We pick you up from your Alice Springs accommodation between 7-7:30am and transfer to Simpsons Gap. From here we walk through pleasant, grassy flats and low, rocky hills bearing the scars of early cattle grazing, evidence of the fragility of this arid environment. Graceful Ghost Gums are also to be seen on this section, coated in a white powder with powerful antiseptic properties.
One of the most peaceful parts of the trail is Spring Gap where we observe a wide variety of plant life and watch for birds at the waterhole. From the waterhole we walk on through ever changing countryside to your idyllic camp at Jay Creek.
Leaving Jay Creek we are on sacred ground, where the Aboriginal custodians ask that we walk only in the creek bed. Today's walk is nothing short of spectacular. We continue on through varied terrain dotted with Mulga and Witchetty Bush to Tangentyere Junction. Here the track diverges to follow the ridgeline above the Finke River. We trek to our lunch spot at Millers Flat, from which we climb through rocky terrain before descending into Standley Chasm from the north. Camp this evening is at Standley Chasm.
From Standley Chasm we follow the spectacular Bridle Trail, an old trading route used by the early settlers in the region. We head up to follow the ridgeline over Reveal Saddle to Brinkley's Bluff. From this high point, just over 1100m, you are rewarded with superb views of the spine effect created by the West MacDonnell Ranges. After lunch we take on a steep descent and pass Mintbush Spring, named for the native plant that grows here: a beautifully mint-scented bush related to sage and lavender. Our welcoming camp tonight is at the peaceful Birthday Waterhole.
We rise early today for one of the most challenging and rewarding sections on the trail. The track undulates over rough, rocky terrain and we are exposed (to the elements and to the magnificent views!) atop Windy Saddle and Razorback Ridge for the first part of the day. In the afternoon we drop down to Fringe Lily Creek, a nice palce for a break as it offers some shade. After lunch the trail takes us on a rough spinifex journey through this semi-arid region allowing breathtaking views of Hugh Gorge, where we will camp overnight.
Today we are walking through the vertical-spined dolomite country of the Bitter Springs formation. These 800 million year old rocks contain fossilised stromatolites, the cyanobacteria that were amongst the first life forms on this earth. It is worth taking time to admire the Ellery Creek Big Hole waterhole before we start trekking. The trail takes us through scattered woodlands and over a stile to a trig point, a good spot for lunch. Arriving mid afternoon at camp provides us with an opportunity to relax or wander at leisure around the hills of our campsite at Serpentine Gorge.
This section of the trail offers breathtaking views as you walk along the high quartzite ridge lines that typify the West MacDonnell Ranges. We ascend to Counts Point where we are able to take in clear views of Central Australia's western horizon, to Mt Zeil (1531m) the highest peak in the Northern Territory, and Mt Sonder which marks the end of the Larapinta Trail. We can even see the fascinating, huge comet crater of Gosse Bluff. A descent through mysterious old Mulga stands brings us to our camp at Serpentine Chalet, where we enjoy another great evening meal together.
An early start is required to fit in all of the highlights of this section of the trail. Today takes us into the rugged heart of this ancient landscape on a track only opened to the public as recently as 1997. The trail today is again challenging as we ascend to 1088 metres. And again, as always on the Larapinta, our epic climb is rewarded with expansive views. The view opens up across the Alice Valley to the giant, bulky mass of of Mt. Giles, one of the Northern Territory's highest peaks at 1389m.
This morning we enjoy the best side walk of the entire Larapinta Trail: Ormiston Pound. The Pound offers an immense variety of extraordinary scenery and wildlife and is the perfect walk to complete our journey. We explore the upper reaches of the Gorge where Rock Wallabies scamper about the imposing cliffs, and follow the track through scrub filled with native birds: Spinifex Pigeon, Budgerigar and Mistlet Bird. Keep an eye out overhead for the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia's largest raptor. We will spend the afternoon relaxing at our campsite in preparation for tomorrow.
Your guides will have you up early this morning for our pre-dawn walk up Mount Sonder. Weaving your way up to the 1380m summit of this majestic mountain following only the glittering light of your head-torch, surrounded by deep and peaceful darkness, is a truly inspiring experience... and watching the sunrise from the top is unforgettable! From the peak we have expansive views across the entire Larapinta landscape we have explored over the last few days.
We descend to Redbank Gorge and can enjoy a great brunch on the Finke River before returning to Alice Springs. We aim to drop you at your accommodation by 3pm.