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Larapinta Trail, Australia

An impressive 223km desert walk through Central Australia, along the West McDonnell Range, with plentiful opportunities for bird-watching along the way. The scenery includes gorges, cliffs and mountains, and passes through sacred Aboriginal sites. The track is broken down into 12 stages, each a one or two day hike, between 13 and 31km. There are approximately 20 camping areas on the route. Water is available at all camping areas. The best time to hike the Larapinta Trail is during winter, from June to August, as the temperature can be blistering during the rest of the year.

Larapinta Trail, Australia

The entire walk (around three weeks) is too long to make carrying your own supplies feasible, especially considering the weight of water, so hikers typically tackle stages separately. The stages come in varying degrees of difficulty.

The 12 sections of Larapinta Trail are as follows:

Telegraph Station to Simpson Gap: 9 hours, 24km. Average difficulty. Excellent scenery. Black-footed wallabies may be spotted.

Simpson Gap to Jay Creek: 8 hours, 25km. Average difficulty.

Jay Creek to Standley Chasm : 6 hours, 14km. Challenging. Excellent scenery. Chasm is cool during midday.

Standley Chasm to Birthday Waterhole: 9 hours, 18km. Very challenging. Excellent scenery.

Birthday Waterhole to Hugh Gorge: 10 hours, 16km. Very challenging. Excellent scenery.

Hugh Gorge to Ellery Creek: 11 hours, 31km. Average difficulty. Swimming area at Ellery Creek, though water is cold.

Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge: 6 hours, 14km. Challenging. Beautiful views of cycads.

Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam: 6 hours, 13km. Challenging.

Serpentine Chalet Dam to Ormiston Gorge: 12 hours, 29km. Challenging. No water sources on route. Swimming possible at Ormiston Gorge. Abundant wildlife at Ormiston Gorge.

Ormiston Gorge to Finke River: 4 hours, 9km. Average difficulty. Excellent scenery.

Finke River to Redbank Gorge: 10 hours, 26km. Challenging. Excellent scenery.

Redbank Gorge to Mount Sonder: 8 hours, 16km. Challenging. Excellent scenery. Camping is not allowed on summit, so it's best to being early on this route.

Note that some of the stages lack water, such as Serpentine Chalet Dam to Ormiston Gorge, a challenging distance of 29km.


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