Today's walk is nothing short of spectacular. We collect you from your Alice Springs accommodation around 7am (your guides will confirm the exact time at your pre-trip briefing) and transfer one hour to Jay Creek; the start of this magnificent journey. Upon leaving Jay Creek we are on sacred ground where the Aboriginal custodians ask that we walk only in the dry creek bed.
We trek through varied terrain dotted with Mulga and Witchetty Bush to Tangentyere Junction. Here the track diverges to follow the ridge line above the Finke River. We trek to our lunch spot at Millers Flat, from which we climb through rocky terrain before descending into the red-rock heart of Standley Chasm. Tonight we pitch our tents at Standley Chasm Camp.
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 ridge line over Reveal Saddle to Brinkley’s Bluff. From this high point, just over 1100m, we 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 campsite tonight is at the peaceful Birthday Waterhole.
An early rise today for one of the most challenging and rewarding sections on the trail. We head into Spenser Gorge and Paisley Gorge then up to Windy Saddle and Razorback Ridge for expansive views. The trail continues down to Fringe Lily Creek and follows the Linear Valley. Our trek this afternoon takes us on a rough spinifex journey through this semi-arid region allowing breathtaking views of Hugh Gorge, our camp spot for the night.
This section of the trail offers breathtaking views as we 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 are up early for our ascent of Mount Sonder – known as the pregnant lady by the local Aranda Aboriginal people. An early start allows us to climb in the cool morning air, before the sun heats up the landscape. To view the surrounding country from the top, knowing we have just climbed one of the highest peaks west of the Great Dividing Range, is an unforgettable moment of this trek – what a reward for the challenge we have undertaken over the last week!
Having reached the high point – many consider it the highlight – of the Larapinta Trail we drive back to Alice Springs, concluding around 3pm.