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Long-Distance Trails

Discovering Australia’s Outback: Hiking the Larapinta Trail

Discovering Australia’s Outback: Hiking the Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail is one of Australia’s most famous long-distance hikes, stretching across the heart of the Northern Territory’s outback. This 223-kilometer trail runs along the West MacDonnell Ranges, taking hikers through ancient landscapes, past towering red cliffs, rocky gorges, and dry creek beds. It is a tough and challenging hike, but it rewards dedicated trekkers with some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.

If you’re up for a challenge and are drawn to the rugged beauty of the outback, the Larapinta Trail is the perfect adventure for you. Here’s everything you need to know about hiking this iconic trail.

Planning Your Hike

The Larapinta Trail is a serious hike and requires careful planning. You’ll want to set aside at least three weeks to complete the entire trail, but many hikers choose to only complete sections of it. The best time to hike is between May and September, when temperatures are cooler and there is less chance of rain.

What to Expect on the Trail

The Larapinta Trail is a challenging hike that requires a good level of fitness. Expect to walk anywhere from 8 to 35 kilometers a day, depending on your itinerary. While the trail is well-marked, it is a remote and rugged environment, so it’s important to be prepared. You’ll need to carry all of your food and water, and camping is the only accommodation option along the trail.

Highlights of the Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Australia. Here are some of the highlights you can expect to see along the way:

  • Standley Chasm: A narrow, towering gorge with stunning red walls
  • Ellery Creek Big Hole: A beautiful waterhole surrounded by red cliffs
  • Mt. Sonder: The highest peak on the trail, with incredible views
  • Ormiston Gorge: A dramatic gorge with crystal clear water
  • Redbank Gorge: Magnificent cliffs that turn red as the sun sets
  • Glen Helen Gorge: A stunning gorge with towering cliffs and a permanent waterhole

Essential Gear for the Trail

Packing the right gear is essential for a safe and comfortable hike on the Larapinta Trail. You’ll need:

  • Trekking boots with good ankle support
  • A comfortable and durable backpack
  • A lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad
  • Waterproof and breathable clothing
  • A hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent
  • A water filter or purification tablets
  • A good map and compass or GPS device

The Best Side Trips

While the Larapinta Trail is stunning on its own, there are also plenty of side trips and detours you can take to explore the surrounding area. Some of the most popular include:

  • King’s Canyon: A spectacular canyon with towering red walls and unique rock formations
  • The Olive Pink Botanic Garden: A beautiful garden with over 600 species of plants native to the Northern Territory
  • The Alice Springs Desert Park: An interactive park that showcases the plants, animals, and cultures of Australia’s desert regions
  • Glen Helen Resort: A charming resort with a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool that’s a great place to unwind after a long day of hiking


Hiking the Larapinta Trail is a challenging and rewarding adventure that takes visitors through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Australia. With careful planning, good gear, and a sense of adventure, you’ll be rewarded with unforgettable memories and a newfound respect for the rugged beauty of the outback. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your hike on the Larapinta Trail today!

FAQ: Discovering Australia’s Outback: Hiking the Larapinta Trail

What is the Larapinta Trail?

The Larapinta Trail is a 223-kilometer long hiking trail located in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is one of the most popular long-distance hiking trails in Australia.

How long does it take to complete the Larapinta Trail?

Most hikers complete the Larapinta Trail in about two to three weeks. However, the length of time it takes to complete the trail will depend on your hiking speed and itinerary.

What is the best time to hike the Larapinta Trail?

The best time to hike the Larapinta Trail is during the cooler months of the year between April and September. Temperatures can get extremely high during the summer months, making hiking uncomfortable and dangerous.

Do I need a permit to hike the Larapinta Trail?

No, you do not need a permit to hike the Larapinta Trail. However, there are camping fees that you will need to pay if you plan on camping along the trail.

What is the difficulty level of the Larapinta Trail?

The Larapinta Trail is considered to be a challenging hike, with steep ascents and descents, rocky terrain, and long distances between campsites. It is recommended that hikers have previous backpacking experience and good physical conditioning before attempting the trail.

What should I pack for the Larapinta Trail?

You should pack all of the necessary gear for a multi-day backpacking trip, including a tent, sleeping bag, stove, food, and water filtration system. It is also important to pack plenty of sun protection and warm clothes for the cold desert nights.

Is there water available on the Larapinta Trail?

There are some water sources along the Larapinta Trail, but they can be unreliable. It is recommended that hikers carry at least 3-4 liters of water per day and plan to refill at designated water tanks.

Are there any dangers on the Larapinta Trail?

There are several potential dangers on the Larapinta Trail, including extreme heat, flash floods, snake bites, and falls. It is important to be prepared and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Can I hike the Larapinta Trail solo?

Yes, you can hike the Larapinta Trail solo, but it is recommended that you have previous backpacking experience and good navigation skills. It is always safer to hike with a partner or group.

Is there cell phone coverage along the Larapinta Trail?

Cell phone coverage is limited on the Larapinta Trail, with reception only available in certain areas. It is important to carry a satellite phone or personal locator beacon in case of emergency.

Are there facilities for shower and washing laundry along the Larapinta Trail?

There are no facilities for shower and washing laundry along the Larapinta Trail. Some campsites have pit toilets, but it is important to pack out all trash and toilet paper.

Can I bring my dog on the Larapinta Trail?

No, dogs are not allowed on the Larapinta Trail due to the fragile ecosystem and potential impact on native wildlife.

What is the best way to get to the Larapinta Trail?

The closest major city to the Larapinta Trail is Alice Springs, which is serviced by regular flights from major Australian cities. From Alice Springs, you can either rent a car or take a shuttle bus to the trailhead.

What is the maximum number of hikers allowed on the Larapinta Trail?

There is no maximum number of hikers allowed on the Larapinta Trail, but it is important to practice Leave No Trace principles and minimize your impact on the environment.

Is the Larapinta Trail marked?

Yes, the Larapinta Trail is marked with orange triangular markers and directional signage. However, it is still important to carry a detailed map and compass or GPS device to ensure you stay on the correct trail.

Can I resupply food and water along the Larapinta Trail?

No, there are no resupply points for food and water along the Larapinta Trail. It is important to plan and pack enough food and water for the entire distance of the hike.

Can I camp anywhere along the Larapinta Trail?

No, camping is only allowed at designated campsites along the Larapinta Trail. It is important to plan your itinerary and reserve campsites in advance.

Related Products for Hiking in Outback Australia

  • Hiking Boots: The terrain in the Outback can be rugged and uneven, which makes a sturdy pair of hiking boots an essential piece of gear. Look for boots with waterproofing, ankle support, and a durable sole.
  • Backpack: A backpack is necessary for carrying all of your gear on a long trek. Look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps, a hip belt, and multiple compartments for organization.
  • Trekking Poles: Trekking poles can help take some of the strain off of your knees and help with balancing on uneven terrain. Look for poles that are collapsible for easy packing.
  • Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial in the dry, hot climate of the Outback. Look for a durable water bottle that can hold at least 2 liters of water.
  • Sunscreen and Hat: The sun is intense in the Outback, so it’s important to protect your skin and eyes. Pack a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes and other pests can be a nuisance while hiking. Pack a mosquito repellent to keep the bugs at bay.
  • First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen while hiking, so it’s important to have a first aid kit on hand. Look for a kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
  • Map and Compass: The Outback is vast and remote, and it’s easy to get lost. Bring a detailed map of the area and a compass to ensure that you stay on track.
  • GPS Device: For added navigation security, bring a GPS device to keep track of your location and trail. Make sure to bring extra batteries or a portable charger.
  • Camp Stove: If you plan on camping overnight, a camp stove can be a lifesaver for cooking meals and boiling water. Look for a lightweight stove that can run on a variety of fuel sources.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, having the right gear can make all the difference when hiking in Outback Australia. From boots and backpacks to sunscreen and navigation tools, these products will ensure that you stay safe and comfortable on the trail. Remember to pack everything you need and stay hydrated, protected, and prepared for anything that the Outback might throw your way.

Pros & Cons: Discovering Australia’s Outback – Hiking the Larapinta Trail

  • Pro: Stunning landscapes
  • Australia’s Outback is known for its unique beauty and the Larapinta Trail is no exception. Hiking along the trail offers breathtaking views of vast deserts, rugged gorges, and the stunning West MacDonnell Ranges.

  • Con: Challenging terrain
  • Hiking the Larapinta Trail is not for the faint of heart. The terrain can be tough with steep inclines, rocky paths, and uneven ground. Those with limited hiking experience may find the trail more challenging than they anticipated.

  • Pro: Cultural significance
  • The Larapinta Trail is a sacred site for the local Arrernte people. Hikers have the opportunity to learn about the rich culture and history of the area through guided tours and cultural experiences.

  • Con: Limited facilities
  • Facilities along the trail are limited, with only a few campsites and water stations available. Hikers need to be prepared and self-sufficient, carrying all necessary supplies with them on the trail.

  • Pro: Unique wildlife
  • The Australian Outback is home to many unique animals that can be spotted along the Larapinta Trail. Kangaroos, wallabies, and a variety of bird species can be seen throughout the journey, adding to the unique experience.

  • Con: Weather conditions
  • The Outback can experience extreme temperatures, ranging from scorching heat during the day to freezing nights. Hikers need to be prepared for all weather conditions, as sudden changes in temperature are common in the area.

  • Pro: Physical challenge
  • Hiking the Larapinta Trail is an excellent physical challenge, providing a full-body workout for hikers. The trail offers a range of difficulty levels, allowing hikers to push themselves to their limits and improve their fitness and endurance.

  • Con: Risk of injury
  • Hiking in rough terrain and high temperatures can increase the risk of injury on the trail. Hikers need to be mindful of their surroundings and take necessary precautions to avoid injury or accidents.

  • Pro: Remote wilderness
  • The Larapinta Trail offers a sense of remoteness and solitude, allowing hikers to disconnect from the hectic pace of modern life and immerse themselves in the wilderness. The tranquillity of the Outback provides a peaceful escape for those seeking a break from their daily routine.

  • Con: Cost
  • Hiking the Larapinta Trail can be expensive, with costs including hiking permits, gear, transportation, and accommodation. For those travelling from overseas, airfare costs can also add up.

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