The Cheapest way to See Uluru(Ayers Rock)

by Mike on May 22, 2014

Most travelers visit Uluru from Alice Springs via a 3 day/2 night tour. The price of these tours can range from $350 an up depending on how luxurious you want your accommodations to be.

Tours offer the value of peace of mind since everything is inclusive including your meals. I didn’t go the tour route because I thought I could beat the cheapest price by visiting Ayers Rock on my own.

Uluru at Sunset

Uluru

I arrived a little past mid-day at Ayers Rock Resort via a one-way coach from Alice Springs. With plenty of daylight left, I wanted to head out and see Uluru. Rental cars and day tours are just about the only option if you don’t have your own car.

Prices for day tours to visit Uluru are based on what you want to see. Want a tour to see Uluru at sunset, that’s $70 AUD, want to the Sunrise, that’s another $70 AUD. A visit to Kata Tjuta is an additional charge.

These prices don’t include the $25 AUD National Park Entrance fee(valid for 3-days).  Needless to say, the transfers to the National Park is overpriced simply because of what it is.

Uluru and Kata Tjuta Map

Uluru Map

I knew it would be a gamble to arrive in Ayers Rock without any tour booked, was I a bit naïve that I could find something cheaper than what was offered? I knew walking would not be an option since Uluru is located 20km from the resort area, thus eliminating that option especially in the heat.

MY ATTEMPT

During my travels in Australia, I met numerous younger travelers who either bought or rented camper vans to drive along the Eastern Coast of Australia. I knew some would head west towards Darwin via Alice Springs and Ayers Rock.

With the high likelihood that the Ayers Rock Campground would be a mecca for these travelers, I took a stroll through the campgrounds.

I sat in front of the registration office to see who would walk out. I saw two younger folks who seemed to be traveling separately. I inquired about their plans of visiting Uluru. One was with his girlfriend so he didn’t want a third wheel, which is understandable. The other person I talked to didn’t have room in their van.

With the prospects slim at the registration desk, I walked deeper in the campground passing folks with pull along campers and motorcyclist until I arrived at the open lawns for tents. There, I walked up to the communal kitchen area and saw four younger looking guys sitting at a picnic table. I approached them and asked about their plans to visit Uluru.

The group of guys were French and one of them spoke English fairly well, I conserved with him while he spoke to his group of friends. It turns out they were finishing up lunch and planned on going to The Rock for sunset after a little afternoon siesta. They had no problems if I tagged along and told me to come back to their tents at 4:30p.

SCORE! I found a ride to Uluru without a tour operator.

I showed up at 4:30p with some overpriced beer($25 AUD for a 6 pack of beer bought from the Ayers Rock Resort). I figured it would be a nice gesture in exchange for the lift and a nice way to view the sun set on The Rock.

Cheapest way to see Uluru

Riding with the French Guys to Uluru

It turned out only 2 of the 4 guys drank and they were more than delighted about the fact I had beer – the international currency of favors.

When we departed ways that night, they invited me to go along with them to Kata Tjuta the following day!

Here’s a picture of the four French Guys and me at Uluru Sunset.

Cheapest way to see Uluru

Me and the French Guys at Uluru Sunset(Charlie, Pierre, Clement, Manu, and me)

The next day, I showed up at their campsite and headed for Kata Tjuta for the Valley of the Winds and Walpa Gorge hikes. Both of which were splendid.

I’m extremely fortunate that I stumbled upon the French guys and I can’t be grateful enough for their generosity. One of the French Guys, Clement, had done a little hitch hiking through Australia and knew what it meant to be in my shoes.

Presumably, Clement is returning the good karma that was brought about him during his previous hitch hikes, so it’s up to me to pass along the karma.

I’m glad I visited Uluru the way I did, it put me out of my comfort zone a bit by going up to complete strangers and asking, but the worst that they could say is “no.” Because of this experience, I’ll remember the visit to Uluru more fondly because of the way I did it.

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