- You can choose between a few different organized tour groups or go at your own pace, by yourself.
- Although the terrain is rugged, it’s in the moments of struggle that you find your true strength.
- The nights are cold, your nose is freezing, but your body is so warm in a swag.
- Walking through the early morning, listening to dingoes, to get to Mt Sonder at dawn.
- A refreshing swim, especially after 4 days on the trail, at Serpentine Chalet dam.
Completing this walk has been one of the highlights of my life. The scenery is stunning, and the walking is challenging. The Larapinta Trail is just north of Alice Springs in the desert of Australia. You walk along the ridgeline of the West MacDonnell ranges, up and down, up and down …. and up and down a bit more. It is exhausting, but every time you reach the top of a ridge, you’ll see a stunning landscape falling away below. The climax of the walk is making your way to the top of Mount Sonder, one of the Territory’s highest mountains, preferably to see the sunrise.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
This is EXACTLY what the paths look like.
You’ll need to wear your best mountain boots with good ankle support and take a water bottle.
If you have your own compact swag you can sleep out under the stars. The skies are enormous.
Stunning scenery looking across the flats to the ridges. You will see this view, every day you walk. Take a good quality lightweight daypack, but make sure it’s not too small. You do still have to pack in a warm jumper, at least 2 liters of water, camera, sunscreen, fly net, etc.
6-DAY WALKING AND CAMPING ITINERARY
Day 1: Telegraph Station to Wallaby Gap
Starts just a few kilometers out of Alice Springs at the historic Telegraph station and then walking through gentle hills, scrub, past wallabies, and on to Wallaby Gap.
Day 2: Wallaby Gap to Simpson’s Gap, via Standley Chasm and Lookout Walk
The trail goes west past tall Bloodwood and Ironwood trees. Lots of creatures to see, particularly of the insect variety. Depending on the time of year you’ll also see the tiniest bush flowers blooming.
Day 3: Serpentine Gorge to Counts Point
A long day of walking over the high ridgelines, stunning views, rocky terrain, and then down into the camping spots.
Day 4: Overnight camp and into the stunning Ochre Pits
Enjoy a walk across less elevated terrain and down into the valley of ochre pits, used by the Aboriginal people in ceremonies for thousands of years. Take a quick tour to the Finke River. A swim in the Serpentine Chalet dam is a welcome bath after a few days on the trail. No soap, just a refreshing swim in the clean water.
Day 5: Early morning walk to the peak of Mt Sonder
Starting at around 2 am you’ll begin the day walking up ridgelines, up hills, upstairs, up rocky trails to the peak of Mt Sonder. Listen for the dingoes calling along the way.
Day 6: Ormiston Pound Walk and then back to Alice Springs
Beautiful scenery and opportunities to see wildlife on the final day. If you sit very still you’ll be able to see the Rock Wallabies scampering around on the hills. They are beautifully camouflaged, and incredibly dexterous on the high cliffs.
WHO CAN TAKE YOU THERE
World Expeditions offer the Classic Larapinta Trek. It’s a 6-day walk, and very comfortable if you have a basic level of fitness. They start out at Telegraph Station, move onto Simpson Gap and Chandley Chasm, Serpentine Gorge (stunning), Ochre Pits through to the Ormiston Gorge. This is topped off on the final day by a dawn trek up Mount Sonder.
Trek Larapinta is a small local expeditions group offering organized tours of the Larapinta Trail since 1998. They focus on providing an environmentally sustainable and sensitive operation and use their local knowledge to get to the heart of the land you’ll be walking through.
ALICE SPRINGS CLIMATE
The best time to visit the Larapinta Trail is during the Autumn and Spring months. You’ll get warm days and the nights won’t be quite so cold as they get in Winter. Although having said that you’ll still be able to stay warm in an insulated sleeping bag. Choose one that is rated either -5 degrees or -10 degrees if you really feel the cold.
CAMPING GEAR LIST TO PACK
- Sturdy hiking boots, with ankle support. Make sure they have a thick sole as the rocks are like sandpaper.
- Warm sleeping bag
- Your own swag, with thick mattress
- Two-man tent, especially useful for keeping the mice off your head at night
- Good quality day pack with easy to reach water bottle pockets or
- Larger hiking pack, but still with convenient pockets for snacks and water
- Walking poles, to reduce the strain and pressure on your knees
- Capacity for 2 liters of water each day in either water bottles or hydration pack
- Most organized tour groups will provide shelter, and have permanent camp spots, but if you’re walking by yourself, take a 2 man lightweight tent that is sturdy
- A small but powerful torch so you’re not stumbling around in the dark
- A warm hat. Even in Summer, the temperature at night can get to close to freezing
- Warm thermal clothes, especially welcome in Winter
- Definitely, a first aid kit as the trail has a lot of slippery rock shale
- High energy camping snacks, if you have time to make your own or ingredients for Bacon S’mores