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Arguably one of the best-kept secrets of the Red Centre, the West and East MacDonnell Ranges will leave you spellbound.

Although most have heard of the three icons, no one ever forgets their time in the Macdonnell Ranges. Join our flexible, two-day adventure to learn more about these rugged landscapes with hidden escarpments, waterholes and gullies.

Alice Springs, Australia
Alice Springs, Australia
Northern Territory,The Outback
Swag Camping
New trips
Physical rating
Min 12
Group size
Min 8, Max 23

Why you’ll love this trip

  • Visit the lesser-known but equally impressive attractions in the West and East MacDonnell Ranges. 
  • Experience what many consider the best walking track in Central Australia on the Ormiston Pound Walk.
  • If there have been recent rains, refresh yourself in desert swimming holes, such as Redbank Gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole. 
  • Armed with a flexible itinerary and a knowledgeable guide, this itinerary allows you to discover the West and East MacDonnell Ranges at a more relaxed pace. 

Is this trip right for you?

Are you starting and finishing your tour in Alice Springs? If so, this is the trip for you! The MacDonnell Ranges Adventure provides you with the option of extending your stay before or after this tour to enjoy the many optional activities and experiences that the historic outback town of Alice Springs has to offer.    

Please note: If the start and finish locations do not match your arrival and departure plans, please select one of Adventure Tours Australia’s other three options, which allows you to;  

  1. Start and finish in Yulara, 
  2. Start in Yulara and finish in Alice Springs 
  3. Start in Alice Springs and finish in Yulara. 

To see these options, please visit here.

This is a basic camping experience sleeping in a swag. A swag in an Australian invention – it’s a bedroll with a thinner mattress and a canvas cover. You hop inside with your sleeping bag and then zip yourself up, only allowing enough space to view the amazing stars above you. 

Temperatures in the Red Centre can be extreme. During the day, the weather can be more than 40 degrees Celsius in the shade (the Australian sun is very strong) so please bring appropriate clothing, use sun protection, and drink plenty of water. From about June through to the end of August, the evening temperatures can drop below zero degrees Celsius, so bring some thick socks, layers and a warm jacket.  

This trip requires a moderate level of fitness, as it involves a lot of walking, allowing you to really get amongst it. Please bring some sturdy, comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing.  

On both days of this tour, you’ll spend several hours driving through very remote areas of the desert. Crank up the tunes and sit back to enjoy landscapes that you would miss in any other form of travel.   

Group participation is important on this trip, so you’ll be required to help with the preparation of meals and cleaning up. These are the kinds of tasks that bring a group closer together.  

The idea of this 2-day itinerary is to be flexible while still seeing the major highlights of the Red Centre. 


Your departure time is 4.45 pm today, so you have most of the day to relax. Alice Springs is really where you need to go to understand the heart and soul of Australia. Meet your guide and fellow travelers at the Alice Springs pick-up point this morning and set off to explore the Red Centre.  


Swag camping (basic facilities) (1 night) 



 Special Information  

Total driving time today is around 1.5 hours. Total walking time is approximately 15 minutes.  

Often overlooked for its western counterpart, the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges just might be one of the Outback’s best kept secrets. This is the home of the Arrernte people, the Traditional Owners of the land. Learn about their caterpillar dreamtime story on a short walk to Emily Gap, an important spiritual site to the Arrernte people containing galleries of ancient rock paintings. Drive to Jesse Gap followed by Trephina Gorge, where you’ll set off on a one-hour guided walk to see its quartzite cliffs and rich birdlife. Afterwards, it’s time for lunch; grab a bite at the historical Ross River Homestead. After exploring the best of the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges, we drive to our overnight bush camp in the West MacDonnell Ranges.


Swag Camping (basic facilities) (1 night)  

  • Breakfast 
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner 
Special Information  

The total driving time is about 3 hours.

Spend the afternoon exploring the Outback scenery of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Visit one of the most photographed places in the Red Centre; Ormiston Gorge. Keep your eyes peeled for wallabies while admiring the colourful, sweeping walls surrounding its waterhole. Continue to Redbank Gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole, a popular spot for a refreshing dip. After a satisfying day spent exploring the West MacDonnell Ranges, we head back to Alice Springs where our epic five-day adventure ends. 

  • Breakfast 
  • Lunch 
Special Information  

The total walking distance is up to 10 kms. The total driving time is about 3 hours.

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A sleeping bag is required for this tour. You can bring your own or hire one for AUD $35
2. Trip commences in Alice Springs on day 1 at 4:45pm and finishes in Alice Springs day 3 at approx 6pm. Onward travel is to be booked the following day.


Essential trip information

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