Hiking The Larapinta Trail

25 October 2016

In the heartland of Australia, lies the Larapinta Trail. This 223 kilometer trail weaves over ancient riverbeds, across dramatic ridgelines and encompasses a hike up the fourth highest mountain in the Northern Territory, Mount Sonder. Located in the West MacDonnell National Park, this trail can be completed in its entirety or you can hike sections, either self guided or arranged with a local tour company.

The Dreamtime

When I completed sections of the Larapinta Trail as part of a 5-day guided hiking tour, I was lost for words at how spectacular the scenery was and how overwhelmed I felt hiking over such sacred land. Each day we trekked a different section of the trail. Our guide told us Dreamtime stories about the ranges, the sky and the mountains as told by the Arrernte people, who are the traditional custodians of the land in this part of Central Australia. This daily cultural storytelling really enhanced the experience and why I’d recommend doing a guided tour over self-guided. My appreciation for the region and for the Indigenous people deepened as a result of learning about the Dreamtime and how the land and its people evolved.

 People hiking up Euro Ridge Larapinta Trail NT Hiking up Euro Ridge. (Photo: Theresa Lord)

Gourmet Bush Tucker

On our first night, we had finished a full day of hiking and we were driven to our first dinner. This was no ordinary dinner, we arrived in time to watch the sunset, then were seated around an outdoor table to take in the magical views and the change from day to night. We watched the stars come to life and smell the aromas of our Gourmet Bush Dinner being prepared. We started with roasted macadamias, rubbed with wattle seed, native pepper and lemon myrtle. Macadamia nuts have never tasted so delicious and they were complemented with a lemon and fresh mint drink. Next out taste buds were tantalized with emu sausage and kangaroo fillets, all dusted with native bush spices. Yam fritters and local vegetables were served too and complemented the flavors of the meat. With our tummy’s full, we managed to fit in dessert – wood fired quandong (a desert fruit), white chocolate and wattle-seed steamed pudding topped with caramel and coconut sauce.

 Views from Larapinta Trail NT Views from the hike up to the top of Mount Sonder. (Photo: Theresa Lord)

Other Australian Great Outdoor Experiences:

Western Australia: The Karijini Experience

Water, Water, Everywhere On A NSW Road Trip

Coober Pedy: A Down-To-Earth Place To Visit


Camping Under The Stars

Following our meal, we were taken for a short walk under the stars to learn about the astronomy the Aboriginals created to navigate across the land. Looking up to the Milky Way in the desert at night is a wonderful experience. The Emu was pointed out to us and it took me a few minutes to see it come to life, but when the stars lit up and I saw the outline of its body, I was blown away by a new way of looking at the stars. It stretched out in the Milky Way and I always try to find it when I look up at the night sky.

Sleeping in the outback is another experience that adds to the adventure of visiting the desert. We camped in single swags around a campfire. Deserts can get quite cold at night and over the course of 5 days, we had a couple of minus degree nights. Waking up with a swag covered in ice was interesting. What I loved most about camping in such a remote area was the stillness of the night, only interrupted with the howls from Dingoes.

 Sunrise on the Larapinta Trail NT The stunning twilight at base camp. (Photo: Theresa Lord)

Walking In The Wilderness

The Larapinta Trail is known for its breathtaking landscapes and remote wilderness. What you will see along the trail are views overlooking ranges that span for miles, steep undulating terrain, traversing through soft woodland landscapes and stunning gullies with layered rock and textured foliage. A delight for geologists! Diversity is definitely prevalent, even though you’re in the desert. One day you’re hiking over the Finke River, cited as one of the world’s oldest river, the next day you’re exploring Simpson’s Gap, a waterhole with spiritual significance and a popular place to see the Black-footed rock wallaby. Wildlife is abundant in the desert and I was lucky to spot the wallabies, see Dingoes, various birds and little insects. Don’t be worried if you’re not an experienced hiker. The wonderful thing about the Larapinta Trail is you can tailor your itinerary depending on your experience level. Everyone can come and explore the natural beauty of this very special part of Australia.

 Girl view of Orminston Pound NT Theresa Lord at Orminston Pound.

To find out more about the Larapinta Trail or to book, speak to a Flight Centre Travel Expert today. Call 131 600 or see us in store.


Theresa Lord

Theresa Lord is a freelance writer with a passion for discovering beauty in all its forms in nature.