10 things better than climbing Uluru
Climbing Uluru is set to be banned from October 2019, following a decision by traditional owners.
But if you're thinking of booking a trip to the Red Centre just for one last chance to climb it, you'll be making a mistake.
Firstly, even before the climb is permanently closed, your chances of timing a trip in the right conditions are slim.
The climb is closed much of the time for safety reasons, including days when strong winds, storms and hot weather (over 36C) are forecast, or when cultural events or ceremonies are taking place.
Secondly, consider the reasons the traditional owners have opted to permanently close the climb.
Not only is it disrespectful to the Anangu, who consider the rock sacred, it's also dangerous. More than 30 climbers have died since the 1950s.
And thirdly, if you're planning a trip just for the sake of climbing the rock, you'd be missing out on so many other attractions the area has to offer.
Here are 10 things better than climbing Uluru:
1. WATCH THE SUNRISE OR SUNSET OVER ULURU
Or better still, both. There are special viewing platforms in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park where visitors can take in the spectacular colours of the rock as they change along with the sky. It can get busy on the most popular sunrise viewing platform, but if you take a walk along the path beyond the platform you'll find a quieter experience.
2. DO THE CIRCUIT
3. VIEW FROM ABOVE
4. LEARN ABOUT THE LOCALS
Make sure you allow yourself time to spend at the Uluru Cultural Centre when you visit. You'll learn about the rock and the local Anangu people - and you can also sign the visitor's book, aka the "did not climb" register.
5. EXPERIENCE AN EVENT
Uluru provides the backdrop for some of Australia's most unique events, from cultural events such as the Tjungu Festival, to celebrations of Australian native food, wellness and astronomy, to the annual Camel Cup and Outback Marathon. And until March 2018, the Field of Light exhibition complements the rock with 50,000 coloured bulbs.
6. RIDE A CAMEL
It wouldn't be the desert without camels - and there could be no better backdrop than Uluru for a camel ride - and of course, a photo op. Apart from the obvious natural attractions, Uluru Camel Tours rates as the top thing to do in Uluru according to TripAdvisor reviewers.
7. EAT YOURSELF SILLY
It's not just about the scenery, a visit to Uluru is about the food, too, with the area billing itself as Australia's bush tucker capital. Ayers Rock Resort runs several stunning outdoor dining experiences, as well as bush tucker walks and talks around the resort.
8. STAY SOMEWHERE SPECIAL
9. VISIT KATA TJUTA
They're often cited as an experience more impressive than Uluru, yet many tourists don't even make the time to explore this collection of 36 rocks - with the highest point towering more than 200m over Uluru. Like Ayers Rock, The Olgas are at their most stunning at sunrise and sunset. You can walk around and through parts of the of the grooves and gorges - and you'll find far fewer tourists than at Uluru. The most challenging and breathtaking of the walks is the Valley of the Winds, a 7.4km, four-hour circuit.
10. EXPLORE KINGS CANYON
If you're after a challenge and special views, the hike to the top of Kings Canyon to take on the Rim Walk has been billed as an experience to rival climbing Uluru - yet few tourists have even heard of it. It's a steep ascent to the rim to reach the top but the magnificent views are worth it, and it's followed by a descent to the Garden of Eden, a waterhole where you can take a dip. Like Uluru, other tour options include scenic flights, camel tours and dining under the stars.
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