I expected the trek to be extremely challenging but at the same time I didn’t know the details of how I would be challenged.
My personal porter was amazing. He shadowed me the entire trip and without me saying anything, noticed I was concerned about my knee and was patiently guiding me down the extremely slippery and muddy descents. Ben was attentive to anything I needed and always made sure I was prepared before we left each day. Although being half my size, he carried double my backpack in weight while trying to guide me at the same time; moreover he always did it with a big smile. He is exactly what I imagined a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel would be like in the war and I wish I could give more back to him!
3 Highlights of the Tour ?
- Being part of a great team (7 trekkers, 7 personal porters, 5 food porters)
- Building a relationship with my personal porter
3.Learning about the history of the track
I used my 30th as a solid reason to be able to experience the Kokoda trek. This was an opportunity to understand what Australian soldiers and png people endured during wwII. I travelled with my wife and best mate and went on the track with South seas horizon. Our guides were sensational and were extremely friendly and had great knowledge on the history of track. A great experience.
This is a trek I have studied in school, learnt about and educated myself, and discovered through family history. To be able to organise and prepare for this trek with my mother and her friend, was already a great bonding experience before we even arrived in Papua New Guinea.
Completing the 08 day trek with South Sea Horizons, to be able to recall stories from the war, hear and see what soldiers went through, and be able to share this experience with my two members and two new guys who have become life long friends.
The great part of South Sea Horizons was having local guides, which made the experience that much more special, and when we did hear stories from Australian run companies, we knew we had made the right choice.
We finished off our tour with the 100 year anniversary ANZAC dawn service at Bomana Cemetery, which was moving in itself, but even more so as we had visited the afternoon before when it was just us and we had time to take in the silence, then the next morning take in the stories being read out and place flowers at our family member’s grave.
Kokoda – it is hard work, it is grueling and tough, but it has nothing on what our soldiers endured. It is the bonding of your team and your porters, the support you give each other to put one foot forward each step of the trek.
I will never forget this experience, and can never thank enough to my group, and my porter, and South Sea Horizons.
Being able to trek the Kokoda Trail with South Sea Horizons was an absolute dream come true! Never did I actually think I would get the chance to fulfil one of my dreams (and actually make it unscathed!).
Even doing my research, I had absolutely no idea of what I was really getting myself into. With the endless uphills followed by the steep, slippery downhills (and not to mention the mud!), it quickly became a personal challenge, with the main goal of crossing that finish line. After a few more days on the track I came to realise and appreciate what the Australian soldiers had to endure. The further I walked the more in awe I became. Our soldiers were incredibly brave to not only get through the track, but defeat the powerful Japanese Army in order to protect our country.
All of our South Sea Horizons porters, food porters and guides were absolutely amazing and such an inspiration which gave us the strength to get through. They were like our own personal ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’, making sure that we were safe with every step we took. Wet season made it quite a gruelling trip and without them I don’t know if we would have survived it without injury!
There were so many unforgettable moments, making it an experience of a lifetime and one that will stay with me for the rest of my days!
I embarked on this adventure without any preconceived ideas, preferring not to research too much in case it spoilt the surprise. The natural wonders along with cultural and historic attractions delivered in spades. Tourism is not fine tuned in PNG, and that is how I like it.
Guides were always friendly, informative and attentive to our wants and needs. You cannot ask for more than that!
The Mask Festival and Bainings Fire Dance was the highlight, closely followed by snorkeling over a Japanese Zero, a shipwreck, coral and fish including dolphins. The friendly and happy people of East New Britain create a wonderful atmosphere that rounded off a very memorable trip. I would highly recommend the Provence of East New Britain to anyone considering PNG as a destination. With an active volcano, palm trees and blue seas as a backdrop, you can’t go wrong.
The Rabaul Mask Festival Tour is perfect for those people looking for something real and raw. There’s nothing Disney about this trip. You feel like you’re on the very edge of civilization. Expect the unexpected, leave your spreadsheets at home and bring a care free attitude. Things happen in PNG time and the itinerary is flexible.
While in the market we were the only white people there, a thousand pairs of eyes were on us, everyone wanting to say hello! Never felt safer than with the people of East New Britain.
I was not sure what to expect of the Rabaul Mask Festival, I knew it would be a cultural spectacle of which I had not experienced before.
The festival was “mind blowing” to say the least. When I look at the various footage and photos I took I still cannot believe I witnessed such an amazing cultural event
In a word “Awesome”, the guide’s willingness to share their local knowledge and proudly showcase East New Britain and the surrounding islands to their visitors was exceptional.
Their attention to detail ensured that we had the best experience possible. The weather was very hot and humid, all the guides made sure we had plenty of water to remain hydrated and were very attentive to our safety in the water when snorkeling and no request was ever too much trouble. Their kind and friendly manner always made it a “joy” to be in their company.
The homestay at the Duke of Yorks islands was a unique cultural experience. Sharing the life of the villagers for a short time gave one a true insight to the everyday life of the people of this island.
The Rabaul Mask Festival was incredible, I had not seen such a display of traditional dances and costumes before, and it was a privilege to be a witness of such a spectacular event.
Snorkeling at the little Pigeon Island and the Beehives, the crystal clear water which allowed one to see the many varieties of tropical fish beautiful coral reefs was an amazing marine spectacle.
I would recommend this South Sea Horizons tour to travellers wishing to have a true cultural experience and those who enjoy homestays where they interact with the families in the village and share some of their daily activities to experience true village life.
People who enjoy a variety of water activities in a lush, green tropical paradise and a chance to enjoy a “slower paced” lifestyle in a very safe environment. People who have an interest in learning more about the occupation of Rabaul by the Japanese in World War II.
The safety and wellbeing of each client is paramount at all times with every land tour and water activity led by the guides. Each guide is professional at all times in their delivery of their service
I always felt very, very safe while in PNG. The local people are the friendliest people I have ever met on my many travels.
Land of the unexpected.
A place so special that no words or photos can ever describe what I have experienced.
A land that is scented with frangipanis &smoke, a view filled with lush green forests, volcanoes & incredibly vibrant cerulean waters and the most friendly & kind people I have ever met.
I have never felt so welcomed and SAFE in this country with a bad reputation for traveler safety (just like anywhere – there are less safe area and you need to always need to be mindful of your surroundings).
This wonderful destination has a forever place in my heart and memories, as do the people I was able to share my too short time here with.
I can only hope to return to this untouched country again & again and learn more about the fascinating culture & traditions and immerse myself in the local lifestyle.
A special thanks to the staff of South Sea Horizons for their contributions and massive efforts during my stay. I always felt like a VIP whether it was the staff ensuring we had enough water to drink, lending me (and the entire group) a camera after mine broke, looking after flights as there was a strike of the local airline, and always being there by our side not only as a guide but a friend during our stay in PNG.
I cannot speak more highly of the entire staff. They are so attentive; seeing to our personal needs & wants and always watching out for our well being & safety. They truly take pride not only in their country but the job that they do and this is reflected in the quality of service provided. I cannot emphasize more how this truly impacted my amazing experiences.
THANK YOU for the most amazing trip. It will be a fond memory for years to come.
South Sea Horizons assisted in every way and were extremely attentive.
3 Highlights of the Tour ?
Duke of York Island stay and snorkeling.
Visit to Hot Springs and volcano.
Rabaul and Kokopo Markets.
I would recommend this South Sea Horizons tour to people who are looking for war history, volcanic landscapes, snorkeling and diving, islander traditions and customs.
I expected Kokoda to be tough both physically and mentally. I expected to learn about the history of the track and also to meet and make friends along the way.
South Sea Horizons provided the best care along the way and exceeded my expectations as porters and guides. Although I do not have experience to compare SSH with others, the team that looked after us did very well and we built a bond with our respective porters that made it quite sad to part company when we reached the end of the journey.
Kabby Bokoi (and Newton – extra porter)
Both Kabby and Newton performed first class in making sure I walked safely. I walked with my left knee that was not 100% and this made descents very draining and time consuming. However, my porters were always patient and supportive and when I appear to stumble, hands came out of nowhere to steady me on the track. At campsite, my porters made sure I was able to retire comfortably for the nights and my eating utensils were always clean and on hand during dinner times. I have nothing but praise for my porters and this also goes to the other porters as well who worked behind the scenes to make our journey very enjoyable
Seeing the historical sights and villages that I had only heard of or read about was a key highlight for me. Villages like Isurava, Efogi, Menari, Nauro and sights like Isurave Memorial, Mt Bellamy, Templeton’s Crossings, Brigade Hill, Maguli Ridge, Ioribaiva Ridgea and Imita Ridge.
MY Highlights ……
Meeting and spending time with villagers like Bokoi at Menari was key for me. I would have loved to spend more time in meeting and talking with villagers about their dreams and aspirations for themselves and their children and to see how we could encourage them to continue to follow their individual dreams.
Seeing the resting place of the last fuzzy wuzzy angel and father to Saii and grandfather to Kabby and Thomas was an highlight for me. I am happy that I was able to learn more about him from his other living son, Bokoi, brother to Saii and father to Kabby and Thomas.
The clean and cool creeks were amazing. I liked the “ice baths” especially at the end of the daily walks. This helped to treat my aching muscles. Also, the simple meals tasted awesome and better than if we were eating these in other surroundings. The singing at the end of each day was also very pleasant. Getting to know our porters was also an highlight for me.
I would recommend SSH to anyone looking to walk the Kokoda track. I was not 100% fit but I was able to complete the track with the help of SSH team. Trekkers who are looking to enjoy the track and who are looking to learn about the history of the sights and villages along the track should go with SSH. Menari, the sight and resting place of the last fuzzy wuzzy angel is the base of SSH and so I would encourage everyone to spend some time at Menari during their walk.
I am from PNG and I felt safe all the time when I was on the track. I learnt the basic greetings for morning and afternoon and was able to speak with villagers along the track. Awesome and amazing experience
Having read many older books about New Britain I was expecting to see some unusual masks and cultural dancing.
The Mask Festival was an intense, exciting, rhythmic and colourful experience. The many dancers and musicians were at once tribal then welcoming and friendly. It was something I will never forget.
Our Guides were honest, humble, flexible, skilled and friendly with the safety, comfort and welfare of the group paramount at all times. The guides were genuinely interested in adding to the travellers experience by going the extra mile without an expectation of a reward for themselves.
Sorry can’t stop at three Highlights ! The snorkeling, early morning excitement as the canoes arrived at Kokopo prior to the Mask Festival, meeting and shopping with the locals, meeting local people who made us welcome in their country at every turn, hearing the stories of the locals as I wandered around Kokopo and Rabaul, looking at the wealth of military history so much a part of Rabaul and its people. Our home stay at the Duke of York Island Group on day two which somehow made me feel at home for the rest of the tour. Did I mention the incredible Fire Dance in the highlands where the dancers, masks and costumes provided an amazing visual and cultural experience!
I would recommend this South Seas Horizons tour to people who are looking for a wide variety of experiences traveling with a group of wonderful people and guides.
The people of New Britain were at all times welcoming, friendly and open in my interactions with them. When I set off on my solo adventures to meet the locals I always felt safe and secure.
I love cultural festivals and the Rabaul mask festival was one of my favourites. The accommodation was so well selected for the event ( 2 minutes walk away) and we were supplied with a lot of water which was essential on such hot days. We were also well looked after and felt like part of the family. This was a really safe festival and provided with some rich insights into life in PNG. Our guides were able to explain anything we asked of them and went out of the way to make sure we enjoyed our time at the festival. It was completely hassle free. The festival itself was spectacular with groups from the surrounding areas taking their time to dance and sing all decorated in their cultural dress – I loved it!
So hard to pick just 3 Highlights !!!
1. Snorkeling with the dophins – this is locked in my memory forever!
2. The home stay at the Duke of York Islands
3. Snorkeling in general which exceeded my expectations.
4. The mask festival.
5. The warmth of our hosts.
6. Returning to the country of my young childhood and remembering things I had long forgotten.
…..Great diving and snorkeling, a trip with a difference, an interest in culture / history, a holiday by the beach, families with adventurous kids, couples that want a chilled atmosphere with some great things to do locally. This trip for me typified what I love most about travel
My personal porters Ezra and Dros were wonderful. They were always by my side – one walking in front of me, and the other behind me. Ezra especially learnt quickly how to read me, and knew which places I would be unsure about, and which places I would be fine. If he put out his hand I knew to take it and step carefully in those places, but if he walked on I knew he knew I would be right. The Track can be very dangerous in places but I always felt safe with Ezra and Dros. It is amazing how sure-footed, strong and fit our personal porters are, as well as kind and caring.
- The SSH Team led by Barnabas took such wonderful care of us. Barnabas is a great historian and it was good to hear him tell the stories of the Track.
- The indescribable beauty of the Track. What an honour it as to walk the Track and experience nature at its finest – the mountains, the rivers, the vallies, the bird calls, the Track itself, as well as the beauty of monuments like Isurava and Brigade Hill. I would get lost in the moment while walking.
- The traditional food, especially the chocko leaves, taro, bananas and kaukau. Organic, healthy and so delicious! It added to the wonderful Track experience.
I highly recommend South Sea Horizons to anyone who wishes to walk the Kokoda Track, and experience it through the eyes of our people. The Track can be dangerous in places but we always felt safe with our porters. They were strong, capable, encouraging, kind and funny. They are like family to us now.
Alan again I thank you for a fantastic tour your knowledge and your passion for Rabaul and islands around it was amazing and your help with my injuries after my fall was very good and the items of interest provided for us on our tour gave us all a wider appreciation of PNG and Rabaul in particular for me you were able me with my personal interest.
Again I can only thank you for every thing you did and I will recommend your tours to my friends
Kindest regards Graeme Brown
We were a group of five from country sa, we used south seas horizon! They were amazing … We were looked after so well, our guides, food porters were fantastic. 1 2 sing… Every night was my favourite, the boys have amazing voices. My personal porter George had my back the whole time… Thanks PNG for an amazing and unforgettable experience. I would recommend Alan and the ssh team for anyone who is considering this trip of a lifetime. Thanks
Trekking with South Sea Horizons on the Kokoda was simply amazing. The local guides and porters are simply amazing. It was great to create a bond with the locals and have them show us their villages and share the Kokoda stories with us. From start to finish they never stopped looking after us all.
Having put myself under this much stress it is overwhelming to hear the historical battles that took place along the track. Banabas has such a sweet nature and hearing him tell us about the Diggers and the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels was heart Warming.
I would recommend South Sea Horizons to anyone wanting to take on the Kokoda but enjoy the an Authentic Papua New Guinea Experience.
I recently did Kokoda through South Sea Horizons. I am incredibly proud that we managed to complete Kokoda to Owers in 5 and 1/2 days. Definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but extremely rewarding, enriching, challenging and humbling. I had to continually overcome my fear of heights on the trek and with the guidance of my porter James and the rest of the South Sea Horizons team I achieved so much more than I could have ever imagined. So happy to have completed Kokoda with such an amazing team.
It was great to see the company we walked with to be PNG owned and run. All our porters were from the village Menari, it was great to see their home and meet some of their family. It was fantastic to see how Kokoda helps support all the villages and families along Kokoda. I will definitely be recommending South Sea Horizons to all my friends and family.
I was fortunate enough to walk to the Kokoda track with some of my family and friends. Dad had all the hard work of organising everything so I just went along for the ride. South Sea Horizons did an amazing job of looking after us. We had wonderful porters who were putting us before themselves. Whenever we needed something they’d get it for us, even if we didn’t need it! We met their families and learnt about the people and the track. They sang to us every night and were always happy and chirpy. I will never forget this experience which was made 10 times better with lovely people. I can’t thank them enough.
I recently completed the Kokoda Track in April this year with my daughter, my two sisters and their daughters and a few other friends. This was my second time with South Seas Horizons. What a professional team! We felt safe at all times and well cared for. Thanks again to Alan, Saii, Barnabus, James Senior and Thomas and their experienced and thoughtful support crew. Yes, I’ll probably be back for a third time.
Thanks again for such a memorable and great adventure, regards Ray
“Everyone needs to do Kokoda at least once in their life; to embrace the interaction with the friendly PNG People and experience their customs and their beautiful Country “