Paradise found: Hiking in the Garden of Eden

April 10, 2014

in Australia,The outback

outback Looking down at the waterhole in the Garden of Eden.

 

Kings Canyon The view from one side of the horseshoe-shaped canyon rim toward the other.

 

 

We found the Garden of Eden. While it wasn’t quite what I expected, it certainly was beautiful. But in an Outback kind of way.

Believe it or not, the Garden of Eden is in the middle of nowhere in Outback Australia. To find it, Robert and I took this amazing hike just outside of Alice Springs in Watarrka National Park. The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a six kilometer loop and midway along the loop, we saw the Garden of Eden.

In it, there was a deep and dark waterhole surrounded by red sandstone cliffs. The scene was fringed with gum trees, palms, gigantic ferns and tiny frogs were everywhere. Once we had the place to ourselves, all shapes and sizes of birds came out.

Signs at the start of the trail warn: don’t risk your life. If you start out after 9 am and the temperature is going to be above 40 degrees C (104F), you are prohibited from doing the walk. Temperatures were nearing that as we finished the hike and yes, it was hot. Like, fry an egg on the rock hot. But it was so dry, I was never dripping with sweat.

The hike begins with a steep climb that I found out later is locally called heart attack hill. The start is definitely a workout–it’s a straight up climb along the rocks. But once I reached the top rim of the canyon, the climb was well worth it because from then on, the views were ever-changing and spectacular.

Along with the magnificent red sandstone cliffs there are areas of lush vegetation and waterholes. I was surprised by how much the vegetation changed during the hike and by how many bridges and staircases help you navigate along the more difficult areas. But perhaps the biggest surprise was that all of this is in the middle of the arid, red center of Australia.

 

Kings Canyon A “selfie” in the canyon.

 

Kings Canyon The waterhole was cool and dark.

 

Kings Canyon The Garden of Eden.

 

Kings Canyon The sandstone cliffs. Kings Canyon Hike warnings.

 

 

Garden of Eden One of the tiny frogs landed on Robert’s camera.

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