I woke up to people around me shuffling around in the dark and bright beams of flashlights shining in my face. It was 4:15 am and we were heading out to Kings Canyon for a sunrise hike.
I had already gotten dressed the night before in my hiking clothes just so I could easily get up and on the coach, no hassle.
The stars were still stunning when we were heading to the coach. I quickly ate my breakfast bar and gulp down water for the hike ahead. We were about to do a 6 km hike, which our tour manager said could take us up to 3 hours to complete. I plugged in my headphones, still sleepy for waking up earlier than normal, and blasted some EDM to help me get ready for a great hike.
We got to the base of the canyon at around 5:15 am, just as the sun was beginning to rise. I quickly put on my sunblock, being the incredibly pale person that I am, you never know if the even in the rising sun will give you a sunburn. Also, I sprayed some bug spray, to make sure bugs didn’t want to be close of friends with me on this hike.
Our tour manager had let us know that there were two options for hiking this morning. The first was a 6 km hike, which for the first 30 minutes would be straight up the canyon with seemingly never ending steps. It would exhaust you at first, but after the first 30 minutes the rest of the hike was not a heart pumping. The second option was shorter and through a creekbed. I of course wanted to do the 6 km hike, knowing the view would be worth the sweat this early in the morning.
We started up the steps and damn was it tough. Non-stop steps for about 30 minutes. A few people headed back down the to do the creek walk instead of completing the rest of this 6 km hike. When we made it to the end of these delivish stairs we had a great view of the rising sun just beginning to hit the tops of the canyon. It was a pretty sight!
The rest of the hike was just as beautiful and stunning. It was relatively easy for the most part. The way the rising sun hit the red rocks of the canyon gave off a beautiful golden glow unlike anything I had ever seen in person. I was just so happy to be there, taking in the view.
We took some steps down and crossed a bridge over what was called the “garden of eden” and then climbed more steps up to get to the other side with a really gorgeous view over the whole canyon. We stopped here for a while to take some photos.
Having a tour manager/ someone to guide you around places is great for so many reasons like having special insights, someone planning and organizing activities, and someone to look after you if anything happens. But, in this moment we were happy to have Mark because he knew all the best places to take great pictures to capture the moment. Especially in the tricky lighting of the rising sun. We got some really cool photos.
We felt absolutely elated as we joined the rest of the group, high off of endorphins and beautiful sights. We boarded the coach and headed back to the station for some brekkie.
Brekkie in oz (Australia slang) is mostly fried eggs, bacon (more ham like), beans, toast and tomatoes. Put it all together and you’ve got a great sandwich. I am loving it!
After brekkie and a quick shower, we loaded onto the bus to go to Yulara for our final days of the trip. On our way, we stopped at fool-a-roo, which can fool some people who think it is the real Uluru. The sand was getting so red, we knew we were getting closer to the red center.
We then boarded the coach again, this time to go into Uluru Kata-Tjuta Nationa Park!
So before I go further, I want to better explain the park. Uluru is more commonly known in the states as Ayers Rock. Kata-Tjuta is a rock formation nearby, which is less round compared to Uluru. In fact, Kata-Tjuta literally translates into many heads, referencing the 26 domes of red rock. Both are huge monolithic rocks made of sandstone with high amounts of iron in them, which exposed to the elements, give them the red color.
The first thing we did was go to the cultural center to learn more about how this park came to be. In the mid 1970s, the land was given back to the indigenous people, who then leased the land back to the government for 99 years to have this park. There are many stories about Uluru, which is the most sacred of the two rock formations. Though Uluru is quite round, it does have some holes and discoloring on it, so there are many aboriginal stories to explain how the rock came to be.
From a geological perspective, the rock was formed over thousands of years from sediment. Then, it was pushed by up through the ground, turning exactly 90 degrees. Though Uluru is quite tall from the ground up, it is not as tall as Kata-Tjuta, which has some domes taller than Uluru. However, Uluru is considered the largest monolithic rock in the world because geologist believe that it goes as far at 6 km below the ground.
Geographically, it is basically in the center of Australia. So people consider it the heart of Australia.
It is truly incredible on all fronts: both spiritually and scientifically.
We spent the rest of our time in the park with Kata-Tjuta, specifically doing the whopper Gorge walk. It was a bumpy one and the second one of the day, so I was a bit tired. However, being up close with the rock gave you great perspective on spectacular this lesser known rock formation is on its own.
Once we completed the hike, we went back to our lodge style accommodations, got a good shower and ate dinner. None of us wanted to stay up very late, given that we had gotten up before sunrise today and would do it again tomorrow. We passed our happily!
If you are interested in any of the above experiences, I would highly recommend you check out Contiki. I absolutely loved my trip! Click below to learn more about the specific trip I took, and get a discount.