After a few relaxed nights in Adelaide, I went on my second group tour that led us from Adelaide over Coober Pedy, the world famous Uluru to Alice Springs in 6 days. Like on the Great Ocean Road I did this tour with Groovy Grape* and it was once more an awesome experience.
Saturday started early with a pickup from the hostel and meeting our tour guide Bronny and my new travel mates. We were 13 people (a couple from Germany/the US, a mom and her daughter from the US, two Asian girls, a Dutch family of three and 3 solo travellers: Charlott from Amsterdam, Stephanie from Guatemala living in Canada and Harri from Wales). We were a great group and especially with the 3 other solo travellers I got along well.
The tour started with a long drive to our first stop and was only the start to very long upcoming drives. For lunch, we stopped at a super cute vinery run by an old couple who invited us to eat on their property and enjoy the idyllic scenery of their home. We had yummy buns and once again I was super happy to get great, fresh and mostly healthy food on tour.
Afterwards, we drove to Alligator Gorge to hike through the canyon and enjoyed the nature and the silence in the gorge.
Arriving at our campsite for the night we got ready for our first night in a swag under the stars. We had a BBQ and delicious salad for dinner and crawled into our sleeping bags next to the campfire.
Swags are basically bigger sleeping bags with a thin mattress inside and made from thicker and denser material. In the inside, you have your real sleeping bag and that was our bed on the ground under the stars for 4 of 5 nights on tour.
The first night in nature immediately made me fall in love with sleeping outside and I enjoyed every single night. Even when it started to rain a little bit because it is such a cool feeling and you can easily put a cape over your head.
On tour, we either woke up early for a sunrise hike or to start driving to get to our next destination earlier. Sunday we finally made it to “the outback”. Red sand, less vegetation and less green outside the window.
For lunch, we stopped at a super small “town” that consists of only one roadhouse with a refill station and about seven trailers. As there was basically nothing around, we had a very windy and sandy lunch: couscous salad, green salad and sandwiches.
In the late afternoon, we arrived in Coober Pedy and got a very informative and interesting tour through old opal mines. Afterwards, we were able to shop some pretty jewellery and I bought something for my mom. As most things were made with silver, I didn’t buy anything for me as I usually were rose gold, but I already regret it as they had very pretty rings and necklaces…
While watching the sunset from above the hill, we ate pizza and enjoyed the view.
Afterwards, we went to one of my highlights of the tour: visiting a kangaroo sanctuary and being able to pet and watch disabled adult kangaroos that live there, and baby kangaroos, called Joey’s, that will be released back to wild when they are big enough. It was so cute to see this little animal with its big ears and eyes.
This night we slept in another unusual place: under the rocks. Most houses in Coober Pedy have rooms under the earth as it gets super hot here and it was very nice to sleep in a cold and very dark dorm, so I had a great night sleep.
On Monday we had to drive the most kilometres on tour (over 600km) so we got up at 5.30 am to see the sunrise over the opal minefields and fall asleep again afterwards on the bus.
That day, we passed the border to the Northern Territory which was basically the highlight of the day.
We arrived at the Kings Canyon Creek Campground, where one of my favourite picture from the tour was taken. It really sums up the vibe of our tour: many sunsets and sunrises, beautiful star skies, campfires and good company.
Tuesday was finally the day of less driving and more adventures and we started right away with a hike around and through the Kings Canyon.
We got up at 4 am, jumped in our comfy clothes, had a big breakfast and drove to the beginning of the trail called ‘heart attack hill’. It is named like that because the beginning of the hike super steep and exhausting, to get on top of the canyon. From there we watched a beautiful sunrise and then hiked around and into the canyon which wasn’t that difficult anymore. We had many wonderful views over the breathtaking nature and in that park, this first hike was my favourite.
When you wake up super early every day feels like two days because you do so much. It was only 11am when we finished the walk and drove to the Ayers Rock.
Arriving at the Uluru our guide told us about the history of the rock and some Aboriginal stories around it and we walked a bit around the Uluru/Ayers Rock.
For sunset we drove to the best place with the best view on the rock and had yummy cheese and crackers while admiring how the red rock changes its colours while the sun sets.
For the next/last two nights we stayed at the Uluru Campground.
Another day another hike. So we got up at 4am again and drove to the famous Olgas/ Kata Tjuta. The scenery was amazing once again and on top of the mountain ranges our guide had the idea to stay completely silent for 3 minutes and just be in the moment and I really enjoyed that quiet time and it was a beautiful experience.
On our way back, I got to know Stephanie the Guatemalan girl more and we had such a fun time together. We really got along so well and I was once more amazed by how easy it is to meet likeminded people while travelling – but that’s probably because you already have one similarity: the urge to travel and adventure.
Steph invited me to come to Guatemala one day when she is there too and she would be my travel guide and show me around her favourite places and I already know, that I’ll do that for sure!
For our last dinner together we had an amazing veggie curry with coconut milk and rice noodles (called Laksa) – a special recipe from our guide Bronny.
We had another wonderful sunset view in the evening. This time with a view over the Olgas and the Uluru from more far away and it was gorgeous once again!
And then it was already the last night under the stars. I am already considering getting one myself at home to be able to go to beautiful places in summer and sleep outside wherever I want to…
Sleeping under the stars was an awesome experience every night. I really enjoyed sleeping with fresh air, light wind and snuggled up into my warm sleeping bag. The matrass in the swag was comfy and it is the best feeling to fall asleep looking at the beautiful dark sky full of light stars and when you wake up at night (to go to the toilet or turn to the other side) you are amazed every single time by the beauty of nature and I could never resist smiling. Furthermore, waking up at 4 am is much easier when the first thing you see is the endless sky.
This day, we got up early for the last time again to see sunrise over the Uluru. Another special morning and wonderful view. We enjoyed pancakes for breakfast while watching the sun rise and it was another favourite moment on this tour for me.
Afterwards we did the base walk around the Uluru (around 8km) which was a great and easy trail and I had time to talk and get to know my travel buddies even more.
As Alice Springs is another 5-hour drive north from the Uluru, we had a last very hot and exhausting drive, but arrived full of new memories at our final destination.
In the evening our tour group met again at Uncle’s for burgers and waffle fries (so yummy!), beer or cider for me and playing pool, which was so much fun. Afterwards, we went to another pub and had a great night, but didn’t go home that late because we were all super tired from the eventful last days.
My days in Alice Springs
…consisted of going food shopping with my friends from the tour, writing the blog, saving pictures and editing and cooking a yummy dinner together at night. We had sweet potato spinach bowls topped with salted cashews (so so amazing!) and watched Karate Kid and talked.
Saturday and Sunday I basically did the same: went for a run, bringing postcards to the post, working and cooking dinner.
On Monday I flew to Sydney and left the red outback with hundreds of new memories, experiences and new friends.
*Disclaimer! Just to clarify that: I got a discount for my tour with groovygrapetours, but I am obviously still 100% honest with all my reviews and thoughts!