Your adventure starts here…..
….. and to ensure you make the most of your holiday we’ve compiled some information that you’ll need on your trip. Read this Pre-Departure information in conjunction with your detailed Tour Itinerary (which gives the day-by-day information for your tour and the detailed passport, insurance, visa, and vaccination information,) your invoice and your itinerary (which includes all of your booking details, such as flights, hotels and tours.) Please take all three documents with you when you travel.
A high level of physical preparation is essential for these treks. We will trek for up to eight hours per day, occasionally on narrow or little-used tracks. Altitudes may exceed 5000 meters on some days. Your trip may involve camping for an extended duration – check itinerary for details.
Venturing away from cities and into remote areas, these trips take you right off the beaten track. Accommodation may be basic but the rewards are well worthwhile!
This is a challenging trekking trip, with extensive uphill and downhill sections. A high level of fitness is required, although you do not have to be super fit or an Olympic athlete! Most people can compete the track with adequate training, the support of our local staff and willpower. You should spend some months training beforehand, using stairs rather that lifts (elevators) wherever possible. At weekends, walks on hilly trails while carrying your pack are strongly advised.
SSH Facilitator, BHMT Tour leader and lead man (2ic), arrival transfer, personal porter (1:1 ratio), additional group porters, trek food packs.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Ela Beach Hotel (Port Moresby), Village accommodation on Kokoda Track, Rapopo Plantation Resort (Rabaul).
Meals: Breakfast at hotels in Port Moresby and Rabaul; All main meals on Kokoda Track
Transport: International flights, Domestic flights (POM to Rabaul, POM to Kokoda), private vehicle transport in Port Moresby and Rabaul.
Post Kokoda Tour: ½ day land tour in Rabaul and boat day to Duke of York islands.
Visas, other meals, insurance, tips, any additional optional tours or activities during free time, and spending of a personal nature.
During this adventure you will be passing through a number of different climatic zones, from hot and humid coastal areas, to quite high mountain areas where conditions may be considerably colder, especially at night. Although this walk is scheduled during the dry season, there is a strong possibility of some rain at times during this trek.
You should try to travel as lightly as possible. Your total belongings should weigh no more then 12 kilograms (backpack and day pack combined). We use charter flights to Kokoda and weight is restricted to the small aircraft used. When you start training you should commence with less weight than you plan to carry on the trek and slowly build up.
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 10Kilograms for personal belongings carried by the porters as they will also carry your food 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 food pack as well as personal items such as your camera, guidebook etc.
We include a 1:1 trekker to Porter ration to promote relationship building between porters and trekkers. Our aim is to provide greater employment opportunities for porters as well as ensuring that all SSH-BHMT trekkers complete the trek from start to finish. Our intention is that relationship building 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.
Some questions and Answers on the Kokoda Track
WHAT IS THE KOKODA TRACK
The Kokoda track is one of the many walking tracks in Papua New Guinea that existed long before the Europeans came into this part of the world. It was used for trade and cultural interaction between tribes and is still used for these purposes today. During the course of World War II, the Japanese decided to use this trail as means of ground attack against the Australians in Port Moresby. The idea was to take Port Moresby and use it as a base from which to stage a direct assault on Australia. One end of the track lies in the North of the country at a village called Kokoda. It winds up and down over the rugged Owen Stanley ranges and finishes in the south at Ower’s Corner not far from Port Moresby. Both the Kokoda and the Northern coastal plains was the scene of violent close contact jungle warfare as the Australians retreated in the face of the Japanese onslaught. The Japanese were finally stopped at Imita Gap as they had extended their supply lines too far in the rugged terrain and began to die of starvation. The Australians then chased them all the way back to the northern coastline. Today the remains of the war lie rotting in the jungle and the track has reverted to quiet solitude, disturbed only by occasional back packers and local walkers. There are several villages along its length inhabited by peace-loving, hospitable locals. These are the people who became known during the war as the “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” because of their selflessness in helping wounded Australian soldiers.
WHAT DOES THE TREK SET OUT TO ACHIEVE?
We start our trek walking from Kokoda to Ower’s Corner. There is, however, much more to this trek than just the historical war ruins. There is the fascinating cultural experience of interacting with the indigenous people known as “Koairi” and “Oro Kaivans.” There is the challenge and adventure created by rugged mountain terrain and fast flowing streams. Papua New Guinea is famous for its spectacular scenery and unusual wildlife. In addition to all this there is the reward of interaction in a small group of people working together for a common purpose and the individual satisfaction of mastering the physical difficulties of the track.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE VERY FIT AND EXPERIENCED TO DO THE TRACK?
No. Most can achieve the track with adequate training, guidance and willpower. It is important that a certain level of health and fitness be attained prior to the trip. Each person should undertake some form of regular physical exercise for a period of time prior to departure. Please see detailed notes in the Pre-Departure info provided by South Sea Horizons.
WHAT IS THE BEST TRAINING TO DO?
General Cardio-vascular fitness can be built up by any form of exercise that raises the heart rate for a period of time; some form of specific exercise should also be done to build up the leg muscles. The best exercise for this walking up and down steep hills using the boots that you will be using to walk the track. After a while you should add your backpack with some weight in it. Slowly build the weight up to no more than 12 kilos. This is the maximum weight that can be carried with ease on the steep hills of the track.
SHOULD I HAVE A THOROUGH MEDICAL EXAMINATION?
Yes. You need to be in prime form physical condition to have a chance of completing this trek. In fact it is mandatory that you see a local GP before booking this trip and get a medical certificate to walk this challenging trek.
WILL WE SEE WAR RUINS?
Yes. On previous crossing we have always found items that have been hidden in the jungle. The local people often find them while they are clearing new garden areas and bring them out for us to see. Around the fire at night some of the older people along the track quite often tell stories from the war.
IS THE KOKODA TRACK ISOLATED AND WHAT HAPPENS IF AN ACCIDENT OCCURS?
Yes, the 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 and two way radio.
IS THE KOKODA TRACK A TROPICAL NIGHTMARE?
It can be. It often depends on unpredictable seasonal conditions. Most of out crossings have only had one or two days of rain in the total crossing time. Our trips are scheduled at the time of the year to catch the most stable weather conditions but it can still be very wet every now and then. This can make the trip very difficult. It is possible for the streams to flood and we carry suitable equipment for safe crossing once they drop to levels that are not dangerous. Malaria is present and all walkers will be required to take suitable medication by medical prescription to prevent contracting the illness.
HOW BAD IS THE SECURITY SITUATION IN PNG?
The urban centers 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 centers and are expected at avoiding trouble for the short time that we are there. The Kokoda Track itself is the safest walking trail in PNG. Its inhabitants are devout Christians who are famous for their hospitality and kindness.
WHERE DO WE STAY?
In Port Moresby we stay in a quality hotel called the Lamana Hotel. 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 material. 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 mattresses and sheets to sleep in.
WHAT WILL WE EAT?
We provide food packs for each trekker, which are, distributed daily. All the food that is provided is from Port Moresby’s finest supermarket “Boroko Food World.” Most goods are imported from countries such as Australia.