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Australia "Reef & Rock" Eclipse Tour 2012
9 day tour option: $3770 per person double occupancy
Registration for this tour is now CLOSED
Travel to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) where your Driver/Guide will explain the geological history of these giant domes. The Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, a mysterious collection of inselbergs (island mountains) provide many opportunities to walk through and absorb the atmosphere. Many people are even more impressed and inspired by the Olgas than by Uluru. Like Uluru, the monoliths respond to shifting light and weather conditions by changing colour from deep mauve to smouldering red. The tallest, Mt Olga, is almost 600 metres high, more than 350 metres taller than Uluru.
Some of these domes are so sacred to the Aboriginal Anangu people that they can't be accessed by non-indigenous people. Aboriginal lore dictates Kata Tjuta is a sacred men's site, and has only two places where non-initiated men can enter. Fortunately there are still enough beautiful walks: the most popular being the Valley of the Winds, Lookout Walk and Olga Gorge.
Your Driver/Guide will then escort you on a 2-3 hour walk in the valley between the massive red conglomerate rock. The walking path is rocky and requires a good level of fitness. Marvel at the unique flora and fauna that has survived in this harsh environment. When you reach the Valley of the Winds Lookout, take some time to gaze out over the central valley of Kata Tjuta. Then take in a magnificent outback sunset at Kata Tjuta while enjoying a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. There is time for stargazing too (weather permitting).
Rise early this morning and travel to the Uluru sunrise viewing area to see the Red Centre set alight by the first rays of the sun. Enjoy a warming cup of tea or coffee and biscuits whilst the colours of Uluru gradually change as the sun rises on the horizon. Visitors barely need to be told that Uluru is a monolith of great spiritual significance. The great, moody rock, reaching 348 metres tall and measuring nine kilometres at its base, fairly radiates mystery. Its relationship with the local Anangu Aboriginal people goes back some 60,000 years. The land is dotted with ancestral sites, rich in meaning.
To the Anangu, Uluru is alive with the presence of dozens of ancestral beings who still inhabit special sites. Their activities are recorded at certain sites around Uluru and most of the stories are sacred and shrouded in secrecy. But the Anangu, through their stories, artwork and dance can give you glimpses. The Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (woma python) are significant ancestral figures for the Anangu, but there are many others as well. Some of them are illustrated in cave paintings around Uluru. Perhaps you will see the marks of Tatji, the small red lizard's efforts to scoop out his lost throwing stick, embedded in the rock. Or you may glimpse his body, which remains in the form of boulders on the cave floor. In the grey lichen on a rock face you may see the smoke from the fire once lit by the blue-tongued Lizard men who tried to cheat the Bell-Bird brothers out of their share of an emu kill. Commence a base tour of Uluru, including a guided walk into Mutitjulu Waterhole.
Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park
The scenic landscape in and around the Canyon is the result of millions of years of erosion. Enigmatic domes formations, sharp cliffs, and good views of the surrounding desert reward the visitor taking the rim walk around the Canyon. Watarrka has been home to Luritja people for several thousands years, and places in the canyon are still sacred sites.
The park houses a wide variety of desert plants and birds. A waterhole, aptly named the Garden of Eden, has given birth to a lush garden of green, a paradise for the local fauna.
You may have time to view the sun set behind Carmichaels Crag to finish off the day. Tonight, we we enjoy the true dark, Australian skies we hoped for. At the remote, Kings Canyon Resort, we are free from light polution, in a rustic, outback setting.
In the morning join your driver/guide for a 3 hour guided climb to the rim of Kings Canyon for breathtaking views of Watarrka National Park (for those with a good level of fitness, supportive footwear essential). Alternatively, explore the canyon floor - an easier, shady walk. There is also an opportunity to descend into a very sheltered valley with a permanent water hole, called "The Garden of Eden".