Since 1995 – when we offered the first commercial trek in this outstanding walking destination – we have led the way on the Larapinta Trail and our exclusive semi-permanent campsites continue to set the standard, winning us the 2016 Ecotourism award in the Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Awards.
On this fully supported trek you walk with just a day pack to explore the best sections of this iconic desert trail: from the high ridge lines of the West MacDonnell Ranges you'll see the vast flood plains that form this ancient land. You'll be dwarfed by the immensity of Ormiston and Serpentine Gorge and soothed by their idyllic waterholes. You'll be amazed by dramatic colour changes in the rock formations at Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm... and to top it all of you'll climb to the lofty peak of Mt Sonder to watch the sunrise (1,380m).
At the end of each day we relax in comfort at our architect-designed camps – including hot showers, comfortable lounges and heated dining shelter – as our guides prepare gourmet 3-course dinners around the campfire. Our exclusive camps combined with passionate guides, spectacular food, and an unsurpassed itinerary make this tour the ultimate Larapinta experience.
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the walking terrain, the altitude, and the length of the trek. The Larapinta Experience is graded introductory to moderate. This trek involves walking 5-7 hours each day over rugged terrain with some steep ascents and descents. In order to complete this trek we advise that you undertake regular exercise three or four times a week in the month prior to your departure. Hill walking with a day pack is recommended.
We pick you up from your accommodation between 7-7.30am and begin our walk at the historic Alice Springs Telegraph Station, the official start of the Larapinta Trail. From here the trail takes us west through witchetty bush, mulga scrub, and bird-filled shady woodlands. We climb high over exposed hills to the jagged outcrop of Euro Ridge, with expansive views over Alice Springs and the surrounding landscape, before descending to the deep narrow passage of Wallaby Gap.
After a stop for refreshments you have the option to extend your walk and head to Nick's Camp on foot, or to transfer by bus. Nick's Camp is one of our exclusive award-winning camps, nestled in the bush with stunning views across the Heavitree Range and Alice Valley. Following your introduction to camp you will be greeted by local bush food specialist, Rayleen Brown, who will give an informative presentation about native bush foods with tastings.
Walking Time: 5-8 hours
From Nick's Camp we continue west through magnificent, shady Bloodwoods and tall Ironwoods, the dominant trees on this narrow alluvial flat. We may catch sight of a shy Echidna or Black-footed Rock Wallaby as we approach one of the most important waterholes of the area, Simpsons Gap. A short transfer takes us to the stunning Standley Chasm where you will be welcomed to country by Deanella Mack from Cultural Connections. Sunday and Wednesday departures will journey into Arrernte country for a cultural conversation; Friday departures will have a cultural conversation on night one.
After a delicious picnic lunch and a walk into the magnificent Chasm – a private reserve still run by the traditional owners – we transfer to Charlie's Camp. Named in honour of pioneering Larapinta guide Charlie Holmes, tonight's camp is nestled in secluded wilderness at the foothills of Counts Point.
Walking Time: 3-5 hours
Today's highlight is the 5km walk along the crest of the high ridge leading to Counts Point. From here we have 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 also see the huge comet crater of Gosse Bluff, a feature of the landscape for the next few days. We descend from the high ridgetop though mysterious stands of mulga trees.
At the base of the ridge we follow a track of dolomite limestone toward camp; keep your eye out for fossil stromatolites under foot, one of the most ancient forms of life. Stepping off the main trail, we follow our private track back to Charlie's Camp. An optional afternoon walk to Serpentine Chalet Dam reveals early history of the area and the chance for a refreshing swim. Spend the evening relaxing around the campfire while your guides prepare a scrumptious dinner.
Walking Time: 5.5-6.5 hours
After another wonderful breakfast we walk out of camp to the breathtaking Inarlanga (Echidna) Pass. We spend some time in the magnificent pass to enjoy the peace and marvel at the ancient cycad palms. From here we trek south-west to an original ochre quarry, a sacred Aboriginal site. The rainbow of vibrant colours on the wave-like ochre wall makes for stunning photos. We then break for a picnic lunch and an early finish in preparation for our big day tomorrow.
Your guides will offer numerous afternoon activities such as: visit Finke River (estimated to be the oldest river in the world), relax at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, or take on a challenging 10km trek from Ormiston Gorge through diverse desert lowlands and creek country. We transfer west to our exclusive Camp Fearless – named in honour of trekking guide Sue Fear – at the foothills of Mount Sonder.
Walking Time: 3-7 hours
Your guides will have you up early this morning (3am) 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! Mount Sonder is the official end and highest point of the entire Larapinta Trail and as such we have expansive views across the entire vast landscape we have been exploring over the last few days.
We descend to Redbank Gorge and can enjoy a great brunch on the Finke River. If time permits in the afternoon we may visit the Glen Helen Homestead at the base of the range where we can relax with a drink or even take a scenic helicopter fight over the West MacDonnell Ranges. A short transfer returns us to Camp Fearless looking back up toward Mt Sonder.
Walking Time: 6-7 hours
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.
After lunch we board the bus and transfer to Alice Springs. Sitting back and watching the now familiar ancient desert landscape slide by the bus window gives most trekkers a sense of awe and satisfaction. Congratulations on all you have achieved over the last six days! We will drop you to your accommodation at approximately 4-5pm. This evening your group may like to arrange a celebratory dinner together at one of Alice's great eateries.
Walking Time: 3-4 hours
Per Person, Twin Share