Litchfield National Park

The view from above of Florence Falls - complete with rainbow - in Litchfield National Park

The view from above of Florence Falls – complete with rainbow – in Litchfield National Park

The final stop on my 10-day tour of the Top End a few weeks ago was Litchfield National Park, a popular weekend getaway for Darwin residents and home to loads of glorious waterfalls and swimming holes. Of course I took advantage of as many walking tracks as I could, one of which winds for about 5km along Florence Creek in relative peace and quiet.

Another highlight of Litchfield is seeing the incredible magnetic terminte mounds. These termites use the magnetic forces of the earth to orient their cathedrals to optimize exposure to the sun. And, of course, the above ground portions of the nests are a gigantic 2+ meters high.

At the end of this tour I settled in Darwin to begin a job for five months – I need to recoup a lot of the money I’ve spent in Australia! It certainly isn’t as cheap here as it was in Asia and South America, and I don’t even want to share how much I’ve been spending. So my blog may be quiet for the coming months, but I’ve got a big trip to WA planned in December and I’ll be sure get my camera ready.

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Kakadu National Park

The natural infinity pool of Gunlom Falls in Kakadu Natioanl Park

The natural infinity pool of Gunlom Falls in Kakadu Natioanl Park

After our Mary River cruise we finally made it to Kakadu National Park, a sprawling 20,000 square km area (that’s half the size of Switzerland!) whose geological history extends millions of years and human history of over 40,000 years. Of course you can spend months exploring the park and not see everything, but the tour I was on just hit two highlights: the rock art of Ubirr and the swimming holes at Gunlom Falls. Both were extraordinary and I hope to make it back to Kakadu during my months working in Darwin. During the wet season the waterfalls are even more stunning and the wildlife is even more abundant.

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Kuang Si Falls

The Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang

The Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang

I’d been excited to visit Luang Prabang and the surrounding area since hearing about it from several travelers in Vietnam, and the UNESCO heritage town certainly did not disappoint. The Kuang Si waterfalls about 35km outside of town are the most popular attraction and are easily reached with one of the ubiquitous tuk tuk drivers. While the falls themselves are beautiful, more impressive for me were the smaller, terraced, turquoise waterfalls below which reminded me a bit of Pamukkale in Turkey. There were swimming holes as well and the more adventurous visitors jumped off rocks and trees, doing flips into the chilly water. There was also a fairly challenging hike (at least it was a challenge in the mud with flip flops on!) to the top of the falls and excellent views of the surrounding mountains.

I found a great group of people from my hostel to go with and we had an amazing day hiking, swimming, and watching the bears and the Tat Kuang Si Rescue Center which is right next to the waterfalls.

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