Australia Northern Territory Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Hiking in the Red Centre; Kata Tjuṯa’s Valley of the Winds Walk

The Valley of the Winds walk is a 7.2km hiking trail that winds between Kata Tjuta’s incredible domes and sparse Mars-like landscape. If you’re looking for something both beautiful and challenging then this is the walk for you. 

While visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park you are spoilt for choice when it comes to walking trails. The Base Walk at Uluru is the most monumental, but the Valley of the Winds is a lot more rewarding. Though the Base Walk is completely flat and relatively easy, the Valley of the Winds trail involves a lot more climbs, vast viewpoints, and a little bit of scrambling. 

  • 7.2kms | 4hours return (it took us 2.5hours)

We started the journey at about 8:30am after watching the sunrise at Uluru and driving the 45minutes to Kata Tjuta. From the carpark the first stopping point is Karu Lookout. It’s said to take an hour to get here, but this only took us about half an hour of walking along a rocky orange path. This spot alone is available as a shorter return trail, however I don’t really think it is worth it. It is nice for those who don’t want to do a long and challenging walk, but I didn’t find the view to be all that spectacular. 

At Karu Lookout you’ll find plenty of signposting letting you know which direction to go for the Winds Walk, but also the current temperature. This walk is completely closed off from this point at 11am if it is forecasted to be over 36degrees. In saying that, it is ALWAYS recommended to get your walks done in the red centre before 11am anyway – otherwise the heat can be too risky. For the Valley of the Winds walk, once you are clear of the towering domes, most of the walk has very little coverage from shade. So yeah – earlier is better. 

From the lookout it’s all a rocky stepping stone staircase down to the base. Here there is a small creek and bridge, and a shaded rest point with drinking water. Once you cross the bridge you’ll reach a T intersection. The signs direct you to go right – and I strongly recommend this. I would not do the loop clockwise. 

Between the start of the loop and Karingana Lookout there are a few rocky climbs and scrambling. The walk is almost all uphill and stairs until you reach the viewpoint, but some areas are flat and shaded if you need to take a break. At the start of the climb up there is one very steep climb over a large dome. This was the point where I decided I would not want to do the trail clockwise – going down this dome would be quite difficult. Not impossible, but not all that easy. 

It took us 30-40minutes to get to Karingana Lookout from Karu Lookout with a small break. This was the most iconic viewpoint of the entire trail. It looked down through the towering orange cliffs and into the vast green valley below. By the time we reached the lookout it was still perfectly shaded by the domes. Most people stopped here for a break, water and a little packed snack. Please note: this would not be shaded by midday. 

Some people walk to this lookout and then return the same way, but it is much easier to do the entire loop. This walk is a 5.4km return trail, and takes 2.5hours (although I imagine it is shorter as it took us the same amount of time to do the entire Winds walk). 

The rest of the walk was all downstairs until reaching the valley floor. Then it is all relatively flat trailing around the dry valley bed back to the creek resting point. The last push is the stairs back up to Karu Lookout and the carpark, and then you’re done! 

However challenging I love love looooved this walk – I would recommend it to anyone visiting Uluru. It was probably my favourite hike that we did in the Red Centre. 

You will need a permit to enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. These are available both online and at the entrance as either annual passes or 3-day passes. 

Have you done this walk? What did you think?! 

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