Happy isolation: hiking the ridges of the Larapinta Trail

Located just outside Alice Springs, the 231km Larapinta Trail traverses the West MacDonnell Ranges national park, the traditional homelands of the Central Arrernte, Western Arrernte and Luritja peoples.

The trail has been in its present form since 2002 and is one of Australia’s premier long-distance walking tracks, alongside Western Australia’s Bibbulmun track and Tasmania’s Overland and Western Arthurs epics.

The Larapinta alternates between high, exceedingly rocky ridges that afford spectacular views, and easier walking over sprawling plains and dry creek beds along the base of the ranges. Hiking through this harsh landscape dominated by reds, greens, yellows and impossibly blue skies, there is a powerful sense of time flowing on a different, deeper level.

Through constant refinements, upgrades and maintenance, Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife rangers have made the trail as safe and accessible as possible. Blue arrow trail markers appear along well-defined paths or nailed to trees in riverbeds and gorges every 500 metres or so, making it difficult to get lost for more than 20 or 30 awkward minutes.

The most significant upgrade is guaranteed water no more than a day’s walk apart, with drinking water available at most designated camp sites.

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