The Larapinta Trail is one of the finest walks in Australia. On this specially designed National Geographic active adventure, we take in the most spectacular highlights of the Larapinta Trail staying in our exclusive semi-permanent campsites and then continuing by road to Kings Canyon & Uluru, staying in comfort at the Kings Canyon Resort and the upmarket Sails in the Desert at Uluru. Commencing with the Larapinta Trail we walk the high ridge lines of the West MacDonnell Ranges where we gain a rare perspective of vast flood plains, the razorback rocky outcrops and sheer scale of this ancient land. We follow an itinerary that will appeal to the active walker prepared to cover between eight to sixteen kilometres each day. You will need to carry only a day pack, as a support vehicle will transport the luggage and meet us at our campsites with bush tucker that will exceed expectations. There will also be plenty of time to reflect on the variety of walking stages. At times the trail descends from the ridge line into narrow canyons where sheltered pockets of delicate fern and twisted gum trees grow from the dry rivers of sand. We journey south of the ranges to experience the dramatic cliffs and gully's of the Kings Canyon before journeying into the very centre of Australia to marvel at the spectacular beauty of the Kata Tjuta with the pinnacle of the journey - witnessing the sun set and rise over the majestic Uluru.
Today your group will be picked up from the Alice Springs Airport and transferred to your group hotel. Your afternoon will be free to explore the township of Alice Springs at your leisure or relax at the hotel before the evening group meal.
We will pick you up from your accommodation between 7am and 7.30am. Our walking commences from the eastern terminal of the trail next to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. The trail passes through witchetty bush and mulga scrub, and over exposed hills and shady woodlands, we wave goodbye to Alice at the top of Euro ridge before we trek through the deep narrow passage of Wallaby Gap. You have the option to head to camp from here or continue on to (8km) our exclusive Semi-permanent wilderness site, Nick's Camp, with stunning views across the Heavitree Range and Alice Valley. Nicks Camp is named to remember its original architect Nick Murcutt. Following your introduction to Camp, you will be greeted by local bush food specialist, Rayleen Brown, from Kungkas Can Cook. She will give an informative presentation about native local bush foods with tastings. Walking 13 km.
From Nick’s Camp we continue west through magnificent, shady Bloodwoods and tall Ironwoods, the dominant trees on this narrow alluvial flat. We may catch sight of a shy Echidna or Black-footed Rock Wallaby as we approach one of the most important waterholes of the area, Simpsons Gap. A short transfer takes us to the stunning Standley Chasm where you will be welcomed to country by Deanella Mack from Cultural Connections. Sunday and Wednesday departures will journey into Arrernte country for a cultural conversation; Friday departures will have a cultural conversation on night one. After a delicious picnic lunch and a walk into the magnificent Chasm – a private reserve still run by the traditional owners – we transfer to Charlie’s Camp. Named in honour of pioneering Larapinta guide Charlie Holmes, tonight’s camp is nestled in secluded wilderness at the foothills of Counts Point. Walking Time: 3-5 hours.
Today's highlight is the 5km walk along the crest of the high ridge leading to Counts Point. From here we have clear views of Central Australia’s western horizon to Mt Zeil (1531m), the highest peak in the Northern Territory, and Mt Sonder which marks the end of the Larapinta Trail. We can also see the huge comet crater of Gosse Bluff, a feature of the landscape for the next few days. We descend from the high ridgetop though mysterious stands of mulga trees. At the base of the ridge we follow a track of dolomite limestone toward camp; keep your eye out for fossil stromatolites under foot, one of the most ancient forms of life. Stepping off the main trail, we follow our private track back to Charlie's Camp. An optional afternoon walk to Serpentine Chalet Dam reveals early history of the area and the chance for a refreshing swim. Spend the evening relaxing around the campfire while your guides prepare a scrumptious dinner. Walking Time: 5.5-6.5 hours.
After another wonderful breakfast, we walk out of camp to the breathtaking Inarlanga (Echidna) Pass. We spend some time in the magnificent pass to enjoy the peace and marvel at the ancient cycad palms. From here we trek south-west to an original ochre quarry, a sacred Aboriginal site. The rainbow of vibrant colours on the wave-like ochre wall makes for stunning photos. We then break for a picnic lunch and an early finish in preparation for our big day tomorrow. Your guides will offer numerous afternoon activities such as: visit Finke River (estimated to be the oldest river in the world), relax at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, or take on a challenging 10km trek from Ormiston Gorge through diverse desert lowlands and creek country. We transfer west to our exclusive Camp Fearless – named in honour of trekking guide Sue Fear – at the foothills of Mount Sonder. Walking Time: 3-7 hours Today we continue West on Namatjira drive leaving the West MacDonnell range NP behind us and take a closer look at Tnorala the meteorite crater. We then continue along the Mereenie loop road to Kings Canyon resort located in Wattarka NP. We can refresh at our Hotel accommodation before our relaxing evening meal.
Your guides will have you up early this morning (3am) for our pre-dawn walk up Mount Sonder. Weaving your way up to the 1380m summit of this majestic mountain following only the glittering light of your head-torch, surrounded by deep and peaceful darkness, is a truly inspiring experience... and watching the sunrise from the top is unforgettable! Mount Sonder is the official end and highest point of the entire Larapinta Trail and as such we have expansive views across the entire vast landscape we have been exploring over the last few days. We descend to Redbank Gorge and can enjoy a great brunch on the Finke River. If time permits in the afternoon we may visit the Glen Helen Homestead at the base of the range where we can relax with a drink or even take a scenic helicopter fight over the West MacDonnell Ranges. A short transfer returns us to Camp Fearless looking back up toward Mt Sonder. Walking Time: 6-7 hours.
Today we continue West on Namatjira drive leaving the West MacDonnell range NP behind us and take a closer look at Tnorala the meteorite crater. We then continue along the Mereenie loop road to Kings Canyon resort located in Wattarka NP. We can refresh at our Hotel accommodation before our relaxing evening meal and have local Traditional Owners talk to us about the Canyon and the region. Overnight Kings Canyon Resort.
Today we will spend a morning exploring the wonders of Kings Canyon. We will explore Kings Creek (2.5km) Canyon rim walk (6km loop) and south wall walk (5km) if time permits and the temperatures are not too hot to walk along the rim. After lunch there will be approximately 350km drive to Uluru. On arrival to Uluru, visit the Cultural Centre and learn about the creation stories for the Anangu people of the area. We return to our hotel to freshen up before dinner. Overnight Yulara Resort.
We will rise with the sun today and prepare for our days exploration of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. There are several walks in and around the ‘Rock’ that we can choose to discover. We can walk the base walk that takes around 4hrs and 11km or many other shorter walks such as Mala, Kuniya, Liru or Dune. After discovering the base of Uluru we work our way further west to Kata Tjuta and walk the Valley of the winds, depending on how we all feel we may walk up to 8km for this loop walk or take a shorter 3km section then head around to Walpa gorge for a shorter 2.5km walk, then return back to our accommodation at the Yulara Resort. This evening we will enjoy a unique outback experience under the stars at the Sounds of Silence dinner with views to Uluru.
Enjoy an Uluru leisurely base walk (Mala & Mutitjulu Waterhole- with local rangers & guides). All walks dependant on outgoing flight times. We will drop you to the airport for connecting flights, or can return to Alice Springs by vehicle with guide. (470kms approximately 5.5 hours).
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