Lara­p­inta Trail, Aus­tralia

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventure -

YES, WE HAVE cov­ered the Lara­p­inta more than a few times in Out­door. This has been for good rea­son: this out­back icon can be‘done’in any num­ber of ways so it ap­peals to a huge cross-section of hik­ers. The full-monty 223km ver­sion can be done ei­ther in­di­vid­u­ally, where you have to sort track trans­port and food drops, or via a guided trek com­pany. How­ever, if you have the time – be­tween 10 and 15 days – and the nous to do it your­self, the re­ward is gen­er­ally hav­ing that amaz­ing out­back land­scape mostly to your­self each day – and it is a life­long (and po­ten­tially life-chang­ing) achieve­ment.

For those who are less ex­pe­ri­enced, or sim­ply want the lo­gis­ti­cal side of this ad­ven­ture taken care of, a guided trip along the Lara­p­inta is the per­fect al­ter­na­tive. You can opt to tackle the full length of the trail, or you can sift through a num­ber of shorter ex­pe­ri­ences, rang­ing from a lux­ury camp­ing three-day sam­ple, to a seven-day taster, or World Ex­pe­di­tions’ lat­est: the Lara­p­inta Chal­lenge. This guided ad­ven­ture groups the track’s tough­est sec­tions to­gether for a, er, chal­leng­ing but re­ward­ing week of hik­ing.

Which­ever ver­sion of the Lara­p­inta you opt for, there are nu­mer­ous high­lights along the track. Sun­rise from the top of Mount Son­der is a must-do, as is tak­ing a dip in the cool­ing wa­ters of Ellery Creek Big Hole. The mag­i­cal Or­mis­ton Pound, with its mix of vast flat desert walk­ing and beau­ti­ful wa­ter­holes to swim in, plus the awe­some view from the top of Simp­sons Gap Look­out, are also es­sen­tial ex­pe­ri­ences.

Make sure you pack a tough, worn-in pair of boots; the sharp rocks in this part of Aus­tralia are par­tic­u­larly un­for­giv­ing of soft boot soles and weak an­kles, as is the un­du­lat­ing, of­ten harsh ter­rain. Don’t for­get it gets cold in the desert, so pack shorts, a hat and long-sleeve light shirts for walk­ing dur­ing the day, but also throw in a three-sea­son (min­i­mum) sleep­ing bag, down jacket, a few merino base lay­ers, and beanie for after sun­set when those out­back nights cool right down as you sit around camp.

Our fi­nal ad­vice: if at all pos­si­ble, walk east to west. That way (ex­cuse the pun) you have the sun be­hind you for most of the day and the fin­ish-point at the Mount Son­der sum­mit is, re­ally, the only way to end this epic hike.

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