Our South East Asia Destination Manager Stuart Lyall gives his tips on successfully tackling the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.
There's simply nothing else like the Kokoda Track. The mountainous spine of Papua New Guinea is a fearsome environment, with swings in temperature, downpours and energy-sapping humidity. It is also a staggeringly beautiful part of the world, and one that just isn't accessible any way other than by foot. Then there's the history: experiencing what the diggers and the Japanese had to endure during World War II's Kokoda Campaign is humbling, and helps turn a mentally and physically challenging trek into something that taxes the emotions as well - and makes it all the more rewarding for doing so.
Taking on the Kokoda demands commitment - both before and during the trek. Here are some tips to help you complete the trek.
A trek of a lifetime across some of the planet's most rugged terrain - who wouldn't want to put in the preparation if they intended to tackle the mighty Kokoda Track? The Kokoda's a long distance test of endurance, so only the foolhardy would not put in the work in advance - never has the maxim ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ been more true than on PNG's gruelling trails. You need to get some long days on the trail and up hills under your belt as preparation, with backpack on. If it's in the heat and humidity, so much the better. The more you train, the more you'll get out of your Kokoda experience - the people who love the track most are the ones that have put in the hours of preparation beforehand.
As well as fitness, health is important too. Be well prepared with vaccinations. We always carry first aid kits on our tours, but some personal first aid kit - plenty of plasters for blisters for example - are a good idea.
You also need to be mentally prepared - reading up on the history and environment leads to a more rewarding trek and a better prepared trekker. River crossings, a path that is mud-laden and slippery with the roots of countless trees, and downpours even in the dry season are all factors that walkers should expect - face up to the elements and embrace them as part of the unique experience that is the Kokoda!
It's hot and humid, can often rain, then gets cold once the sun goes down - in other words, your gear has got to be as prepared as you are! Layers of good quality technical wear are essential, and thermals will help the nights pass more comfortably. And make sure your gear isn't unprotected: dry-bags and some sort of waterproof covering for backpacks will help prevent your kit getting any unfortunate soakings. Perhaps most importantly, make sure you've got a pair of sturdy, trustworthy and waterproof boots that you've properly tested and are confident can go the distance. We provide our Kokoda clients with a full kit list, so you'll be well prepared on the trail.
Click here to read about Responsible Travel on The Kokoda Track.