Kata Tjuta (also known as The Olgas) means 'many heads' in Anangu Aboriginal language. Kata Tjuta’s extraordinary landscape encompasses 36 sandstone domes rising out of the desert plain of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre. The highest dome (Mount Olga) rises 546 m above the plain, 198 m higher than Uluru.
Kata Tjuta’s ancient rock formations are believed to be around 500 million years old. The site is sacred under Tjukurpa and Anangu men’s law and many of the legends surrounding the site are kept secret. Uluru and Kata Tjuta are the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Kata Tjuta Walks & Warnings
For your info, there are 4 types of walks to choose from at Kata Tjuta and they are:
- Walpa Gorge Walk (Grade 3 – Moderate) 2.6 km
- Karu Lookout Walk (Grade 3 – Moderate) 2.2 km
- Karingana Lookout Walk (Grade 4 – Difficult) 5.5 km
- Full Circuit Walk (Grade 4 – Difficult) 7.4 km
Please bear in mind that all walks in Kata Tjuta cover long distance trails over stony, rugged and isolated terrains. Heat exhaustion and dehydration risks are common at Kata Tjuta even in mild weather. Therefore, it is wise to drink plenty of water, stay cool and walk safely at all times.
During hot weather, try to finish the walk by 11 am. For safety reasons, the track beyond Karu Lookout is closed from 11 am when the forecast or actual temperature is 36 degrees Celsius or above. In case of an emergency, use an emergency radio alarm to contact a ranger for help during park opening hours.
A map with legend showing the location of Kata Tjuta dune viewing area, Walpa Gorge, Valley of the Winds, and the routes to Karu and Karingana Lookout in Kata Tjuta
Karingana Lookout Walk (Grade 4 – Difficult) 5.5 km, Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
A couple admiring one of the 36 large sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
The massive sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
We walked over stony, rugged and isolated terrains at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
A young boy standing in comparison to the colossal sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
The 5.5 km Karingana Lookout Walk
After watching the sunrise over Uluru and having a glimpse of Kata Tjuta’s extraordinary landscape from the Kata Tjuta dune viewing boardwalk / platform, we were ready to take on the challenge of the day – the 5.5 km Karingana Lookout Walk at Kata Tjuta!
Unlike the 10 km base walk we did on our own in Uluru, this time we were accompanied by our tour guide, Rhea throughout the entire trail. This is because it is a difficult Grade 4 walk, covering a distance of 5.5 km over stony, rugged and isolated terrains.
After a brief safety briefing, we embarked on our journey as early as possible to make full use of the cool and comfortable morning condition. The first part of the walk was easy – over relatively flat and wide open terrain. We walked past interesting-looking desert shrubs and plants, similar to those in Uluru. In the background were the spectacular sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta. It looked impressive!
A scenic walk at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
The uneven trail at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
A section of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
The beauty of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) is simply beyond words
Interesting-looking desert flora and fauna at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
A Physically Challenging But Greatly Rewarding Scenic Trail
The level of difficulty of the trail elevated as we got closer to the Valley of the Winds, Kata Tjuta. The second part of the walk was over tight, uneven, rocky terrain littered with loose stones and boulders of all sizes and shapes. Do take note that proper walking shoes, plus strong ankles and knees are needed for this part of the walk.
As the sun rose higher, so does the temperature. We made sure we drank plenty of water or isotonic drinks along the way to stay hydrated. Some of us wore sunglasses, long sleeves and a hat to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. All of us applied generous amounts of sunscreen lotion to reduce the risk of getting sunburn or skin cancer at the end of the day.
Despite the difficulty of trail, the view was simply amazing – better than Uluru! Kata Tjuta offers its visitors a different and unique desert landscape to enjoy. At one point, the desert landscape looked like those on planet Mars. We made several short stops to rest and enjoy the moment; be in awe of Mother Nature’s beauty.
Rhea explaining the history and significance of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) to the group
The entire group taking a breather after completing 1/3 of the trail at Kata Tjuta
Loose stones and boulders of all sizes and shapes littered the Karingana Lookout trail at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) from another perspective
An up-close view of Kata Tjuta's sandstone domes
The level of difficulty of the trail elevated as we got closer to the Valley of the Winds
Always remember to stop and enjoy the moment, wherever we are
Daphne & Erika at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), NT, Australia
Up next: The Impressive Valley of the Winds in Kata Tjuta
Labels: Australia, Ayers Rock, Uluru