Situated in the heart of Central Australia, the Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges was completed in 2002 and is divided into 12 sections, each a one to two day walk.
The entire trail extends over 223km’s and has acquired an international reputation as a tough challenging trek, prompting National Geographic to number it among the top 20 such experiences to be had on the planet.
The trail is made up of 12 interconnected sections which are graded between 3 and 5 according to the Australian Trail Standards and so cater for hikers of varying abilities (see map on right). It provides walkers with an unequalled opportunity to experience the West MacDonnell Ranges from its snaking trails, gorges and plains on the desert floor to breathtaking vistas from its numerous peaks and ridges. Some of the key attractions of the ranges include Simpsons Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Standley Chasm and Glen Helen. It is the country that the famous artist Albert Namatjira used as his inspiration with its rugged peaks, rolling hills, spinifex and all shades of red imaginable.
The MacDonnell Ranges stretch for over 400km in an east-west direction in parallel ridges with flat valleys between. From a break in the ranges called The Gap, where the Stuart Highway passes through just south of Alice Springs, they are split into the East MacDonnell and West MacDonnell Ranges. They were formed through massive earth movements some 300 million years ago, breaking up what was then a sea bed as fossil remains testify. Importantly, the ranges facilitate a number of permanent water holes and provide sanctuary to a large number of plant and animal species that make the Larapinta such an awe inspiring trek.