops and viewing points along the way.

Back door: Peak season is April to October (when it’s coolest). If driving, combine with a visit to the giant sequoias of Kings Canyon (entry from AUS$20/£10.50). Sunrise is the best time to visit Uluru, and while its viewing platforms are usually packed, the rest of the park is easy to roam, leaving you free to stroll or cycle the Base Walk. If all else fails, skydive (skydiveuluru.com.au)!

“Head to the sunset viewing areas at sunrise (and vice versa) – you’ll not only get them to yourself but also a shot of Uluru few others see. Another of my other favorite areas at sunset is Walpa Gorge in Kata Tjuta or Lungkata Walk, next to the rock itself – from there, you can see the color change up-close in peace as the sun hits.

“Later in the day, try the Liru Walk, which stretches from the Cultural Centre right to the foot of Uluru – it’s infinitely less crowded alternative to the circular Base Walk and has great views, especially at sunset.

“In the evening, champagne parties at the sunset viewing areas are popular and good fun. But if you park your car nearby these areas on any wide patch of dirt (with white, not yellow, lines) by the side of the road, you can picnic in solitude – non-alcoholically, of course, if driving.”

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