Larapinta Trail

Hike over rocky gorges to secluded waterholes and up the slopes of Mount Sonder, then Camp beneath the stars and wake for a desert sunrise. 

See the best spots in the West MacDonnell Ranges on the Larapinta Trail. Immerse yourself in the rugged habitat of black-footed rock-wallabies and the enormous wedge-tailed eagle along the 223-kilometre (140-mile) hike. Each night you’ll be camping beneath stars that seem amplified by the desert dark. Wake up to the spectacular colours of the ranges in the morning light.

The Larapinta Trail is a challenging hike broken up into 12 sections, which take between one and two days each. In each section there are campsites, which are located in some of the MacDonnell Ranges’ most beautiful areas such as Simpsons Gap, Ormiston Gorge, Standley Chasm and Ellery Creek. Choose to do all or some of the hike.

Keep your camera ready for wildlife sightings and stunning views over the landscape. The Larapinta Trail features a fantastic cross-section of the geology and ecosystems found in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Walk along rocky ridge tops with a view of the mountains, before descending into riverbeds, gorges and flat valleys filled with diverse wildlife.

You can access the trailhead of each section by four-wheel drive. Hikers with time constraints may prefer to do a selection of sections by grade or length. Those undertaking the whole trail will be walking from the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station right up Central Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Sonder. The walk can also be done in reverse back to Alice Springs.

The desert can be very cold at night and in the early morning, so it’s important to pack plenty of warm trekking gear, a good tent and a thick sleeping bag. Hikers also need to take the majority of their drinking water for the trip, as there is limited access to fresh water along the trail. A food drop service at storage sheds in the campsites along the way ensures you have a lighter load while you walk.

There is no overall fee to do the hike, but there are small fees at each of the campsites along the track. Book ahead to secure a camping spot. Pick up maps and information brochures from the Tourism Central Australia Visitor Centre in Alice Springs.