Australia Outback Hiking
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Details

Departure Dates
2017
May 7 – 14
May 28 – 4 June
Aug 6 – 13
Sep 10 – 17

2018
May 14 – 20
May 27 – June 3
Aug 5 – 12
Sept 2 – 9

Overview

Spend four adventurous days trekking along one of great walks of Australia, the Larapinta Trail. Hike over ridges and through otherworldly slot canyons in the expansive West MacDonnell Range. Cap each of these first four evenings at our deluxe tented camps, enjoying good conversation and delicious meals. Next, hike through King’s Canyon and the Valley of the Winds, where rocks worn by eons of time morph into fantastic shapes, spires and icy cold billabongs. Our journey ends in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, where monolithic Uluru rises from the desert floor. Enjoy Australian BBQ with new friends while we witness the rock’s scarlet glow transform this legendary landscape.

Price
$3999 per person – Single Supplement ($1399) not charged if willing to share.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Alice Springs, break in our boots on the Larapinta Trail.

Welcome to Red Center! Our trip begins at Alice Springs Airport in Australia’s Northern Territory. After a short tour of town, we’ll begin with a light 3 mile walk from the Telegraph Station to Geoff Moss Bridge. Over the next four days we’ll enjoy an incredible sense of solitude and wonder on the Larapinta Trail, staying in three separate deluxe eco-camps. We sleep in spacious canvas sided tents with floor to ceiling windows, twin bed cots and a wooden patio in front. Large raised wooden communal areas are covered with arched canvas, creating a shaded lounge and breezeway for relaxing in the evenings. Two hot water shower tents are supplied with organic soaps for washing off the dust and dirt from the day’s activities. Tonight, we’ll be welcomed in by an Arrernte aboriginal community member. They’ll share stories that add a new dimension to our growing appreciation of this supernatural land. Lunch and dinner included

Driving: 1 hour; Hiking: 3 miles, 2 hours.

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Day 2: Larapinta Trail highlight hikes through slot gorges and billabongs.

Today we get a real taste of the vast West MacDonnell National Park. The result of a 350 million year old mountain range contorted by faults and folds and scoured by wind and rain. This makes for a magnificent playground for adventure travelers. Its red quartzite peaks, interspersed with layers of granite, sandstone and limestone have been carved into gulleys, valleys and gorges fed by springs of refreshingly cold water. We’ll hike through Stanley Chasm (1.2 miles, 1 hour) followed by stop and optional swim at Ellery Creek Big Hole. After lunch we’ll embark on a longer 6 mile hike from Ocher Pits to Serpentine Chalet Dam (3 hours). As the name implies, this location is the collection point for some of the finest ocher in the region. Ranging from gold to crimson in color, it has been used for decoration and medical purposes by the Western Arrernte aboriginals for generations. All meals included.

Driving: 1.5 hours; Hiking: 5 miles, 4 to 5 hours.

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Day 3: Search for Rock Wallabies on the enchanting Ormiston Pound Walk.

Today we diverge off the Larapinta Trail on a remote circuit of Ormiston Pound, a ring of mountains that punctuates the MacDonnell Range. This is an incredibly scenic walk that traverses a diverse range of habitats. From hills pockmarked with spikey spinifex grasses to tree lined creek beds. As we delve deeper into the rocky middle of the pound, keep your eyes peeled for military dragons scampering across the rocks and wedge-tailed eagles circling above. The black-footed rock wallaby may be spotted in foraging in the upper reaches and rock overhangs as we approach Ormiston gorge. Depending on water levels, sections of this hike may require water crossings. Tonight we’ll move on to our final deluxe tented camp near the foot of Mt. Sonder. All meals included.

Driving: 1.5 hours; Hiking: 5 miles, 4 to 5 hours.

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Day 4: Sunrise hike to Mt. Sonder viewpoint, visit Red Bank Gorge and Glen Helen.

This morning we depart early from camp (4:30am) to embark on one of the crown jewels of the Larapinta Trail, Mt. Sonder. The trail winds up the rocky ridgeline to a picturesque viewpoint where we’ll watch the first light of day illuminate the West MacDonnell range (1.3 miles, 600′ elevation gain to viewpoint). Descending to Redbank Gorge, we enjoy a delicious brunch along the Finke River. This afternoon we drive into Glen Helen to explore the area and have a refreshment. All meals included.

Driving time: 2 hours; Hiking: 3.6 miles, 3 to 4 hours.

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Day 5: Drive to the Kings Canyon, hike at Gosse Bluff meteor site en route.

After breakfast we’ll depart the Larapinta Trail and drive on towards the next major feature of the Red Center, Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park. Along the way, we’ll stop and embark on a short hike at Gosse Bluff. This haunting 20km wide meteor crater is registered as a sacred site for the Western Arrernte aboriginal people. The next two nights we enjoy some creature comforts staying at a well-appointed outback resort adjacent to the National Park. All meals included.

Driving: 3 hours; Hiking: 1.3 miles, 2 hours.

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Day 6: Hike the rim of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park.

Today, we’re treated to one of the most famous hikes in the Red Center. An invigorating start, 500 stone steps lead us up to a panoramic view of the canyon. We’ll skirt the sheer 300′ high walls of the rim before descending into the canyon for a lunch break in a quiet oasis known as “The Garden of Eden”. The fern like cycads are close to 400 years old, their pinnate leaves branch out in a fan to offer us a shaded respite. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as wallaroo, hill kangaroo or the rare dusky grass wren. Passing through the canyon we’ll encounter a series of stripped sandstone domes known as the “lost city”. Returning a short distance to our comfortable lodge, enjoy a swim or simply relax for the remainder of the afternoon. All meals included.

Driving: 30 minutes; Hiking: 3.7 miles, 4 to 5 hours; elevation gain/loss 400′ with 500 stairs.

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Day 7: Hike deep into the Valley of the Winds, sunset BBQ overlooking Uluru.

After an early breakfast we’ll drive on to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Kata Tjuta means, “many heads”, and refers to the 36 rusty red conglomerate domes which dot the endless landscape. 300 million years of wind and rain have sculpted the “Valley of the Winds”, resulting in a hikers playground. Though less well known than Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta is equally impressive and many find them more captivating. We’ll make our way out to both the Karu and Karingana lookouts before treading deeper into the valley to explore between creek beds that weave their way between the ancient domes. This evening we’ll enjoy a BBQ dinner prepared by our guides with the sun setting on Uluru as our backdrop, before returning to our comfortable hotel. All meals included.

Driving: 5 hours; Hiking: 4.5 miles, 4 hours.

Day 8: Hike at Uluru and transfer to airport for departure.

This morning we’ll end our journey with a visit to the gem of the outback, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. This sandstone monolith brandishes brilliant shades of red and is sacred to the Aboriginal Anangu (people) of the central Australian desert, whose occupation of the region dates back over 50,000 years. We’ll spend the morning hiking at Uluru before transferring to the Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ), to conclude our REI Adventure. Fly out after 12pm or join us in the cool blue waters and lush tropical atmosphere of Northern Queensland on our Great Barrier Reef Kayaking Extension. All meals included.

Driving: 35 minutes; Hiking: 1 to 2 hours.

Price Includes

Double occupancy accommodations and meals as noted in the daily itinerary; park fees; airport transfer when departing with the group; professional hiking guide, cook and camp staff; all group camping gear including tents, individual bedding, first aid; private coaster vehicles; taxes and tolls.

Not Included

International airfare; domestic airfare to Alice Springs (ASP) on Day 1, airfare from Ayers Rock (AYQ) on Day 8; optional gratuities; excess baggage charges, airport taxes; cost of obtaining a passport, items of a personal nature such as soft drinks, bottled water or liquor, laundry fees, internet fees; visas and immunizations; insurance of any kind.