Tag Archives: Larapinta Trail

The insider’s guide to the Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail, in Australia’s Northern Territory, beckons with desert expanses, swaths of cloudless sky, and the rippling ridges of the West MacDonnell Ranges. At 223 kilometres long, the trail is one of the longest and most popular walking tracks in Australia. An Inspired Adventure to the Larapinta trail will usually cover four sections of the trail (about 70 kms) over five days of trekking.

Want to know what it’s really like to take on the Larapinta? Inspired Adventures’ Campaign Managers Johanna and Kate recently completed the trek and they have plenty to share about the experience and what it’s really like to sleep in a swag in the middle of the Aussie outback.

What sections did you hike?

– Old Telegraph station to Simpsons Gap. Section 1
– Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam. Section 8
– Serpentine Chalet Dam to Ormiston Gorge. Section 9
– Mount Sonder ascent. Section 12
– Ormiston Pound circuit. Not an official section, more a short scenic add-on

SPA Larapinta Blog Post
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What is the most challenging part of the trek?

There are a lot of rocky sections which are challenging. Careful footing and good ankle support are a must! I found trekking poles a huge help for stability and for my knees.

Prepare yourself for a very rocky and uneven terrain. This might put more pressure on your knees than you think so if you are worried, bring a knee strap. I have had 2 knee surgeries, and I was fine, but this is a good thing to bring with you in case your knees start hurting.

Anything you packed others might find useful?

The packing list is pretty extensive. I brought a battery pack to keep my phone charged which was great, but better to switch off if you can! Being in the middle of the outback without battery power or signal is a pretty great excuse to unplug.

Can you use your phone while on the Larapinta trail?

Phone reception is available (only with Telstra) at certain ridges and the summit of Mount Sonder. So if you really want to send a text or check Facebook, you have to keep hiking and reach the top of that ridge! The homestead at Glen Helen also offers free, but not very reliable, internet access.

How did you prepare physically for the trek?

I keep fit throughout the year but increased it in the 2 months before my trek, especially with long hikes at the weekend. Hiking on uneven terrain is great training.

You will need to train and prepare yourself if you’re not used to trekking long distance and consecutive days. Make sure you improve your cardio and endurance. And train in the right shoes! Don’t take old shoes with you – if they are more than 5 years, please take them to an adventure shop and get them checked out. A good idea would be to also bring a pair of trainers as spare shoes in case something happens while you are trekking.

What's the swag situation?

Sleeping in a swag is unbeatable!  You have front row tickets to the most star-studded night sky you will ever see, shooting stars and all. In fact, many people complain about not being able to sleep as the view is too good! The swag itself is really warm and comfortable. Nothing beats unrolling it next to the camp fire and having an authentic outback experience.

(For the uninitiated, a swag a like a super sleeping bag designed to be used alone without a tent. Just you, some zippers and canvas, and the open sky.)

Larapinta Gallery
Oasis / Salvation Army Larapinta Blog

Any surprises from what you expected?

I was surprised at just how rugged and hilly the terrain was! Many people imagine a flat red centre, but the West McDonnell ranges are tall and long. You will mostly be ascending ridges and descending again, rather than a flat trek. It was also very luscious and green after recent rainfall, the wildflowers were beautiful!

What was the most memorable part?

The most memorable part… I have to mention a couple of things here as I can’t just pick one!

Firstly, walking in to camp at night after a whole day of trekking, having a quick ‘baby wipe shower’, and  then sitting down next to the campfire with the team with a nice cup of coffee. These were really great moments and every night we learnt something new about each other.

Secondly, I think it was day three of trekking we had a rocky path between two cliffs where you had to climb and jump across the rocks. It was a never ending trail but it offered some beautiful views. I felt like I was in the Jurassic Park movie!

What are the toilets like? Any hygiene tips?

There is a chemical toilet at camp, which is out in the open surrounded by nature. Such a great view! It’s well away from camp so you do have privacy. Otherwise, it’s a bush toilet. Remember to take keep a zip lock bag for any toilet paper and don’t leave anything behind in this pristine environment.

Baby wipes and hand sanitiser are my major tips for this trek. Considering there’s no showers, and you put on sun screen every day, it’s nice to freshen up a bit after a long day of trekking.

Are there animals?

We came across lots of animals with beautiful birds, wallabies, lizards and insects. Snakes are generally hibernating in winter so it’s rare to see one. Dingos may visit the camps during the night but are harmless, they may steal a shoe though so don’t leave them out!

Any final words of wisdom?

The Larapinta Trail is an amazing experience. Switch off, relax and just go with the flow – schedules don’t matter in the bush!

Feeling inspired?

Check out our upcoming Larapinta adventures and take on the challenge to help out your favourite cause!


Adventurer of the Month – Allan Sparkes

Allan Sparkes

Cause: Suicide Prevention Australia
Adventure: Larapinta Trail
Social: @allansparkscv

As our Adventurer of the Month, Allan has scored himself a $100 Paddy Pallin voucher! To be our next month’s winner, make sure you’re uploading your journey to social and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired.

What inspired you to take on your Inspired Adventure with the Suicide Prevention Australia?

I am a member of the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales Suicide Prevention Advisory Panel and I became aware of the goal of the adventure, i.e. to raise funds to bring indigenous elders to the National Suicide Prevention Conference. Knowing that every dollar raised was going to a cause I was passionate about kicked the plan into gear. The Larapinta Trail was also on my bucket list so it seemed like a great opportunity to combine the two into one.

How are you feeling about the challenge ahead? Have you ever been to Central Australia before?

I am looking forward to heading into Central Australia. I have been to Uluru and Kata Tjuta before but only for a very short time. This trek will allow me to absorb more and more of this part of Australia, which I just love and respect.

What have been some of the highlights of your fundraising experience so far?

Suicide is a tough topic and with it brings so many negative elements.  There is so much stigma surrounding suicide and for me, the highlight was the willingness of people to support me directly knowing I was raising funds for suicide prevention and the flow on positive effect this can have on suicide prevention both directly and indirectly.

"The highlight was the willingness of people to support me directly knowing I was raising funds for suicide prevention"

What have been your biggest challenges in taking on an Inspired Adventure? How did you overcome this?

Time. We are all so time poor these days and finding that space of 7 days to complete the trek was the challenge, as I had to put aside family time and professional commitments.

Have you noticed any changes or transformation in your life since taking on your first adventure?

I am someone who absolutely loves meeting new people and understanding what inspires them in their life. One of the greatest benefits of doing an Inspired Adventure is being involved in the training treks that we do every month before we head out. It gives you a chance to meet the brilliant team from Inspired Adventures and also you get to meet so many wonderful people who are embarking treks all over the world, supporting causes and organisations that mean so much to them. It is such a positive and rewarding experience that is not limited to your own trek and trek buddies.

What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming adventure?

Being completely devoid of technology in a remote part of our wonderful country, to be able to see, feel and smell our beautiful country and not be distracted by the modern world. I have sailed across the world on my own yacht and one of the greatest times I had was when we were so far from civilization and you can just absorb yourself in your immediate and completely natural environment and I am so looking forward to the remoteness and reconnecting with mother earth.

What advice would you offer to other people looking to complete a challenge like this?

If you are just thinking about doing an Inspired Adventures trek but are a little unsure about it, speak to the team and get the ball rolling. Identify with a location and cause that you are inspired by and start the ball rolling. Speak to your friends/family/workmates who you think would like to be involved and get a team together. And don’t just think the benefits will be derived from the trek itself. The lead up with all the training treks enhances and broadens the benefits you will gain from your involvement.

Don’t be concerned if it may be just you on your own that may be doing a trek with a whole bunch of people you don’t know, positive people are just the best to be with. And I don’t intend to stop my involvement after I complete this trek, I will certainly be doing more of the monthly training treks and then plan on doing more treks and fundraising in the future.

"I am so looking forward to the remoteness and reconnecting with mother earth"

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Become our Adventurer of the Month to win a $100 Paddy Pallin voucher

Take a picture whilst on your adventure or when you’re training and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired and your adventure hashtag. The most exciting use of the hashtag, with an adventure, and fitness focus will be our Adventurer of the Month – it’s that easy!


Larapinta in Pics: A Real Aussie Adventure

The Larapinta Trail is regarded as one of Australia’s premier walking tracks. From the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station to the peak of Mount Sonder, the trail stretches 223 kilometres along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges.

You will stand on ancient escarpments and gaze out upon the ochre-coloured landscapes of Central Australia, and follow Aboriginal Dreaming tracks and trek beside one of the world’s oldest river systems.

By day, you will experience the diversity of desert habitats and learn the unique history of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. At night, you will fall asleep to the sounds of native wildlife under a blanket of stars.

Day 1: Alice Springs


Welcome to Alice Springs! On our first day in the Aussie Outback, we have the opportunity to explore this ruggedly beautiful town and get familiar with our surroundings.

Day 2: Simpsons Gap


From the outskirts of Alice Springs, we trek to Simpsons Gap, taking in the sweeping views of Alice Springs and the West MacDonnell Ranges from Euro Ridge. From Simpsons Gap, we transfer by private vehicle to our remote campsite on the Hugh River. Here, the true experience begins as we rest in a region synonymous with the dreamtime (Alcheringa) of the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people.

 Trekking distance: 20km

Day 3: Serpentine Gorge – Serpentine Chalet Dam


This morning we transfer to the western section of the Larapinta Trail. Today’s trek is more challenging, however we are continuously rewarded with spectacular views of the high quartzite ridgelines that typify the West MacDonnell Ranges, including Haasts Bluff and Mount Zeil, the highest point in the Northern Territory.

Trekking distance: 13.4km

Day 4: Ormiston Gorge – Glen Helen

day 4

Today we traverse the low-lying regions surrounding Ormiston Gorge, gradually winding through rolling limestone hills towards the back reaches of the Finke River—one of the world’s oldest river systems. With majestic scenery from start to finish, this area is steeped in traditional folklore. As we trek, we are rewarded with spectacular views of Mount Sonder in the distance.

Trekking distance: 9.9km

Day 5: Mount Sonder


Today we transfer from camp to Redbank Gorge at the base of Mount Sonder (1,380m). The climb to the summit is arduous along a rocky and loose path. However, once again, our efforts are rewarded with incredible 360° views of the ranges, plains, valleys and salt lakes below. Take time to catch your breath and bask in the grandeur of the desert landscape.

 Trekking Distance: 15.8km

Day 6: Ormiston Pound Circuit – Alice Springs


Today trek the Ormiston Pound circuit. Punctuating the West MacDonnell Ranges, this circuit is regarded as one of the best small walks of the Larapinta Trail and offers sensational views of the Chewings Range and Mount Giles. Although relatively short, the trek is quite challenging and takes approximately four hours to complete. Setting off, the trail winds around low peaks before descending into the ‘pound’, a flat area enclosed by a ring of mountains.

 Trekking distance: 5km

Photos courtesy of Theresa Lord

Feeling inspired?

  • Ready to trek the Larapinta Trail? See our departures here