It’s official – the Larapinta Trail trekking season has begun!
Running from April to September, the Larapinta Trail is one of Australia’s most iconic walks, spanning 223kms across the breathtaking West MacDonnell Ranges. Passing along remote gorges, tranquil creeks, past stunning geological formations and areas rich in Aboriginal history, the trail offers a unique insight into Australia’s Red Centre that few people take the time to see.
If you’re thinking of walking the Larapinta Trail, the first thing to consider is when you want to walk it. Each season has its own nuances that can transform your experience. Want to walk during the autumn months, when the plants and trees have new growth that glistens in the morning sunshine and wildflowers add bursts of colour along the trail; or the temperate winter months with pleasant temperatures and cool evenings that present prime trekking conditions; or when the flowers begin to bloom in spring with crystal clear days. Whatever your choice, one thing is for sure – a trek along the Larapinta Trail will prove to be one of the best trekking experiences Australia has to offer.
But which season is best for YOU? Check out our handy guide which reveals the seasonal nuances of the Larapinta Trail.
Trekking at the start of the season in April and May can be one of the best times to experience the Larapinta Trail. Coming out of the wet season, the West MacDonnell Ranges transforms for a short period into a vibrant green landscape, with bursts of colour from early season flowers like the Mulla Mulla and Senna bush. With new growth across the region, mornings are particularly beautiful as the sun glistens through the trees in the early hours of the day.
While you can typically spot birdlife along the trail at any time of the year, you’re more likely to spot large flocks of budgies and finches at this time of year, as the wet season provides prime conditions for food to grow. An abundance of birds can be found towards the west end of the park, with Major Mitchells, budgies, finches, and Wood Swallows taking advantage of the excess water and food in the area.
Trekking conditions in autumn are pleasant, with temperatures averaging between 12-27C. Unlike the winter months when evenings become quite chilly, autumn evenings are cool and trekkers can comfortably pull their swag out from their tents and sleep outside under the blanket of stars. While the official wet season is over, you can still expect rain up until late May, as well as some cloud coverage during these months.
Winter is arguably the best time to experience the Larapinta Trail, as it offers prime trekking conditions, more stable temperatures and endlessly blue days. During the daytime, temperatures hover at low-mid 20C with refreshingly cool breezes, however evenings temperatures can drop close to 0C, particularly in the valleys, and the frost that covers the ground can create a snow-like appearance. Many people are surprised to find out how cold it can get in the middle of winter, so trekkers need to make sure they are adequately prepared for cold nights with insulated sleeping bags, beanies, gloves and thermal underwear.
As rainy days are few and far between, the landscape loses its green shrubbery and grasses start to dry and brown off to the iconic red landscape that the Red Centre is best known for. Towards the start of July the acacia and daisies begin to bloom, and mallee and bloodwoods start to flower. With evening and early morning frosts, flies die off, giving a welcome reprieve to walkers.
Often underrated, trekking at the start of spring can be one of the best times to experience the Larapinta Trail. Coming out of winter, there are far fewer people on the trail, which means expansive and uninterrupted views, as well as clear and cloudless days and slightly warmer evenings.
Temperatures in September begin to rise leading to sporadic thunderstorms which creates the perfect environment for the landscape to come alive with wildflowers such as billy buttons, fox tail, pussy tails and many other lowline flowering shrubs.
With cooler temperatures suitable for hiking, and clear skies for picture-perfect sunsets, it's no surprise that September is a popular season to trek the Larapinta Trail.
Trekking along the Larapinta Trail in summer is not recommended due to the intense heat, hot winds and high UV exposure. With daily temperatures hovering in the mid 40s, and surface temperatures sitting 5-8C higher, trekking in summer presents an increased risk of heat stroke. Thunderstorms can occur at any time of the day or night, with the possibility of dangerous flash floods.
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