What do you see when you picture Australia? Kangaroos, koalas, white sand beaches…? For me, it really was Uluru as the Aboriginals calls it or Ayers Rock, the big red rock! I really didn’t want to do it with somebody I barely know because I already have done that few years ago to go to Las Vegas and…let’s say it didn’t end well! Driving in the desert, even if you have a location car, can be risky and I wanted something super safe! So if you too are interested to visit Uluru while in Australia and are looking for the tours to do it with, you might learn some stuff! Here’s the review of my trip with Groovy Grape!
Previous day: discovering Alice Springs
Usually Uluru’s tour are starting early in the morning and this one is no exception so I had to arrive one night before departure in order to be there. Previous day, I arrived at night in Alice Springs. I didn’t check before but I had to take a shuttle to go to the town and fortunately there was still one available! It brought me directly to my hostel: Alice Secret Traveller’s Inn.
An excellent hostel to stay in! The setting is super cool: nice pool, hammocks, little garden, little chickens hanging around at the entrance…super cute!
After putting down some of my stuff in the girl’s dorm, I went to town (10min walk) to get something to eat. The city was not…what I expected. I didn’t know what I expected though but not this. I felt a bit unsafe, as the night was approaching and there were a lot of drunk aboriginals everywhere giving me the bad look, I thought: let’s hurry before the sun sets.
After coming back to the hostel, I ate, took a shower, went to bed and damned! The alarm clock is already ringing, let’s go, go, go before the tour leaves without me!!!
1st day: Let’s go to Uluru!
The shuttle picked me up directly at Alice Secret Traveller’s Inn and after making some few other stops to different hostels we started out our road trip! After few hours driving, we saw the Toothbrush, another rock that really looked like Uluru, went down to take a pic, and there we went to Uluru where we picked up our last guest.
At Uluru, I was just amazed! I never saw something like that before in my life and I was stunned by the beauty of it! Fortunately, I bought a fly net at a gas station though because get prepared, in the desert, there are looooots of flies! And I was only 2 weeks before summer (not even the worst time of the season). After charging our bottles, putting our fly nets over our hats (for the lucky ones who had one), we went with our amazing guide Bronwen for a tour around the base of Uluru. There, she told us about the stories of the rock from the myths to people living there since decades and it was so interesting!
With a head full of dreams, we got our time alone to walk around the rock (if we wanted to). It was really hot and there was around 1 hour walk with absolutely no shadow spot but I was so excited to go! Our guide told us that Uluru is considered as the third chakra of the Earth (solar-plexus) and is a highly mystical place with lots of energy. She recommended us to leave the people alone if they wanted to experience that energy on their own. Tempted, at some point of the walk, I continued by myself, as I wanted some time to reflect and try to experience that energy too. I sat on the ground, meditated for 10 minutes and put my hands on the ground close to the rock and I felt it. I felt a huge energy as I was trying to make a connection with this big red rock that I was dreaming of so long. That was just a beautiful moment.
So you know, apparently you can climb it (if the weather is ok) but it is considered as highly disrespectful towards the Aboriginal community. I let you check the stories online but it is really important to them so nobody climbed it. And you can’t take pictures of every part of the rock, as some parts are still considered as sacred. Men can’t look up at some spots and it was the same for women.
Later in the day, we saw the rock at sunset and it was magic. Our guide had prepared a beautiful setting (cheeses, crackers, vegetables, hummus and juice) to watch it and it was perfect.
Then, we ate dinner at the camp and it was the first night we slept in swags. If you don’t know what it is, like I did, it’s that! A mini-tent for 1 person! Super cute and perfect for a few days trip (although some people in the group who did the Darwin à Alice Springs tour had been sleeping in swags for weeks now).
2nd day and our alarm clock rang ridiculously early. But it was definitely worth it as we headed towards Uluru (from another spot) to see the sunrise. We wait, we wait, but after a while the sun appeared in the sky and all of us stopped talking to admire the view. The beautiful shades of orange and red were breath-taking. And with little stars in our eyes, we started heading towards Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) to visit the Valley of the Winds. The 3 hours and a half hike were amazing. The rock’s colors made me feel like I was on another planet. Pics talk for themselves.
3rd day: another planet: Kings Canyon
Here we went for another hike! 3 to 4 hours depending on how long you decide to look at the beautiful gorges of Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon). It rained a bit but it completely added to the majesty of the place. With my new English friends, we decided to enjoy this time to sing some Disney songs (I know, we are kids!) and of course, everyone ran away but it was super fun!
4th day: the underground city: Coober Pedy
I’ve been expected this day so much after visiting Uluru. I actually chose this longer tour because it stopped there. For those who are not opal crazy people like me, it is one of the biggest Opal Mines in the world. There, we visited the Opal Museum where we discovered the story of this stone that I actually didn’t know! And to summarize it a bit, it is water stocked in rock for thousands of year. After choosing 2 opals from the Museum’s shop, time to pay…hard time…price is high but I have been expected this day and saving money since too many years to give it up now. And…my Australian card is declined. And…my French card is declined. I’m literally depressed and not far from exploding tears when my friends, supporting me during this hard time, offered to help me pay for it. I felt soooooo grateful. I was so happy with my stones, watching them all day and thinking about how my relatives would be happy to see what I brought them too! (Of course, I paid back!).
And the day ended up perfect as we went into a kangaroo refuge seeing some of these beautiful animals, eating a pizza while watching the sunset and for those who wanted, have a drink in an amazing underground bar.
We slept in an underground dorm, keeping us cool and fresh from the outside heat madness.
5th day: Wandering in the Flinders Ranges
We wandered into the Flinders Ranges (Ikara) appreciating our last moments together.
6th day: Going back to Adelaide
We walked into Alligator Gorge and had lunch into the nice Barrossa Valley, known for all its vineyards. We ate some cheeses; some did some wine tastings while the owner was playing piano. Time litterally stopped. And as we arrived to Adelaide, I already felt nostalgic of these great moments spent with my new friends: Jenny and Claire, the English girls and Bronwen, the Adelaidian girl.
Honestly, the organization was amazing, our guide and driver was one of the nicest person I met in Australia, food was good and I had one hell of a trip sleeping in the desert in swags, falling asleep under the stars every night, making new friends, wandering in what-looks-like landscapes from other planets, and so…much….more! Can’t recommend it enough and can’t wait to do other tours with them because there are so much Australian places I haven’t yet saw!
Here is the link if you want to book it too! If you went with this tour because this article inspired you, tell me in the comments, I would love to know how it went! And if you already did a tour with Groovy Grapes, I would love to have your feedback for inspiration for my next tour!
More travel inspiration here!
Have a great day and safe travel!