The Larapinta Trail stretches 223km across the West McDonnell Ranges, west of Alice Springs in the Outback of Australia. It is a world class hike through diverse and stunning terrain including desert valleys, rock scrambling up high mountain ridges, incredible views, boulder hopping through dry riverbeds and exploring cool red rock chasms.
There are twelve sections to the trail but several are best split over two days so I recommend taking a little longer. I did the entire trail over a leisurely 17 days (including one rest day). You can do it in 12 days but I highly recommend spending longer otherwise you’ll have a few very long days where you’ll be under the pump to finish the day’s hike rather than enjoying the amazing scenery.
The trail is designed to be walked east to west, however many walk it in the opposite direction (as I did). Walking from west to east means you can get dropped off by a local transport company at Redbank Gorge and then set your own schedule for your return date back to Alice Springs. Also you’ll have the stronger afternoon sun at your back rather than in your face (and it can get very hot).
There are campsites with water tanks spread evenly throughout the trail, but you will likely need to carry 4-6 litres of water on some occasions where a dry camp is necessary (if you don’t want a long hike to the next water tank). There are some great basic campsites in between the major ones which are well worth considering (for example some of the Bluffs with great views for sunsets and sunrises). Water tanks are checked regularly by rangers so you’re safe to assume water will be there when you arrive at one.
Local operators in Alice Springs can deliver food boxes for you to three drop off points along the way (Ormiston Gorge, Ellery Creek and Standley Chasm) which means you need only carry 3-5 days of food at a time – a bonus when you might be carrying extra weight in water.
The trail is pretty well marked, although you may need to pay attention in the rocky areas where the trail is less defined. Be prepared for a decent amount of rock scrambling and boulder hopping. A self supporting tent will be very handy as getting tent pegs to hold in sand or in the rock hard ground is nigh impossible. I also recommend attaching some big loops to your tent fly to wrap around rocks in lieu of tent pegs. Keep your boots inside your tent at night (or hanging in a tree) if you don’t want dingoes running off with them. Likewise mice and dingoes will try and break into your pack for food so keep that out of reach too.