Trekking Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

At camping area in the nearby village Yulara not far from Uluru / Ayers Rock where we chose to sleep for the first night of our camping tour, we helped our tour guide in dinner preparation. To be honest, I was not really good in kitchen and food stuff but still I tried my best to be useful, like helping the group in washing the dishes. After dinner, our tour guide announced that our wake-up call was 6am the next morning.

I washed-up myself before I get in the swag. When I was inside the swag, I got a chance to enjoy the sky at night and tried to listen to my surroundings. While I was in that moment, I was also checking my other group mates and found some were snoozing, some still talking and some were just quiet like me.

Overnight in an open space and sleeping in swag was one of the first unique experience I had in the Outback. Yes, as mountaineers, I usually sleep in sleeping bag inside the tent but it was first in swag which quite different. Swag is like a self contain sleeping bag, I never felt cold over night which was really surprising but good as well. Before I totally passed out for day, I was with a thought of happiness and satisfaction with my first day with Uluru / Ayers Rock specifically the base walk experience. That night, I felt excited again and I was looking forward for the next adventure.

Second day at the outback, I woke-up early in the morning. I organised my swag, I tried to roll it to be like it was before I used it, but it’s kind of difficult to roll, so I just fixed it as much I can.  I joined my group in preparing our breakfast. Since I had shower the night before, I was ready for the day’s event. It was still dark when we left the camping area, I felt like it was still early in the morning. As we were catching the sunrise we drove back again to Lasseter Highway from Yulara and visited a lookout area called Kata Tjuta Viewing Area (or Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing). We waited a little, in few minutes we witnessed the sunrise while watching  Kata Tjuta from a far. While observing The Olgas , from a distance at our right side while facing The Olgas, Uluru / Ayers Rock was also visible, the sun was actually behind it. It was a spectacular moment for me. We watched how great sceneries that Kata Tjuta shows because it is a rock dome ranges, it was called t that moment with the sun rising, I felt really alive, I felt really good. It was a moment that I was content and loved my life. It was one of the effect of the Outback to me. Sometimes I can’t explain why, because to other people maybe it’s just a places of rocks with probably no meaning to them, but for me it was a world of amazing things and serenity.

— Uluru / Ayers Rock at dawn and early in the morning from Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing Area

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) from Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing Area

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— On our way to Kata Tjuta

After, the sunrise, we went back to the bus and we drove towards The Olgas. We returned to Lassetter Highway and I knew that time, that the second day was the day to get up close and personal with Kata Tjuta. We arrived at the parking area where the “Valley of the Winds” trekking trail starts.

— Up close and personal with Kata Tjuta / The Olgas

— The trekking trail

— The first glimpse of Valley of the Winds from Karu Lookout

We jumped-off the bus and started our walk towards the base of The Olgas. At firs,t I thought that The Olgas are small hills until we were really close to it and realized how huge the rock formations and was like Uluru / Ayers Rock. Kata Tjuta is a unique kind of natural rock formation. I was reckoning, in such desert plain like Red Centre, that there such kind of rock formations like Uluru  / Ayers Rock and The Olgas existed. I was amazed how these were created and become what they are today. If we are living in a magical world like from a fantasy story, we can think of that someone may put Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the middle of desert plain and the most surprising, they are located in the almost center of Australia. I was still contemplating how these kind of rock formations evolved in the middle of the desert until I thought that it was some amazing geological miracle. The first part of the trail was Karu Lookout where we first witness the “Valley of the Winds”.

— The trekking trail

— The Olgas

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— Featuring the highest dome called Mount Olga

P1080011— Water Stream

We followed the trail inside The Olgas. I enjoyed the trek around the area. We passed a small water streams that looks like a natural canal or a petite river. Trekking in a natural environment such as The Olgas are one of the activities that I really enjoyed. Then, along the trail we saw the water falls which seems the source of the water stream that we just passed by. The same trail where the water fall is, we have to combine walking and hiking in an inclined part of one of the huge rock formation and there’s nothing to hold on. Honestly, that kind of trail made me felt really unsure to myself. I tried my best and we successfully passed the part of the trail until we reach the top area where the water falls came from.

— Trekking Trail

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— Getting inside The Olgas

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— The poop (captured this photo while our tour guide is telling something about the poop)

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— The water falls we passed by along the trail

— The top most area where the water falls came from

— Trekking trail

— Between The Olgas

We arrived at the top most area that we can reach in the trail and walk towards Karingana Lookout. There, I saw the “Valley of the Winds” again. At Karingana Lookout, “Valley of the Winds” was an amazing and a picturesque view. At the time of trekking, I was quite tired after taking steps upward to the area, though tired a bit, I felt it was worth to climb. At the lookout, I realized how lucky I was to witness such sceneries and such views  that cannot be appreciated down below.

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— Trail to Karingana Lookout for “Valley of the Winds” view

— Between The Olgas

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Valley of the Winds at Karingana Lookout

— Couple of shots on the way back to the parking area.

— Kata Tjuta / The Olgas

After spending sometime and after enjoying photo snapshots at Karingana lookout for the “Valley of the Winds”, we started to go back. We used the same trail going up to descend The Olgas. We passed the same water falls and slippery trail. After returning to the parking area, I thought that the adventure in The Olgas was finished until we drove back to Lasseter Highway and stopped at The Olgas Viewing Area.

Before we completely ended our adventure that day, after finishing Kata Tjuta trek, we returned to Uluru Sunset Viewing area because our tour guide considered that we experienced rain during the first camping day tour, it was good to go back for such wonderful day. And we spent few minutes to take photos and snapshots until we leave the premise.

— Kata Tjuta

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— Uluru / Ayers Rock (during our second day)

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Mount Conner

On our way to Kings Creek station, which was the designated place for our upgraded accommodation arrangement. Upgraded because from swag, we were about to sleep in Tent with two beds, which means one thing, a more comfortable bed are waiting for our group. Passing Lasseter Highway, we stopped at Mount Conner lookout area, where we saw how magnificent Mount Conner. I was amazed because the rock formation that Mount Conner has which stands around the area of Red Centre is another piece of huge rock formation in the middle of the desert and its  distinguished shape still notable compared to Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

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— Our Tour Guide

— Lasseter Highway

After enjoying Mount Conner from a distance, we crossed Lasseter Highway to enjoy the nearby desert with perfect sand dunes, we walked around the area and played the sands, we saw the lake as well and discovered a unique species in the outback desert called Ngiyari or Thorny Devil.

— Lake

— Desert sand dunes

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— Ngiyari (Thorny Devil)

The rest of the afternoon spent in the road while we were on our way to Kings Creek station for our third and last day adventure in Kings Canyon. It was another worth experience I had in the outback of Australia. And though I was quite sad that the adventure will be over soon, I was still excited for the next adventure.

Until then.

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Discovery : Ngiyari (Thorny Devil)

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Discovery (Post#1) : Ngiyari (Thorny Devil)

When I did Outback Adventure in Red Centre area of Australia, it is not only the experiences and places that I treasured. During that time, I was to lucky to saw one of the unique species in the desert which is called Ngiyari or Thorny Devil. When I saw this one, I was kind of scared because I don’t have any idea if its wild species that will bite me or it is not. I took the photos of it while we were at Mount Conner Lookout at Lasseter Highway which just beside the road and the other side has desert that we quickly visited to enjoy the sand dunes. I asked our guide when I showed the photo and told me its Thorny Devil or Ngiyari is a lizard and its harmless. Photo captured last March 2013.

Dubai City Tour

It was Sunday, my last day in Dubai as holiday. In Dubai or let’s say UAE (not sure if all Arab countries are the same), they started their weekday on Sunday and will last on Thursday. Therefore, they treated Friday and Saturday as their weekends. Because I will be traveling alone, I booked a bus tour which is hop-in and hop-out bus tour type. Though there are places included in the tracks that I already visited, I still join the tour since it is the cheapest way to go around the city since I can’t rent a car because I don’t know how to drive.

Here are the routes of the BigBus Tour that I booked:

1. Red Route (City Route)

a. WAFI
b. Creek Park
c. Creek Walk
d. Al Fahidi Port
e. Old Souk
f. Heritage Village
g. Gold Souk
h. Spice Souk
i. Abra Station
j. Baniyas
k. Deira City Centre
l. Burjuman
m. WAFI

2. Blue Route (Marina Route)

a. WAFI
b. Union House
c. Jumeirah Mosque
d. Mercato
e. Jumeirah Beach Park
f. Jumeirah Public Beach
h. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
i. Atlantis On The Palm
j. Mall of Emirates
k. The Dubai Mall
m. WAFI

3. Night Tour

a. Sheikh Zayed Road
b. Burj Al Arab
c. Palm Jumeirah
d. Skycraper City
e. Burj Khalifa
f. Downtown Dubai
g. WAFI Light and Sound Show

Self tour within the area: Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and Mall of Emirates

Since I have one day left, I did not go anymore to the places that I already seen and visited. And because it still summer in Dubai, the hardest part is walking outside in a hot sunny day. During the day tour, I went outside the bus when we arrived at the Public Beach of Jumeirah and Souk Madinat Jumeirah which both belong to Blue route or Marina route.  I stayed inside the bus in other location because I am maximizing the time that I still have to see much as I can. The places I saw from the bus in this route are: the 2nd of December Street (from the formal date of nationalization of UAE from British), Union House (where the UAE was form and the huge flagpole of UAE located), Jumeirah Mosque, Mercato (an Italian themed mall), and Jumeirah Beach Park (which exclusive only for women).

IMG_2510At WAFI (day time)

IMG_2511Raffles Dubai in WAFI (at day time)

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Around WAFI (at daytime)

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Khan Murjan Entrance (at daytime)

IMG_2518Etisalat Tower 2 (along Sheikh Zayed Road)

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Jumeirah Mosque

IMG_2650Jumeirah Beach Hotel

I got off from the bus when we arrived at Public Beach of Jumeirah because I thought I can take pictures there, but unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures in the beach that was why I was not able to take pictures of Burj Al Arab from that place. My disappointment in the beach was gone when I went to Souk Madinat which can be found inside Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I was really fascinated with the place because of unique style of the market and the structure design of the hotel that you will really feel you are in an arab desert place. I went outside the souk and found a great place to capture Burj Al Arab hotel from Souk Madinat or from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I realized that I was standing in some part of the luxurious resort hotel in Dubai. Though not all part are free to all tourist, it was just part where there are restaurants outside the hotel. I enjoyed the place and if I will be given a chance to come back, I hope I can stay in Madinat Jumeirah Hotel resort.

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Souk Madinat Jumeirah Entrance

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Inside Souk Madinat Jumeirah

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Burj Al Arab from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort

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Around Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort

Another area that I enjoyed without getting off the bus is the Palm Jumeirah. A famous man-made palm shape structure island, where you can find luxurious hotels and residential homes of rich people. I never realized how big Palm Jumeirah until our bus entered the island. There are lots of residential and buildings already exist and other structures are still being built. For me the place is already beautiful and I was excited when we saw Altantis The Palm hotel from a far. I can’t believe my eyes that I am seeing the hotel which I only saw in the movie of “Sex and the City”. It is a huge hotel that I was not able to capture the whole building with my phone when we were at the front of the hotel. Atlantis is another luxurious hotel that exist in Dubai, I can’t imagine how much it will cost when you stay even for one night.

IMG_2537View while entering Palm Jumeirah (Burj Al Arab from a far)

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Atlantis The Palm (at Palm Jumeirah)

IMG_2541View of Dubai Marina from Palm Jumeirah

Next places I saw in daylight are Mall of Emirates, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, I took photos of these building again while inside the rooftop of the bus.

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Novotel (at Sheikh Zayed Road) where I stayed in my first 5 nights in Dubai

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IMG_2546JW Marriott Marquis Hotel

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Mall of Emirates

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Burj Khalifa

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Souk Al Bahar (near in Burj Khalifa)

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Dubai Mall

After completing the blue route, I transferred in Red route or City route bus and in this tour, I saw more of Deira area and its old downtown. I saw the Creek River, Creek Park, wooden Arabian Dhow, Al Fahidi Port, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Abra Station, Baniyas and Deira City Centre.

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Creek River

IMG_2589Creek Park Main Gate (at Al Riyadh St)

IMG_2591wooden arabian dhow in Creek River (at Al Seef Road)

IMG_2592Creek River (at Al Seef Road)

IMG_2593Wooden Arabian Dhow

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IMG_2598Old Souk

IMG_2599Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport

IMG_2602Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport

IMG_2603Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station

IMG_2604Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station

IMG_2605Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station

IMG_2606Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station

IMG_2607Heritage Village

IMG_2608Heritage Village

IMG_2613Creek River at Baniyas Road

IMG_2615Creek River at Baniyas Road

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IMG_2632Deira Old Souk

IMG_2633RTA Marine Transport at Baniyas Road

IMG_2646Deira City Center

While waiting for my night tour, I did some souvenir and gift shopping, these gifts serve as a token to give to my relatives and coworkers when I returned in my country.

The last part of the tour is the night tour where I witness and discovered how grandiose the city of Dubai at night-time. We drove again at the same route of Blue route. Here I saw Dubai differently and witness how beautiful Dubai City is during night hours.

The night tour concluded. And I returned straight from Deira City Centre to my hotel almost 11PM. This was how I ended my last day in Dubai. I hoped that I can go back again in this beautiful city someday because I know there are more places to discover and my few days are not enough to see them all, if I will be given a chance, at least I wanted to live here for almost a year to learn more about Arab culture and its country.

Desert Safari Adventure – Not To Be Missed in Dubai

This was the last day of the training, we started the training a little bit earlier and we ended it a bit earlier as well. I went out together with my Pakistan mates in a unique Arab adventure which is called desert safari tour. Though I was invited early on, I did not confirm ahead of time if I am going since I am not sure if I have other commitments. It was a little bit late that I confirmed that I am going to join them. Because of this, I made the group a little bit uncomfortable in terms of seating arrangement in the safari vehicle. But even that was the case, the group still able to managed the seats and the adventure has begun.

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IMG_9191Desert where we had our desert safari adventure (photos above)

I thought that desert location was near in the city, but it took us sometime to reach the location. Based on the photos that I captured using my iPhone, we started the desert safari adventure near in Al Badayar near in Dubai-Hatta Road which is part of Sharja (Sharja – one of the seven emirates in UAE). At first I did not know what to expect in this adventure. We parked our vehicle near the road and there we waited for sometime. While waiting, we took some photos of ourselves, the whole group and of course the desert. I asked what is the name of the desert and someone answered me, but I forgot the name of it. After waiting for few more minutes, still unknown what we are going to do, I saw some groups of vehicles from a far in the middle of the desert, they are aligned to each other like they are in queue and they are driving together within the desert dunes. From the distance, it seems it’s just nothing until I realized what we are up to when we got back inside the vehicle and we started rolling. To my surprise, since there is another vehicle in front of us, we are like a convoy following the tracks of the vehicle in front of us. I understand that we are driving at the tip of the sand dunes in the desert. I saw the front vehicle that it seems its falling but it’s not then its drives on sideways, that makes your heart flutter if you will be surprised. The desert safari rides is like a roller coaster, we enjoyed the whole ride, until we reach the other end of the desert near where the Lahbab Desert Safari Camp is located which is already part of Dubai. The safari camp is where we will witnessed the famous belly dancing show as part of Arabian nights experience.

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IMG_9215Lahbab Desert Safari Camp (above photos)

At the safari camp, all of the tourist were gathered, majority were seated in the middle and each group of tourist (based from tour company) has their own designated seats. Each has long tables and has pillows that serves as a seats, the setting itself feels the ambiance of Arabian nights. Few more minutes passed, the show started when the first woman entered at the middle stage. The woman started dancing, it was belly dancing. Another dance number followed and it also performed by another woman. Though its belly dancing, the style is different from the first one. It was the first time to experience watching belly dancing in a desert safari camp. The last number seems the biggest performance,  the big man went to the middle stage and started turning around without moving its position from where it stand, a lot of people amazed because the man doesn’t show if he’s dizzy even though he’s doing it for quite sometime. The big man is wearing a costume with lights with vibrant colors. Because of this, the effect of the lights while he is turning around are like illusions and the view was fantastic. Before the show ended, he asked volunteers from the audience to do the same thing, there are few volunteers tried doing the same thing  that the big man did and we had a good laugh when volunteers immediately felt dizziness. That’s how our Arabian nights experience ended. I had a great time. The whole group had a great time. After the show, we went back to the hotel, which means the night was over. That was the same night I saw my mates from Pakistan for the last time because they are going to back in their country, the next day morning, while I myself will still stay for few more days in Dubai to continue holiday.

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IMG_2357Inside Lahbab Desert Safari Camp (above photos)