Best of the Larapinta Trail

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Best of the Larapinta Trail

Trip Highlights

  • Walk the most spectacular and scenic sections of the Larapinta Trail
  • Climb Mount Sonder for a spectacular sunrise
  • 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

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.


This trek involves 6-12 hours walking each day over rugged terrain with some steep ascents and descents. The trail conditions of the Larapinta Trail are rocky, rugged, hard surfaced and dry. While a number of sections of the trail wind through open plains, undulating areas and relatively flat country, overall, the trail is characterised by rocky, stony and mountainous terrain which can rise from 680m above sea level to more than 1,200m along some sections. This trek should not be underestimated as it can be tough and challenging.

Suggested preparation: We recommend one hour of strenuous exercise 4 times per week (this can be cycling, jogging or walking) interspersed with relatively demanding bushwalks carrying a day pack. At least once a week, you should walk with a weighted day pack (5–7kg) for several hours for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness. The best way to train for an active holiday is to simulate the activity you will be undertaking on the trip. Train for uneven terrain by finding a hilly, rough narrow bush track, and go for a lovely long walk in your trekking boots. Be sure to include some multi day walks in your training.


We pick you up from your Alice Springs accommodation between 6:30-7:00am and transfer to Jay Creek (the last section of this transfer is on a 4WD track). 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:  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. A transfer will bring us to camp, which will either be at Birthday Waterhole or up Hugh River.

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. We will camp at Serpentine Chalet, and a transfer will bring us to camp.

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 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

This morning we walk out of our camp on the Finke River. The local Arrernte name for the river is ‘Lhere Pinte’, meaning salty river, which is where this trail gets its name from. The Finke is also estimated at being the oldest river in the world. Today we have views and trail dominated by the bulk of Mt Sonder, whose colours change magnificently throughout the day. We initially head north-west through spinifex before crossing Davenport Creek, a tributary of the Finke River. We climb over a low section of the range to Hilltop Saddle, arguably one of the best views of the mountain which will be tomorrows walk before descending into Rocky Bar Gap, where we will be met by your support vehicle to be transported a short distance back to camp on the Finke River.

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


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

An excellent mix of hills, gorges, views, flowers, rocks, rocks and more rocks, amazing night skies, some long days and some tough bits but all doable and made easier by the guides who encourage you and look after your welfare, did I mention the food, excellent! Each section is different and each contributes to the whole experience. And a sunrise to top it all off.

P. & S. van Horck, Pie Creek, QLD

A challenging but wonderful experience, with a magic historical landscape still unspoilt, enhanced by sleeping under that navy sky & its sparkling stars-surely the quintessential Australian walk!

R. Raffles, Mona Vale, NSW

Upcoming Travel Dates


Duration:9 Days
Starting Point:Alice Springs
Finishing Point:Alice Springs
Grade:Moderate to Challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:LA9
Prices From:AUD$3195