On a recent trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, I went to “see the rock” but left with a newfound understanding, and spiritual respect for this iconic Australian location. It was an experience that I think every Australian should have!
And if you want to really experience something special and really connect to the heartland the best place to stay is Longitude 131. You go to this area to visit Uluru, so nothing is better than staying in a luxury tented pavilion with the view of Uluru from your bed, your deck, and the restaurant lounge.
Dotted amongst the sand-dunes the sixteen pavilions are luxury whilst being homely and welcoming. With views to Uluru from the bed, or the outdoor day bed on the deck, you could be forgiven for wanting to stay in your tent!!! And, returning from the lounge after dinner on a cool winter evening, to enjoy a nightcap on your private deck with a lit fireplace and blankets, to look up and see the starry sky was just so relaxing and peaceful.
The entire lodge is built with sustainability in mind and can be dismantled and removed completely so the site can be restored to the rolling red sand dunes.
The dining was as you would expect – great Australian produce and local bush ingredients combined to make a unique dining experience. If you prefer something in particular, if they have the ingredients nothing is too much to ask for.
But, you can’t really experience this place unless you get out and explore up close. Longitude 131 includes a range of touring in small groups, or if you prefer you can pay a little more for a private tour. The guides are very knowledgeable not just about the sights, but the heritage and stories that bring this special place to life. You can be as active, or as inactive as you choose, even book in for a massage at the spa pavilion, or relax by the pool.
Being a lover of walks, we did the “Valley of the Winds” 8½ kilometre walk through Kata Tjuta. I said I went to the centre to see Uluru, but the highlight for me was Kata Tjuta – with 36 individual stone domes, and higher than Uluru, a valley shaded by trees and spotted with waterholes, and beautiful outback vistas!
Some would say that Longitude 131 is expensive however, being an inclusive luxury lodge, it does offer value. Sure, you can stay in cheaper accommodation, but EVERYTHING is extra. By the time you add your meals, drinks, touring, and national park fees (which are all included at Longitude) the daily rate is NOT hugely different but the difference in the experience is HUGE!!
It’s the little things that enrich your experience!
Like, going to view Uluru at Sunset – as a guest of Longitude you are taken to a private elevated sand dune, well away the crowds in the public car park viewing area. A popup bar appears and you enjoy drinks and nibbles while you watch the changing colours of the sunset.
Or, after walking the base of Uluru, with a private guide you turn a corner and walk under the shade of the desert oak trees to find a private refreshments area. Again, you can enjoy cold refreshments and take in up close and personal the shapes, textures and colours.
Another beautiful experience was having dinner outdoors, discovering the wonders of the night sky at an exclusive venue among the dunes. After dinner the Lodge guide shares tales of the Southerly constellations.
Of course, a visit to Uluru is not complete without a visit to the “Field Of Lights”. Bruce Munro’s internationally acclaimed art phenomenon, created from 50,000 bud-like stems and crowned with frosted-glass spheres, the installation blooms and appears to sway as darkness descends.
These are all included in your rate, and done so well. The service, the luxury, and the exclusivity of Longitude 131 is worth every penny.
If there is one thing that I would highly recommend adding to your visit it has to be a scenic helicopter flight. It is not until you get up above the monolith that is Uluru that you realise just how big she is. Plus you see the surrounding vistas and vastness of our beautiful heartland.
Best time to go ? I guess that depends on whether you like the heat or the cold, or prefer it to be mild.
I went in the heat of summer – which was VERY hot during the day so the walks were best done early morning and late afternoon. There had been a little of the wet season rains from the north so it was surprisingly green and it meant there was water in the waterholes. The evenings under the stars and dining out was beautiful but if you don’t like the heat – avoid our summer (so NOT December – February).
In our winter (June-August) the days are lovely BUT the early mornings and evenings are cold so take a jacket!
I have very fond memories of my visit, and highly recommend a visit to Uluru, and for something special and an authentic Australian experience you can’t go past Longitude 131
Check out our photos
From my latest Uluru visit