Definitively one of the most original tour I have ever done, the UDU Royal National Park Moonwalk takes you light painting, walking and swimming under the full moon, sleeping under the stars and meditating in front of the sunrise.
Update 2016: the tour has sadly been discontinued - but have a read, it is still an inspiring experience
MOONLIGHT WALK IN ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
How would you like, all in one night, to…
- Learn some tips about night photography,
- Hike under the moon listening to the waves crashing on the cliffs,
- Experiment & have fun with light painting,
- Swim in a hidden natural pool in the middle of the night,
- Sleep on the beach closed to tourist at night time,
- Wake up to sunrise,
- And start the day with a swim in a warm lagoon?
Well I wanted to and I did it! What an unforgettable experience!
Once a month Understand Down Under (alias UDU) organizes a Moonwalk in Sydney’s Royal National park (a walk under the moon not the dance move ) -This is also offered via Viator as Overnight Royal National Park Tour with Moonlight Walk and Night Photography Lesson. In this post I will share with you my experience of it.
As of May 2015 it seems this tour is not active anymore.
REVIEW FOR TRAVEL PLANNING ADDICTS - UDU Moonlight Walk
I selected my self and paid fully for this activity. This review is based on my experience from January 2014.
Tour company: Understand Down Under
Tour: Moonwalk from sunset to sunrise
Transportation: Both buses were in good condition. Pick up was efficient and the drive not too long.
Organization: This is a huge organization and it run smoothly. No complaint.
Food: The major surprise I had. Very tasty, great variety.
Knowledge guide: Both Andy, ‘Dad’ and the photographers (Dave Copithorne and Dee Cameron) were knowledgeable and happily share the information
Ambiance: Except I don’t remember most of the faces (it was mostly during the night), there was a good ambiance
The best: the photography tips, the swim in the pool, the originality of the experience, the moonrise, the sunrise, the swim in the lagoon… well, almost everything 🙂
The not so good: This is only my personal opinion but as I said in my recollection above I wish we had stopped for sunset and I found we were too many for the first part of the walk but those points were fast forgotten.
Advice: I really recommend you that tour. Something not to forget: warm jacket, good walking shoes, tripod and mosquito repellent! And regarding fitness level: I am fat & not fit, and I did it. So No worries!
Pick-up started late afternoon. I really appreciate that we did not waste time touring all the hotels in the Sydney to pick up everyone. They give a choice of meeting points and it was very efficient. One of it is Bondi Junction so it was not difficult to get there from the CBD.
I was on the bus with Gary alias ‘Dad’ and it was a fascinating drive. He is very knowledgeable on a lot of subjects and pedagogical (well he is a professor, so better for him ).
My only negative comments here is that we could see on the drive that sunset was amazing and we drove by a spot where it could have been great to watch it but we did not stop. At the moment I was quite frustrated but later on I realized that the tour was already busy and there was no time for it. Sunrise on the beach is much more worth it.
After unloading the buses we went on a short walk to a viewing platform were ‘Dad’ explained some stories about the area. One of the photographer gave us tips on snapping photos with low light and then we were lucky that it was time for the moon to rise. So we stayed longer to snap more and more photos!
After that we went down to Wattamolla Beach and the other photographers gave us some pointers to experience with light painting. This is not my favorite type of photography but people really had a lot of fun with it.
‘Dad’ told us some ancient aboriginal story and we got a very nice surprise. This is a picture of it but I am not telling you anything else about it because I don’t want to spoil it for you should you decide to join that tour.
We also took photos of the stars
After that we had gone overtime a lot and it was really time to have diner (it was 11pm). I must say I was extremely surprised by the quality, the quantity and the variety of the food.
Then it was time to prepare for the Moonwalk itself. We were given glowing stick and some people became very creative. It was fun to watch although I was eager to go.
We hiked and had a stop for ‘Dad’ to tell us more about the Moon and the aborginals and another one for coffee. I must admit that this part of the walk was not my favorite because we were too many. I wanted silence to enjoy the noises of the night, the birds and the waves under us but we were 28 and, let’s just say that not everyone wanted silence. Walking in the dark was interesting and one of the bonus as not being able to see the spiders. Otherwise some of us might have jumped 🙂
After coffee, we parted. Most went back to the beach to sleep and 10 of us went on further. The walk became a little bit more difficult but not that much. And we arrived to the reason we all continued: a small hidden natural pool with a waterfall. We enjoyed a much deserved swim. We really had a great time. I have no photo myself as I was in the pool the whole time but one of the photographer, Dave Copithorne took a few. Here is one. Note that in reality it was much darker, but then the photo would be a lot less interesting 🙂
The hardest part was walking back to camp after the swim, take all our sleeping gear and hike down to the beach before finally going to sleep.
As we really enjoyed every activity we were very very late on the program and I end up sleeping only half an hour before getting up to watch sunrise. We got more photography tips. Sadly there were no clouds, so no dramatic shots.
Swim in the lagoon
Even after that it was not finished. It was still early, so some of us went for a swim in the lagoon on the beach. Water was warm, the sun was rising, we were all alone at the place. I felt so peaceful at that moment!
Back to the parking and grassy area we had breakfast and drove back towards Sydney. WHAT A GREAT ADVENTURE! Don’t you think? This is definitely one of the most original tour I have ever done.
Have you ever taken part in such an original tour?
Ruann (Solo Travel Uncut) says
Now that’s what traveling should be like. Great post!
Claire Robinson says
Thanks for you comment Ruann!
Yes, I wish I could find more tours like that.
UDU also have a nice day tour, very different from those proposed by other companies. I hope they will run it before I leave!