The Larapinta Trail is broken up into 12 sections that each take one to two days to complete and vary in difficulty. The trail starts from the Telegraph Station in Alice Springs and ends at Mt Sonder.
Choose Your Sections - Larapinta Self Guided Options
You can tailor your Larapinta Trek on our 3, 6, 9 and 12 day Self Guided Larapinta Walks and choose from 12 different sections - as long as they are connected. All your food drops and transfers to and from the trail included. Find out more about our Self Guided walking options here.
Our walking begins at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station which also marks the beginning of the Larapinta Trail itself. The stone buildings here date back to 1872 and housed the first Europeans to live in Central Australia. Initially the trail from here winds among boulders of granite, the highest of which offer fine views of the town and Mt Gillen. The trail passes through Witchetty bush and Mulga scrub, over exposed hills and shady woodlands before we arrive for lunch at Wallaby Gap. From Wallaby Gap, we follow the trail 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.
From Simpson's Gap 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 used by Aborigines. One of the most peaceful parts of the trail is Spring Gap. We observe a wide variety of plant life and watch for birds at the waterhole. We then walk on through ever changing countryside to our idyllic camp at Jay Creek.
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.
From Standley Chasm, we follow the spectacular Bridle Trail, an old trading route used by the early settlers in the region. We follow the ridgeline to Brinkley's Bluff for superb views of the spine effect created by the West MacDonnell's. After lunch we take on a steep descent to our welcoming campsite at Birthday Waterhole.
An early rise today for one of the most challenging and rewarding sections on the trail. We head into Paisley Gorge before moving on to our lunch spot at Spencer Gorge. Our trek this afternoon takes us on a rough spinifex journey through this semi-arid region allowing breathtaking views of Hugh Gorge.
Staying on the south side of the range whose soaring presence dominates our vista of this stage, moving through lower level woodlands and spinifex where we could chance upon painted firetails and different wren species. This is a long day and an early start will be required- camp is at Ellery Creek.
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 on this earth. The trail is again through woodlands and spinifex.
This section offers breathtaking views as the trail runs along the high quartzite ridgelines that typify the West MacDonnell Ranges. We ascend to Counts Point where we are able to take in clear views of Centralia's western horizon, out past Mt Zeil and Mt Sonder and as far as the comet crater of Gosse
Bluff. We descend through mysterious old Mulga stands to camp tonight at Serpentine Chalet.
Today is one of the highlights of the trip that begins with a sunrise departure. This trek takes us into the rugged heart of this country on a track only opened as recent as 1997. This section is a little more difficult as we ascend to 1088 metres, but is well worth the reward of the clear views across the Alice Valley to the wow factor of Mt. Giles.
A shorter stage of the Trail leading into the head of the Finke River from whose Arrernte name comes the name of the trail. Lhere Pinte means salty river. Arriving at the Finke River to camp you can then dawdle down to Glen Helen where there is the opportunity for a worthwhile “remote” beer.
This walk has views and trail dominated by the bulk of Mt Sonder, whose colours change through the day. We initially head northwest through spinifex before crossing Davenport Creek a tributary of the Finke River. We climb over a low section of the range and descend into Rocky Bar Gap, after a break we head west under the flanks of Mount Sonder passing through some dense mulga and mallee woodland.
This morning we are up early for our ascent of Mount Sonder (known as the pregnant lady by the local Anangu Aboriginal people). An early start allows us to climb in the cool morning air, before the sun heats up the landscape. To sight the views of the country from the top and knowing we have just climbed one of the highest peaks west of the Great Dividing Range is a memorable moment of the trip is ample reward for the effort involved in getting there. Having reached the highpoint (many think highlight) of the Larapinta Trail.
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The scenery was spectacular, Counts Point and Ormiston Gorge being two highlights; the walking was enjoyable and included some good challenges; our guides Ange, Nicole and Ashton took good care of us; the camp site enhanced the experience, the food and sleeping under the stars in our swags were two more highlights. We will certainly recommend World Expeditions to anyone looking for a similar experience. We have already been reading about the other World Expedition Australian Walking holidays. Robin & Jim McBrideNSW, Australia