It was actually kind of disappointing. I made the trip with two German backpackers and I had every intention of climbing 'The Rock', as did they. Now, I am not going to get into a debate over the whole ''Should I climb the rock or not'' issue. It was my decision to climb it and I cannot say that I was disappointed with my decision.
During our visit of two days to the area we managed to see the early sunrise, do the Mala walk, complete the 7 km hike around The Olga’s, stop at the Olga’s viewing area, visit the cultural centre (twice), climb the rock itself, view the sunset, see another sunrise the following day and complete the 10km base walk. After that we went to Kings Canyon.
The basic consensus afterwards from the three of us rated the Ayers Rock climb as the best experience, with Kings Canyon a VERY close second. The Olga's came in third and the remainder of the Ayers Rock activities last place.
In all honesty, if I had NOT climbed Ayers Rock I would have given the Ayers Rock experience the big thumbs down.
I highly recommend climbing Ayers Rock, it was sensational, the highlight of the National Park actually.
A lot of people (mostly those on internet forums that indicated they didn't climb the rock for cultural respect reasons) claim that the base walk is far superior to actually climbing the rock itself. I have no idea how they can make this comparison if they haven't actually climbed it, but as I have done both I can safely say that climbing the rock is a much better experience than the base walk (in my opinion). The base walk is very long and can be a bit boring at times, particularly when you are on the portion of the walk that is furtherest from the rock. There are a lot of sacred areas that you are not allowed to take photos (and these areas usually have the more interesting aspects that would be worth taking a photo of) so that puts a bit of a dampener on things too.
If you are not up for the challenge of a 10km walk then the Mala walk is probably one of the best walks to go on. It is an easy walk, has interesting things to look at, and on 90% of the walk photos ARE permitted. If you get there at 8am you can join the ranger guided tour along the Mala walk to learn more.
All in all, I am not saying that the visit to Ayers Rock was terrible, but it wasn't anywhere as spectacular as Kings Canyon. Had I not been luckily enough to climb the rock (because of the climb being closed) I would have left the National Park feeling a bit disappointed. In fact, if they do ban the climb in the future and I am asked if it is worth going for the other things I would probably say, ''Nah, not really, give it a miss''.
Oh, and expect to pay a huge fee to enter the National Park - As at April 2013 it was $25 PER PERSON (Not per car like other NP's). The pass does last three days, but not overly handy for those that just want a day visit. You cannot buy a one day, or two day, pass. You must pay for all three days.
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