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If you're planning an adventure through the heart of Australia, then consider basing yourself in Alice Springs to make the most of the many activities surrounding; from a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, to experience the world's largest monolith, or to discover the many swimming holes and national park surrounding, the choice is yours.

Alice Springs has many walking and cycling paths spilling directly out of the town centre, taking you through vast wildlife and dramatic gorges nearby. Set up camp at one of the many spots in West MacDonnell National Park and familiarise yourself with the natural wonders of the land.

Alice Springs offers a variety of ways to explore the region, from hot air ballooning over the expansive landscape to 4WD tours through the West MacDonnell Ranges. Or for an authentic desert experience, tours on camelback will bring you up close and personal with native wildlife like red kangaroos and wallabies. Beyond outdoor activities, the town also has a variety of shopping options making it an excellent stop for souvenirs or to pick up a piece of Aboriginal art from one of the many local galleries. After a day of adventuring, choose from the dining and nightlife options scattered along Todd Street. Stop by Epilogue Lounge and enjoy a drink at sunset on the rooftop, or discover the choice of dining and entertainment options at Lasseters Casino.

For families, Alice Springs brings a choice of wildlife sanctuaries nearby like the Alice Springs Reptile Centre where kids can feed reptiles and even handle pythons or the Kangaroo Sanctuary to learn more about kangaroos. Most national parks can be accessed directly by car, spend a day going from one swimming hole to another, starting at Ellery Creek Big Hole, then to Ormiston Gorge.

Alice Springs is a great central destination to experience Australia's Red Centre, with so many activities and tours available departing directly out of town. Whether it's a short stay or extended stay, choose your travel style and explore the diversity of what the region has to offer.

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Walking

Experience the many gorges, open red desert landscape and vast array of wildlife on the numerous treks surrounding Alice Springs.

If discovering land on foot is your preferred way to explore, then this town is the perfect base for you. Choose from a short walk out or an extended hike through the ranges to experience the colourful landscape of Australia's Red Centre.

Start with the Larapinta Trail in town, which traces from town centre through to the West MacDonnell National Park. Voted by the National Geographic as one of the top trekking experiences on the planet, this walk is one that can't be missed. Depending on your time frame, the trail can be split into 12 sections, so you can choose which areas you’d like to experience, whether it’s a seven-day hike or just a few hours, explore the many water holes and campsites set along the trail.

Once you’ve ticked off the Larapinta Trail, next up is Ormiston Pound Walk, about a two-hour drive from Alice Springs. This trail is not only about the journey, but the destination too, as it leads you into the dramatic gorge and sparkling waterhole to cool off in, which is Ormiston Gorge. The trail is moderate with a slight climb, so come prepared.

If two hours outside of town is too far, take a 45-minute drive from Alice Springs to reach the Corroboree Rock Conservation Reserve, a very sacred site. Experience the walk around the rock formations, just a short 15-minute walk but equally as stunning. Or if you want to ditch the car and stay in Alice Springs take a wander through the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, with a choice of short walking tracks showcasing views across the town centre and West MacDonnell Ranges. For something a bit longer, the Hill Walk takes about 40 minutes return and provides incredible views. The well-known Alice Springs Telegraph Station also has many historical walks departing from the landmark, try the Riverside Walk to reach the station for a glimpse of Alice Springs cute wildlife - and look out for the wallaroos hiding in the rocks.

Discover the incredible landscape and wildlife surrounding Alice Springs on the many walking trails available.

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Cycling

Experience the natural wonders surrounding Alice Springs, through one of the various cycling and mountain bike trails. There's no better way to find peace and quiet than see this incredible landscape up close and personal.

The first thing to note that Alice Springs climate plays by its own rules, and the desert is no place to be seen in the heart of summer at midday. So adopt the local lifestyle and plan your ride at either end of the day when the sun starts to fade. Winter, on the other hand, doesn’t fit in with the rest of the world’s idea of winter. Out here, winter is the prime time to explore as temperatures drop, blue skies shine above, and there's little to no rain. This time of year is the best way to have complete flexibility and freedom, with weeks of riding on the cards to truly explore the land in all directions.

Starting in Alice Springs, you’ll have a choice of routes to take. The Larapinta Town Path is a 6.5km track, which will lead you to Simpsons Gap, and the total distance is 24 km, which will take you to Cassia Hill Walk. This comfortable 1 km loop walk to the summit of Cassia Hill is a great place to stop and have a rest. Or take Flynn’s Grave, the path trails through the West MacDonnell National Park, where you’ll encounter Central Australia’s unique habitat and open land. From The Alice Springs Telegraph Station, the path is a 52 km round trip.

Alice Springs is a central hub for mountain biking and cycling however in the area you’ll find a choice of trails through the national park area too. When it comes to picking the right set of wheels for your journey a mid-level tread tyre is recommended with good sidewall protection from the rocks.

Carry extra water especially in the warmer months, as you can expect to ride for kilometres in somewhat barren land. The temperature can soar, and many come unprepared for the intense heat, so always plan your distance and check the weather before your journey.

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Swimming

Refresh yourself at one of the many natural waterfalls in and around Alice Springs. Acting as the perfect central destination to discover many swimming holes nearby, take some time out to truly soak up the lush waterfalls surrounding the area.

When temperatures soar, you’ll no doubt be searching for the nearest swimming hole. From the barren desert to gushing water holes all in a car ride of each other, the contrast between landscapes here couldn’t be more apparent.

Pack yourself a picnic and spend the day between the waterfalls and rocky terrains. Discover the West MacDonnell Ranges with Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge, Redbank Gorge or Kings Canyon to name a few.

Ellery Creek is a stunning waterhole yet brings ice-cold water and high red cliffs. Dip in and out quickly and spend some time on the banks to see the rock faces come together, over 400 million years old. While Ormiston Gorge sits 300 metres deep, made up of earthy orange quartzite and if you enjoy hiking, the Ormiston Pound Walk will lead you to the swimming hole.

Surround yourself amongst the incredible red land as the walls of Kings Canyon encompass you in the shaded Garden of Eden, named perfectly to suit, this palm-fringed swimming hole is a 300-metre cliff face. Unfortunately, this waterfall doesn’t allow swimming due to the incredible fauna and flora it brings and delicate environment, yet it's still worth the visit. Continue on and you’ll start to make your way to Kathleen Springs where you'll discover even more local bird life and beautiful native plants.

If you choose to take the Larapinta Trail from Alice Springs, you’ll find the Birthday Waterhole, only accessible by 4WD. Here you’ll also see an incredible range of native water birds for you to observe.

Take your camera with you and make the most of these incredible swimming holes in and around Alice Springs. Discover the diversity of these gushing waterfalls and spend your days slowly exploring each one.