The Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds Walk
While Uluru gets most of the attention when visiting the region, the area around Kata Tjuta deserves just as much. An incredible rock formation made up of 36 different domes, Kata Tjuta (also known as the Olgas) is one of the most scenic places to visit in the Outback. To get the most out of Kata Tjuta, you can head on the Valley of the Winds Walk, which brings you on a 7.4KM loop through the Olgas. This guide will go over in depth what you need to know to take part of the walk yourself.
1) Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds Walk Overview
Trail Name: Valley of the Winds Walk
Starting/Ending Point: Valley of the Winds Parking Lot
Length: 7.4KM / 4.6 Miles
Duration: 3-4 Hours
Terrain Type: Rock / Sand
The Valley of the Winds Walk begins at the parking lot, heads straight past the first lookout point (Karu Lookout) and then is followed by a circular loop before meeting back up with the path towards the parking lot.
Once you reach the loop section, you can decide to head clockwise or counter clockwise. Most people head counter clockwise (right) as the incline/decline is a bit easier, however heading clockwise offers a bit better overall landscape views in front of you during the duration of the trail. Either way though I do not think you can go wrong with either route.
Below is a map of the area so you can get a bit more oriented with the trail and what to expect as you take part.
2) Tickets and Hours
If you want to take part of the Valley of the Winds Walk, you will need to make your way into Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. The national park includes both the Uluru/Ayers Rock area as well as the Kata Tjuta area. If looking to head to any of the official sunrise and sunset spots, that would require entrance into the national park as well.
To enter the national park though, you must purchase tickets either ahead of time or when you arrive. I would advise to purchase ahead of your visit as it will save you time when entering the park.
National Park Tickets
Head over to the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park website for tickets. See below for prices, which can be valid for up to 5 days at no additional charge.
Adult (16+): $25 AUD
Child (5-15): $12.50
Child (0-4): Free
Family (2 Adults + 2 or more Children): $65 AUD
National Park Hours
The hours for Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park vary by the time of year to account for the sunrise and sunset times. Below is the latest schedule provided for 2019:
3) How to Get to the Starting Point
When entering the national park from Yulara (if you have your own car), simply just stay in the left lane and scan your paper or mobile ticket and you will be on your way in no time. The park entrance is located just 10 minutes away from Yulara (the main town near the national park), and then a further 35 minutes toward the Valley of the Winds parking lot.
Near Kata Tjuta there are four main parking lots – sunrise viewing area, sunset viewing area, Valley of the Winds Walk, and Walpa Gorge. For the Valley of the Winds, you simply just need to type in “Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds” to get you to the starting point parking lot.
If you do not have your own car, there are two other options to choose from – 1) Join a single day or multi day tour of Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park or 2) Make your way on the Uluru Hop On Hop Off Bus that goes around the national park area.
> Be sure to check out the Uluru Car Rental Guide I have on the site to learn more about renting a car in the area!
4) What to Bring to Kata Tjuta
To get a better idea of what I bring along on most of my day hikes you can take a look at the Hiking Packing List I have up on the site. While you wont need each and every item on the list for your Valley of the Winds Walk, you can leverage it for your time in the Outback.
Hiking Shoes | Keen Targhee
Water Bottle | CamelBak Chute
Action Camera | GoPro Hero 8
Rain Jacket | Columbia Watertight II
Backpack Rain Cover | Joy Walker Cover
Portable Charger | Anker Powercore
Hiking Backpack | Osprey Talon 22
5) When to Visit
The Outback can get hot in the Australian summer leading to potentially dangerous dehydration. Due to this, the Valley of the Winds Walk is closed past the first lookout point when temperatures reach 36 Celsius / 97 Fahrenheit past 11AM.
While the winter time is the most popular time, it is also the most comfortable time and I would recommend a visit to the area around or near those months. One thing you should be aware of during their winter is the number of flies that would be around. These flies are everywhere and can get extremely annoying during your time in the area. Just be prepared for them and check out the previous section for what to bring to help avoid them.
If visiting the area, taking part of the Valley of the Winds Walk is probably high on your list of things to do. Therefore avoiding the hottest days/months of the year will be your best bet to take part. Below you can see average temperatures of the area and what to expect on a month to month basis.
6) Where to Stay
The most realistic place to stay when taking part of the Valley of the Winds Walk would be the town of Yulara. The entire town is built around one large loop, where you will find several accommodation options, a small town center with restaurants, shops, and a supermarket, and other things like a gas station, emergency services, etc.
Below are a few of the places you can choose from:
Looking for a budget option? The Outback Pioneer Lodge has some shared room options.
7) Valley of the Winds Walk
Now that you are a bit more prepared for the hike, let’s talk more about the Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds Walk itself. Once you have your car parked in the lot, begin the walk by following the signs and marked path.
A) Karu Lookout
The first part of the track is a straight path towards the Karu Lookout. It should take just about 30 minutes or so to reach the lookout as you make your way on the red dirt and loose rocks. There will be sections throughout the hike including during this portion that are not completely flat on the ground. Just be sure to watch your step and be cautious as you make your way around.
Once at the Karu Lookout, you can take in some views of several of the Olgas near and far, as you enjoy just the beginning of what the Valley of the Winds has to offer. Just past the Karu Lookout is where the walk closes down in extreme heat after 11AM. If you are heading there in the summer, just be sure to start the walk early enough to avoid any potential closures.
B) The Loop Intersection
Once you reach this intersection, you will have the choice to go left (clockwise) or right (counter clockwise). The more popular option here is to head to the right as the terrain is a bit easier going in that direction. However, as I mentioned earlier I believe going left offers more Olga views out in front of you for a longer period of time.
Note: you will also find water fill up stations at this point. Be sure to keep your water bottles full so you do not get dehydrated.
Since counter clockwise is the more popular option I will go about the rest of this section that way. The loop here will consist of much uneven rock, with a couple steeper inclines and declines as well as some flat sections too. You will walk the 4.1KM loop before heading back to the parking lot.
C) The Karingana Lookout
After turning right, your next point of interest will be the Karingana Lookout (1 KM away). To get there you will start heading closer through the Olgas as you get a better sense of what these incredible rock formations feel and look like.
Continue along through the valley here, where you will find some sections of technical incline until you reach the lookout point. From the Karingana Lookout, you will be able to see all the way down a corridor between two of the domes, as you take in the view of several more domes further out in the distance. When it comes to Valley of the Winds views, this is the best it is going to get.
Take some time to just sit back and enjoy the view from up top before continuing along the trail.
D) Down the Valley Floor
From the top of the Karingana Lookout, you must now descend down this valley corridor to the bottom of the Kata Tjuta. Be careful here as it is a tricky descent with many uneven stairs. The main reason why heading clockwise on the loop is not recommended is because you would need to climb up this section, which can be very difficult for some (especially in the hotter weather).
As you make the descent you will begin to get closer to several more domes out in the distance as the trail then begins to get a bit more flat and easier to navigate.
During this portion of trail you will find the better views behind you (which is why some opt to head clockwise). There will be some great Olga views out in the distance so be sure to turn around at some points to take it all in.
At some point though, you will start to loop back closer to the Olgas and the views in front of you will begin to get better and better. Being able to see Kata Tjuta and its various domes from all different angles is one reason what makes the Valley of the Winds Walk so special.
Soon enough you will end up right back at the loop intersection from earlier on where you can then head back past the Karu Lookout and back to the parking lot.
8) Walpa Gorge
After finishing up the Valley of the Winds Walk, you can make the quick drive to the Walpa Gorge parking lot. This 2.6KM round trip trail brings you between two massive Kata Tjuta walls as you get to take in the second of walks that the area has to offer.
9) Kata Tjuta Sunset
After enjoying the Valley of the Winds Walk and Walpa Gorge (if you choose to head there too), make your way to the Kata Tjuta sunset area. The sunset area is set at ground level with several of the olgas out in from of you as you get to see the sun brighten up the red rock as it slowly sets.
10) Kata Tjuta Sunrise
Before heading off to the Valley of the Winds (or making your way there the next day), be sure to add a Kata Tjuta sunrise to your itinerary too. From a distance you will be able to take in the entirety of Kata Tjuta and even see Uluru right next to the sun rising. It was one of my favorite sunrise/sunset spots of the Outback.
That about wraps up your guide to the Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds Walk. If you have any other questions or comments feel free to write them in below. Also don’t forget to check out the other Australia itineraries and guides up on the site! I am sure you may also be interested in the Uluru Base Walk and the Kings Canyon Rim Walk if spending multiple days in the Outback.
» Read the 7 Day Red Centre Way Itinerary for more detail about a road trip «
Have fun out there and safe travels!