The Larapinta Trail
The Larapinta Trail
5
About
Ranked as one of the world’s top 20 treks, the Larapinta Trail is a 231-kilometre path that follows the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Mount Sonder. Experience key attractions in the region such as Simpsons Gap and Ellery Creek Big Hole, weave past some of the world’s most ancient rock formations, and sleep under the stars.
Duration: More than 3 hours
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  • msqwert
    Sydney, Australia11 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    An 6 day Larapinta Adventure
    Just retuned from the 6 day Larapinta trek. Was absolutely fantastic. Our guides Karl, Katy and Ant were amazing. They were well organized, passionate and knowledgeable about the area, incredible chefs - preparing us the most delicious food, professional and fun to be with which made our trip all the more special. The scenery was spectacular. The guides paced our climb up Mt Sonder which made it doable even at 3am in the morning! Each day was exciting and different and I loved sitting around the campfire at night reflecting on the day and looking at the amazing stars. Thank you for a great adventure and to a wonderful group of people who shared this experience with me.
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 31 July 2023
  • resyvanbeek
    140 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Section 7-4 Larapinta Trail in 5 days.
    We walked part of the Larapinta trail (section 7 to 4, Serpentine Gorge to Stanley Chasm) over 5 days. Our distanced varied from about 13.5kms to 30k; the 2 first days were a bit easier/shorter/flatter; we kept the climbs to the last 2 days (deliberate choice to walk west to east, so we had the hardest days with the lighter packs and when we were most pack fit). We camped in two dry camps (Hugh Gorge Junction & Stuart’s Pass) which meant we walked the last few hours of the day with extra weight (water filled at Hugh Gorge & Section 4/5 junction) but it made our final day a few kms shorter. 5 days is long enough to explore the ranges; there will be vistas that we have missed but all 4 of us did not feel the need to extend our walk to all 12 sections. Section 4 & 5 are definitely highlights; the way we did it we missed out on Ormiston Pound & Mount Sonder (we had done these during another trip already so we didn’t mind) but the views from Brinkley Bluff were more impressive than my memories of Mount Sonder Summit. So if you are happy not to complete the whole thing, this part is definitely an option. We had a period of dry July - no rain, just a few weeks after heavy downpours which made the wild flowers blossom! - but I definitely needed my rain coat as a windstopper, specifically on top of Brinkley Bluff and the ridge. We used Discovery Tours (Joe & his comfortable Landrover) for transfer into Serpentine Gorge and a local friend picked us up at Stanley Chasm. We arrived at Stanley Chasm around 3pm. When we went to buy our tickets (& a well deserved icecream) the kiosk had just closed. Luckily the lovely staff member let us in (and let us have our icecream) so we were lucky enough to have the Chasm for ourselves. It is worth the extra metres (leave your pack behind, you don’t need it!) but make sure you get there in time before closure; you might not have the luck that we had with this lovely staff member!
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 20 August 2023
  • Jo
    Castlecrag, Australia29 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort with World Expeditions surpassed all expectations 🙌🏼
    Had the most incredible time! Thoroughly recommend the 7 day comfort trek booked through Australian Walking Holidays! We were so impressed with our three wonderful guides. Their professional service, contagious passion & detailed knowledge of the ancient landscapes, individual care, impressive culinary skills & good natured energy and sense of fun delivered by Stac, Tom & Karl. You guys are the best and delivered to all sixteen of us the holiday of a lifetime - thank you 🤠
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 3 September 2023
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Jo
Castlecrag, Australia29 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Friends
Had the most incredible time! Thoroughly recommend the 7 day comfort trek booked through Australian Walking Holidays! We were so impressed with our three wonderful guides. Their professional service, contagious passion & detailed knowledge of the ancient landscapes, individual care, impressive culinary skills & good natured energy and sense of fun delivered by Stac, Tom & Karl. You guys are the best and delivered to all sixteen of us the holiday of a lifetime - thank you 🤠
Written 4 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

resyvanbeek
Darwin, Australia140 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2023 • Friends
We walked part of the Larapinta trail (section 7 to 4, Serpentine Gorge to Stanley Chasm) over 5 days. Our distanced varied from about 13.5kms to 30k; the 2 first days were a bit easier/shorter/flatter; we kept the climbs to the last 2 days (deliberate choice to walk west to east, so we had the hardest days with the lighter packs and when we were most pack fit). We camped in two dry camps (Hugh Gorge Junction & Stuart’s Pass) which meant we walked the last few hours of the day with extra weight (water filled at Hugh Gorge & Section 4/5 junction) but it made our final day a few kms shorter.

5 days is long enough to explore the ranges; there will be vistas that we have missed but all 4 of us did not feel the need to extend our walk to all 12 sections. Section 4 & 5 are definitely highlights; the way we did it we missed out on Ormiston Pound & Mount Sonder (we had done these during another trip already so we didn’t mind) but the views from Brinkley Bluff were more impressive than my memories of Mount Sonder Summit. So if you are happy not to complete the whole thing, this part is definitely an option.

We had a period of dry July - no rain, just a few weeks after heavy downpours which made the wild flowers blossom! - but I definitely needed my rain coat as a windstopper, specifically on top of Brinkley Bluff and the ridge.

We used Discovery Tours (Joe & his comfortable Landrover) for transfer into Serpentine Gorge and a local friend picked us up at Stanley Chasm.

We arrived at Stanley Chasm around 3pm. When we went to buy our tickets (& a well deserved icecream) the kiosk had just closed. Luckily the lovely staff member let us in (and let us have our icecream) so we were lucky enough to have the Chasm for ourselves. It is worth the extra metres (leave your pack behind, you don’t need it!) but make sure you get there in time before closure; you might not have the luck that we had with this lovely staff member!
Written 21 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

msqwert
Sydney, Australia11 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2023 • Friends
Just retuned from the 6 day Larapinta trek. Was absolutely fantastic. Our guides Karl, Katy and Ant were amazing. They were well organized, passionate and knowledgeable about the area, incredible chefs - preparing us the most delicious food, professional and fun to be with which made our trip all the more special. The scenery was spectacular. The guides paced our climb up Mt Sonder which made it doable even at 3am in the morning! Each day was exciting and different and I loved sitting around the campfire at night reflecting on the day and looking at the amazing stars. Thank you for a great adventure and to a wonderful group of people who shared this experience with me.
Written 31 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michelle C
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2023
Fantastic way to bond with the boys. Arduous and challenging. My eldest said that it wasn't the holiday he would have chosen, but the holiday he needed to have. Killer blisters aside, it was awesome.
Written 24 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ivan Kaye
Sydney, Australia240 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2022 • Couples
There were magical cliffs , trails, colours, and natural waterholes that we could swim in . The heat was dry and contributed to the magic of the place
Written 20 June 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nicola B
5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2022
The trail is sometimes challenging, but so worth it. An incredible experience in the Australian semi-arid bush with wonderful views at every turn. The scenery changes so much along the length of the West McDonald Ranges, which was unexpected and kept me thinking it couldn't get any better - but it did! Orminston Pound was my favourite spot - definitely do the Pound Walk as a side trip to the Larapinta. Mount Sonder for sunrise was amazing too!
Written 16 October 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Luckiefill
Victoria, Australia109 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2022 • Couples
Our five day highlight treck with ‘Life’s an adventure’ exceeded our expectations.

The walks were certainly challenging however our guides, Peter, Josh and Danny kept us motivated and inspired. Nothing was too much trouble and their knowledge added to our experience.

The camp was terrific fun and the food outstanding. In fact, when we reached our accommodation for nights three and four, there was general consensus that the boys were better cooks than the chef!

The walk itself was pretty tough on our feet but the walking poles really helped on the rocky terrain both uphill and down.

The views were breathtaking at times and there was a lot of flora starting to flower so we were very lucky. July was a great time to go as it could get very hot in late August.
Written 8 August 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Juzzy B
6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2022
Awesome experience . we did a 6 day "highlights" trek of the trail with Epicurious travel. Highly recommended.
Written 1 August 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gillg
Perth, Australia2,073 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
July 2021
Larapinta Trail 21 (>225km)

Part 1- Pre-departure to Alice Springs to Brinkley Bluff

The Larapinta Trek exceeded any expectations, not sure what I actually expected beyond it being wide and vast and a “moderate-difficult” graded trail, but it was that and so much more. I finished on the 6th July, it has kept me feeling very high for the last week or so of travelling around the Red Centre. Now that I am back home here is how it all went down....

As usual I was very well prepared on the logistics, not so much on the training. Excellent spreadsheet. Flew into Alice Springs for 2 nights pre-trek to get my resupply boxes and a few fresh food items as well as having a look around. Stayed at a functional, budget, but well located, motel. The fly screen door looked to have been forced in the past-lots of screwdriver or crowbar wrenching marks- eek. High security around the property and carpark (the town is renowned for its high crime rate). High security in the supermarkets/ bottle shops (ID required to check you aren’t on the problem drinker register or aren’t going to on-sell it. Spray deodorant

Day 1

Trail Head, ready for this big adventure over the next 16 days
behind locked cabinets and the fuel is all low vapour (so it can’t be sniffed). Pretty sad stuff. I used a trail support service (LTTS) to give me access to 3 containers and food drops and a pick up at the end to get me back to AS. Got my boxes packed with the food I’d dehydrated/prepped at home and added some fresh stuff-wraps, tomatoes, carrots, fruit, cheese, etc. The motel stored my bags while I headed off (after a big breakfast and excellent coffee from one of the v good little quirky cafes). There are 12 actual sections/trail heads with shelters, drop toilets and water tanks as well as a few other scattered lesser equipped camp spots with drop toilets and water tanks. You can also free camp where ever you’d like (within local custodian wishes) as long as you are prepared to carry extra water for those days. I had a basic plan for 15.5 days but had decided to be flexible as opportunity arose.

I decided on a shortish 1st day to ease in and so that I didn’t have to carry too much water. Luckily I did, that first day was hot! I regretted my big breakfast and not training more. I regretted not starting early in the morning. The first 2 big hills were hard work (really hard), I also had to walk an unscheduled 5 km the first day as I walked from the motel in town , not the actual start trailhead at Telegraph Station. I also lost my LUCI light (at the cafe at Telegraph) so had to go back and get it (another plus 3km). First day- 20km-ish, not 12 as planned.First camp site was nice - no shelter, just deserted bush tent sites. Saw no-one for entire day after Telegraph - excellent. Walked over the Ghan railway tracks- cool. Non-predicted Situation #1- Went to make coffee after wandering to the waterhole to spot wallabies and pitching tent- no coffee/tea/powdered milk!!!! Clearly I had put that into a resupply box and not my pack- I was a bit devastated to say the least. I did have 4G reception so put out an SOS - so very fortunate that a (local) girl said she’d drop me some supplies the next day out at the next campsite!!! She happened to be a friend of a friend in Perth that I went tohigh school with. Soooo lucky. Meanwhile - I recycled a tea bag from lunch to get me started the next morning.

My rendezvous went off without a hitch- Fiona rescued my caffeine addiction and took a few items off my hands that I managed to cull after just 1 night. Had a big 2nd day- not on my original planner. As I had got in early to Simpsons Gap to meet Fiona I decided to keep going (fueled by Fiona's coffee, banana and oranges!!!) and ended up in a river bed for the night. I’ve always understood that you shouldn’t camp in river beds but here they need deluges and several days rain for water to get going. I pitched as it was getting dark and within half an hour the rain started. It rained steadily all night but the tent did OK- no leaks!

The next couple of days had various challenging sections- I was enveloped in low cloud and wind for a few hours but no significant rain (lucky as I didn't take my goretex rain jacket) which morphed into a sunny afternoon. Explored the nearby water hole and took about 10000 pics of a warm

Flat and dry to start with. Passed over the railway tracks for The Ghan
reflection on canyon wall rock and a rising moon- breathtaking. Slept in the shelter (open, 3 sided but with a cupboard to store food (dingo proof) that also had solar charging USB ports!) that night. Freezing night, about 1C. Big full moon. Shared with a group of 3 friends (one coughing a lot) and 2 solos.

Next day quite a challenge- a choice of high route or low route- not surprisingly I took the amazing high route- stellar views. Hard steady climbing but so stunning. Walked over long ridges. Lots of rocks. Really enjoyable. Got my rhythm. No signs of anyone all day- perfect. Coming down headed into a long canyon. Non-predicted Situation #2- map said "when you reach massive impassable boulder blocking canyon path, stay to the right of the canyon and climb up the furthest boulder for 5 metres before traversing a ledge into a notch cut by the creek"- I couldn’t see a traversing route, a single notch, or anything like that so ended up climbing about 10m to the top of the boulder , over a dry waterfall and cross country downhill to get back on track- not overly smart when you’re on your own with a big pack!! Anyway- it was fine! HUGE afternoon of climbs and descents and medium boulder scrambling into a place called Standley Chasm- unbelievably beautiful. This is where I got my first food drop. It’s an indigenous owned area and runs as a commercial campground plus cafe. Met a few hikers and exchanged stories, indulged in a bacon and egg sandwich and 2 real coffees, left some of my excess food in the hiker box, had a long shower, hair wash and clothes wash, etc. Got my clothes dried by a communal campfire (yet another scorch mark to my trusty hiking pants). Nice to have the shower but definitely ready for more hiking the next day.

A high point of the trail was ahead of me on Day 5- Brinkley Bluff, I LOVED it, switchback climb, stellar views and my first dry camp so double water. Heavy pack! Resupply plus the water. Blowing a gale all night and freezing but just insanely gorgeous sunset and sunrise. It remained a major highlight of the trek.

Part 2- Brinkley Bluff to Serpentine Gorge

So now I'm at Day 6. Glorious sunrise, frozen fingers. Steep traverse down from the summit this morning- rugged and rocky but not so bad really. Long morning of multiple terrains including an extended gorge navigation climbing up and over lots of boulders in Spencer Gorge. Saw my first snake! In the afternoon got to climb again to Windy Saddle and along Razorback Ridge with steep drop-offs as well as very steep drop-offs. Non-predicted Situation #3- getting slightly off track on the ridge- map said avoid steep unstable shale and loose rocks- that of course is where I ended up! Having rescued myself to rejoin the trail the day got massively easier. Got into another dry camp in a river bed around 5pm- Fringe Lily Creek. Getting chilly by then, camped in the very shady section as a latecomer. Joined even later by Annie and Nick and Lisa.

Longer day again the next day (Day 7), a descent, lots of vegetation, 16 billion more rocks and another gorge- Hugh Gorge- gorgeous, water to navigate, wet shoes and some big boulders that I had to take my pack off , throw it over and throw myself over behind it. More rock hopping. As you can imagine, conquering these challenges makes for such an endorphin rush. Actually I didn't think today was as hard as yesterday in terms of the bouldering. Ate lunch at the comfortable Hugh Gorge campsite in order to sleep at Rocky Gully where the afternoon hiking was to be open and undulating with a final few steep rocky climbs (possibly a dumb logistical decision given what happened next)...Non-predicted Situation #4- stacked it about 2km from camp at the 20 something km mark- inattention and fatigue- luckily had sunglasses and hat insitu which protected my face as I went face first on a down hill rocky bit. Stabbed my calf with one of my hiking poles, ended up with a bruised wrist and grazed knees but sooooo lucky (alas, trusty, long serving 2013 Kathmandu pants take another direct hit to the previously mended knee areas!)! Limped into a nice spot away from a moderately sized group of people already set up. Slow tent pitching while feeling sorry for myself but easily distracted by the wild cockatiels and other assorted birds
(budgies, zebra finches, raptors, ravens, etc). Still no dingoes. Joined again by Annie and Nick and Lisa.

Slow pack up next morning with an icy tent but good to get moving- a pretty easy day ahead, only about 15 or so km. I love that first cuppa in the morning, I put my stove on the boil as I start packing up - it's kind of a challenge to be paked by the time the stove boils. Hot by the afternoon- good tent drying and clothes washing conditions. Lots of people camping down in the riverbed, I opt for the shelter as I'm by myself up there and it's easier on the sore knee not having to put the tent up. Big sunset. The Larapinta Trail website states that these couple of sections are undulating and boring with some of the most mundane and pointless routes on the trail- I'd disagree. Lots of birds, good rocks and great endpoints IMO. The Ellery Creek Big Hole- stunning, amazing birds (the budgies are awesome, they form little squadrons and zip around like fighter pilots) and reflections.

Day 9 was pretty short too but had the most incredibly blue sky andSpinifex Country

Don't be fooled- those little soft looking button plants are evil, spiky beasts known as hard spinifex.
huge rippling clouds. You seriously can’t take a bad photo. The short day meant lots of time for afternoon side trips- The Serpentine Gorge- OMG seriously stunning with unbelievable budgie and zebra finch activity. Sepentine Gorge Lookout-WOW! Serpentine Gorge food drop accessed from a big blue shipping container-FRUIT! TOMATOES, CUCUMBERS (slightly liquid ), AVOCADOES, CHEESE, CHOCOLATE- what's not to love? Oh yes- that missing coffee/tea/milk pack missing from my first supply turned up in the Serpentine Gorge resupply box.

Part 3- Serpentine Gorge to Mt Sonder (The End)

It busied up a bit at the Section 7/8 stage, these sections being the most popular with day hikers/section hikers and larger tour groups with their own campsites. Prior to this I'd walk for many hours without seeing anyone. It was also at this stage you'd see the same faces on the trail and at camp each night. A diverse lot, all sorts, all ages; from a family of 4 with probably an 8 and 10 year old (machines) through to a 78 year old Scotsman with 2 new hips and previous back surgery and veteran of the Appalachian Trail and many others (the most tenacious person that I've ever met I think). By then I had met 3 like minded souls- another girl soloing and a couple on pretty much the same schedule as me. We crossed paths mostly at the end of the day. I’d generally leave first (after rustling around in the dark boiling water and packing up trying not to disturb- sorry guys) and get into camp first. Over the next couple of nights we’d camp clos-ish to each other but cook and eat separately. As news of a COVID lockdown in Alice Springs and the emergence of an outbreak with border closures in NSW we formed our own little COVID family bubble, still mostly walking separately but sleeping and eating as a unit- sharing coffee, Whittakers chocolate bars, etc. Survivor Larapinta! Got to say, it was an unexpected thing for me as I generally seek solitude, but they were such energetic, fun and enjoyable company and really, really value added to my experience. (Thanks Lisa, Annie and Nic (kitchen builder extrordinnaire)- legends!)

The hiking remained outstanding. Lots of ascents and descents, lots of rocky and assorted terrains, lots of stellar views. No more falls. Ormiston Gorge was magnificent, complete with dead fish (dead as part of their usual cycle apparently)and a freezing cold water crossing. Still no dingoes or wallabies but 1 cheeky little desert mouse. Had some amazing experiences over that next week- slept under the stars in 2 hilltop locations with just the four of us. Enjoyed those 2 chilly, windy nights so much and the sunsets, hundereds of satellites, stars and sunrises from the sleeping bag were something else. As the hiking progressed I just felt better and better. Love that feeling of hard work but huge rewards in terms of natural beauty. For the last few days Mt Sonder came into view and remained a constant- it was so cool progressing towards it knowing that it is the ultimate climb.

Camped in the Redbank creek bed for the last night, getting up at 0300 to do the 8km climb up Mt Sonder for sunrise. A good, steady climb reaching the western peak as the sky was changing was sooooo awesome. Ate breakfast and drank coffee up the top with maybe 30 other hikers feeling really exhilarated watching the sunrise. So amazing. It was a fast paced return to pack up the tent and be ready for the 1100 pickup to get back into Alice Springs (masks on please!).

Overall- 10/10 trek, diverse, challenging (at times), incredibly scenic with a strong connection to country. So highly recommended.
Written 27 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

marcoplato2016
Sydney, Australia21 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
June 2022 • Friends
Amazing 5 day trek with Walking Country tours. Guide Angie and support Rob were fantastic- knowledgeable, warm and fun. The hiking was strenuous at times but always worth it. Sunrise at Mount Sonder and Ormiston Pound were highlights. Highly recommend the experience!
Written 12 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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