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The Larapinta trail weaves through the spectacular backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to one of the highest peaks in Australia’s Red Centre, Mt Sonder.


Described by Australian Geographic as “one of the world’s best long-distance arid-zone walks”, the Larapinta trail weaves through the spectacular backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to one of the highest peaks in Australia’s Red Centre, Mt Sonder.

This vast and spectacular section of the MacDonnell Ranges is an outstanding example of an ancient landscape sculptured over time by climatic extremes. High exposed ridge lines with exhilarating views, lush gorges, dry river valleys and secluded waterholes provide endless scenic pleasure. Our private campsite, located within the National Park is the perfect base from which to walk and explore this awe-inspiring country. We provide luxury fully enclosed swags with mattresses, underlays, cotton sheets, pillows and pillowcases or spacious touring tents offering privacy, two single beds, a rug on the floor and a small reading lamp. They are of standing room height and have space for your luggage. Our three bush showers, eco friendly toiletries and composting toilets are welcome comfort in this remote area. Our stylish safari style living and dining tent is a great place to relax with a book after a sensational day on the trail. Dinner is served either sitting around the open fire under the stars or in our safari tent at our custom-made dining table.

Every evening, our talented trail guides transform into exceptional cooks and food and wine hospitality experts to serve a delicious three course meal, which previous guests have praised as restaurant quality. A selection of boutique wines are served with dinner and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

Walk carrying only a daypack with expert guides who can interpret and explain to you with their passion the history, geology, rare plants and stunning wildlife of the desert.

What Makes Our Larapinta Trail Tour Unique?

Right from the time you commence this journey with us the quality is evident.

  • Comfort and space in our Mercedes Sprinter bus or Toyota Landcruiser.
  • Sensational food using predominantly organic produce – home made cakes, soups, stocks and snacks. We use the freshest and best quality ingredients available.
  • A choice of premium wines from delicious flinty rieslings, to elegant chardonnays and pinot gris, earthy pinot noirs and rich dark cherry shiraz.
  • A nice cold beer, G&T or Campari and soda for sundowners.
  • Great coffee to get you going in the morning and a beautiful selection of Larson and Thomson teas.
  • Luxury fully enclosed swags with mattresses, underlays, cotton sheets, pillows and pillowcases.
  • The option of being in a tent offering both privacy and standing room with a rug on the floor, a bedside lamp and comfortable beds.
  • Luxury and comfort in our safari style dining and living tent.
  • Three stylish outback showers with eco friendly toiletries.
  • Two composting toilets.
  • Experienced guides who are adept at wearing many hats. They are your hosts, interpreters of the landscape, cooks, carers of blisters and friends for the journey. They may be environmental scientists, chefs or outdoor education specialists. Above all they’re fun – the kind of fun that makes you want to sit around the fire and chat with them or share a beer with at the end of a day on the trail. They are passionate about their work and the environment.
  • We genuinely love and care for the environment in which we are fortunate enough to work and make sure we recycle our bottles and cans, return all our vegetable and fruit scraps to hungry little chooks in Alice each week and all our human waste is removed from the site. At the end of the season we leave no trace of our presence and in fact we work to improve the site through things like our buffel grass eradication program.
  • As part of our arrangements with the Traditional Owners of the land on which we have our semi permanent camp, we pay an annual rental fee and a percentage of our annual turnover to the Traditional Owners.

*Contact us for exclusive use availability for your private group or family trip where we can design a tour specifically with your interests or celebration in mind.

TourDates

Tours depart every Sunday from 3 May 2020 and some departures are already fully booked. Availability for 2020:

3 May (available), 10 May (full), 17 May (full), 24 May (full), 31 May (full), 7 June (limited availability), 14 June (available), 21 June (available), 28 June (full), 5 July (full), 12 July (limited availability), 19 July (available), 26 July (available), 2 August (available), 9 August (available), 16 August (available), 23 August (available), 30 August (available)

Please note the status of availability is updated regularly, but may have changed by the time you enquire.

How itUnfolds

DAY Day 1: Standley Chasm - Chewings Range 3kms

After our briefing in Alice Springs on the first morning, we board the bus and head out towards the red ridges of the West MacDonnell Ranges to start our walking adventure at Standley Chasm. After a visit to the peaceful narrow gorges the guides will take you off the beaten track into a portion of section 3 of the Larapinta trail. This is our only opportunity to visit the rugged Chewings Range section of the trail, a less accessible part of the West MacDonnell Ranges.

We then descend to a shady creek bed for lunch before returning to the Chasm area for a Cultural Conversation with Deanella Mack, a local Arrernte woman who was born and raised in Alice Springs. Deanella offers a welcome to country and an insightful introduction to Arunda culture. We then transfer to our private and exclusive campsite for the next five nights.

DAY Day 2: Serpentine Gorge to Ellery Creek 13.8 kms

Today we drive to the Serpentine Gorge car park, a narrow opening in the West MacDonnell Ranges and trailhead for sections 7 and 8 of the Larapinta Trail. The waterhole here is quite sheltered and one of the few which retains water throughout the dry season. This section of the trail is through undulating landscape on the southern side of the Heavitree Range and offers a fascinating insight into the long geographical history of the West McDonnell Ranges. We reach the picturesque Ellery Creek Big Hole with time for an optional dip in the cool
water.

DAY Day 3: Serpentine Gorge - Counts Point - Serpentine Chalet Dam 16kms

This is another spectacular day of walking with exhilarating views in all directions. Today is one of the more challenging walks, as it offers a chance to climb up onto the range. You are rewarded with impressive views from the ridgeline across to the Chewings Range, and into a dramatic indented valley. After an initial climb the track levels out and runs along the high quartzite ridgetops that typify the West MacDonnell Ranges.

We walk along the ridge to Counts Point where panoramic views stretch across to Mt Zeil, the highest mountain in the Northern Territory. The afternoon takes us steeply off the range. We descend through old growth Mulga forest and through Lomandra Gully - named after this unique Irongrass species endemic to the eastern creek gullies of the West Macs. The final leg of the days walk is on a 4x4 trail, offering gentle walking to stretch out your legs. We then meet the vehicle for a short transfer back to camp.

DAY Day 4: Ormiston Gorge to the Finke River 14 kms

This morning we have a leisurely breakfast before we depart camp and head to Section 10 of the Larapinta trail. Ormiston Gorge to the Finke River offers a less demanding day's walk where you can move easily through the
landscape at your own pace. Heading west from Ormiston Gorge we travel through the undulating foothills of the range. Views back towards Ormiston in the morning light are an absolute delight. Ahead you will get views of the majestic Rwetyempe/Mt Sonder.

We cross tributaries of the Finke River, including Ormiston Creek. These grand sandy waterways are vibrant habitats for plants and animals. The trail takes walkers to a high point offering views to Glen Helen Gorge in the Pacoota Range, back to Mt Giles and Ormiston Pound and down to the confluence of the Davenport and Ormiston Creeks, which marks the head waters of the Finke.

After a peaceful lunch in the shade of the river red gums in the sandy riverbed, we follow the river on its western side, past a permanent waterhole with abundant bird life to the Rwetyempe/Mt Sonder lookout. After a few kilometers the quartzite soils give way to the Bitter Springs formation, dominated by dolomites and limestones, offering a distinct and interesting change in vegetation. After rain, section 10 is a floral wonderland and
a hotspot for the ubiquitous bloodwood. A two-minute transfer takes us to the classic remote Central Australian ‘resort’ Glen Helen, where guests can choose to order a cold beer and enjoy the view across the
waterhole.

DAY Day 5: Redbank Gorge to Rwetyempe/Mount Sonder 16kms

Today is the most rewarding day of the trek as we climb to the peak of Mount Sonder. This morning is an early start, but it is worth it when you reach the summit and are greeted with some of the most spectacular views in the West MacDonnells.

The first 3kms climbs steeply, however once the ridge is gained the walking gets easier and the views continue to expand. The last leg to the summit is steeper, but offers a truly stunning vantage of Central Australia.

DAY Day 6: Ormiston Gorge - Ormiston Pound Walk 9kms

Today we take a relaxing walk through Ormiston Gorge and around the beautiful escarpment of Ormiston Pound. We start the walk at the mouth of the gorge and waterhole. The walk then takes us through the rolling spinifex covered hills and rocky floral gullies to the lip of Ormiston Pound where a lookout offers wonderful views of the remarkable formation below.

We enjoy lunch somewhere on the meandering Ormiston Creek before we make our way slowly through the rocky gorge. Towards the end of the gorge is a permanent pool of water that is sometimes deep enough to warrant wading through; a perfect way to refresh tired feet after a long walk. From here we gently climb the contours of the gorge wall along the aptly named Ghost Gum Walk, which offers stunning views back into the gorge.

Following a short break to recuperate, we climb into the bus for the last time and head back into Alice Springs. We get back into Alice around 4-5pm, and drop you off at your respective accommodations.

Meet your Guide:

Adrien Butler – Larapinta trail & The UK

Adrien has been a lead guide with Epicurious travel for many season on the Larapinta trail and has recently been…

Meet more of our guides

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GuestStories

  • Our guides José and Kyle were fantastic, along with the newby Amy, their attention to detail was outstanding and all with a sense of humour (a rare gift). Our accom was great, sleeping under the stars in a warm swag was a new experience and I loved it.
    The food was wonderful, hot breakfasts on a cold morning and lunches on the trail were fresh and filling (along with the flies!) sumptuous dinners around the fire with a wide array of wines that suited perfectly.
    All in all I can not recommend this highly enough. We look forward to planning our next tour with Epicurious.

    Larapinta Trail, Didi and John Gilder May 2019

  • A wonderful excursion into the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges. Every detail is attended to, you are lead by experienced guides, have a comfortable base camp and wonderful food to get you through each day’s walking.

    Larapinta Trail, Mark Emery May 2019

  • I am writing to say thanks to your team on the Larapinta trail.  Jose, Kyle & Amy were exceptional.  Trish and I had a wonderful week and are very grateful to each of them for their kindness and thoughtfulness, wonderful cooking and hard work.  It was such a perfect way to celebrate our birthdays and to spend time in such an ancient and glorious place.
    Please pass on our gratitude and I’m sure you realise they are a credit to your business.

    Larapinta Trail, Danielle Nevin May 2019

  • I just wanted to send a quick thank you for the fabulous Larapinta trip last week.  It exceeded all our expectations, the guides, the daily hikes, the facilities and of course the food were phenomenal.
    I will definitely recommend Epicurious Travel (I have already been looking at your India trips).

    Larapinta Trail, Trish Marshall May 2019

  • From the first day pick up to the final day drop off we thoroughly enjoyed this trip. The organisation was first class-we felt spoiled every day by our guides who were friendly, knowledgeable and great company.  After enjoyable daily walks, a hot shower, afternoon drinks and amazing evening meals and wine, who could ask for more!!

    John and Robyn McCambridge – Larapinta trail May 2018

  • Experienced, friendly, fabulous guides. Luxurious campsite. Fabulous food.
    Could not recommend highly enough.

    Larapinta Trail, Loretta Toohey May 2019

  • I travelled with Seven other girls and we had an absolute ball.Had lots of laughs on the walks and around the fire at night. The tour guides we fabulous they were very informed with questions we asked and the boys were fabulous with our meals. The tents and bedding was very comfortable and it was a treat to sleep out in a swag under the stars if you liked the stars were amazing.I would rate my trip 9 out of 10.

    Larapinta trail, Jenny Michelmore May 2019

  • The Larapinta tour by Epicurious travel was exceptional value for money. The country is stunningly beautiful and the walks well organised and manageable (I am 70!). The young tour guides were very knowledgeable about the geology, history, Aboriginal stories and beliefs, the flora and fauna and bird life. I loved the campsite and having delicious meals around the fire at night before heading off to a comfy bed in my tent. The three guides were one of the highlights of our tour.

    Fiona Stanley – Larapinta trail