My story of Kings Canyon Tour
Three days before the tour
“Is it worth the amount I am spending?” I asked two of my colleagues.
One of my colleagues answered, “I did not visit Kings Canyon when I visited Ayers Rock“. I wondered why, but chose to ignore it.
The French colleague of mine in his French accent said, “You should visit Kings Canyon, and it is very beautiful. And I drove from Ayers Rock“.
With conflicting thoughts, I decided to spend my last savings on the experience and finally booked my day tour to Kings Canyon with AAT Kings, blaming whoever said it is worth spending the money on experience rather than materialistic things!
Previous night of the tour
AAT Kings had emailed me the detailed itinerary. The pick-up time from my hotel (Outback pioneer, which is a really cool place to stay at by the way!) was at 4:50 AM. I set up two alarms – one for 4:00 AM and the other for 4:10 AM, exactly calculating every minute between 4:10 AM to 4:50 AM. Am all organised and am the best, thinking to myself, I went to bed.
On the day of the tour
I switched my first alarm off (4:00 AM) happily thinking about the extra 10 minutes I had, for my sleep. I woke up 2 minutes later and checked my phone, only to find out that it was 4:46 AM and that my bus was parked outside waiting for me to be picked up. Oh my God! I panicked. How did this happen? I broke any girl’s record (and I think I should be awarded for this!!) and got ready in flat 8 minutes – okay I agree, it’s exaggeration – in 12 flat minutes (Wooohooo!).
The bus driver gave me a stressed out look (Come on dude! It’s just 4:58 AM) as I ran towards the bus. Clumsily getting into the bus and surpassing all the eyes staring at me in anger (some were picked up at 4:00 AM), I settled down on a two seater with my tripod and my huge heavy backpack (I don’t have a slightest idea what’s in my backpack – all I use is my wallet). After about 2 minutes, finally we started our drive to Kings Canyon.
PIN for later reference
About Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. It comprises of massive 100 meters sandstone walls and lush palm trees. The drive is approximately 3 hours’ from Ayers Rock. The only way to get to the Kings Canyon is by driving. Note: One can take 2WD vehicles even though 4WD is recommended.
The name of Kings Canyon originate from Kings Creek. It was named by the explorer Ernest Giles after his friend Fielder King. The land is the traditional home for the Luritja people of Central Australia.
Did you know that Kings Canyon is called as the rival of Yosemite?
Walk in Kings Canyon
Just before reaching the base of Kings Canyon, our driver gave us a heads up of what to expect during the day. He briefed us about the two famous walks – one being the short 2 kilometre return walk at the base of the Canyon (Aah, 2 km walk? That’s for kids, I thought!) and the other being the most challenged 6 kilometres return RIM walk, with 500+ rocky steps and a path at the top around the Canyon.
Do not attempt this hike during the hot months (between September and April inclusive) in Australia.
32 of us decided to do the RIM walk and signed our health declaration forms. I decided to leave my tripod in the bus (which was a pretty good idea) and carried my backpack with two mini water bottles and my M&Ms:). The walk started at approximately 9 AM. At the base, I agree, it did look very scary, but I had to do it, no chance I would have backed out (stubborn huh!). The first 200 steps, I think, were the hardest. I maintained my slow pace and took lots of pictures along the way.
We did have an option to return to the bus anytime between the first 200 steps. All 32 of us were determined to complete the RIM walk and decided to climb the rest 300 steps:). Some rocks were more difficult to climb than the others. Step by step and one rock at a time, all of us made it to the top! Once we reached the top of the Canyon, we forgot how strenuous the climb was and started enjoying the spectacular views of the gorge below.
The red rock structures with patches of green palm trees were something to die for. The sandstone walls were a delight for the photographers with the bright beautiful colors. I have close to 300 pictures of just the sandstone walls:).
Logistics of the walk
- Distance of the hike: 6 kilometres.
- Hours required: 4 hours.
- Grade: Moderate to Difficult (Starts off with Steep steps).
- Steps: 500+ steps.
- Type of walk: Return (clockwise direction).
- Stay on the track (stairs and boardwalks). Do not deviate from the track as it can be dangerous.
- Do not attempt this walk if the temperature forecast for the day is hot.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Take sufficient water.
For other walks in Northern Territory (NT), refer the hiking in NT section.
- Tour provider: AAT Kings.
- Cost: Approximately AUD 250.
- Tour Name: Kings Canyon & Outback Panoramas.
- My experience of the tour provider: The driver of AAT Kings was very good. Their tours are well organised and are on time. So I recommend going with this tour agency for sure.
Safety for Solo female travelers
I would not attempt hiking the RIM walk alone. Not because it is not safe, but because it is so isolated from the nearest city. It is always a good idea to go with a buddy or a travel agency that takes care of the safety.
In approx. 4 hours, just before the lunch, we had completed the RIM walk. At the end of the walk, I had a smile and a satisfaction of climbing up one of the prominent landmarks of Australia. And yes, I am thankful to my French colleague who convinced me to do this day tour. Kings Canyon is definitely worth the day trip.