The Larapinta Trail
The Larapinta walking trail lies in the heart of Central Australia in the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges. The Trail runs for 223kms extending along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges taking you through some spectacular and unique country. It is divided into 12 sections and may be walked in small stages or in its entirety.
The steep red slopes of the West MacDonnell Ranges rise dramatically from the Central Australian desert. The Trail provides walkers with an opportunity to experience the ranges’ breathtaking and ancient landscape close up and take in the never ending diversity of the Trail. The scenery will leave you spell bound by the remoteness and tranquil beauty that Central Australia has to offer.
Walkers can join or leave the Trail at a number of points accessible to motor vehicles at regular intervals along its route. In effect, the Trail comprises a series of shorter sections, each a one or two day walk. In this way people can choose the length of time they wish to spend on the Trail.
Tailormade Tours provides private transfer services to the Larapinta Trail for independent travelers and groups. Transfer rates are based on sole charter basis. Please contact us with your requirements and we will provide availability and costing.
- Pick up and drop off at Alice Springs Airport or Railway Station available
- Flexible pick up time due to private nature of transfers
- Shopping time available for fuel and supplies prior to commencing the Trail if requested
- Complimentary food drop containers provided (dropped at your accommodation prior to your arrival or delivered to you on pickup from Airport/Railway Station)
- National Park key provided to access food containers along the Trail
- Complimentary storage of luggage at Tailormade Tours office available
- Water available on board all vehicles
Pick up and Drop off Points Along the Trail
- Alice Springs Telegraph Station
- Simpsons Gap
- Standley Chasm
- Ellery Creek Big Hole
- Serpentine Gorge
- Ochre Pits
- Ormiston Gorge
- Glen Helen
- Redbank Gorge
Due to Road Conditions We Cannot Provide Services to the Following Locations
- Hugh Gorge
- Birthday Waterhole
- Serpentine Chalet
Food Drop Locations
- Standley Chasm
- Ellery Creek Big Hole
- Ormiston Gorge
- Glen Helen
Which Direction to Walk the Trail
The Larapinta Trail begins at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station and meanders through many gaps and sheltered gorges, climbs steeply over the rugged ranges, and has numerous stunning views and opportunities to photograph or admire the spectacular landscape. The Trail takes in a variety of desert habitats before rewarding walkers with 360° vistas from Mt Sonder – the highest point and end of the Trail.
Deciding which way to walk is completely up to you. We suggest Redbank Gorge to Alice Springs for the following reasons:
The cost for food drops is considerably less when food drops are conducted during the initial transfer, plus you know exactly where the food is located.
By walking in this direction, you are also walking away from the afternoon sun.
Walking the Trail in reverse may cause some of the route markers to be a little harder to see.
The travelling time out to Redbank Gorge may also provide you with some invaluable information from our local, friendly, driver guides.
Extra Walking Tracks
Most of the day walks have diversion off the main track. This can add an extra 1 – 4 kms per day.
Ormiston Gorge has a beautiful scenic walk that can only be described as ‘not to be missed’. If you can find the time to walk along the Ormiston Pound Walk, the natural beauty of the area will be well worth it.
Camping and Fees
Most campsites offer picnic tables and hardened tent sites – all Trail heads have a water supply and some have free gas barbecues.
Some campgrounds within the West MacDonnell National Park attract camping fees:
- Ellery Creek Big Hole ($5.00 per person)
- Ormiston Gorge ($10.00 per person)
- Redbank Gorge ($5.00 per person)
It is a good idea to carry the correct amount of money as change is not available – honesty boxes are present. Other campsites along the Larapinta Trail are free.
No entry fee applies to the West MacDonnell National Park for walking the Trail, however, Standley Chasm is privately owned and operated and an entry fee applies.
- Do not attempt long walks in hot weather (November to March)
- Do not risk your life – plan walks between April and October
- Take warm clothing, a sleeping bag and shelter if you are camping during the cold winter nights (May to September)
- Wear a shady hat, sunscreen, suitable clothing and footwear
- Record your details clearly and accurately in log books provided
- Be prepared to carry and drink plenty of water
- If conditions are hot, only walk in the early morning and late afternoon
- Walk with 2 or 3 other people
- Carry some form of emergency communication such as a satellite phone, personal locator beacon or spot messenger
- Be prepared to stop and wait for cooler conditions late in the day. Pushing on if feeling excessively hot or tired may have serious consequences
- Allow more time for walking and have regular breaks
- Make use of any available shade
- Wear long, loose fitting cotton clothing, sunscreen and a broad brim hat
- Gaiters are recommended due to the Spinifex spikes. Ellery Creek Big Hole to Redbank Gorge is where the Spinifex lines the Trail
- Keep all food and clothing, including shoes securely stored as dingos can be a problem
- Know your limitations
- Consider the safety of those who may need to rescue you if you ignore these warnings
The availability of temporary surface water is dependent on large rainfall events which are infrequent and unpredictable in Central Australia. The quantity and quality of temporary surface water is unreliable. Parks and Wildlife recommend when planning your walk to utilise the water supplies at the Trailheads.
Ranger maintained tanks are monitored and re-filled by rangers at a frequency dependent upon the season and number of walkers on the Trail. The tanks are refilled well before they become empty, using water from either Alice Springs town supply (sections 1 – 6) or from rainwater storage tanks at Ormiston Gorge (sections 7 – 12).
Walkers are encouraged to record supply levels in the Trailhead log books and to urgently report any leaks, low tank levels or other concerns to the rangers at either Simpsons Gap or Ormiston Gorge.
Please note that the quality of the water supplies cannot be guaranteed and it is recommended walkers either boil the water or use a filter or sterilizing tablets such as Puritabs.
Emergency telephones are available at Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Hamilton Downs Youth Centre (near Jay Creek) and Glen Helen.
Download Individual Section Maps and Descriptions
The Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Service provide excellent maps of the 12 sections of the Larapinta Trail. These maps can be viewed and/or downloaded via the links below and can also be purchased from their website.
- Section 1 - Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap
- Section 2 - Simpsons Gap to Jay Creek
- Section 3 - Jay Creek to Standley Chasm
- Section 4 - Standley Chasm to Birthday Waterhole
- Section 5 - Birthday Waterhole to Hugh Gorge
- Section 6 - Hugh Gorge to Ellery Creek
- Section 7 - Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge
- Section 8 - Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam
- Section 9 - Serpentine Chalet Dam to Ormiston Gorge
- Section 10 - Ormiston Gorge to Finke River
- Section 11 - Finke River to Redbank Gorge
- Section 12 - Redbank Gorge to Mt Sonder return
Other Useful Websites/Links for Further Information
- Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Service
- West MacDonnell National Park
- Larapinta Trail Premier Website
- A Larapinta Walk by Seth Clark
- The Larapinta Trail by Jingyi Tan
Costs on Application:
Please enquire of your requirements and we can provide you with a quote to best suit your needs.
- Flexible private transfer service
- Airport or hotel pickup
- Complimentary food drop containers
- Complimentary luggage storage
"I would like to thank you for your excellent service and assistance with our Larapinta experience. I am not often one to write feedback letters, but we were all so impressed with Tailormade that I thought you should know that we were more than happy. From your assistance throughout the booking process and willingness to be flexible and fit in with OUR plans, instead of us fitting into your schedule, where nothing was a fuss. Through to the absolutely on time pick ups, spotlessly clean vehicles and our very friendly and professional driver. To step into an immaculately clean vehicle after 3 days on the trail was just terrific, and to have Ian waiting with chilled water was another bonus. Ian was also terrific with his knowledge of the history and geography of the area, which made the drive back through the Macdonnell Ranges all the more special….We will certainly recommend Tailormade Tours to any one we know who is headed your way"