A helicopter tour offers a thrilling aerial perspective of Uluru-Kata Tjuta. Preparing for a heli ride over Australia’s vast Red Centre is almost as exciting as the trip itself.
First up, passengers meet the pilot and receive a drill about what to do and not to do when approaching the helicopter: keep your head down! After a group photo at the side of the helicopter, blades whirring noisily overhead, guests climb onboard and put on headphones. In no time at all there’s lift off, and in the blink of an eye the heli is sweeping above Longitude 131° in a grand arc, heading towards Uluru.
The view of the landscape from the air is nothing less than thrilling; the natural icons explored on the ground fall into perspective against the sky and horizon. Mount Conner, Uluru and the mighty domes of Kata Tjuta line up and make sense as if part of a bigger plan, while fault lines run like ripples into the distance. The Red Centre seems greener from above, with desert oaks dotting the red earth like an artwork.
The pilot’s commentary explains the indigenous Tjukurpa – or dreaming – and stories of the landscape and indicates the private indigenous community at Mutitjulu before circling towards Kata Tjuta.
For those who have walked among some of the 36 domes on the Walpa Gorge experience or on the rewarding Valley of the Winds walk, a flight over the rock formation reveals their true shape and layout; some have grassy tops with trees growing determinedly from the most precarious of places. The mysterious appeal of Kata Tjuta with its crevices and alleyways is only heightened from above.
The pilot asks to keep watch for herds of donkeys or camels roaming the landscape, and before long it’s time to come back to earth, with the heli landing neatly and apparently effortlessly within landing lines.
For many guests at Longitude 131° a visit to the World Heritage-listed natural icons of Uluru-Kata Tjuta is the perfect excuse to take their first-ever helicopter ride, and there are a number of heli tour options available.
A 15-minute taster takes in Uluru and Kata Tjuta, while a longer 36-minute ride offers a more in-depth experience. A popular option is to take a heli ride as departure tour, neatly flying over ground recently explored and landing at the airport. The team at Longitude 131° wait with luggage to check in to departure flights and a take-away packed lunch, a last taste of Longitude 131°.
Journeys further afield include a flight out to Mount Conner, to the shimmering pink salts of Lake Amadeus, to the majestic Kings Canyon or to the Ernabella Indigenous community and art centre.
Guests are best advised to bring a camera, a sense of adventure and to be prepared for an unforgettable experience of Uluru-Kata Tjuta by air.