Forget climbing the rock – cycle Uluru!
It’s the magnificent giants of our time that completely captivate my desire to roam, and so, as an avid hiker, an adventure-seeker, it made all the more sense for me to finally visit the famous outback of Australia and Uluru.
But there’s so much more to this wilderness, an energy that precedes and that will outlive us all, and it can only be experienced if you allow yourself the excitement of trekking these paths without a river of tourists surrounding you – the idea of cycling Uluru captured me.
And that’s how I decided to finally pack up and head to the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park on a late day in August.
First of all, you need to prepare yourself for the challenges, as the Aussie outback is known to be harsh, especially during the summer months, hence my decision to go in spring – the showers will have helped the local flora bloom to full dazzle, so you’ll no longer be surrounded by the desert-dominant red, but with all hues of its splendid flowers.
The native Aboriginal culture requires from the visitors to stick to a certain etiquette.
For instance, climbing is frowned upon, and it can cause significant damage to the monumental rock over time, so the best way to experience it is to walk around its base, cycle, and go to the nearby lookout spots. Cycling around Uluru is a great option!
Considering the rugged terrain, the arid days and chilly nights, it’s essential to bring the right clothes, gear and always keep plenty of water available. Trust me, even the most experienced desert explorers will be affected by the midday sun as you hike into the plain or try to overcome some of its mountainous elevations.
Always bring your sunscreen, shades, something to keep your head cool, and wear lightweight clothes that will keep you sun-safe, as well. But for the evenings, layers will be a life-saver as I discovered myself, as temperatures can drop as low as 10 degrees Celsius in the evening, while the spring afternoon can reach almost 30 degrees.
Finally, always plan your treks, visits and stops, so that you know how much water and snacks you need to bring with you – you don’t want to find yourself uncomfortably parched beneath the sizzling sun!
Of course, out of respect for the indigenous people, I didn’t even consider climbing, but it turns out that a bike ride around the base is an increasingly popular option as a few of my Aussie blogging friends have told me, especially in spring, where extra vegetation, inquisitive local wildlife and milder weather give it another layer of pleasure.
I decided that a sunrise ride was the best option, as I wanted to experience that peculiar hue of red and orange melting into each other as sunlight starts to permeate the region.
With my trusty bike, a pair of sturdy Shimano shoes, and my Rockshox service kit all around, the some 15-kilometer ride (depends on how much you like to stray) was no breeze, but a mesmerizing experience I’ll never forget.
The most memorable sights
If you start early enough, you will likely be all alone in the wilderness, encountering just an occasional enthusiast absorbing the rising sun on the dirt road. In the approximately 3 hours of my ride, which can vary depending on how many times you wish to stop and take a photo, or just bask in the view, I saw the early risers emerge from the surrounding vegetation, including some stunning wildflowers, friendly wallabies, lizards and, unfortunately, insects abound, too.
Since the track goes tantalizingly close to the massive formation, you’ll soon grasp the monumental size of it, as it dominates the view, the entire landscape, and you’ll finally realize why no postcard can truly encompass its incredible beauty.
Despite the heat, the challenge and the time it took, this was truly a bucket-list experience that I’d love to repeat, this time exploring different routes, and venturing into another off the beaten path adventure!