If you’re excited to travel to the heart of the Australian Outback, then the West MacDonnell National Park is your place! There’s no better way to experience and immerse yourself in this unforgettable landscape than the Larapinta Trail. Hike along the red rock slopes of the West Macs and enjoy time to connect to the Country and appreciate the importance of this place to the local people over thousands of years. Hike to shadowed gorges, snaking riverbanks, open plains, and towering mountains filled with a rich diversity of animals and plants, taking in sights like Ormiston Gorge and a rewarding ascent of Mt Sonder. One of the world’s best desert treks is waiting for you.
Day 1: Alice Springs - Ormiston Gorge
Begin this beautiful bushwalking track today by stretching your legs on Section 1 of the Larapinta Trail. The tour begins the walk from the official start of the trail at the historic Alice Springs Telegraph Station at 7 am. The Station was founded in 1871 and used for relaying messages between Darwin and Adelaide. Follow the route of the old telegraph line through the rocky, rolling country that spreads out before you, winding along a path that makes its way over creeks and gullies.
Walk along the scenic spine of the Euro Ridge and take in the excellent views of the surrounding Alice Valley, with the gnarled peaks of the West Macs out in the distance. Follow the trail downhill to Wallaby Gap, home to elusive black-footed rock-wallabies and a great place for birdwatching. After this, you’ll be met by a 4x4 vehicle and transferred to your campsite for the night in Ormiston Gorge, right in the heart of the Western MacDonnell Ranges. Sleep beneath countless stars in your swag tonight.
Walking Distance: 14km - approximately 6 hours
Day 2: Ormiston Gorge - Finke River
Today is your first full day of hiking, beginning at the beautiful Ormiston Pound, home to the most impressive gorge in the whole West MacDonnell region. There’s a near-permanent waterhole shaded by ghost gums and towering red rock walls that is more than welcoming to any walker. The trail weaves its way from Ormiston to the Finke River through rolling limestone hills filled with unique plant life.
The Finke is one of the oldest river systems in the world, and the local Arrernte name for this waterway gives the whole trail its name – Lhere Pinte, which means a salty river. You’ll return to your camp in Ormiston Gorge tonight with time to enjoy dinner and swap stories around the campfire.
Walking Distance: 10km - approximately 5 hours
Days 3-4: Davenport River - Redbank Gorge
The next two days are the most challenging but also rewarding section of your Larapinta hike. This trail and its views are dominated by Mt Sonder, the highest point in the West MacDonnell Ranges. It’s an undulating 26 kilometres across spinifex-covered hills, making your way through the foothills towards to the hulking mountain. Cross the Davenport River then make the climb up to Hilltop Lookout, an ascent that’s rewarded with panoramic views of the peak and its surroundings.
Descend through mulga woodland and past distinctive knobbly black rock to shady Rocky Bar Gap and along the southern flank of Mt Sonder to Redbank Creek. You’ll have to sacrifice hot showers for the next two nights as you camp out overnight along the trail (a transport truck meets the tour each night), but the incredible scenery is more than worth it. You’ll finish Day 4 at a campsite in Redbank Gorge, in the shadow of the mountain itself.
Walking Distance: 26km over two days
- Swag Camping (1 Night)
- Swag Camping (1 Night)
- Breakfast (2)
- Lunch (2)
- Dinner (2)
Day 5: Mount Sonder - Alice Springs
Hopefully, you got an early night yesterday as today you’ll be up with the possums at 1 am for an early start to climb to the summit of the iconic Mt Sonder. The early start allows you to climb in the cool morning air before the sun begins to beat down. The mountain is known traditionally as Rwetyepme – in local Arrernte culture she's portrayed as a pregnant woman forever doomed to lay on her back and watch the sky.
It’s not an easy climb, but the journey to the peak is worth the sweeping views in all directions of Central Australia, taking in the trails you’ve covered over the past few days, the Tanami Desert in the north, meteor craters in the south, and the NT’s highest mountain in the west. It’s the perfect way to cap off the trip. Afterward, you’ll make your return to Alice Springs, where you’ll enjoy a well-earned shower and time to rest and celebrate your journey with a farewell dinner.
Walking Distance: 16km - approximately 6 hours