Last Modified: 14 Jan 2014
The Kokoda Track
Trip code: TEKA
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
As far as travel experiences go, Kokoda is among the most unique. A world away from the sun-blessed beaches and glittering cities of Asia and Oceania, the route from Kokoda station to Owers Corner is slippery, steep and steamy at the best of times. But travellers don’t come to Kokoda for a holiday, they come for the chance to challenge their body and their spirit, and to pay their respects to the brave men and women who gave their lives on this merciless route in times of war. To travel to Kokoda is to understand that, no matter how deep the jungle, or how steep the trail – courage and mateship will always prevail. Although Australians hear the call of Kokoda the loudest, the friendly smiles of passing locals, the promise of new friends and the sheer difficulty of the trek make the Kokoda Track a once-in-a lifetime experience for anyone who is up for the challenge.
The operator for this Intrepid Comfort trip is our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
- Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Day 1 Port Moresby
A former colonial settlement, Papua New Guinea’s unique capital offers a glimpse into this young country’s democratic future.
An airport arrival transfer from Ataturk Airport is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
There is a pre-trip briefing this evening to meet your fellow travellers, trek leader and local trekking crew. This may be followed by an optional dinner together (at own expense).
- Complimentary airport arrival transfer
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Port Moresby to Kokoda/Deniki/Hoi
This morning we travel to Kokoda from Port Moresby on board a single engine light plane. This flight takes approximately 25 minutes. Upon arrival into Kokoda we make our way on foot from the airstrip to nearby Kokoda Station, where the guest house for our travellers is located. Here we are welcomed by our local trekking team, and introduced to our personal porters and food porters. In Kokoda it is possible to roam freely around the station and visit such monuments as the Kokoda Memorial and war museum. Lunch and dinner will be provided by our trekking team and served up at the guest house. Kokoda is a very hot and humid place, however we have an opportunity to cool off with a refreshing swim in a nearby river. Weather and group dependent, we may trek as far as Hoi (1½-3 hrs) or Deniki (4-6 hrs) today. Remember to be flexible and have a sense of humor on this trip, you are working on PNG time for the next 9 days
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 3 Kokoda to Isurava
Today we commence our first day of trekking as we head to Isurava village, On the way we travel through Deniki village which was the first village the 39th Battalion were forced to retreat to after Japanese forces occupied Kokoda. The journey to Deniki from Kokoda commences with a nice flat walk, passing through rows of palm oil and rubber tree plantations. We pass through Kovelo and Hoi village along the way and, after the final crossing at Hoi we commence our first steep ascent up the Owen Stanley Range to 1000 metres above sea level. We follow the ridge around to Deniki which sits at about 900 metres above sea level. At Deniki we are greeted with spectacular views across Kokoda Valley. The trek to Alola commences with a 2-2½ hour walk to Isurava village. We pass through a number of choko gardens planted by Deniki and Isurava villagers, as well as a number of good water holes where we can fill up our water bottles or camel packs; always be sure to ask our trek leader or our personal porters about where are the best fill-up points. Isurava is located at 1100 metres above sea level. The village has been relocated several times since World War II, but now sits in a very tranquil location with good access to water and sunshine - very important for the local villagers and their gardens.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 4 Isurava to Templeton's Crossing II
The trek to Templetons Crossing II commences with a 45 minutes to an hour, hike to the famous battle ground and now memorial ground – the Isurava Battlefield. Here we enjoy a good break and have the opprtunity to see the battlefield and its surroundings. This memorial was built by the Australian Federal Government and is maintained by the Australian War Graves Department. The four pillars encapsulate the battle along the Kokoda Track with the four words - ‘Courage, Sacrifice, Mateship and Endurance’. These are four words we are sure to take on board with us for the remainder of our journey to Owers' Corner. This battle is attributed to the heroics of Private Kingsbury, a real estate agent from Victoria who was enlisted to fight in New Guinea with the 2/14th Infantry Battalion. His heroics at Isurava earned him a Victoria Cross when he was said to have held off an onslaught of invading Japanese soldiers with his Bren gun. This event was enough to give the retreating Australian troops enough time to escape from total annihilation and the opportunity for the reinforcement troops to arrive. The unfortunate death of Private Kingsbury occurred on the rock when he was struck in the head by a Japanese sniper. His story is one of the many legends that we will encounter throughout our journey along the Kokoda Track. Following our break at Isurava we continue for 1½-2 hours to the village of Alola. This is a beautifully-located village that sits on the mountainside overlooking Iora Valley and Auberi. At the time when the Australian troops commenced their retreat of Isurava, they decided to split up with one party trekking across Iora Creek to Auberi and the other following the ridge down to Alola. This split was planned to act as a diversion for the Japanese and to place the Australian troops at the best vantage points across the valley. We continue the trek to Templeton’s Crossing which takes roughly 5 hours. This leg of the walk passes through beautiful and lush rainforest and is complimented by a multitude of creeks and rivers that feed straight out of the mountain springs. We commence with a 30-minute steep descent down to the first river crossing, followed by a number of ascents and descents which follow the ridge around to Iora Creek, where we enjoy a short break and get to refresh ourselves in river. During the war, Australian troops suffered a high number of fatalities at Iora Creek. The Australian supply and storage facility was located at Templeton’s Crossing. It was also a burial ground where Australian soldiers from the Battle of Iora Creek were laid to rest. At our cooperative guest house the burial ground is marked by iron rods symbolising each individual soldier or body found at the site. These bodies were removed at the end of the war and relocated to Bomana War Cemetery. The walk from Iora Creek to Templeton’s Crossing will take approximately 2½ to 3 hours depending on the speed in which we trek. Upon arrival into Templeton’s Crossing II, we settle into our guest house which is owned by our cooperative partner and can treat ourselves to a refreshing swim in the fast-flowing Iora Creek.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 5 Templeton's Crossing II to Diggers Camp
A tough day of trekking is ahead of us today as we climb to the highest point of the trek at Mount Bellamy. Mount Bellamy is 2200 metres above sea level and provides some spectacular views across the Owen Stanley Ranges. The track towards Digger’s Camp can sometimes be one of the more difficult legs, especially in wet conditions. It is not too steep, but can be muddy and slippery. Be sure to stay close to your personal porter and follow his every step. At Digger’s Camp we are accommodated at the local village guest house, which is set in amongst lush rainforest. The campsite is just over 2000 metres above sea level, so it can get very cold at nights. After checking in to the campsite we take a walk to Myola, which is a beautiful flat plain of grassland with little creeks flowing through. During the war, Australian troops had utilised Myola’s airstrip to drop in supplies. When making their advance to Port Moresby the Japanese completely missed Myola, which probably played a significant role in the ultimate chain of events. There were once many aircraft remains scattered around Myola, but since the war local villagers have salvaged much of what was left for scrap metal.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 6 Diggers Camp to Efogi
Today we head towards Efogi village - a hike that takes about 6 hours. We start off heading towards the northern face of Mount Bellamy, where spectacular views can be shared looking over to the villages of Naduri, Kagi, Brigade Hill, Nauro and, in the distance, Imita Ridge. The leg down to Naduri is a long and steady descent and we will be exposed to the harsh sun as the majority of this sector passes through open Kunai grassland. Be sure to have your hat and sunscreen on hand and it is also recommend that you wear a long sleeve shirt. We have a short break at Naduri and then commence the trek down the ridge towards Efogi I. The descent will take up to 1½ hours and is very steep and slippery. The climb up to Efogi I is also very steep and slippery. Our personal porters will keep a very close eye on us. We enjoy a well-deserved rest upon reaching Efogi I. The local village will have on display a range of their local fruits and other types of food. Be sure to carry some small change with you so that you can purchase some of their produce, all of which is organically grown. After the break at Efogi I we continue our trek down to Efogi II which involves a one-hour descent. This leg is relatively short but will be exhausting and energy sapping as it will be the middle of the day and there isn’t a lot of canopy protection. Make sure you’re hydrated and have good sun cover protection. Our arrival into Efogi II we are greeted by the local village and accommodated at our cooperative guest house owned by the Siosi family. Efogi II is the largest of the Koiari villages along the trail with an estimated population of 400-500 people. The elementary school has more than 150 students. The kids of Efogi are a lively bunch with plenty of vibrant energy.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 7 Efogi to Menari
This morning we have an early start as we head towards the village of Menari. The trek today involves a decent climb up to Mission Ridge following the path taken by the retreating Australian soldiers which ultimately lead to the ambush that took place on top of Brigade Hill. The Aussie troops had occupied the Seventh Day Adventist mission during the war, using it as a shelter and storage facility. After the first climb of the morning we can turn back and look over Mount Bellamy, Efogi I and II and Kagi villages in the distance. Just imagine the sight of 20,000 Japanese troops marching down Mount Bellamy towards Kagi village with lanterns lighting the sky, which seemed to the Australian troops like a sea of fireflies lighting the night sky. Their advance was so swift and clinical that within a few days they had completely occupied the base of Brigade Hill. The walk to Brigade Hill from Efogi takes approximately 1½ hours. It is a decent walk following the ridge of Brigade Hill or Mission Ridge, as it was referred to during the war. Upon reaching Brigade Hill we first come across a huge tree trunk that looks big enough to shelter a person. This is what took place during the war and there is a story about a Japanese soldier who hid himself in the tree trunk after losing his band of comrades in battle. Before they were executed they promised each other that whoever survived the war would need to return to the Kokoda Track and locate the remains of their comrades. The remarkable story of this Japanese soldier, who is now known as the ‘Bone Collector’, tells of his amazing will to survive during the war and the fact that he marked this particular tree that saved his life and ultimately fulfilled the promise he had made to his fallen comrades. At Brigade Hill our trek leader and local historian will relate the story about Brigade Hill and how the Australian troops were engulfed or ambushed by fast-approaching Japanese troops. Over 75 Australian soldiers fell at Brigade Hill and this is commemorated by a plaque which sits at the top of the hill. Glorious views can be enjoyed from the top of Brigade Hill and, on a clear day, we can see across to Mount Victoria - the highest mountain in the region. To the southeast are views to Nauro village and Magulu Ridge. In two days time we will be climbing to the top of Maguli, along the infamous and heartbreaking Nine False Peaks. After a long break at Brigade Hill we head down the back of Mission Ridge for about 2 hours - this is a steep and sometimes very slippery path to walk. At the bottom of the valley is a beautiful waterway and from there it's a 40 minute climb to Menari village. At Menari we are welcomed by the local villagers including one of the three last remaining Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, Faole Bokoi, who is the father of our cooperative partner, Saii Faole. Faole is a lovely old man and is more then willing to share a few yarns about his time during the war and his involvement with the Kokoda campaign.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 8 Menari to Nauro
This morning we set off by initially climbing up to the top of Menari Ridge. This is a steep climb and a perfect way to kick-start the day. It should take approximately 1½ hours to get to the top and once again there are some spectacular views towards Nauro and looking back towards Brigade Hill. Mentally this point is a great psychological boost as from here on we should feel as though we have ‘broken the back’ of the Kokoda Track. After a short break at the top of Menari Ridge we then trek down the back, which is an extremely steep and sometimes slippery walk that should take us about an hour. At the base of Menari Ridge we enter Nauro Valley, where we pass through Agu Logo campsite and then cross the mighty Brown River. Today is a relatively short walk as we spend the majority of the time walking through Nauro Valley. This section can be swampy and unpleasant during the rains, but for most trekkers it should be a more comfortable walk. At Nauro we are accommodated at our cooperative partner's guest house which is situated at Old Nauro near the original airstrip. There is a pleasant stream to wash and bath in and a nice sitting area to relax under and enjoy a warm camp fire. There are mosquitoes in this area, so be sure to wear insect repellent.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 9 Nauro to Uaule
This morning we start our day by tackling the Nine False Peaks to the top of Maguli Ridge. This involves roughly 2½ to 3 hours of serious uphill trekking. We pass by New Nauro village and enjoy have a quick recovery break before pushing on to Maguli Ridge. From here we commence our first of many descents, with our first break being at Jap's Ladder. We have a good rest at Jap's Ladder and then continue our march down towards Ofi Creek (approximately 2 hours). At Ofi Creek we plan to have another break and then continue to Ioribaiwa,. It was here at Ioribaiwa that the Japanese troops were turned back. From Ioribaiwa we will be able to see quite clearly Imita Ridge, which is less then 12 kilometres away, and in the background (if lucky and only on clear days) we may be able to see Port Moresby. From Iorbaiwa our journey continues down a steep slope that leads to UauleCreek. At the base of the Ioribaiwa Ridge we make our way across a myriad of river and creek crossings (nine in total) until we reach Uaule Creek and set up camp for the night.
Village Hut (1 nt)
Day 10 Uaule to Owers' Corner/Port Moresby
In the morning we begin the day by crossing Va’Ule Creek's 14 crossings, so expect wet boots from the start. At our final crossing we commence the trek up the back of Imita Ridge, which takes up to 1½ hours to climb. At the summit of Imita Ridge we enjoy a stunning view looking back across to Ioribaiwa and Maguli Ridge. From the top and looking southwest towards Port Moresby, we trek down what was known as the Golden Staircase. This flight of stairs was built by Australian troops during the war to help with transporting artillery and other supplies from Port Moresby. The ‘staircase’ no longer exists, but some historians and operators believe that they have identified its original location. After a good break and recovery at the summit of Imita Ridge we head downhill towards our campsite at Goodwater. Today is a long day of trekking and a good example of why trekkers must be sufficiently prepared mentally and physically to take on this arduous and testing walk. we make our final push to Owers corner. From Goodwater we travel onto Goldie River which takes close to 3 hours. From Goldie River we climb our final hill towards Owers' Corner. After a short 30-minute climb up to the top, we can finally say that we have completed the Kokoda Track! We are met at Owers' Corner and transferred to Port Moresby. Along the way we stop to visit Bomana War Cemetery where 3600 Australian soldiers were laid to rest at the end of World War II. This evening our trekking team will meet us for a drink and catch up at our hotel; a great way to reflect on our recently-completed trekking adventure with our new mates from Papua New Guinea.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Port Moresby
Our trip ends in Port Moresby this morning after breakfast. Please note that this itinerary can vary considerably due to weather conditions, group needs and overnight locations. Flexibility, patience and good humor is required. For this reason these trip notes must be treated as a guide and are subject to changes.
A departure transfer is supplied at the end of this trip. Please ensure that you provide your departure flight details so that this can be organised.
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Our highest physical rating. Get ready for a heart-pumping adventure with plenty of challenges and some extreme conditions. You'll be required to be seriously fit for this trip as difficult activities are included.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
The unit of currency is the kina. There are 100 toea (pronounced ‘toyah’) to one kina. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 toea, and 1 kina denominations. Notes come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 kina. The US dollar and Australian dollar are also major currencies and easily changeable.
The best advice is to carry AU$ cash. This, along with major foreign currencies, can be changed in banks throughout the country, especially in Port Moresby. There are ATMs in Port Moresby but they are limited and sometimes difficult to get to. It is useful to carry cash with you, since a lot of this trip takes place in regional centres that do not change travellers' cheques or have ATMs. Credit cards can also be used at various places throughout the country although, due to the nature of travelling, you should not rely on this as a main source of funds.
Please note that costs in Port Moresby are surprisingly high as many goods must be imported from Australia. You should budget A$60-$100 per day per person for meals and expenses at the hotel in Port Moresby.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket. On top of this, and upon departure from PNG, you will be required to pay a further K30 as airport facilities tax.
The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
OUR LOCAL PARTNER:
This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Village Hut (8 nts), Hotel (2 nts)
In Port Moresby we stay in a quality hotel, using twin share roomss. It is well fenced, with security guards on patrol day and night. While trekking we stay in local village guesthouses where possible. They are simple buildings made from local materials. We use our sleeping mats to make the floor a comfortable spot to sleep. Showers are had in the mountain streams and the toilets are pit type with surrounding walls. Some of the guesthouses do provide warm water for washing in. Where it is not possible to stay in guesthouses we stay in quality tents transported by our carriers.
Please note that accommodation whilst on the trek is unisex so you will be sharing a hut with people of both genders.
10 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 8 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
We provide freshly prepared meals when you are on the trek, as well as additional snack packs for each trekker which are distributed daily. The snack packs are designed to give you access to energy and small treats whenever you want them, and they are not meals in their own right - main meals are provided on a group basis. Wherever possible our meals are also supplemented using fruit and vegetables from the villages that we pass through. You will be asked to pay for your own hotel meals in Port Moresby. All other meals are included in the cost of the expedition. Local food consists of various combinations of the following: rice, pasta, sweet potato, potato, yams, corn, taro, oranges, mandarins, cabbage, bananas, pineapples, paw paws, sago and coconut. Clients who have special dietary requirements should discuss with us their specific needs well in advance of departure so that we can plan food that is suitable for you.Our experience has taught us that the best way to keep trekkers trekking happily is to provide a mixture of fresh local produce and carefully chosen pre-packaged goods. We provide both freshly prepared group meals and individual daily 'snack packs' to ensure that trekkers dietary needs are met in these testing conditions. These snacks are organised from the main meals. The snack packs are carried by your personal porter, in your personal backpack. Each day after the main meal you will take your snack pack for that day in your daypack, along with water and any other personal items. In this way, you can give yourself some extra energy or a 'treat' when you want. Your trip cost includes all meals and snack packs and wherever possible we supplementary our diet using fresh local produce. Trekkers are advised to carry some money (approximately PGK100-150) in small amounts, as limited additional supplies can be purchased along the track if you wish. This includes fruits such as bananas and mandarins, cooked root vegetables and occasionally goods carried up from the larger towns. Please remember that the prices of imported goods reflect the difficulty in getting the supplies to the villages, and that these sales are an important source of income for the villages. Bowl of Fruit: PGK5-10 per bowl Bowl of Root vegetables: PGK5-10 per bowl Wild Pig: Enquire with your Tour Leader Can of Coke: PGK5.00 Can of SP Beer: PGK10.00 per can (Only available from certain villages)
Our Kokoda trips are accompanied by a crew consisting of a tour leader, a lead man, and the porters.
We have established a partnership directly with the local landowners to ensure that our clients receive not only the best value for their trip, but also the best cultural interactions possible. In choosing to support this collective of landowners, we have been able to select the best of the Kokoda Track's local guides and porters to work with us. Our guides have been trekking the Kokoda Track for up to 10-15 years and have learnt the skills, knowledge and tricks of the trade from many extremely experienced and long-established Kokoda Track tour operators. The collective was created by local experienced guides from the Kokoda Track, and its members represent a number of villages from Nauro to Eora Creek. The collective was formed with the objective to empower local landowners along the track and to enhance the international profile of local guides, many of whom are the original descendants of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. We are working with the collective to provide ongoing training and development opportunities for local people - we hope that with time, our porters of today will gain the experience to become lead man, and ultimately tour leaders.
Each group will be assigned a local tour leader who will be responsible for communication with home base, decision making on the track and liaising between the lead man, porters and trekkers. The tour leader has ultimate responsibility for the group on the Track, and has the authority of us in all instances - including making decisions on whether a trekker can continue if sick or injured. Due to the remote locations being trekked and the limited resources available locally, it is imperative that the seniority of the tour leader is respected and supported by all trekkers. The lead man and porters will not act against the instruction of the tour leader. Any decisions made by the tour leader reflect the needs and safety of the whole group which must be prioritised above the wishes of individual clients.
The lead man will be at the front end of the group at all times and is responsible for setting the pace for the trekking group. The lead man is the senior assistant to the tour leader and he will be in contact with the tour leader who is positioned at the back end of the group.
Included in your tour cost is the assistance of a personal porter to carry your main kit. Please note that there is a weight limit of 10 kilograms for personal belongings carried by the porters as they will also carry your snack packs. Any additional items will need to be carried by the trekkers themselves in day-packs - each day you will be asked to carry your own water and one day’s snack pack as well as personal items such as your camera, guidebook etc. We include a 1:1 trekker to porter ratio to promote relationship building between porters and trekkers. Our aim is to provide greater employment opportunities for porters as well as ensuring that all our trekkers complete the trek from start to finish. For some trekkers, part of the challenge is to carry their own pack - we encourage you to take advantage of the porter's presence so that you can focus on enjoying the trek and staying safe and well. By nature, local people are quite shy, so if they offer their hand to assist you and you decline, they will wait for you to ask for help in the future. Their experience and kindness will astound you and we encourage you to use this unique opportunity to get to know them as much as possible. Try to look at your Kokoda Track trek as an exercise in partnership rather than as a challenge for the individual. Our intention is that the relationship between the trekkers and the porters becomes one of the most important experiences of the trip, reflecting the wartime bonds between Australian troops and the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
The Gateway Hotel
Jackson’s Parade, NCD (overlooking Jackson’s airport)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
The Gateway Hotel
Jackson’s Parade, NCD (overlooking Jackson’s airport)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
All visitors to Papua New Guinea including tourists are required to have a visa to enter and all nationalities must apply for their visa prior to travelling to PNG. Currently a 30-day tourist visa is available for nationals of many countries including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, UK, USA and most western European countries. This tourist visa is non-extendable and is issued free of charge.
To acquire a visa you will need to complete a visa application form with a passport photo attached, and submit this with a trip itinerary, proof of sufficient funds for your stay and a copy of an onward airline ticket showing confirmed flight bookings. You can obtain your visa application form through your travel agent or by downloading a form online from the Papua New Guinean High Commission website. Your completed visa application needs to be sent your nearest Papua New Guinean High Commission, embassy or consulate along with your valid passport (which must have at least 6 months validity on it from the date of intended travel) as well as a pre-paid, self-addressed and registered post envelope which will be used to return your passport to you.
Please note that visa processing times can be subject to delays, particularly during peak periods, so we commend you allow sufficient time when applying for your visa.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
You will need to bring a backpack, (90 litre or more is preferred by the porters) which is, strong and comfortable. It will need to be large enough to carry the items listed below as well as the food packs that your personal porter will also carry on the trek. It should have good hip support. Maximum weight of your luggage (backpack AND daypack combined) whilst on trek must not exceed 12 kg.
You will also need to bring the following items:
- a light weight sleeping bag that is good to around -2 degrees Celsius
- a thermarest sleeping mat
- a silk or cotton sleeping sheet,
- spare bag for leaving your extra clothes in storage in Port Moresby during your trek.
- small daypack (30 litre) to carry those items that you will want during the day.
- 12 strong plastic bags for waterproofing the contents of your pack (assume you will need a fresh one for each day of the trek). Supermarket garbage bags are seldom strong enough. Go for at least 'garden strength' bags - or consider waterproof dry bags obtainable from specialist outdoor shops. Check that the bags you purchase will fit in your pack.
- cutlery set - plate, bowl, large cup/mug, knife/fork & spoon.
- multi-purpose pocket knife (do not place in cabin luggage on flights).
- head torch (practical and light, LED versions are efficient). Remember to bring a spare bulb and batteries.
- two one-litre water bottles/bladders that are strong and light. Bear in mind water-purifying tablets take 1 hour to work so you should always have a backup water bottle or 2 water bladders to rotate.
- (optional) camera and film. A waterproof camera is strongly suggested - alternatively investigate if there is a waterproof casing (designed for watersports) available for your particular model of camera. If you wish to bring a good quality camera that is not waterproof you should purchase a quality dry bag from an outdoors shop to protect it. Take plenty of spare batteries and resist the temptation to constantly 'review' digital images as there will be no reliable opportunities for recharging outside Port Moresby.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR:
- At least one set of non-trekking clothes for air travel, hotel use and to change back into when you return to Port Moresby.
- A pair of strong, comfortable, worn-in hiking boots (wear these on the plane just in case your bag gets lost - broken in boots are hard to replace!)
- A pair of strong jogging shoes or cross trainers
- A pair of cool outdoor walking sandals
- A woollen or polypropylene jumper/sweater
- Thermal long-john style underwear and top, or tracksuit to use for sleeping wear
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Sarongs or wrap-arounds are recommended for women when bathing in rivers, etc.
- A comfortable wide-brimmed hat with chin-strap or similar, which will survive getting wet regularly
- Adequate underwear that is comfortable when wet. Lycra pants or cycling shorts are highly recommended, as they prevent chafing.
- Several changes of socks. Some people find it best to wear two pairs while walking
- Two changes of comfortable walking clothes. These must be strong, lightweight and comfortable when wet. One set can include shorts, whilst the other should include longs. You should also have leggings (gaiters) for protection of the lower leg. It is important that your shirts should have loose-fitting long sleeves that can be rolled up in the shade or down to protect your arms in the sun. Cotton-based fabric is often more comfortable in the heat, though modern high-tech fibres are excellent if you can afford them.
PERSONAL ITEMS & TOILETRIES
- 'Prickly heat' powder
- Insect repellent.
- Water-resistant high protection sun screen, zinc cream and lip balm.
- Toiletries such as tooth brush, germicidal soap (such as Sapoderm), small tube of biodegradable shampoo
- Sports chamois (rather than a towel - much lighter, less bulky and quicker drying),
- Toilet paper (pack in zip-lock plastic bag as it is useless if wet!). Articles such as your toothpaste should also be packed in zip-lock plastic bags or small plastic containers.
- Small items as gifts for local people. You will make friends with local people and they will often offer gifts. It is good to have something useful as a return gift. Eg T-shirts (large), pocket knifes, perfume, simple jewellery, trendy hats etc.
- Extra high-energy 'nibbles' for hiking days. There will be opportunity to purchase some items after arrival but your favourites may not be available. Be aware that there are restrictions on the import of some foods (e.g. fresh cheese etc). You will be provided with daily 'snack packs' and your Tour Leader will advise on this during the Pre Departure Meeting, before giving you an opportunity to visit the local supermarket to obtain any further supplies you wish to take.
PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT:
- Ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatories
- Antibiotics – We recommend cephalexin (for wound infections, urinary tract infections) and ciprofloxacin (for diarrhoea)
- Antihistamine – for allergies, insect bites/stings
- Antifungal ointment or powder
- Bepanthen or similar barrier ointment
- Disinfectant gel for handwashing
- Waterproof elastoplast – two rolls
- Strapping tape – two rolls
- Blister dressings – prevention and treatment
- Band-Aids (waterproof)
- Malaria prophylaxis
- Mosquito repellent
- Pocketknife – with scissors, tweezers, etc
- Sports drink powder – useful for masking taste of purified water.
- Water Purifying tablets
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Please be aware of the high malarial risk in PNG - it has the highest rate of infection in the world. The most effective method of malaria prevention is to avoid mosquito bites. Liberal use of insect repellent and tents with mosquito netting are essential. We strongly recommend you discuss the malaria situation with your doctor and take the precautions recommended.
MEDICATIONS & MEDICAL CONDITIONS:
If you require any personal medications, please discuss storage requirements with your doctor well in advance. Some medications are sensitive to temperature or must be kept dry - conditions on the Track may require adjustments to your normal medication. We strongly recommend that you carry a back-up set of medication to be carried separately by the tour leader or your personal porter. Please advise the tour leader at the pre-departure meeting in Port Moresby if you are taking medication - this information will be treated in the strictest confidence, but may assist medical staff to make decisions in the unlikely event of a medical evacuation from the Track.
Diarrhoea during travel is thought to affect 10 million travellers each year. The most common cause is a bacteria called E. coli. Traveller’s diarrhoea is characterized by frequent loose bowel motions, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. On the Kokoda Track, it can complicate an already gruelling exercise with severe dehydration and fatigue. The bacteria that cause traveller’s diarrhoea are sensitive to some antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin and azithromycin. Prophylactic antibiotic treatment is not recommended for healthy adults. This risk of contracting traveller’s diarrhoea can be substantially decreased by strict adherence to simple hygiene precautions. Wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet, purify all water, ensure food is freshly cooked and fruit (and nuts) are peeled. For those who get traveller’s diarrhoea while on the Trail, a single large dose of antibiotic is usually all that is required.
CHAFING & FOOT CARE:
Chafing is a potentially serious problem in the moist jungle environment of the Kokoda Track, leading to bleeding, skin infections and extreme discomfort. It can be prevented by the wearing of bike-pants-style elastic undergarments such as Skins. Careful, early attention should be given to any areas that appear to be chafing with liberal use of barrier ointments like Bepanthen. Infected chafing areas may require antibiotic therapy.
Foot care is vital on the Kokoda Trail. Worn-in, supportive waterproof boots are a necessity. We recommend inner and outer hiking socks to minimise shearing, with at least a new set every second day. Ensure toenails are trimmed throughout the trek. Where possible, allow your feet to dry (eg. lunchbreaks, during the evening). When crossing creeks without your boots on, be sure to wear reef sandals or Croc-style shoes to avoid cuts and scratches from submerged rocks. Take similar care while bathing in the creeks and streams. Fungal infections can be prevented by the application of antifungal powder or cream in the evenings. Prevention of blisters can be achieved by applying hydrocolloid pad dressings (eg Dr Scholl, Spenco) to pressure areas. These often come off in extreme moisture and require an elastoplast dressing over the top to remain in place. The common pressure areas are the side of the big toe and the ball of the foot, but obviously this varies and individuals should become familiar with their particular pressure areas during training. Treatment of blisters consists of keeping them clean and avoiding further abrasion. Commercial blister pads (Dr Scholl, Spenco, Band-Aid) are useful for this purpose. Antibiotics may be required if the blisters become infected with bacteria.
The Kokoda Track traverses slippery, steep, uneven slopes and sometimes treacherous river crossings. Almost any injury is possible. Those suffering serious injuries will require evacuation, usually by a combination of jungle stretcher and helicopter.
Injury prevention measures include boots with good ankle support and grip and trekking poles - one or two, depending on personal preference. Trekking poles decrease the amount of force going through your knee and ankle joints and also provide stability on slippery downhills. It is also important to accept assistance from your personal porter - decreasing the load on your back will improve your balance and decrease back strain injuries. Your personal porter will also assist you across log bridges and in slippery areas of the track.
One of the most common injuries on the Track is an overuse injury known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee). his condition has a variety of causes, but on the Track is due to repetitive knee flexion with extra weight loading the joint. Pain is usually felt behind the kneecap, especially when going downhill. To minimise this injury it is important to warm up and stretch properly before each day, wear good, supportive footwear and carry trekking poles to decrease the load on the knee joint. You may also benefit from quadricep strengthening during training or from taping or bracing the knee joint - see your physiotherapist if you are experiencing these symptoms in your training. Anti-inflammatory tablets can aid in pain reduction and decrease the inflammation. Once the condition has started, the treatment begins with rest which may not be possible so prevention is vital.
Your body's fluid balance will be placed under considerable stress while hiking in the humid mountain jungle of Papua New Guinea. The risk of dehydration is increased during strenuous exercise, in hot climates and when suffering illnesses such as diarrhoea. Some blood pressure medications called diuretics can also increase your risk of dehydration. Symptoms include increased thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine output, weakness, fatigue and confusion. Severe dehydration can lead to seizures, coma and death. Too much fluid can be equally dangerous. The practice of "drinking as much as possible" has lead to a condition called exercise associated hyponatraemia (EAH). A near-fatal case occurred on the Kokoda Trail in 2006 with the trekker requiring helicopter evacuation to Intensive Care in Port Moresby Hospital. Symptoms of EAH include lightheadedness, confusion, weakness, seizures and even death. Just how much should you drink? The best guide is your body's thirst requirement. Only drink fluids when you are thirsty. A rough guide is a maximum volume of 750ml/hour, with 1000ml/hour the absolute limit.
AFTER YOU RETURN:
Many tropical insect- and water-borne diseases including malaria, dengue fever and typhoid fever have an incubation period of from 3 days up to a couple of months after infection. If you become unwell after the trip, especially if your illness is accompanied by a fever, it is important to see a doctor and inform them about your recent travel to Papua New Guinea.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
The Kokoda Track is isolated and backup medical and rescue services are not easily available. We have drawn up a contingency plan for evacuation from along the track in the unlikely event of a serious problem occurring. The focal point of any communication with the outside is our satellite telephone.
The urban centres of Papua New Guinea do have a bad security problem. For this reason we do not stay in them for long. Your guides are familiar with the main urban centres and are experienced at avoiding trouble for the short time that we are there. The Kokoda Track itself is the safest walking trail in P.N.G. Its inhabitants are devout Christians who are famous for their hospitality and kindness.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 423.00 kgs per pax.
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