Nothing really prepares you for your first up-close sight of Uluru.
Looming with incandescent power above the bare Australian outback, 'The Rock' is a monumental slab of red sandstone located in an otherwise flat landscape. It had been a sacred site for the Anangu aboriginal people for millennia before it was 'discovered' by colonist surveyors in the 1870s, who named it after the then-secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers.
A visit today is all about appreciating both Uluru's spiritual significance and its otherworldly beauty. The sun paints it daily with changing shades of orange and ochre, while at nearly 350 metres high and almost six miles in circumference, its sheer size can't be understated.
Walking around its entirety is a memorable way of experiencing its strange, lumpen clefts and ridges, while even the most jaded cynic will struggle to deny it gives off a special aura.
Around 15 miles away, the similarly bulky Kata Tjuta rock formations are well worth a side visit.Where is it?
In the heart of Australia's Red Centre, some 200 miles south of Alice Springs.
What is it?
A large sandstone rock formation with great spiritual importance.
Best time to visit?
Spring and autumn are both attractive options - summer (December to February) can be very hot.
Watching the Rock shifting colour at sunset is an integral part of the experience for many visitors. Elsewhere, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre gives a valuable overview of the region's significance.