Best of the Larapinta Trail

Best of the Larapinta Trail

Trip Highlights

  • Climb Mount Sonder for a spectacular sunrise
  • Trek the best sections of the trail including Simpson's Gap, Standley Chasm, Serpentine Gorge and more
  • Wilderness camping under the milky way
  • Swim in peaceful waterholes hidden deep within the West MacDonnell Ranges
  • Gain an understanding of the rich history of Australia's traditional owners and the Indigenous culture
  • All camping gear and luggage transferred by vehicle, freeing you to enjoy the diverse desert scenery and focus on achieving your walking goals

Trip Summary

This fantastic route along the Larapinta Trail will take in the most spectacular highlights along the 223km track. The camping based trek will allow you more time to explore and soak in the beauty of the Central Australian desert as you traverse the most scenic stages of the Larapinta Trail.

Carrying just a day-pack, this walk will delight the wilderness lover and challenge even seasoned walkers. The Larapinta Trail offers one of the greatest desert treks on earth and is a bucket list experience for anyone who enjoys walking holidays. Following the spine of the West MacDonnell range, this extended walk along the Larapinta Trail will take in the sections along the trail that simply cannot be missed. It also provides a more achievable objective for walkers not yet ready for our 14 day Larapinta End to End trip. There will be some demanding stages as you pass over remote ridges and canyons, walking up to 30kms on some days.

The group camping gear is transported to each campsite by our professional support crew, freeing walkers to enjoy the diverse desert scenery, revel in the camaraderie of like-minded travellers and focus on achieving your goal.

Suitability

To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the walking terrain, the altitude, the number of passes crossings and the length of the trek. The Larapinta 9 day trek is graded moderate to challenging. This trek involves 6-12 hours walking each day over rugged terrain with some steep ascents and descents. This trek should not be underestimated as it can be tough and challenging.

In order to complete this trek we advise that you undertake regular exercise five days a week for at least three months prior to your departure. Hill walking with a day pack is recommended.

Itinerary

We pick you up from your Alice Springs accommodation between 7-7:30am and transfer to Simpsons Gap. From here we walk through pleasant, grassy flats and low, rocky hills bearing the scars of early cattle grazing, evidence of the fragility of this arid environment. Graceful Ghost Gums are also to be seen on this section, coated in a white powder with powerful antiseptic properties. One of the most peaceful parts of the trail is Spring Gap where we observe a wide variety of plant life and watch for birds at the waterhole. From the waterhole we walk on through ever changing countryside to your idyllic camp at Jay Creek.

Meals:  L,D

Leaving Jay Creek we are on sacred ground, where the Aboriginal custodians ask that we walk only in the creek bed. Today's walk is nothing short of spectacular. We continue on through varied terrain dotted with Mulga and Witchetty Bush to Tangentyere Junction. Here the track diverges to follow the ridgeline above the Finke River. We trek to our lunch spot at Millers Flat, from which we climb through rocky terrain before descending into Standley Chasm from the north. Camp this evening is at Standley Chasm.

Meals:  B,L,D

From Standley Chasm we follow the spectacular Bridle Trail, an old trading route used by the early settlers in the region. We head up to follow the ridgeline over Reveal Saddle to Brinkley’s Bluff. From this high point, just over 1100m, you are rewarded with superb views of the spine effect created by the West MacDonnell Ranges. After lunch we take on a steep descent and pass Mintbush Spring, named for the native plant that grows here: a beautifully mint-scented bush related to sage and lavender. Our welcoming camp tonight is at the peaceful Birthday Waterhole.

Meals:  B,L,D

We rise early today for one of the most challenging and rewarding sections on the trail. The track undulates over rough, rocky terrain and we are exposed (to the elements and to the magnificent views!) atop Windy Saddle and Razorback Ridge for the first part of the day. In the afternoon we drop down to Fringe Lily Creek, a nice palce for a break as it offers some shade. After lunch the trail takes us on a rough spinifex journey through this semi-arid region allowing breathtaking views of Hugh Gorge, where we will camp overnight.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we are walking through the vertical-spined dolomite country of the Bitter Springs formation. These 800 million year old rocks contain fossilised stromatolites, the cyanobacteria that were amongst the first life forms on this earth. It is worth taking time to admire the Ellery Creek Big Hole waterhole before we start trekking. The trail takes us through scattered woodlands and over a stile to a trig point, a good spot for lunch. Arriving mid afternoon at camp provides us with an opportunity to relax or wander at leisure around the hills of our campsite at Serpentine Gorge.

Meals:  B,L,D

This section of the trail offers breathtaking views as you walk along the high quartzite ridge lines that typify the West MacDonnell Ranges. We ascend to Counts Point where we are able to take in clear views of Central Australia’s western horizon, to Mt Zeil (1531m) the highest peak in the Northern Territory, and Mt Sonder which marks the end of the Larapinta Trail. We can even see the fascinating, huge comet crater of Gosse Bluff. A descent through mysterious old Mulga stands brings us to our camp at Serpentine Chalet, where we enjoy another great evening meal together.

Meals:  B,L,D

An early start is required to fit in all of the highlights of this section of the trail. Today takes us into the rugged heart of this ancient landscape on a track only opened to the public as recently as 1997. The trail today is again challenging as we ascend to 1088 metres. And again, as always on the Larapinta, our epic climb is rewarded with expansive views. The view opens up across the Alice Valley to the giant, bulky mass of of Mt. Giles, one of the Northern Territory's highest peaks at 1389m.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we enjoy the best side walk of the entire Larapinta Trail: Ormiston Pound. The Pound offers an immense variety of extraordinary scenery and wildlife and is the perfect walk to complete our journey. We explore the upper reaches of the Gorge where Rock Wallabies scamper about the imposing cliffs, and follow the track through scrub filled with native birds: Spinifex Pigeon, Budgerigar and Mistletoe Bird. Keep an eye out overhead for the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia's largest raptor. We will spend the afternoon relaxing at our campsite in preparation for tomorrow.

Meals:  B,L,D

Your guides will have you up early this morning for our pre-dawn walk up Mount Sonder. Weaving your way up to the 1380m summit of this majestic mountain following only the glittering light of your head-torch, surrounded by deep and peaceful darkness, is a truly inspiring experience... and watching the sunrise from the top is unforgettable! From the peak we have expansive views across the entire Larapinta landscape we have explored over the last few days. We descend to Redbank Gorge and can enjoy a great brunch on the Finke River before returning to Alice Springs. We aim to drop you at your accommodation by 3pm.

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 8 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Professional wilderness guide and support staff
  • Tents and swags for sleeping (but not sleeping bags)
  • Catering & eating utensils
  • Off-road transport from Alice Springs
  • Vehicle supported camping throughout
  • All National Park and camping fees
  • Comprehensive group first aid kit
  • Emergency radio/sat phone

What's Not Included

  • Airfares
  • Accommodation in Alice Springs before and after the trip
  • Items of a personal nature, such as laundry and postage
  • Backpacks
  • Sleeping Bag hire
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance

Reviews

MOST MEMORABLE PART: The three guides that we had made the trip enjoyable (Mick, Deekes and Jordie) as well as the small "team" of participants - four in total.

C. Salter, Canberra, Australia


Experience the real outback with highly professional guides - the brilliant colour of the rocks in the morning and late afternoon. The rugged landscape, the beauty of the gorges and the general harshness of the environment can only be experienced by being a participant and not from from the comfort of a tourist coach.

Charles Summers, Normanhurst, NSW Australia


Make sure you interpret the title of this walk as "The Hardest Bits of". Be prepared for some long days, long distances & some hard climbs. Be prepared also for some of the most amazing views & landscapes you may ever see in your life. Great guides, great food, great campsites & simply some of the best walking I've ever done. Had the time of my life.

Amanda Lugton, Kedron, QLD Australia


What an amazing trip. This nine day trek was a great alternative to the full 14 day trek. We got to complete all the challenging and spectacular sections of the Larapinta and the wildflowers this September were spectacular. Our friendly guides, Jordie and Nicole, looked after our small group so well. Their culinary skills, knowledge of the region, relaxed attitude and friendliness made for fantastic trip. They even managed to get all eight of the group across the Orminston Creek following rain in the area the afternoon before. What should have been dry creek crossings as we traversed Orminston Pound progressed from wading through the first few crossings to swimming across the last one whilst trying to keep our day packs dry. So much fun. Thank you Jordie, Nicole and World Expeditions.

Claire Davis, Forbes, NSW Australia, 10 Dec 2016


Before signing up we did a lot of research on the various companies' 6 and 9 day offerings, concerned about temperatures and the reputed toughness of the trail. With some trepidation we took the plunge with the 9 day WE because it covered all the spectacular sections. And we are very pleased we did. The trip was very well-organised with the support vehicle carrying all the gear meeting us at every campsite already set up for the evening, sometimes even with our tents pitched as well. Our 'guides' (they are so much more), Nicole and Jordie, were excellent, very competent in everything they did, from cooking to blister treatment, explaining things we were seeing, and ensuring we all completed the trail safely and comfortably. The Trail's best sections are also the toughest, with steep ascents and descents to access spectacular views and ridgetop walking. This trek is graded 6 (moderate to challenging) by WE, one notch above their Everest Base Camp trek (5). Having done both, we think what makes the Larapinta tougher is the nature of the trail surface itself. It is extremely rough and rocky for much of the time - from sharp stones and rocks littering the trail to boulder-hopping with no actual trail through gorges and along creek beds. In the end heat did not affect us very much because cloud and/or nice breezes moderated temperatures for much of our trek. Bottom Line: we can certainly recommend WE for a supported trek. Re 6 or 9 days: if you want a West Macs Larapinta experience with comfortable camping in very nice permanent camps (we were lucky to stay in one for our last two nights) and some high points, go 6 days. If you are reasonably fit, used to difficult terrain walking and want more of the best scenery, go 9 days. We are in our mid/late 60s and managed it fine (if sometimes a little bit slower than the younger ones) - it was often tough but a great trek, even down to the adventure of 6 creek crossings (including a full swim) to get around Ormiston Pound on our last day after a massive thunderstorm set the rivers running! Whichever you choose, heed all the warnings on boots - the right boots are your best friend - they should have a roomy toebox, good ankle support, a tough thick sole - and be worn in. If you like to walk with poles, these are definitely useful, especially for steadying on the rough terrain on descents.

B.G, Sydney, NSW, 17 Oct 2017


We walked the Larapinta Trail for 9 days as part of a World Expedition tour. This covered about two-thirds of the Larapinta Trail stages, arguably the more interesting sections. The scenery along the trail is quite spectacular but difficult to capture in photographs. While this wasn't the hardest walk we've done (because we only carried day packs), it was hard going. The trail is very well sign-posted, but there are large sections of sharp, fractured quartzite rocks and boulders, so you usually have to watch your feet and stop walking if you want to look at the scenery. We walked the trail in September, so there were numerous wildflowers in bloom. Predominant forms of wildlife were birds and lizards, with the occasional beetle and fish in rock pools. I recommend taking some of the folded guides available in good stores in Alice Springs to help identify the plants and animals, if you like to know that sort of detail. We swam in a couple of waterholes and gorges, but the water is cold below the first 30 cm. We also had to swim fully clothed for a couple of metres to ford a flooded river, but that was exceptional, and a consequence of the unusual amount of rain in the region. I didn't wear a base layer or gaiters, although others did. The flies weren't troublesome. Others were bitten by horse flies on occasion though. Nor was I really troubled by mosquitoes, a nice change for the great outdoors.

W, Canberra, ACT, 01 Oct 2017


Walked with World Expeditions on their 9-day "Best of Larapinta" trek and had the time of my life. Ash and Ashton, the two guides, were absolutely superb, from encouraging us along the sections, to the fantastic food, to the fireside jokes night. I would absolutely travel and walk with World Ex again, they were fantastic. The trail itself is breathtaking, but it's no stroll in the park, so make sure you've done the training beforehand. The 9 day "Best of..." is more accurately interpreted as "The Hardest Bits of..." as it takes in the highest points of the trail for the best views. Some long days & long distances, with some steep climbs, but absolutely worth every drop of sweat.

Tilly, Brisbane, QLD, 12 Sep 2017

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:9 Days
Countries:Australia
Starting Point:Alice Springs
Finishing Point:Alice Springs
Activities:Walking
Grade:Moderate to Challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:LA9
Prices From:AUD$2995