We got up at 5am to get ready for our safari! After a quick breakfast we were picked up by our guide for the next few days - "Spinna" a small, strange-looking man who knew so much about plants and rocks! We left the hostel around 6.30ish and by 7.30am Em and I found ourselves on the back of a camel! We stopped off at a camel farm where we had the opportunity to ride them up a big pen and back again. This was a first for Em and I can honestly say I've never been on a running camel before! The guide in charge raced them back on the home straight and we've got some pretty funny pics of this to prove it's true with all the dirt flying up behind our speedy camel! It was about a 4-5 hour journey to our first destination which was broken up by a few toilet breaks and stopping to scavenge around for fire wood. Whilst on the bus we had to take it in turns to stand up the front, introduce ourselves and basically just talk about yourself to the group! Was pretty funny! As it went, Em and I were the only English people in our group! There were 2 Swiss ladies (one was in her late 60s and I'm not joking put Em and I to shame with how fit she was!) There were 6 Germans (3 separate couples - this gave Emma plenty of chance to practise her german - and I just did my best to understand as it's been a few yrs since I last spoke German!) and finally there were 6 Aussies - 2 ladies who were travelling and working all over Australia and had been on the road for over 2 years! And a family of four, consisting of mum, dad and 2 little boys from outside Melbourne.
Our first destination was "The Olgas". We headed here after we had been to the campsite and had lunch. the Olgas is a big famous formation of boulder-shaped rocks out in the desert. It was around 35 degrees at this point and we spent about 2-3 hours climbing in and around it. The views were pretty spectacular but the flies were a pain! Plus this was the first point we had to really start getting used to drinking bottles of warm water! After this we drove over to near Ayres Rock to watch the sunset and take picture before returning to camp for dinner. The camp we were staying at was a permanent site with a BBQ and screened eating area for dinner. The tents were also permenant ones with beds inside. I think we both had the best nights sleep in a while that night, until we were woken up at 4.15am to start the next day!!
It was still pretty dark at just after 4 in the morning, but at least it was cool and there weren't any flies around! After a quick breakfast we drove back over to Ayres Rock to watch the sunrise. We then drove right over to the Rock where Em and I decided to climb it. The guide wasn't too sure it would be open - often it is too hot so they shut it but it was still very early in the morning and luckily it was pretty cloudy so we went for it. We managed to persuade some of the German crew to join us and 5 of us ventured up the rock! OK, it's Emma now as the site just crashed and Kat lost a lot of what she had written, she wasn't very happy believe me! Anyway, it was more a case of Kat persuading me to climb the rock. But I didn't mind when the others said they'd come. I just didn't want the two of us to be stuck at the top of a huge dry rock in 35 degree heat! The rock is immense, it was formed 600 million years ago (I think) and is sacred to the Aborigines. So technically we shouldn't have been climbing it, but everyone was. Even 4 old Japanese women. We had to get to the top when we saw them! The first part was really steep and there's a rail to help you up. We thought we'd reached the top then as we couldn't see any further but oh no, we had to go that distance again, maybe more before we reached the top! It was ok from then on though because the terrain was more varied and we had fun running up and down the rocks! It was really windy which made it a lot more comfortable than it could've been. When we reached the top a Japanese guy was proposing to his girlfriend, aaahhhhh! It was sweet. It probably took us around 2 hours to in total and getting down was a lot more scary than going up. It was definitely worth it though; the view was amazing, we just see miles and miles of bush/the outback.
After this we went to the cultural centre and learnt some more about Aboriginal history. Then it was back to the camp for some lunch before heading to the Mount Connor view point (one of the largest table top mountains in the world) where we also saw a salt water lake. I think at this point everyone was getting restless after the previous day's scavenging activities so Spinna woke us up and told us to get some more fire wood. Joy! We drove to Kings Canyon and checked out our new camp. It wasn't as fancy as the last one but it did have a swimming pool! We had tents but we slept in swags. It was fine but we were a bit worried after hearing stories of snakes crawling into them, hmmmm. We cooked dinner over a fire and whilst it was cooking we had to join in with a few Swiss and Ozzie sing-songs. OK we didn't protest this, there was nothing else to do! Kat and I were a bit worried about the chicken, it was dark and we were sure it couldn't be cooked properly so we didn't eat it. Spinna proceeded to shove it into his mouth at top speed, there's a strong possibility that he was brought up by wolves. I had to go to the toilets in the night (yes there were toilets) and that was a scary experience, it was pitch black and a circle of bugs were surrounding me. Well it wasn't exactly like that but you know. I think behind the tent was the safer option, Kat reckons everyone heard me. I'm sure one of the Germans drowned it out with his snoring, or at least I hope so.
The next day we had a lie in. UNTIL 5.30am!!!!! We went to Kings Canyon. For those of you who do not know a canyon is formed by a crack in the earth. This means that the Grand Canyon is not in fact a canyon as it was formed by a stream. Interesting fact for the day! We walked around Kings Canyon for 3-4 hours, it wasn't difficult at all after Ayers Rock! Then we went for a swim, had lunch and headed back to Alice Springs.
We enjoyed having proper beds at the hostel again! On Saturday morning I realised my camera is missing , it must have been the Friday 13th curse. Since then we've been and looked everywhere but it's gone. So unfortunately you'll be spared a picture of Spinna, oh and after you've heard so much about him! I'm glad Kat has lots of photos. We did our washing, everything was filthy from the sand in the outback and then we went into town for some lunch and souvenir shopping. We also visited the baby kangaroo rescue centre. They are so cute! They are joeys whose mothers have been killed in road accidents and the guy creates the mother's pouch with a pillow case! Apparently they need 24 hour care like babies and people take them to work in their offices and hang them on the door knob! That evening we went out for dinner, a treat yes. We wanted to try the local cuisine which was crocodile spring rolls, kangaroo meat, emu meat which looked and tasted like purple ham, and camel salami. The kangaroo was by far our favourite.