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In the company of expert guides trek across Australia’s MacDonnell Ranges, hiking the best of the Larapinta Trail from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder (1350m).
Beginning at Alice Spring’s Telegraph Station (the official start of the Larapinta Trail), walk through ancient bushland and up onto the rocky spine of the MacDonnell Ranges. Discover the impressive waterholes of Simpsons Gap and red ochre walls of Standley Chasm, where you can also learn about local dreamtime from members of the indigenous community.
Trek through the outback and across desert lowland to the towering rock formations and pools of Ormiston Gorge, where you may see wedge-tailed eagles and rock wallabies. Marking the end of the trail is a sunrise ascent of Mount Sonder followed by a descent to the banks of the River Finke (said to be the oldest river in the world). An unforgettable highlight of this tour are the evenings spent in exclusive wilderness eco-camps. Tucked away off the main trail, enjoy your stylish surroundings with a cool beer and the camaraderie of your fellow trekkers!
The gateway city to Australia’s ‘red centre’ and rugged MacDonnell Ranges is the famous outback town of Alice Springs. Best reached via its airport, the town centre is less than a 20 minute taxi journey from the airport.
Depending on your arrival time you can explore the town or take a walk up Anzac Hill where you can see the MacDonnell Ranges. Later in the afternoon, meet your fellow hikers at the pre-tour briefing where your guide will run through the week ahead.
Overnight: Alice Springs
Walking from Alice Spring’s Telegraph Station (the official start of the trail) hike west out of the town, through witchetty bush, scrub and woodlands. Ascending to the rocky outcrop of Euro Ridge, where there is time to appreciate panoramic views back across to Alice Springs. Descending into the narrow passage of Wallaby Gap, you can choose to take the remaining 8.5km by bus or round off the day with a bushland walk to Nick’s Camp for your first night in comfort under canvas.
Walk: 13.5km (+ 8.5km optional walk)
Overnight: Nick’s Camp
Leaving camp today, walk through a shady forest of Bloodwoods and Ironwood trees, making headway towards a series of waterholes at Simpsons Gap (where black-footed rock wallaby are regularly spotted). A short transfer heads to the stunning Standley Chasm where over thousands of years, flood waters have gauged a deep cleft in the tough quartzite stone.
On arrival at Standley Chasm, we will be met by Culture Connections and led into Arrernte country for a cultural conversation with a local Arrernte woman to learn about one of the oldest living cultures in the world (the Arrernte people are the original indigenous inhabitants of Arrernte lands, the land occupied by the township of Alice Springs and surrounding area).
Overnight: Nick’s Camp
Leaving camp this morning, hike along High Ridge to Counts Point to appreciate far reaching views to Mount Sonder and Mount Zeil. Descending across rocky ground and through forests of Mulga Trees, we head to camp where it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for fossil stromatolites under foot, one of the most ancient forms of life. Transferring to Charlie’s Camp for lunch (named in honour of pioneering Larapinta guide Charlie Holmes), there is an optional afternoon walk to Serpentine Chalet Dam and the chance for a refreshing swim. In the evening, enjoy relaxing around the campfire with your fellow guests.
Walk: 13km (with an optional 2km)
Overnight: Charlie’s Camp
This morning is a steady climb to Inarlanga (Echinda) Pass. Peppered with ancient Cycad Palm trees, take a moment to enjoy the peace before continuing south west to the vibrant colours of a sacred Aboriginal site at an old ochre quarry. After a picnic lunch, your guide will offer various, optional, afternoon activities which include; relaxing at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, visiting Finke River or a 10km trek through challenging creek country to the picture-perfect Ormiston Gorge. Later in the afternoon transfer west to our camp in the foothills of Mount Sonder.
Walk: 8km (+ optional 10km to Ormiston Gorge)
Overnight: Fearless Camp
The 3am start is more than worth it this morning for the hike to the highest point and official end of the Larapinta Trail, Mount Sonder (1380m). By head torch, ascend the rocky peak and on arrival at the summit there is time to rest and appreciate sunrise over the ancient lands. The return decent is to Redbank Gorge for a riverside brunch and if time permits we may visit the Glen Helen Homestead before onward return travel to our camp.
Walk: 12 km
Overnight: Fearless Camp
We end our journey with an exploration of Ormiston Pound. Ormiston boasts the most extraordinary rock formations and wildlife rich waterholes of the Larapinta Trail. In the upper reaches of the gorge, rock wallabies are hopping about their daily business, whilst up above it’s worth keeping an eye out for native birdlife such as the spinifex pigeon and Australia’s largest raptor, the wedge-tailed eagle.
Enjoying your last picnic lunch in the outback, a private bus transfer drives us across this fascinating desert landscape, as we make the return journey to Alice Springs in the late afternoon. In the evening you can dine with your fellow trekkers in Australia’s best known outback town. Should you require an extra night in Alice Springs, we can easily arrange this for you.
During this trip you will spend 1 night in a 4* hotel in Alice Springs and during the trek, 5 nights in award winning, semi-permanent eco-camps. Details of accommodation used on this tour are listed below.
If you’re walking with friends or family and prefer to have your own room (and tent) space, single rooms in Alice Springs are available subject to a supplementary payment. A single tent may be available, but this allocated on first serve, first come basis. If you are travelling as a solo walker, and a single tent is not available, you will be paired with a tent partner of the same gender.
Hotel Alice Springs Located on the Todd River and only 5 minutes walk from the town centre, this 4* Double Tree Hilton Hotel has been designed to be in keeping with the natural landscape. The hotel bar and restaurant offers dinner on the terrace. To cool off you can always hop into the hotel pool.
During the trek you will spend each night in a wilderness eco-camp. The camps have only been made possible by the partnership between our local partner, Aboriginal Traditional Owners and the Northern Territory National Park who jointly manage the land. Each campsite is fully set-up so there is no need to worry about pitching or packing up tents.
Exclusive to your trekking group, each campsite comprises of kitchen, lounge and dining area (all of which are on raised platforms). The lounge is the perfect way to relax and cool off in the shade. On cooler nights, the seated campfire circle is an informal area to relax around the fireplace and the dining wing offers a stylish setting to enjoy dinner with your fellow walkers.
Each tent is a custom built safari tent and has plenty of room for two people. The tent measures 2.4m x 2.4m x 2.1m (so there is plenty of room to stand up) and comprises of 2 single camp beds (raised off the floor) with an adequate foam mattress (5cm thick) The tent is equipped with an inner mesh to allow for ventilation and the robust canvas walls protect again bad weather.
Finally, the campsite bathrooms provide a simple shower system (with a limited hot water supply per person) and composting toilets. These toilets use a special compost which allows waste to be broken down without the need for chemicals.
This tour has scheduled departure dates from April through to September. Private group departures are also available, please contact the office for details.
Depending on your wider plans for Australia, the start and end of the Larapinta trekking season (April and September) are the warmest months (20-25 degrees) with evenings being very pleasant. Between June and August daytime temperatures are cooler (15-25 degrees) and the evenings can get cold. Whilst there is a cosy campfire, overnight frosts are common so do refer to the packing list for suggested items.
All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 5 dinners are included (lunches and dinners in Alice Springs are not included). Typically, breakfast consists of fruits, juices, breads, eggs, muesli, yogurts. There is always a plentiful supply of tea and coffee.
Lunches on all walking days are included. Your guide will find a shady spot where you can kick back and relax with a picnic style lunch. Included dinners consist of 2-3 courses, with main courses such as traditional camp-oven roast, pasta dish or grilled meats.
Should you have any special dietary requirements please let us know. We try to accommodate all requirements where possible but as the campsites are in remote locations dietary alternatives may not be possible without prior notice. It is essential you let us know at least a month in advance of any dietary needs. Should you have a specific diet, it is always worth bringing a small supply of your own food.
This moderately graded tour is fully guided. With a maximum
group size of 12 like minded trekkers from across the globe, the international
nature of these groups adds to the experience of your journey across the
outback. The offical trail is 220km long, therefore we use a sensible combination of hiking and private vehicle transfers to the access the best sections of the trail or to reach the exclusive camps which are a small distance off the main trail.
Operated in partnership with a team of Australian trekking experts,
your professional crew will guide you through the cultural and natural
highlights of the Larapinta Trail. Your camp crew work hard to provide you with a comfortable nights sleep, together with creating delicious and tasty meals to keep you fuelled for your trek. Your main baggage will be transferred by the support vehicle, so all you have to carry are your personal essentials and water. Each day your guide will brief you on the walk ahead and what the day will entail.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care. Please provide us with your policy information prior to departure.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. On this tour we can provide you with a sleeping bag should you require one.
For general travel planning, we recommend the helpful site www.rome2rio.com
Alice Springs Airport connects through to all major Australian cities. International flights will generally route via another Australian airport before onward international travel.
You may wish to consider taking the train The Ghan Train service, which is rated as one of the worlds best train journeys. You can take the 24 hour journey from either Adelaide or Darwin to Alice Springs. There are a number of different cabin types available and the overnight train journey also takes in a number of stops to visit various points of interest along the way. Quite simply, The Ghan is a unique, not to mention stylish way to arrive into Alice Springs.
Alice Springs is in central Australia, which means driving from any of the major cities is a long way! Sydney is a 30+ hour drive whilst Darwin to Alice Springs is around 18+ hours.
The Larapinta Trail is one of Australia's most famous treks. The season is limited from April through to October so we suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised.
This trip is graded moderate. Being a regular walker, you’ll be happy to cover distance of up to 20km across rough, rugged terrain. There are some walks which require light scrambling over rockier ground and some of the walks have steep ascents and descents, so you should be sure footed and happy tackle uneven ground. However, your guide is always available to offer a helping help.
It’s always a good idea to get out and walk back to back days in the lead up to your tour, together with any other activities or fitness classes you usually do.
On this tour you will only need to carry a day pack with your personal items you will need for that day including snacks, suncream and water. Your main bag will be transfered by the support vehicle to the next camp as per your itinerary.
You will need a sleeping bag which are available to rent if you do not have your own. Please refer to the comprehensive kit list in your information pack.