We are often asked about taking a hire campervan along the Mereenie Loop Road as part of an Alice Springs campervan hire. As we come into the high season for campervan hire out of Alice Springs, we thought it would be worthwhile to outline your options for travelling along this shortcut.
The Mereenie Loop Road is an unsealed (dirt) road that connects Kings Canyon with Larapinta Drive and Namatjira Drive in the north. You can take Namatjira Drive to access the beautiful gorges in the West MacDonnell ranges. If you travel along Larapinta Drive, you will pass through Hermannsburg and have access to Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park. Please note that rental campervans are not permitted through to Boggy Hole in the Finke Gorge NP.
The Mereenie Loop Road is popular because it saves having to back-track along the sealed road when returning to Alice Springs. It is only about 200 kilometres in length but most importantly, it is for Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) campervans and cars only. This is because all Australian campervan rental companies require Two-Wheel-Drive (2WD) hire campervans to stay on sealed roads at all times. Therefore the 2WD hire campervans are not permitted on the Mereenie Loop Road. The road itself is graded regularly and is not a difficult road to drive, but it would certainly damage a 2WD campervan.
Be warned! If you take a 2WD campervan on the Meerenie Loop Road, you will void any cover that you have purchased and will be responsible for the full costs of any damage and/or towing costs to recover your vehicle if you have an accident or breakdown.
So what are your options for hiring out of Alice Springs and completing the Outback loop?
2WD hire campervan: you can drive from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock (Uluru) along the Stuart / Lasseter Highways. Then up to Kings Canyon on the Luritja Road. For the return home, you will drive back along Luritja Road, Lasseter Highway and Stuart Highway. If you wish to see the many gorges of the West MacDonnell Ranges, you will have to return to Alice Springs and then head out along Namatjira Drive as far as the Glen Helen Resort. The sealed road ends at Glen Helen.
4WD hire campervan: a 4WD campervan will give you access to the main unsealed roads in the loop from Alice Springs. So you can drive to Ayers Rock (Uluru) along the Stuart / Lasseter Highways. You also have the option of cutting along the Ernest Giles Road but it may not save you much time. You might be better off staying on the sealed roads because this could be quicker. From Uluru, you can drive up to Kings Canyon along Luritja Road. Then from Kings Canyon, you can continue driving north along the Mereenie Loop Road and reach the junction of Namatjira Drive and Larapinta Drive. It is then up to you whether you visit Hermansburg and Finke National Park or continue to the West MacDonnell ranges. Or you can do both!
Please check out our map for a better understanding of this area. From personal experience, it is great to have a 4WD campervan to keep all of your options open, but of course it comes down to your budget as well. A 4WD campervan does cost more than a regular 2WD campervan. We would be happy to help with a campervan hire quote for your campervan rental requirements involving the Mereenie Loop Road and surrounding areas. Happy travels!