Heat, thirst and landscapes like I have seen nowhere else: this is how the first trail in the red Australian desert started. The goal of the day was to bathe in the river in Kings Canyon and see the lost city from above.
All central Australia was lowland swept by the wind and covered in dunes 400 million years ago. The weight compacted the sand in layers; the floods put the grains together and turned them into rocks of sand. The crack became the Kings Canyon with 270 meters deep in the middle of Watarrka National Park, 471 km from Alice Springs.
At the summit you can see the rocks that make the place look like a lost city. They are the result of the erosion of vertical cracks in the sandstone. In other places it seems the rock was cut with a knife, forming walls colored from beige to red, which tell the story of the Canyon. The echo is impressive, and a strategy not to get lost from the group.
The sand stones are like a giant sponge that absorb rain water. Inside the crack called Garden of Eden, the humidity made the place a luxurious oasis; a resort for animals and plants from a distant time, when the desert was full of rivers. And here we dived, rested and listened to aboriginal stories – the bad ones were punished here. They were brought here, lost their sight when passed by a plant that causes blindness and were left alone in the Canyon. They could not survive long.
Between January and March is rain season and some waterfalls appear; in May the weather was already dry again, but the landscapes too green for the desert. Kangaroos and Wallabies are common here, but we did not find any because they are nocturnal. We saw some lizards and there might be thousands of them camouflaged in the landscape.
There are several ways to the trails; the most famous is Giles Track, connecting Kings Canyon to Kathleen Springs within 22 kilometres. In this one, we trekked 6 km during the hottest part of the day. To make the most of it, the best thing is to sleep nearby and watch the sunrise – people say it is fantastic.
Take swimsuits and enjoy the natural pool in Garden of Eden.
You can set up camp near the trail, but not everywhere. Reedy Creek has the better infrastructure. If you do not have a tour guide and want to camp, it is safer to register your trekking at the Walker Registration Scheme. There is also a resort near the Canyon.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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