Hike and Camp the Heart of the Outback

Explore the famous sights of the West MacDonnell Ranges by foot and 4WD. 3 days, 2 nights.

  • Australia
  • May
  • Alice Springs Airport, Alice Springs (ASP)

Ready for a complete change of scenery? Red quartzite gorges, fiery orange mountains and blue pools of perfectly still water await you in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Learn about nature, geology and culture while hiking challenging trails and exploring scenic landscapes in the heart of the outback. Your desert escape includes:

  • 3 days of hiking and exploring in the West Macs
  • 2 nights of bush camping on the Finke River
  • Professional, knowledgeable guide
  • All meals, snacks and drinks
  • Private transportation in a fully kitted out 4WD
  • All camping equipment
  • All park fees and permits
  • Airport transfers

Perfect for:
Intrepid, curious nature lovers who want to experience the outback in an active and alternative way.

Need To Know

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights to/from Alice Springs
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Lunch on the last day
  • Tips for your guides (optional)

This trip will run with a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 10.

Please note, if there are not 4 people booked the trip may be rearranged or cancelled.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The hiking in the West Macs is sunny and exposed, so bring sun protection. The trails are somewhat rugged and loose, and sometimes they climb steeply. In the case of the Ormiston Gorge walk, the trail crosses water that can be waist-deep or deeper. Overall, the walking is challenging and exciting and you won’t get bored.

A moderate to high level of fitness is needed to enjoy the long hikes on Saturday. No previous experience is required.

Your guide will cook fresh, delicious meals for you at breakfast and dinner, including ??. Lunches are packed and include ??. Tea, real Italian coffee, beer and wine are included.

Most diets can be accounted for. Vegan and gluten-free diets require an additional $50 surcharge.

This trip is offered in the winter. Temperatures from May to August average 20 – 23 °C during the day and 4 – 8 °C at night, but temperatures can exceed 35 °C and drop below -7 °C so come prepared for anything.

Your host will provide:

  • Camping equipment (swag or tent, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, sleeping mat, pillow, camp chairs, and cooking/eating kit)
  • Sanitary supplies (shovel, toilet paper and baby wipes)
  • Towel
  • Two 1.5-L water bottles

Please limit your luggage weight to 10kg. Your host recommends you pack:

  • Sturdy, broken in hiking boots or shoes
  • Light-weight hiking clothes
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunblock)
  • Thermal top and bottom
  • Jumper
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Small rucksack for carrying daily items
  • Head torch

Start point?
Your host will pick you up either at Alice Springs Airport on Friday midday. Please schedule your flight to arrive no later than 12:25. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details. If you’re in town already, different pick-up locations can be arranged.

Finish point?
Your host will drop you off at Alice Springs Airport around 11:00 on Sunday. Please schedule your flight to depart no earlier than 12:40. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details. If you’re planning to stay longer in Alice Spring your host can drop you off in the city centre.

Getting there and away?
Alice Springs Airport (ASP) is served by inexpensive, direct flights from most major hubs in Australia. You can get any flights that suit you, but make sure they fit the times above so you don’t miss the included transfers. We will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans. If you’re booking this trip privately just let the host know what flights you’re booked onto.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

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Location

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The West MacDonnell Ranges consist of a 644km-long mountain range and an extensive bioregion covering about 4 million hectares of land. The highest mountains in Northern Territory are there (up to 1531m), as well as the headwaters of three important rivers.

The area is arid, colourful and diverse. Riven with gorges and plateaus, water holes and mountains, there’s always something to catch your eye. A surprising diversity of flora and fauna call the West Macs home, including black-footed wallabies, dingoes, frogs, babblers, cormorants, cockatoos, wedge-tailed eagles and peregrine falcons.

Start point?
Your host will pick you up either at Alice Springs Airport on Friday midday. Please schedule your flight to arrive no later than 12:25. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details. If you’re in town already, different pick-up locations can be arranged.

Finish point?
Your host will drop you off at Alice Springs Airport around 11:00 on Sunday. Please schedule your flight to depart no earlier than 12:40. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details. If you’re planning to stay longer in Alice Spring your host can drop you off in the city centre.

Getting there and away?
Alice Springs Airport (ASP) is served by inexpensive, direct flights from most major hubs in Australia. You can get any flights that suit you, but make sure they fit the times above so you don’t miss the included transfers. We will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans. If you’re booking this trip privately just let the host know what flights you’re booked onto.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrival and road trip into the West Macs

Say goodbye to the noise of the city and catch a flight to Alice Springs.

Your enthusiastic guide is waiting for you with the ignition running.

Drive straight into the West MacDonnell Ranges, a rugged landscape of gorges, mountains and oases.

First stop is Simpsons Gap, which is a 30-minute drive. Take a 10-minute walk for the best views, and keep an eye out for black-footed wallabies.

Next is Standley Chasm, a gorge with red quartzite walls and lush vegetation. Walk the track then cool off with an ice cream.

Then you’ll stop off at the Serpentine gorge, which will include a steep climb. At the top, you’ll be provided with some breath-taking views of the types of landscape and geology that are so evocative of Central Australia.

Continue with stops at gorges famous for their reflecting pools of water and fantastically coloured rock, then drive to your riverside camp and get settled.

Enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine while your guide cooks a delicious meal over the fire, then fall asleep beneath a canopy of stars.

2 hours of driving, 2.5 hours of walking

Day 2: Hiking Ormiston Gorge and Gosses Bluff

Wake up in the desert silence with a hot breakfast.

Your morning hike starts just down the road. Ormiston Gorge is a large plain ringed by jagged mountains.

Hike across the slopes of the mountains, then descend into the plain and gaze up at the circle of peaks surrounding you. Nature sure has a way of making you feel small.

Hike through a steep-sided gorge and some sections of waist-deep water, then arrive back at the jeep for refreshments and toweling off.

The adventure continues at Gosses Bluff, the remnants of an impact crater formed 142 million years ago.

Take in the scenery from a lookout, then hike into the crater itself for another chance to feel tiny.

Head back to camp via the amazing and seldom visited petroglyphs in Roma Gorge, some of the best in the country. The carving are so prolific they cover almost every rock surface.

Arrive at camp satisfied with your full-on day of hiking. It’s time for a cold drink and some BBQ.

3 hours of driving, 5 hours walking

Day 3: Departure

Watch the sky slowly change colour with sunrise while sipping on a hot Italian coffee.

Drive back to Alice Springs with some stops—the adventure isn’t over just yet.

First is the Ochre Pits, a natural outcrop of ochre in a rainbow of colours. Aboriginals harvested the gold and crimson sediments to paint their bodies.

Next up is Ellery Creek Big Hole. Like the name implies, it’s a large, permanent waterhole framed by walls of red quartzite. The still water creates amazing reflections.

Finish the trip out with a stop at ANZAC Hill in Alice Springs. From the memorial at the summit you can see all of the town laid out beneath you.

Catch your flight home with a long list of stories to make your co-workers jealous with on Monday.

2.5 hours driving, 30 min walking

Note: The actual itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather conditions and forecasts, special events, etc.

Accommodation

You’ll bush camp at the Finke River Two-Mile campsite. Though it’s an established site, there are no facilities or changing rooms. Flush toilets will be available at flush toilets are available at Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen, Ellery Creek big hole, Simpson Gap and Standley Chasm. There’ll be a long drop at the Ochre Pits. You’ll sleep either in a swag or tent. All camp supplies are provided.

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Dates & Prices

Prices include

  • Accommodation
  • Airport Transfers
  • Equipment
  • Guide
  • Local Transport
  • Meals As Described

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

Sorry, no group trips are currently planned,
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