Huddled under one lone awning in the middle of the Outback, as the rain poured down around us, we all looked forlornly at the broken down tour bus while Jess presented us with a choice:
- admit defeat and return to the previous night’s campground near Uluru
- head a couple hours down the road toward Kings Canyon in hopes that the river hadn’t overflowed – if it hadn’t we could hike the Canyon in the morning.
At this point it was a tough call. Although the our visit to Uluru was rained out, and the base walk and Kata Juta portions severely affected by the rain, nothing compared to the fact that one of the buses broke down in the middle of nowhere.
My tour bus was fine, but our company had two tours running that weekend and we couldn’t leave the other bus stranded. All 42 of us waited out the rain in a small shelter as the one working bus sped down the road, back to town, to (hopefully) pick up an alternative bus.
When Jess returned the sun was setting and we were hours away from our planned camp.
Naturally though we took option two – I mean, we really wanted to see King’s Canyon!
Day Three: Forging Another River and Kings Canyon
And also naturally, of course, just 20 minutes from our campground we encounter a deep river flooded across the road.
The poles measure depth and according to Jess, it was too deep to cross. Well, too deep to cross with people in the bus…
Yes, we all hiked up our pants, doffed our socks and shoes, and waded across the stream while Jess put a plastic bag around something on the bus so that it wouldn’t flood (muffler maybe? I don’t profess to have a clue when it comes to that!).
We made it! And still in good spirits too. Because by this time we had all adapted the “us against the elements” mentality, and clearly we were winning.
In fact, by night time the rain cleared enough to sleep in swags under the stars and it was just about as spectacular as you could imagine. After so much rain, the sky was crystal clear and there wasn’t an ounce of light pollution for hundreds of miles to lessen the impact of thousands of bright, twinkling stars.
Our reward for two days of flooding and endless rain was a spotlessly clear and bakingly hot morning hike through Kings Canyon with a relieved dip in the bottom watering hole for good measure.
The Verdict on an Australian Outback Tour
What a trip right?! When Outback Safaris promised an adventure, they weren’t kidding. As for the company, I really liked them – they’re a classic budget backpacker option and just a tad more than the cheapest option (which I had heard horrible things about). And would I do it again? Yes, and I’d do it with Outback Safaris again too it’s not their fault it rained! So, in short, I recommend the company and the experience…while I’m not sure what a typical trip with them is like, they handled all of the craziness really well :-)
Check out more photos of the Outback trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Juta, and Kings Canyon.