Our Larapinta walk in the Northern Territory is one of our most popular walks. Our many years experience running Pack Free walks on the Larapinta has enabled us to create the ultimate 5-day itinerary, that our guests just absolutely love. Combine this with the local knowledge of our indigenous guest guide, an amazing helicopter flight to fly over section one of the Larapinta trail from the air, 2 nights at our campsite centrally located at magnificent Ormiston Gorge, 2 nights at the historic Glen Helen Homestead with its restaurant and swimming pool to cool off after a day’s walk and you have a guided Pack Free walk with all the creature comforts.
This trail was voted by National Geographic as one of the top 20 trekking experiences to be had on the planet. Surprisingly this ancient landscape is abundant with natural beauty including magnificent gorges, high ridges with breathtaking views and peaceful waterholes. The Larapinta Trail Walk offers over 600 species of plants, abundant wildlife and glimpses of the longest continuous cultural history in the world, the Arrente People who have been in the region for the last 50,000 years.
Our speciality is providing Pack Free walking holidays so you can focus on enjoying the amazing landscapes, not the burden of carrying a heavy pack. Our guests won’t be asked to carry their clothes or overnight bags for the entire walk. With Life’s An Adventure, you will carry as little as your water bottle, camera and lunch each day!
We feel our walks have the perfect combination of camping and accommodation. Life’s An Adventure is one of the very lucky few to be able to camp at beautiful Ormiston Gorge (2 hours drive from Alice Springs). With a short walk to the swimming hole this is not only a beautiful location but central to most of our walks, minimising our transfer times each day – with our guests walking directly into camp on day 1. Each afternoon after your walk, you can stroll down to the waterhole for a refreshing swim. For the first two nights you will enjoy all the fun of a camping adventure, but with the little extras. You’ll arrive at camp to find your walk-in touring tent set up for your arrival including an off the ground bed with a deluxe camping mattress and pillow. There are toilet and shower facilities provided in the campground.
We understand that 4 nights camping is not everyone’s idea of fun – that’s why we have designed our itinerary so that you spend our final 2 nights of the walk at the historic Glen Helen Homestead. At the end of a day’s walk, there is nothing nicer than cooling off in the homestead’s swimming pool. With a warm cosy fireplace, and restaurant featuring hearty pub food you’ll love the homestead comfortable rooms with ensuites and hot showers. We feel our two nights camping and two-night accommodation is the perfect combination.
Rooms have a Queen and single bed and ensuite.
We understand when you are travelling with friends and family that your fitness level and abilities may differ from each other. That’s why we offer a flexible walking itinerary offering shorter and more challenging days to suit different levels. With two guides on our walks of 8 or more people, we have the freedom to cater for a range of needs. You also have the option to sit out any day’s walking and enjoy the facilities at camp or the homestead. You design a schedule that’s right for you!
At the campsite, sit back to wonderful meals around the campfire prepared by our guides. You can expect to enjoy delicious meals with a local twist including lemon myrtle barramundi and bush tomato lamb. We support local businesses and purchase the majority of our food from a local providore in Alice Springs. When you arrive at Glen Helen Historic Homestead, your meals will be enjoyed in the homestead’s charming Namatjira Gallery restaurant, featuring pub-style fare served with Australian wine. Special dietary requirements can be catered for.
We call our guides CEOs – Chief Experience Officers and it’s their job to ensure your walking tour lives up to to your expectations. Our chief guides in the Larapinta have a fun-loving and caring nature as well as being passionate and knowledgable. Both have a wonderful can-do attitude and will go above and beyond to ensure your tour is every bit as memorable as you hoped.
Life’s an Adventure is proud to work with a local Arrente woman Deanella Mack who was born and raised in Alice Springs. We meet with her or one of her associates on day one at Stanley Chasm and learn the Dreamtime story of how the chasm was created and many other insights into local Arrente culture. This brings a fresh and modern day perspective to cultural awareness.
“Any person who lives in Australia, and indeed any visitors, should gain some understanding of the indigenous culture and history of Australia. A couple of hours spent with our indigenous guide on the first day of Life’s An Adventure 5-day Larapinta Trail tour was hugely instructive in this regard. Her outlining the cultural connections of the Arrente people of the region very much set the framework for our walk along the Larapinta.” Huw Kingston, Environmentalist- Adventurer, and Speaker
All tours are genuinely inclusive. From restaurant meals at the Homestead perfectly matched with Australian wines, to helicopter flight, park fees, guest speakers and even credit card fees. When you book our walks there will be nothing extra to pay.
Our tours are designed to be personal and intimate. We love the clients we attract on a Life’s An Adventure walking experience. Happy, down to earth people, who are passionate about walking and simply excited to be on holidays. We find our guests often form lifelong friendships on tour as they are travelling with wonderful like-minded people.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks provided
Stay at Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Homestead
Return transfers from Alice Springs on day 1 and 5 of your trip
Helicopter Flight over Section 1 of the Larapinta, for a unique view of the MacDonnell Ranges
Plenty of photo opportunities to be had on tour
Professionally guided – Our guides are passionate, entertaining, well trained and enthusiastic with the ability to bring to life a depth of information as well as a guest indigenous guide talk and ‘Welcome to Country’ at Stanley Chasm
SUGGESTED PRE NIGHT ACCOMMODATION: Mercure Hotel, Alice Springs
DEPARTURE TIME: 7.30am
TRAIL NOTES: Walk: Approximately 10kms. 6 hours walking with breaks. Medium grade. Climb 110 metres and descent 110 metres.
TERRAIN: This circuit track begins with a steady climb to the top of the pass. The trail is firm underfoot with loose rocks. After descending down into the Pound there is some dry sandy riverbed crossings with the last 2km of the track leading through a dry river bed which has a mix of boulders and rocks where some light rock scrambling will be required. Terrain is rocky hard surfaces requiring sturdy hiking boots with ankle support.
FLEXIBLE WALKING: After enjoying the Standley Chasm walk we travel to Ormiston Gorge, for those that don’t want to do the Ormiston Pound walk today, enjoy the flexibility to relax at camp where you can swim at Ormiston Gorge waterhole whilst the rest of the group is walking.
WALK ITINERARY: Our day starts in Alice Springs at the Mercure Alice Springs Resort where you will meet your guides for a pre-tour briefing and head for a “Welcome to Country” with local Arrente guide Deanella Mack at Stanley Chasm. Standley Chasm/Angkerle Atwatye is part of her dreaming and connection to country and where she lives with her family. Deanella brings a fresh and modern day perspective to cultural awareness and loves sharing her knowledge in order to facilitate understanding across cultures.
We travel to Ormiston Gorge which is one of the main highlights of the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park. Enjoy a beautiful and spectacular walk up to high escarpment overlooking the pound and then we descend into the pound. The walk takes you through a spinifex covered landscape. You will be amazed at the extensive population of wildlife surrounding the many waterholes along the way. Upstream as you walk through the gorge rising spectacularly on either side are cliff faces which look like Red Lego blocks. You will see ancient pines, river red gums and you may even see the famous Sturt Desert rose.
We are very lucky to be able to take advantage of a campsite at beautiful Ormiston Gorge. Today we walk directly into our campsite to find our stand up touring tents erected and your overnight bags waiting in your tent. Take a dip in the refreshing waterhole before dinner, a great way to refresh after your day’s walk. Relax as a delicious dinner served with Australian wine is prepared for your enjoyment. Sit around the campfire, toast marshmallows and chat about the day’s adventure with your new friends.
TRAIL NOTES: Walk: Approximately 16kms. 6 hours walking with breaks. Walk: Hard grade.
TERRAIN: Expect a good physical workout even during the descent off the mountain. The trail is rocky, rugged, hard-surfaced and dry. The trail occasionally disappears although there are markers to follow. Terrain is rocky hard surfaces requiring sturdy hiking boots.
FLEXIBLE WALKING: For those that do not want to walk to the top of Mount Sonder we offer an alternative shorter walk to suit your fitness today. Our second guide will tailor-make the walk to the needs of those choosing this option with several walking options available including a Redbank Gorge walk showcasing it’s pretty chasm and gorge or a shorter version of Mt Sonder.
WALK ITINERARY: We have carefully planned your journey so that the most challenging day to Mt Sonder (the highest point of the trail) is at the start of the tour when you are fresh and more energetic, then we gradually make each day easier as the tour comes to an end. We start the day early so we can enjoy a glorious walk to Mt Sonder.
European’s were first acquainted with the mountain in the watercolour painting of the famous Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira. This section’s walk to the summit showcases the stunning colours of the range and amazing views for hundreds of miles into the distance. Initially, we climb through bushland, then the tree’s gradually become more stunted as the track rises on open spinifex covered slopes. At the top, we will enjoy sweeping views of where we have been and record our achievement in the Visitor’s book. The trip to the peak of Mount Sonder comprises an 8km walk from the gorge over rocky and steep terrain suited to fit bushwalkers.
We return to our campsite with time to have a relaxing swim in the waterhole before dinner. Tonight enjoy a wonderful dinner featuring local produce and Australia wine around the campfire.
TRAIL NOTES: Walk: Approximately 12kms. 7 hours walking with breaks. Walk: Medium grade.
TERRAIN: A windy and undulating walk from the Gorge to the hilltop lookout. From the lookout onwards the area flattens out a little. There are a number of creek and river crossings to complete, but these are almost always dry. The track is firm underfoot with less rocky sections.
FLEXIBLE WALKING: For those that don’t want to walk today, enjoy the flexibility to relax at camp and have a swim at the waterhole with the option to enjoy a stroll along the short but rewarding Ghost Gum walk at your own pace. The Ghost Gum trail meanders through sandy soil and ghost gums before gaining altitude via steps to reach a viewing platform. It is possible to continue along the path for a longer route along the gorge. Afterwards transfer to Glen Helen Homestead for an early check-in. Here you can stroll down to Glen Helen Gorge for a swim or relax around the Homestead’s swimming pool.
WALK ITINERARY: Today our walk will take us from the Ormiston Gorge to the Historic Glen Helen Homestead. Our walk starts with a magnificent Red Mallee forest, wildflowers after rains if you’re lucky and a dis-used cattle corral, which reminds us of the past pioneers of this rugged cattle country.
Mount Sonder looming in the distance and plains stretching as far as the eye can see. We descend over gently undulating terrain when we come to the junction of Ormiston and Davenport creeks which is the start of the famous Finke River. The Finke was called Larapinta by the Arentee People which means salt creek and it is one of the oldest watercourses on this planet. We cross the Finke River to the west bank and rise through a patch of river red gums to an open plain. An easy walk leads to the oasis of the Historic Glen Helen Homestead which is our accommodation for the next two nights. Upon arrival enjoy free time to stroll along pretty Glen Helen Gorge take a swim in the homestead pool. Tonight our group meets in The Homestead’s restaurant for our evening meal. Enjoy hearty pub-style meals accompanied with Australian wine. Retire to your room with ensuite and reverse cycle air conditioning/heating.
TRAIL NOTES: Walk: Approximately 15kms. 8 hours walking with breaks. Walk: Hard grade.
TERRAIN: A gradual climb over rocky terrain before beginning a steep climb up to the top of the ridge, the climb is supported with well-constructed rock steps. Once up on the ridge this exposed track leads over a rugged rocky clearing with a slight incline all the way to the Counts Point lookout. Coming down off the ridge there is some steep switchbacks and steps. Once off the ridge, you’ll enter a mulga scrub where there are more rocky steps leading down to the valley floor where there is smoother single track, crossing through rocky creeks.
FLEXIBLE WALKING: For those that don’t want to do the Counts Point walk today, we offer an alternative easier walk to suit your fitness. Our second guide will take you on a shorter walk to Serpentine Gorge & Serpentine Gorge lookout. An easy 3km return trip takes you into the sheltered Gorge and waterhole and then onto a short sharp climb to the lookout that enables you to see up the gorge and also over the surrounding parks of the range country. After spending the morning here, you will be transferred back to Glen Helen where you can take another short walk to the Glen Helen Gorge along the Finke River with views of the towering sandstone wall.
WALK ITINERARY: Today we walk section 8 of the Larapinta Trail. We climb to Eagles landing which in the Aboriginal Dreamtime tells the story of an Eagle ancestor who patrolled the range from Ochre pits to Serpentine Gorge.
After a morning tea stop at Eagles landing, we then continue to Counts Point. This vantage point offers a wonderful opportunity to see the overall geology of the ranges. Views along this straight Quartz ridge lines give a spectacular view of Mt Sonder. To the right in the distance is the highest peak in the Northern Territory Mt Zeil. In our opinion the best view along the whole length of the trail. After lunch, we descend the range into the plains to the end of our walk at Serpentine Gorge chalet. We then transfer back to our hotel accommodation at Glen Helen Homestead. Enjoy dinner in the restaurant featuring Australian wine and chat about the day’s adventures.
TRAIL NOTES: Walk: Approximately 8kms. 4 hours walking with breaks. Walk: Medium grade.
TERRAIN: The Trail leads up from the Ochre pits with a rise up and over a small ridge, firm underfoot with lots of loose rocky sections. Once at Inarlanga Pass there is a short section of boulders to navigate over. Following this the track is rocky and undulating with some smoother sections.
FLEXIBLE WALKING: Todays walk is an easy 6.2km from the Ochre pits to Serpentine Chalet with a spectacular morning tea stop at Inarlanga Gorge (one not to be missed) however if you are wanting an alternative option you can enjoy the Ochre pits with the group and then travel with the second guide around to Serpentine Chalet carpark where you will wait for the group to finish their hike
WALK ITINERARY: Today we hike an easy 4 km track along the Song Line of the Arrente track from Ochre pits which connect to Inarlanga Pass. The Ochre pits are still used by the traditional landowners, Arrente people. The track follows high ground to some of the best views of the whole Larapinta trail.
We enter into the Inarlanga Gorge the smoking green fronds of the McDonald ranges Cycads stand out against the glowing red walls of the gorge formed 300 million years ago. The gorge has been the ceremonial place an important watering point for the Western Arrente people for thousands of years. We walk the descent back through spinifex foothills over a low saddle through mulga back to our starting point. We travel back to Alice Springs and finish our journey with an afternoon scenic helicopter flight to see the dramatic landscapes from the air.
On the last day of our walk, we finish our journey with an afternoon scenic helicopter flight from Alice Springs. On this remarkable journey, you will fly the first section of the Larapinta trail from Alice Springs to Simpsons Gap. We take to the air and follow the Todd River to the Telegraph Station and get a bird’s eye view of Mt Gillen and Heavitree Gap before making our way to marvel at the breathtaking Simpsons Gap From the air, you will also see stunning views of the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, parallel ridges spanning out 644kms into the distance from Alice Springs. This flight is a truly remarkable way to finish our Larapinta experience.
A truly inspiring experience. Afterwards, we head back to the Mercure Hotel arriving, the end of a fantastic journey.
FINISH TIME: Approximately 5.30pm
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Short note to thank you for a terrific itinerary and choice of accommodations. We got back from Australia having had the best 'real' holiday in years. Loved it! The order of the trip was perfect and all the hotel bookings worked seamlessly.
We had a wonderful time! We so appreciate your arranging everything for us. It all went very smoothly. We just had to show up where and when you told us to. It took away any stress to this leg of our journey.
At long last & very overdue, we wish to thank you very much for all the bookings you made on our behalf for our adventure. We were pleased with all the accommodation bookings you made, we particularly noted we got what we asked for, walk in showers, twin beds & all clean & tidy. Thanks Madi, well done!!
Just wanted to say a big thank you!!! We have now returned from our holiday & it was fantastic. We would really like to thank you for how well everything was organised. Accommodation & tours were fabulous. We really loved how well organised our trip was and this is a credit to you!!! Thanks again, will be recommending you to friends and family.