To experience one of the most spectacular outback destinations in Australia’s Northern Territory, trek the amazing Larapinta Trail. As you navigate through the high ridgelines of the West MacDonnell Ranges, the Ormiston and Serpentine Gorges, and hike Mount Sonder at sunrise, you will encounter some of the most incredible aspects of Australia’s natural and diverse beauty. You will also be amazed by the dramatic colour changes in the rock formations at Glen Helen Gorge and Standley Chasm; some of the truly unmissable spectacles on this walk!

Larapinta Trail

Group-guided

One of the most spectacular hikes in Australia – West MacDonnell Ranges, Ormiston & Serpentine Gorges, Counts Point, Standley Chasm & Mount Sonder at sunrise

Group-guided 7 Days From $3095 Moderate What's Included

Larapinta Trail

BACK
What's Included
  • Genuine all inclusive pack free walking holiday
  • 2 expert guides
  • 6 nights’ comfortable accommodation with ensuite rooms
  • All meals including cooked breakfasts, a la carte two-course dinners most nights and comprehensive walkers lunches
  • All transport from Alice Springs, plus all luggage transport
  • National park admission
  • Champagne sunset
  • Auswalk guide pack including notes, maps, map case, insulated lunch bag and container

Larapinta & the East MacDonnells

Group-guided

Spectacular hiking traversing: East & West MacDonnell Ranges, Trephina Gorge, Ormiston & Serpentine Gorges, Counts Point, Standley Chasm & Mount Sonder at sunrise

Group-guided 9 Days From $3895 Moderate What's Included

Larapinta & the East MacDonnells

BACK
What's Included
  • Genuine all inclusive pack free walking holiday
  • 2 expert guides
  • 8 nights’ comfortable accommodation with ensuite rooms
  • All meals including cooked breakfasts, a la carte two-course dinners most nights and comprehensive walkers lunches
  • All transport from Alice Springs, plus all luggage transport
  • National park admission
  • Champagne sunset
  • Auswalk guide pack including notes, maps, map case, insulated lunch bag and container

Larapinta Trail Highlights

Group-guided

One of the most spectacular hikes in Australia – West MacDonnell Ranges, Ormiston & Serpentine Gorges, Counts Point, Standley Chasm & Mount Sonder at sunrise

Group-guided 5 Days From $2195 Moderate What's Included

Larapinta Trail Highlights

BACK
What's Included
  • Genuine all inclusive pack free walking holiday
  • 2 expert guides
  • 4 nights’ comfortable accommodation with ensuite rooms
  • All meals including cooked breakfasts, a la carte two-course dinners most nights and comprehensive walkers lunches
  • All transport from Alice Springs, plus all luggage transport
  • National park admission
  • Champagne sunset
  • Auswalk guide pack including notes, maps, map case, insulated lunch bag and container

OVERVIEW

The Larapinta Trail walk will take you through land sacred to the Arrernte (pronounced Ah-runda) Aboriginal people; who have lived in this area since the Dreamtime. We are fortunate that the Traditional Owners are happy to have us walk through these beautiful ranges to which they have such a deep cultural and spiritual connection. Here you will gain a deeper understanding of the ancient indigenous cultures of Australia and meet people that are the Traditional Owners of the land. You will learn about their culture, way of life, living conditions, activities, Dreamtime stories and more.

This walk is suitable for both experienced hikers seeking a spectacular challenge and for those who want to experience a more moderate challenge but still wish to discover the beauty of the Larapinta Trail on foot. With two guides to assist the group, we offer an easier walk each day for those that want it. This is the best way to experience the splendid isolation and remoteness of the most spectacular parts of the Larapinta Trail, together with quality dining and comfortable accommodation.

READ MORE

History

The Larapinta Trail is located in the West MacDonnell Ranges and passes through lands that have been home to the local Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years. We would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Central and Western Arrernte Country through which this trail runs. West MacDonnell National Park was established in 1984 to consolidate and protect what had previously been a series of small parks and reserves. The existence of a large national park covering this whole area also facilitated the development of the Larapinta Trail. The idea of a long-distance trail through this area was first proposed in 1989. The first section of the trail was opened in 1990, and after many years of development and community consultation, the Larapinta Trail was finally completed in 2002.

Designed to be walked in either direction, the Larapinta Trail runs for 223 km between the town of Alice Springs in the east and Mt Sonder in the west. As the weather in Central Australia is often very hot, the ideal time to walk the Larapinta is during the late autumn and winter months (May to August, inclusive).

Why is the Trail called Larapinta?

Larapinta is the name by which the local Arrente people (pronounced ‘Ah-runda’) know the Finke River, meaning “river of sand”. There is a saying in the Red Centre that the rivers flow upside down. The sand is on the top and the water is underneath. You just have to know where to dig for it! The Finke River starts in the West MacDonnell Ranges with the meeting of Ormiston and Davenport Creeks, just north of Glen Helen. This river is considered to be one of the oldest in the world, having followed its present course for over 100 million years. The Finke runs for about 600km to the western edge of the Simpson Desert in northern South Australia. Today it is usually a string of waterholes, but it can become a raging torrent during rare flood events.

Transport

The eastern end of the Larapinta Trail starts on the outskirts of Alice Springs, the main town in Central Australia. Alice Springs is located on the Stuart Highway approx. 275 km north of the South Australia-Northern Territory border. Alice Springs is over 1500 km south of Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. Alice Springs can be accessed by car, rail or plane. Trekkers will be responsible for arranging their own transportation to Alice Springs. Our professional guides and friendly staff can help you plan your trip so that you arrive relaxed and well-prepared for this amazing walking experience.

climate/weather

The Larapinta Trail is located in Central Australia, a desert zone that can reach extreme temperatures. During late Spring, Summer, and Autumn temperatures can reach a scorching 36° during the day. Thus, it is not advised to walk during these time frames due to safety and health concerns.

Auswalk only operates walks between May and August to ensure the best possible conditions for walkers. During this time, the maximum temperature throughout the day is 23° and the minimum is 4°. With only 2 to 3 days of rain a month, this is the perfect time to lace up your boots and hit this stunning trail during its best conditions.

Larapinta climate graph

Source: BOM

Terrain

The Larapinta Trail is a 223 kilometre bushwalking trail running along the spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The altitude of the MacDonnell Ranges is rather high for Australia, rising to above 1,000m, from the base of 600m, seven times along the trail. This desert landscape includes a variety of terrain, from sheltered gorges to stunning high ridges. Rolling hills and dry river valleys dot the landscape in vibrant red hues that become even more vivid with the rising and setting of the sun.

Along our guided walks, we will only traverse the highlights of the trail instead of the entire length of the Larapinta Trail. Typically, we will be walking 4 to 9 hours per day. The Larapinta Trail is rated as “moderate to challenging.” Walkers with a good level of fitness and more experienced walkers are welcome, and we cater to those looking for more of a challenge.

The trail’s tracks are often quite rocky even though the trail is dry and firm. Our walk will take us along deep gorges and up steep inclines, providing more of a challenge for experienced hikers looking to push their limits.

We understand that everyone wants to enjoy their experience and our guides will try to provide the best possible options to meet the needs and wants of the group. We provide two guides which means that for those looking for an easier walk or those in need of a rest can take an alternative walk. For those looking for a challenge, our guides are professionals and will encourage and motivate you to add that little extra effort in tougher locations. By the time you finish a difficult section of the trail, you will feel reenergized and proud of your effort.

when to walk

The best time to walk the Larapinta Trail is in the late autumn and winter months between May and August. This is the time when the temperature is relatively cooler and rain is less likely. In winter, daytime maximum temperatures are generally only in the low 20s. But it can drop to below freezing at night. The sun can be quite fierce however and the rocks can radiate heat. It is always advisable to carry a hat and water, and use sunblock.

walking fitness levels

The Larapinta Trail is approximately 223 km long. Of course, we don’t trek the entire length, just the highlights.  We have rated the Larapinta Trail as ‘moderate to challenging’. Walkers with a good level of fitness and more experienced walkers are welcome, and we cater to those looking for more of a challenge.

The Trail’s tracks are dry and firm, but often very rocky underfoot. You will generally be walking between 4 to 9 hours each day, across rocky terrain and ridgelines with often steep inclines, so the experienced hikers looking for more of a challenge won’t be disappointed.

We understand that everyone in the group wants to enjoy the experience and our guides will try their best to meet the needs of all. Our guides are professionals and will encourage and motivate you to continue where appropriate in sections that might require a little more effort. When you complete a difficult section of the Trail, you can definitely feel proud of your achievement!

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, a map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 2 to 3 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent and band-aids
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or sim cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking pole/s
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Additional snacks

locations

Whilst there are many special places you’ll visit along the Larapinta Trail, here are some our favourites.

Mount Sonder

Located at the western end of the Larapinta Trail is the highest point in the West MacDonnell Ranges and the fourth highest mountain in the Northern Territory, Mt Sonder. As you walk the challenging trail, you may be able to spot the grey-headed honeyeater, the desert mouse, and the Peregrine falcon soaring overhead. At 1380m above sea level, you will be able to get a sweeping 360° panoramic view over the terrain that will take your breath away. To the north you will see the Tanami Desert, to the east the ridges of the Western MacDonnell Ranges, to the south the Gosse Bluff meteor crater, and to the west the tallest mountain in the Northern Territory, Mount Zeil.

Ormiston, Glen Helen, and Serpentine Gorge

The Ormiston Gorge contains a year-round watering hole where visitors can complete a three to four hour trek known as the Ormiston Pound Walk. These beautiful gorges feature inviting pools of glistening water and magnificent red rock walls that contain many enchanting legends. The area’s Traditional Owners believe in an ancient rainbow serpent that calls Glen Helen its home and an Eaglehawk ancestor that resides in the Serpentine Gorge. The unique flora and fauna of the area help bring the magic alive.

Standley Chasm

Known in the local Aboriginal language as “Angkerle Atwatye”, or “The Gap of Water,” the Standley Chasm is an outstanding geological formation that draws many visitors. This narrow fissure cuts through quartzite to create a nature path that snakes through an 80m sheer rock face. Standley Chasm is located on a private reserve of the Iwupataka Land Trust and is operated by direct descendants of the Aboriginal people. This land holds cultural significance for the Western Arrernte women. In addition, with the creek bed running through the centre, an astounding variety of wildlife and unique flora life can be witnessed.

Overview

OVERVIEW

The Larapinta Trail walk will take you through land sacred to the Arrernte (pronounced Ah-runda) Aboriginal people; who have lived in this area since the Dreamtime. We are fortunate that the Traditional Owners are happy to have us walk through these beautiful ranges to which they have such a deep cultural and spiritual connection. Here you will gain a deeper understanding of the ancient indigenous cultures of Australia and meet people that are the Traditional Owners of the land. You will learn about their culture, way of life, living conditions, activities, Dreamtime stories and more.

This walk is suitable for both experienced hikers seeking a spectacular challenge and for those who want to experience a more moderate challenge but still wish to discover the beauty of the Larapinta Trail on foot. With two guides to assist the group, we offer an easier walk each day for those that want it. This is the best way to experience the splendid isolation and remoteness of the most spectacular parts of the Larapinta Trail, together with quality dining and comfortable accommodation.

READ MORE
History

History

The Larapinta Trail is located in the West MacDonnell Ranges and passes through lands that have been home to the local Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years. We would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Central and Western Arrernte Country through which this trail runs. West MacDonnell National Park was established in 1984 to consolidate and protect what had previously been a series of small parks and reserves. The existence of a large national park covering this whole area also facilitated the development of the Larapinta Trail. The idea of a long-distance trail through this area was first proposed in 1989. The first section of the trail was opened in 1990, and after many years of development and community consultation, the Larapinta Trail was finally completed in 2002.

Designed to be walked in either direction, the Larapinta Trail runs for 223 km between the town of Alice Springs in the east and Mt Sonder in the west. As the weather in Central Australia is often very hot, the ideal time to walk the Larapinta is during the late autumn and winter months (May to August, inclusive).

Why is the Trail called Larapinta?

Larapinta is the name by which the local Arrente people (pronounced ‘Ah-runda’) know the Finke River, meaning “river of sand”. There is a saying in the Red Centre that the rivers flow upside down. The sand is on the top and the water is underneath. You just have to know where to dig for it! The Finke River starts in the West MacDonnell Ranges with the meeting of Ormiston and Davenport Creeks, just north of Glen Helen. This river is considered to be one of the oldest in the world, having followed its present course for over 100 million years. The Finke runs for about 600km to the western edge of the Simpson Desert in northern South Australia. Today it is usually a string of waterholes, but it can become a raging torrent during rare flood events.

Transport

Transport

The eastern end of the Larapinta Trail starts on the outskirts of Alice Springs, the main town in Central Australia. Alice Springs is located on the Stuart Highway approx. 275 km north of the South Australia-Northern Territory border. Alice Springs is over 1500 km south of Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. Alice Springs can be accessed by car, rail or plane. Trekkers will be responsible for arranging their own transportation to Alice Springs. Our professional guides and friendly staff can help you plan your trip so that you arrive relaxed and well-prepared for this amazing walking experience.

climate/weather

climate/weather

The Larapinta Trail is located in Central Australia, a desert zone that can reach extreme temperatures. During late Spring, Summer, and Autumn temperatures can reach a scorching 36° during the day. Thus, it is not advised to walk during these time frames due to safety and health concerns.

Auswalk only operates walks between May and August to ensure the best possible conditions for walkers. During this time, the maximum temperature throughout the day is 23° and the minimum is 4°. With only 2 to 3 days of rain a month, this is the perfect time to lace up your boots and hit this stunning trail during its best conditions.

Larapinta climate graph

Source: BOM

Terrain

Terrain

The Larapinta Trail is a 223 kilometre bushwalking trail running along the spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The altitude of the MacDonnell Ranges is rather high for Australia, rising to above 1,000m, from the base of 600m, seven times along the trail. This desert landscape includes a variety of terrain, from sheltered gorges to stunning high ridges. Rolling hills and dry river valleys dot the landscape in vibrant red hues that become even more vivid with the rising and setting of the sun.

Along our guided walks, we will only traverse the highlights of the trail instead of the entire length of the Larapinta Trail. Typically, we will be walking 4 to 9 hours per day. The Larapinta Trail is rated as “moderate to challenging.” Walkers with a good level of fitness and more experienced walkers are welcome, and we cater to those looking for more of a challenge.

The trail’s tracks are often quite rocky even though the trail is dry and firm. Our walk will take us along deep gorges and up steep inclines, providing more of a challenge for experienced hikers looking to push their limits.

We understand that everyone wants to enjoy their experience and our guides will try to provide the best possible options to meet the needs and wants of the group. We provide two guides which means that for those looking for an easier walk or those in need of a rest can take an alternative walk. For those looking for a challenge, our guides are professionals and will encourage and motivate you to add that little extra effort in tougher locations. By the time you finish a difficult section of the trail, you will feel reenergized and proud of your effort.

when to walk

when to walk

The best time to walk the Larapinta Trail is in the late autumn and winter months between May and August. This is the time when the temperature is relatively cooler and rain is less likely. In winter, daytime maximum temperatures are generally only in the low 20s. But it can drop to below freezing at night. The sun can be quite fierce however and the rocks can radiate heat. It is always advisable to carry a hat and water, and use sunblock.

walking fitness levels

walking fitness levels

The Larapinta Trail is approximately 223 km long. Of course, we don’t trek the entire length, just the highlights.  We have rated the Larapinta Trail as ‘moderate to challenging’. Walkers with a good level of fitness and more experienced walkers are welcome, and we cater to those looking for more of a challenge.

The Trail’s tracks are dry and firm, but often very rocky underfoot. You will generally be walking between 4 to 9 hours each day, across rocky terrain and ridgelines with often steep inclines, so the experienced hikers looking for more of a challenge won’t be disappointed.

We understand that everyone in the group wants to enjoy the experience and our guides will try their best to meet the needs of all. Our guides are professionals and will encourage and motivate you to continue where appropriate in sections that might require a little more effort. When you complete a difficult section of the Trail, you can definitely feel proud of your achievement!

walking essentials

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, a map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 2 to 3 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent and band-aids
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or sim cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking pole/s
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Additional snacks
locations

locations

Whilst there are many special places you’ll visit along the Larapinta Trail, here are some our favourites.

Mount Sonder

Located at the western end of the Larapinta Trail is the highest point in the West MacDonnell Ranges and the fourth highest mountain in the Northern Territory, Mt Sonder. As you walk the challenging trail, you may be able to spot the grey-headed honeyeater, the desert mouse, and the Peregrine falcon soaring overhead. At 1380m above sea level, you will be able to get a sweeping 360° panoramic view over the terrain that will take your breath away. To the north you will see the Tanami Desert, to the east the ridges of the Western MacDonnell Ranges, to the south the Gosse Bluff meteor crater, and to the west the tallest mountain in the Northern Territory, Mount Zeil.

Ormiston, Glen Helen, and Serpentine Gorge

The Ormiston Gorge contains a year-round watering hole where visitors can complete a three to four hour trek known as the Ormiston Pound Walk. These beautiful gorges feature inviting pools of glistening water and magnificent red rock walls that contain many enchanting legends. The area’s Traditional Owners believe in an ancient rainbow serpent that calls Glen Helen its home and an Eaglehawk ancestor that resides in the Serpentine Gorge. The unique flora and fauna of the area help bring the magic alive.

Standley Chasm

Known in the local Aboriginal language as “Angkerle Atwatye”, or “The Gap of Water,” the Standley Chasm is an outstanding geological formation that draws many visitors. This narrow fissure cuts through quartzite to create a nature path that snakes through an 80m sheer rock face. Standley Chasm is located on a private reserve of the Iwupataka Land Trust and is operated by direct descendants of the Aboriginal people. This land holds cultural significance for the Western Arrernte women. In addition, with the creek bed running through the centre, an astounding variety of wildlife and unique flora life can be witnessed.

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