DATES: 1-7 June 2017
TRAIL TYPE: Point to point, track highlights
TERRAIN: undulating, challenging
TOTAL DISTANCE: 100km+
TOTAL ASCENT/DESCENT: TBC
DIFFICULTY: Medium with hard sections
DAYS ON TRAIL: 7 / 6 nights
ACCOMMODATION ON TRAIL: luxe pre-set camps and portable hot showers
HIGHLIGHTS: gorges, chasms, desert landscapes, oases, outback star gazing, indigenous history, Mt Sonder.
Day 1 - THURSDAY 1 June
Welcome to Alice Springs, the Heart of Australia
We'll pick you up from the airport and deliver you to your accommodation - Lassiter's Hotel (TBC). Settle in, take a dip in the pool, or explore Alice township. For those who’re still restless, there’s an optional out-and-back sunset run/hike up Mount Gillen from the historic Flynn’s Grave. For such a short trail (7km return), this offers a very condensed mix of technical running and gorgeous scenery, perfectly located to take in the glorious outback sunset. We'll then meet in the evening for a briefing a brew and a bite to eat. Tomorrow is a tough day and we want to make sure you're prepared.
Day 2 - FRIDAY 2 JUNE
Section 4 – Standley Chasm TO BIRTHDAY WATERHOLE
Good morning Sunshine! After an early breakfast we’ll take our 4x4 support vehicle out to the dramatic Standley Chasm, or Angkerle (about an hour). We'll spend an hour or so warming up with a wander through the Chasm before we hit the ground running (probably not the last time we'll use that joke). Today is dramatic section with some incredible views but, unlike supper, it won't be handed to you on a platter. It's generally hilly with some stand-out climbs and is quite exposed on the tops.
From Standley Chasm to Brinkley Bluff is approx 800 Ascent / 350 Descent over 10km. The trail is relatively straightforward, passing through Birdle Path Lookout and Reveal Saddle before arriving at today’s high point – Brinkley Bluff. The trail climbs along good single track and offers some truly spectacular views. From here it's mostly downhill into camp with things getting technical on the descent into Rocky Cleft (530m- over 2.6km) before easing off from Stuart's pass through to Birthday Waterhole; our camp for tonight.
Time to celebrate a Job Well Done - Recovery begins now! Sports nutrition is offered alongside cleansing ales, espresso or a refreshing glass of White. Pull up a chair, have a nibble and take in the views while we prepare dinner. Sure we're trailrunning, but that doesn't mean we're slumming it!
Day 3 - SATURDAY 3 JUNE
Section 5 – BIRTHDAY WATERHOLE TO HUGH GORGE
How are the legs feeling? Want a cup of Joe? Like yesterday you’ll have to work for this one, described as “one of the most visually spectacular” sections of the entire Larapinta Trail. Steep climbs, ridge running, boulder hopping, tree dodging and tricky waterholes (with wet crossings?!) will ensure we’ve got a lot to talk about over Cheese and Biscuits tonight.
Today we’re going to get most of our climbing done (+500m out of 750m+) over the first 5km with a stiff 18% gradient over the last section of the climb through Windy Saddle and on to today’s highest point at 1080m. From here we’ll descend steeply along Razorback Ridge into Fringe Lily Creek, named after the sublime Fringe Lily Flower (Thysanotus patersonii – known to flower between August and November). A moderate climb (140m+ over 2km) through a dry riverbed to Rocky Saddle is ahead of us before a fun descent through Pocket Valley to our end point at Hugh Gorge. Here we’ll have a quick bite and a beverage before piling into the Vehicle and relocating to Finke River, our camp for tonight.
Day 4 - SUNDAY 4 JUNE
Section 8 – Serpentine Gorge to serpentine chalet dam
Our tents stay up this morning as we’ll be getting a quick lift back down the track to the start of the run. Serpentine Gorge is where we’ll start; Serpentine Chalet Dam is where we’ll end up. While they’re easily confused, their 13.5km and 620m+/540m- apart so the confusion won’t last long. This is a relatively short day as far as our trip goes but it’s one of our favourite sections. This has got to be some of the trail’s best running and we couldn’t bare the thought of leaving it out!
The section is defined by well-maintained, developed trails, a condensed climb and descent, and excellent views as we run along the high (avg 1080m ), ancient ridgeline to Counts Point. After reaching Counts take the time to check out tomorrow’s route through the parallel valleys to the west. We descend fairly steeply before knocking off the last 4km of fun, undulating (80m+/-) single track into Serpentine Chalet Dam where teh 4WD awaits to whisk you back to camp at Finke River. Relax, refuel and put the feet up as you ponder the unimaginable age of this majestic country; tomorrow is pretty hefty!
Day 5 - MONDAY 5 JUNE
Section 9 – serpentine chalet dam to Ormiston Gorge
Yep it’s hefty, but you’ve got this! We’ve had a good few days and yesterday afternoon to chill out. If you look at satellite photos of this area, you can see clearly that the country here is a series of long, parallel ridges. Our travel today will be beneath the cliffs or along the ridges of these incredible formations, with 750m+/900m- clocked up moving between ridge and valley. You will have seen these as from Counts Point yesterday, but you’ll be fully immersed today!
We’ll aim to head out at dawn and push up through the ancient cycads of Inarlanga pass while the sun is still casting long shadows over the landscape. After passing through Inarlanga we’ll turn West and run toward our approximate halfway point, Waterfall Gorge (which unfortunately doesn’t see many waterfalls!). Here we’ll turn north and push up the steepest climb of the day (200m+ over 800m) onto the ridge we’ve been running under for the past 8km. Boom! Prepare to be knocked over by the views of Mt Giles and Ormiston Pound, with Mt Sonder also visible in the distance. 3.5km to the West we’ll pass Hermit’s Hideaway before dropping steeply off the ridge for the final push into Ormiston Gorge. Off the high ground, the final stretch is no less impressive, crossing over the eroded fingers of a ridge that from the side can resemble a kind of Dali-esque Caterpillar. Our support vehicle will be waiting at Ormiston Gorge for the short trip to the Finke River; maybe for a (surprisingly cool) swim.
Day 6 - TUESDAY 6 JUNE
Section 10 – ormiston gorge to Finke River
Today is designed to give you a few options depending on how you’re feeling after the last few days. If you wake to the smell of freshly extracted espresso and just feel like chilling out by the Finke River, putting your feet up and reading a book – GO FOR IT! If you want to get all civilised and take in the culture at Glen Helen Resort (where we’ll stay tonight), we’ll make it happen.
However, if you’re feeling a little (or a lot) more active, our support vehicle will be making the trip over to Ormiston Gorge where you’ll have a few more options. Option one is to enjoy a short, self-guided, educational walk above the main pool of the gorge. This offers some great views and a chance for some slow-paced nature gazing.
Option two is the highly recommended 9km loop through Ormiston Pound. Along with Mt Sonder, a lot of people refer to this as one of the most incredible parts of the Larapinta and we couldn’t agree more. If you’re done, the vehicle will now return to camp, but if you’re feeling like putting a few more miles in the legs choose Option Three and our guides will lead you back to the Finke River along Section 10 of the Larapinta. At 9km, this is the shortest section of the Larapinta. The close-up scenery of the not-too-challenging first few kms is gorgeous and then opens up to reveal great views of Mt Sonder (gee it’s close now!) and typical outback Red Gum trees dotting dry creeks and riverbeds.
Tonight we’ll stay at Glen Helen Resort to prepare for our sunrise run up Mt Sonder!
Day 7 - WEDNESDAY 7 MAY
Section 12 - Redbank Gorge to Mt Sonder (return)
Bring it on! Up you get! Grab a cup of coffee and jump in the support vehicle. We’re going to climb a mountain! In the Great Australian Outback, no less, to the see the sun rise as it has every day for the last 350 million years (give or take a few)! If that doesn’t take your breath away, the views from the top (or at very least the 15km 850m+/- return trip) sure will!
There’s a reason we’ve left this for last. Aside from being the highest point on the Larapinta at 1380m and the 4th highest mountain in the Northern Territory, Mt Sonder is undoubtedly one of the high points of the trip. There’s always something exciting about an alpine start, getting up before dawn and slogging away up an exotic mountain so you can witness the sun carving out the landscape beneath you. Guess what? Now we get to run down it! Oh this is going to be AWESOME! Go at your own speed, keep to the trail and we’ll see you at the bottom.
From Redbank we’ll take the 4x4 express back to Glen Helen, pack our belongings and hit the road back to Alice Springs. If you’re flying out today we’ll make sure you get to your flight, but if you can spare the time we’d love to have you stick around for a meal and celebratory glass or two of vino. Did we mention the hotel offers a fully featured spa? Cheers to that!
Camp accommodation pre-set up for you every night including hot camp shower, safari tents with cots, mattresses ; all meals on trail including some wine; 4x4 transfers from Alice Springs to camp/s; one night' s 4* resort accommodation in Alice Springs (pre run); 1 night in camp live music entertainment pending numbers and hospitality you won't believe. The trail running will still make you sweat, however. That hot shower (or dip in an oases) is looking good now, huh?
Our Larapinta Trail Run tour is operated in partnership with Outback Elite Tours, a Red Centre specialist operator. Should you wish to spend more time in the NT, visit other attractions (Uluru, Kings Canyon, East Macs etc), Fillipo from Outback Elite can offer specially priced packages that link up with the trail run tour either before or after. Please enquire if interested in add-ons. Filipo is the best guide in Alice Springs, trust us!
COST: contact us for details.
LIMITED PLACES: 10 ONLY
*NOTE: Tour will only green light if minimum numbers (8) reached.
TO BOOK NOW OR FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT US TODAY