Looking out the window at 24,000ft from Sydney to Alice Springs invokes a feeling of uncertainty. Somewhat like transcending via time lapse from city to desert. The view forces you to intrinsically stop and appreciate the landscape. The vibrancy of the harsh and arid landscape is breathtaking. The contrast from urban sprawl to dry mantis coloured pastures and eventually to deep red planes, pimpled with dark myrtle speckles from low lying witchetty bush. Spinifex mounds bare resemblance to purposeful ants marching to head quarters. The dry river beds from up here mirror the veins of the country leading to, the heart perhaps. I’m here, trekking the Larapinta Trail.
A simple message for foreigners and local’s alike, if you really want to see Australia, then you really need to go outback. It’s difficult to put into words, but the sheer vastness of the Australian desert will literally make your jaw drop… and then promptly close for fear of swallowing curious and relentless flies.
If you’re currently thinking: Where the bloody hell is the Larapinta trail?
This hikers destination seems to be on everyone’s lips but in truth has only been open for the last 16 years, the trail was completed in 2002 so in hindsight still a young trail but well trodden none the less.
Trekking the Larapinta Trail from the beginning, the trail heads west from Alice Springs, is broken up into twelve sections. It traverses over the West MacDonnell Ranges for some 231km and is the home of the Arrernte traditional owners (pronounced Arunda). The trail itself will sweep you over soaring ridges, down through dry and dusty riverbed’s and back again. The most impressive and rewarding exertion is the summit of Mount Sonder (1380m) the Northern Territories fourth highest mountain, for first light (as seen on the dramatic feature image.)
As much as I would have enjoyed a self guided experience of the trail involving camping, food drops and using a compass (or simply following the little blue arrows), I was more than happy to travel in comfort for a change. Fortunately the opportunity to trek alongside Huma Charity Challenge arose and I snapped at the chance of spending six nights with sixteen other adventurers who were not only joining me but who had fundraised a collective $50,000 for cancer research. The awe had begun well before arriving into Alice.
We met our guides on a balmy Friday afternoon and were given our trek briefing. Everything was covered from; what to wear, where to meet, who would be joining us and when to expect canapés. The excitement was building. It wasn’t until we packed ourselves into the van the following morning that it had actually sunk in. I’m finally here! A trek that has been on my bucket list for years!
Trekking the Larapinta Trail trip highlights:
- Walking the edge of Euro ridge, truly breathtaking.
- Catching sight of a black footed wallaby at Simpsons Gap and peering over the edge at Stanley Chasm (pronounced: Ka-sim). The hike up provoked a feeling of insignificance in such a vast landscape.
- Reaching the sacred site Serpentine Gorge, traditionally speaking for men only and to be entered without walking poles.
- Counts point at the top of Heavitree range was a real crowd-pleaser and provided gushing views of the valley below.
- Swimming in the Finke river, the oldest continuous flowing river in the world. And our one chance at wifi…
- Ellery Creek Big Hole for a chilly dip. You know it’s cold when the fish are dying, but refreshing I can assure you.
If you’re considering walking the trail (both guided or self guided), I’d highly recommend the expertise of Australian Walking Holidays whose passion and knowledge of the trail made the experience that much more memorable.
Hope to C U all in the NT !!
Have you tried trekking the Larapinta trail? Did you enjoy it? Did you think we missed any of the highlights? I’d love to hear from you!
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