The Red Centre is the heart of Australia and the location of the spectacular Larapinta Trail – world famous in the hiking community and an achievement you will remember for your lifetime.
By definition, ‘epic’ is something that is either extremely large or extremely great – the Larapinta is both, and even that seems like an understatement! As you hike the ancient landscape, with breathtaking views over the red earth landscapes, dramatic gorges and tranquil waterholes, it is not hard to see why Australian Geographic has rated the trail as “one of the world’s best long-distance arid-zone walks” and National Geographic as one of the top 20 trekking experiences to be had on the planet.
It is rugged, primitive, true Aussie outback, which can be a daunting prospect when you are starting to plan your adventure. It takes time to gather all the information, check the boxes and make sure you have all your bases covered. As spectacular as the Larapinta Trail is, it should not be underestimated and therefore imperative you totally prepared before starting out.The full length of the trail is 230km starting at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station in the east and finishing at Mount Sonder in the west.
Larapinta Trail highlights
Get ready for
- Spectacular sunrises and even better sunsets
- Walking on billion-year old history
- Connection to the land and spiritual times of the Arrernte Aboriginal people
- 360 degree panorama viewpoints (and campsites)
- A five (million) star sleeping experience
- Feeling the heartbeat of our Australia in the red earth and arid desert landscape
- Absolute isolation (the good kind!)
- Mars-like landscapes of the ‘West Macs’
- Camaraderie with other hikers as well as remote solitude
- Summiting the NT’s 4th highest peak, Mount Sonder (1379m)
- Our Independent Adventures range begins with trip departures from 4th January 2021
On the trail
Aussie outback at its finest and most rugged! Think red dirt, rocky peaks, chasms and waterholes, ghost gum trees and spiky spinifex grass. Underfoot the trail is hard and rocky with a lot of inclines and declines. It is generally well marked and easy to follow – well defined in places, while in others you will be scrambling up rocks and navigating your way carefullyThe Larapinta is a desert trail, and therefore it is only safe to hike during a limited window of the year, namely winter along with the shoulder months of September in spring and May in autumn.
Long distance with some steep ascents. Rocky, loose stones. Undulating paths through open country. Great views over Alice Springs and the surrounding lowlands. Good bird watching opportunities.
Long distance with some steep ascents but otherwise rather flat. Mostly open terrain – similar to section 1 but feels more remote. Landscape of rocky outcrops that are more than 2 billion years old.
A challenging walk through some of the steepest and rugged countryside in the ranges. There are two options for walking. The hard way involves taking the rewarding ‘alternate high route’ that provides hikers with great views. This option does have some difficult ascents and descents. The second is the standard and ‘easier’ low route, which traverses over and through narrow, rocky gorges and creek beds. This option is not as hard as the high route, but still tough on the feet and ankles (and not as scenic).
More stunning views on this section as you follow the high ridges of the Chewings Ranges to the summit of Brinkley Bluff. The trail starts to get trickier as it becomes more rocky and has lots of false summits.
Must carry 2 days of water for this section
Significant work on the track in 2016/2017 has greatly improved the descent from Brinkley Bluff with the introduction of switchbacks on the trail. From Stuarts Pass it’s easy and smooth going.There is a change in scenery from the exposed ridgelines of the Chewings Range, down to the shady gorges near Standley Chasm.
Another of the most difficult sections, but offers some amazing views to take your mind off the steep climbs and ridgetop walking. This section also has some boulder scrambling, dry riverbed crossings, negotiation of waterholes and thick river debris as the path twists through thick vegetation and through narrow gorge areas. This is a bit of a challenge requiring some mental toughness. Option: split the day into two and overnight at Fringe Lilly campsite (extra food is required).
The longest section of the trail. It isn’t as exciting as the previous two sections, but it is a nice change from the rugged mountainous terrain of the previous few days. Undulating walking across the Alice Valley from Hugh Gorge in the Chewings Range towards Ellery Creek Big Hole in the Heavitree Range
Some gentle terrain that allows you to pick up the pace a bit and stretch your legs. Can be quite ordinary walking and, at times, frustrating as the trail takes you up rocky high ground for no apparent reason. Does also have quite a number of rough jagged sections with sharp terrain.
Beautiful scenic walk along the high trails; some steep but well supported sections with rocky steps and clear trails
One of the most difficult sections that takes you into very rugged, remote territory. It has a number of steep rocky ascents and descents, made more challenging by the fact that you must carry all your water for the entire section. It is also one of the most impressive and scenic sections with many 360 degree viewpoints
After yesterday’s tough walk, a day at leisure is welcome. If you do want to stretch your legs, there are loop walks through Ormiston Gorge and Pound.
One of the shortest sections, which winds through limestone hills to one of the oldest rivers in the world – the Finke River. There are a number of creek and riverbed crossings but these are almost always dry in the trekking season. The views of Mt Sonder in the distance and the end goal are brilliant. The trail is mostly compacted earth – all in all a nice gentle section. You can also take a detour out to Glen Helen Lodge/Gorge for a hot shower and proper meal in a restaurant
Mt Sonder is a backdrop as the trail starts over spinifex-covered hills, before climbing to a hilltop lookout. This is yet another long section of the trail but it is well formed, which does make it slightly kinder on the hips, knees and ankles. The remainder is relatively easy going through to Redbank Creek.
The grand finale is a difficult but worthwhile climb to the peak of Mt Sonder. From here there are breathtaking views in all directions – many people will get up in the middle of the night to be there for sunrise – but if you don’t want to get out of bed on a cold morning, the views are just as spectacular any time of day overlooking the ranges, plains, valleys and lake. Just keep in mind your transfer pick-up time, or alternatively stay another night and do the climb for sunset.
Explore the Larapinta Trail
Duration: 12–20 days
Grade: 3–5 depending on the section
Route type: Linear trail, from A to B
Start: Alice Springs Telegraph Station (East)
End: Redbank Gorge/Mount Sonder (West)
Location: Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park Northern Territory
Closest town: Alice Springs
- Our detailed guide to hiking the Larapinta Trail – contains all the essential information you need to know in advance
- 14 days worth of food for your adventure; breakfast, lunch and dinner each day – delivered straight to your home
- Our own range of Lightweight, highly nutritious meals that are locally sourced, delicious and easy to carry & cook ( freeze dried and dehydrated)
- 3 x food drops along the trail & 50lt food containers
- Return transfer from end of trail at Redbank Gorge to Alice Springs
- Our ‘state of the art’ Navigation app to guide you on the track; showing huts, campsites and all points of Interest along the way
- Delivery to your door* of our ‘Adventure in a box’ food parcel
- We can also arrange services such as pre- and post-trip accommodation at an additional cost (see FAQ’s)
- 10% GST included
- A key hire deposit of $70 is included for the food storerooms, of which $50 is refunded by us after you return the key locally.
Solo hikers. Our price is based on twin share for sharing the food drop & transfers. An additional charge of $110 applies for a solo hiker.
* Additional $35 food delivery charge for any locations in NT, WA and Northern Queensland
- Transfers or transport to Alice Springs & trailheads
- No equipment included
- Some campgrounds listed below have campsite fees which are paid locally, including:
- Ellery Creek Big Hole (Ellery Creek South) – $5 per person
- Ormiston Gorge – $10 per person
- Redbank Gorge – $5 per person.
You should carry the correct amount as change is not available.
- Other campsites are free for Larapinta walkers
Need to Know
The Larapinta trail is rated by us as a challenging – strenuous grade and best suited to hikers of strong fitness and confidence. There are long days walking in exposed conditions and a desert environment with hard surfaces underfoot and climbs & descents. It is definitely not recommended as a beginner’s walk but for experienced Bushwalkers confident in finding their way and able to carry a pack for a full day. At least 1 person in your party should have experience in off-track walking and navigation. RAW Travel has a detailed guide specifically for multi-day walk training, you will receive this as part of your booking.
We recommend you fly into Alice Springs airport. Qantas and Virgin Airlines service Alice Springs with direct flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Perth, Brisbane and Cairns.Transfers can be arranged to most of the trailheads, in conjunction with food drops. These need to be booked in advance – there are a limited number of transfer times and numbers available each day to each trailhead.
Independent adventures place you at the centre of the experience, giving you the confidence to be a self-reliant walker on the trail. We take care of the research needed and give you all the essential information relating to the trip ( a task that seasoned walkers can tell you often takes many hours to get the correct information) so you can be thoroughly prepared and confident that you have everything you need for your adventure. We give you all the contacts & details to nearby transportation, accommodation and hire services, highlight any risks to be aware of and how to mitigate them.
The food prep is a major hassle of many hikers trips and we solve that for you. We prepare all the food that you need for your trip, all pre-measured and dehydrated / freeze dried to take away the weight but keep the freshness. Our meals are reviewed by Nutritionists to provide the right daily nutrition and energy for your demands of the walk. And our ingredients are prepared from the best local ingredients here on the Mornington Peninsula, cooked to order and freeze dried fresh – not sitting on a shelf for years at a time!
Once you arrive at the trail it’s all over to you the adventure begins! You are free and independent to create your own experience the way you want it. We provide you with an app to help you navigate in real time on the trail and give you the campsite locations and points of interest but you are completely autonomous & self – supporting on the walk. These trips are best suited to people who relish that sense of liberation and freedom that comes with being self-reliant and don’t need the back up of a leader or group travel. Independent Adventures are different from our other self – guided walking trips as there are no briefings, transfers or local support from RAW Travel staff. It’s just you and nature out on the trail!
Three strategically placed along the Larapinta Trail allow you to complete your trek in more comfort by allowing you to minimise your food weight load and resupply every 4-6 days. . Our package includes 3 x standard 50lt tubs or containers for your three food drops. Generally, 3 x 50lt are more than sufficient for up to 2-3 hikers. The food drop services operates 7 days a week. You can also put spare gas containers in the box and drinks as long as you stay under the 15kg per box limit.
3 food drops to Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek South and Ormiston Gorge
(DDPD) Digital Proof of Delivery & Alerts
A key is issued to you as part of the trek package. It is delivered with the containers during your pre-trek stay. The key is required to open the Ormiston Gorge and Ellery Creek food storerooms. The key hire is $70 of which $50 is refunded once you return the key locally. ( The $70 hire fee is in addition to the Trek Package price).
Transfer at the end of your trek
You will be picked up from the Redbank Gorge car park, which is approx 300m from the Larapinta Trail campsite.
Morning Pick Up from Redbank Gorge
Depart Redbank Gorge: 11am
Arrive Alice Springs: Approx 2:30pm
Unless you are a very experienced walker then it is not recommended to walk this solo due to the isolation and very rugged terrain. You should carry an EPRIRB / PLB for safety. The trail is marked for its entire length and there are communal campsites to head to each evening.
You will come across three types of campsites on the Larapinta Trail: sandy creek beds, platforms at the trailheads, and sites that are mostly rock with a bit of soil thrown in. All trailhead campsites have water tanks, basic toilets (some pit, some flushing) and shelter. Most also have gas BBQs and wooden tent pads (some under shelter and some out in the open). Tables and chairs are not common. You will find bins at Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm and Ormiston Gorge. Showers are located at Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Resort and Standley Chasm Point.
Yes. There is a local company based in Alice Springs that can rent you camping and other equipment. They can also arrange a food drop for you to cut down on the amount of food carried for the full trail.
You can hire a satellite phone or a PLB, from Alice Springs, food drops, trailhead transfers and camping equipment for the hike. Details are included in the guide you receive after booking and RAW Travel can also help you with organizing trail head transfers and food drops to support your walk ( additional costs).
RAW Travel can help organise your Alice Springs accommodation, just speak to one of our consultants after booking.
Social and environmental
All our adventures are fully carbon offset so that you know your travel has minimal impacts. Hiking itself is a low impact activity but we offset the cost of all our office operations and food production as well, so you can be satisfied that you have chosen a form of travel that is both good for you and good for the planet. Each year we also plant trees on behalf of every customer who has travelled with us, aiming to build towards a carbon positive effect with our operations.
As a B-Corp a focus on local community is an important part of who we are. We are committed to buying locally and source our produce from growers here on the Mornington Peninsula. We care about people in our community and for every meal pack you buy with us we donate a meal to a homeless support charity, to spread some love and share good food with those who need it most.
TRIP date selection
when would you like to travel?
Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed