Inspired Adventures’ very own Head of Client Services, Jenny Trigg, recently took on the iconic Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. Spanning 96 kilometres from North to South, the trek takes place over 9 tough days of trekking over rugged jungle terrain, following the path that was taken by Australian soldiers in WWII. Jenny recently sat down to tell us all about her personal experience and what made the trek so special.
Can you describe the terrain of the Kokoda Track?
This is a challenging trek and the terrain really does reflect this. When training for Kokoda you need to prepare for hot and humid terrain (I trained with a lot of jumpers on to help me get use to it). Often the rain begins in the early afternoon; so don’t shy away from training in the rain.
Across the 9 trekking days, there was around 2 hours of flat trekking. The rest was steep ups or downs that often lasted for hours at a time! In saying that, the trek is visually stunning, which helps to keep you motivated on those never-ending hills.
With all of those hills, two trekking poles are essential! I couldn’t imagine undertaking this trek without poles to help my balance and to protect my knees when going down hill.
My favourite aspect of the terrain was the river crossings on the final few days of the trek. It was so refreshing to put on your river sandals and trek through the water. Putting your boots back on with wet feet was not so fun!
I’m genuinely not sure if I would have been able to complete the trek without hiring a personal porter. In our team of 27, 23 had a porter. The porter is there to ensure you a safe passage across the track and to carry the majority of your gear. On the downhills, my porter was always holding my backpack to make sure I didn’t fall over and must have saved me hundreds of times – and missed me 3 times!
What are some of your favourite highlights from the adventure?
I was a big fan of the river crossings. On day 8 of trekking you put on your river shoes and walk through about 5 rivers. It was a nice change to the other terrain.
But I think the main highlight is reaching the end. Trekking the Kokoda Trail is a life-long goal for so many Australians and it’s incredibly emotional when you make it to the archways at the end of the track knowing it’s all over. For me, personally, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years, so knowing I’d achieved this goal that I trained so much for was a really incredible feeling.
What did you find most challenging about the trek?
I think preparing for the trek was the biggest challenge. You often hear how difficult it is that it’s hard to know if you’re ready. At the end of the day you just need to trust that you’ve done enough physical training and that you’re mentally prepared for it.
Each day had different challenges. The second day involved a steep, two-hour climb, which was a big shock to the system as it’s early on in the adventure and you’re still getting use to the heat and humidity.
The 4:30am wake-up calls were also pretty challenging!
Anything you packed (or didn’t pack) that others may find useful?
The packing list for the challenge is really comprehensive, so if you follow that you’ll be in good shape!
The one thing I wish I brought was spray deodorant. After a few days everything starts to smell and it would have been nice to freshen up the tent at night.
You really only need three sets of clothing – trekking clothing, evening clothes and something to sleep in. Anything more is unnecessary. In saying that, I did take fresh socks and underwear each day.
TIP: The only way to dry your clothing is with your body heat. So if you’re washing your clothes get ready to put them on wet – they then dry pretty quickly once you’re wearing them.
What was the weather like?
Each day was pretty standard. Hot in the morning and rain from around 2pm. We were lucky and had a few dry days, but sometimes it’s nice to have the rain to cool you down – it makes everything very slippery though!
Because of the weather you do start trekking early each day – 6am was the standard time to start the day’s trek. This is so that you’re (usually) at camp for the afternoon rainfall.
In saying this, some of the time it rained all day and you just had to go with it and enjoy being soaked. A lot of the team – including myself – put on their raincoats, but took them off within a few minutes of walking because it felt like you became a personal steam room.
Can you use your phone while trekking the Kokoda Track?
It’s best to go in with the expectation of not being able to use your phone. On the top of a mountain, if the sky was clear, you may get signal, but it’s unpredictable.
Most of the team was able to get a text message a couple of times, but don’t rely on it.
What are the toilets like? Any hygiene tips?
The toilets were better than I expected, but my expectations were very low! Typically it would be a drop toilet with a western style seat.
Tips: Take a couple of small bottles of hand sanitiser – you’ll go through them!
Put some toilet paper into a zip lock bag so you don’t have it sit the roll on the ground. Some team members put the toilet paper on a shoelace around their neck, but I preferred the zip lock option.
In all honestly, the toilets are not great, but you get use to them pretty quickly.
Any surprises from what you expected?
Did you spot any wildlife?
Not at all! Unlike other jungle treks like Sumatra and Borneo, the Kokoda track doesn’t have a lot of animals. You see quite a few PNG ‘Dingos’ but that’s it really.
What advice can you provide for other people interested in taking on a trek like this?
Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!