Known as one of the most gruelling multi-day treks in the world, hiking the Kokoda Track is a once in a lifetime experience, worn as a badge of honour to those that complete it.
The hike is single file through 96km of muddy, undulating terrain in Papua New Guinea (PNG), exploring some of the harshest environments that Australian soldiers ever fought in. You’ll hike across 9 days, persevering through 6000m of elevation in the humid jungle climate, and experience the beauty and history of the staggering Owen Stanley ranges. The ‘Four Pillars of Kokoda’ - “Mateship, Sacrifice, Courage and Endurance'' celebrate the Australian and Papuan people in 1942, and that notion still inspires thousands from all over the world to make the pilgrimage and honour the soldiers and wonderful people who live there today.
Where is Kokoda?
The beautiful island of Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbour, and unknown to many, houses some of the most remote and untouched rural landscapes in the world. The vibrant colours, tropical traditions and diverse wildlife make the country an obvious vacation spot, but the country’s rich history in World War 2 (WW2) and connection to Australia is what makes the Kokoda Track so significant.
Only an hour and a half flight from Cairns, Port Moresby, PNG’s capital city, is where your journey begins. You’ll then fly to the town of Kokoda, where a 96m track cuts halfway across the jungle and spectacular mountain ranges. The incredible track starts from there, as you head south towards Owers Corner and through every extreme that the lush rainforest has to offer.
Why is Kokoda so famous?
The track gained infamy as an incredibly tough fought battle between the Japanese and the allied forces in WW2. In an attempt to take Port Moresby, the Japanese soldiers travelled South towards the town of Kokoda, the only town with an airstrip. Meanwhile the Australian soldiers and Papuan people travelled North, as a last line of defence, single file and through the monsoon rains. The fighting lasted over 5 months in 1942 and left many casualties, ultimately driving the Japanese soldiers out, and preserving the last line of defence between them and the Australian mainland.
What happens on the adventure?
On this inspiring adventure, you will trek the track by day, open to the unforgiving and inspiring beauty of Papua New Guinea’s tropical rainforest. As night falls, you will rest in isolated camps, swapping stories with local Koiari and Orokaiva people and falling asleep to the nocturnal sounds of the jungle.
On day 2 of your trek, you’ll travel 8.5km to the town of Hoi. After exploring the War Memorial and battleground, we continue onto another campsite. Breathtakingly beautiful landscapes frame every step, as you hike over 10km a day for days 3, 4 and 5, before our rest day in Nanduri Village. A culturally enriching experience of village life, provides some well deserved physical rest and a great chance to wash clothes in the river and learn from the locals who call this dense jungle home.
13 km on day 7 takes us to our halfway point, and the summit of our climb. A small ceremony pays tribute to the memory and bravery of the soldiers who fought here, and we begin the descent down to Menari village. Your final two days of trekking take you through varying terrain, from swampy flatlands and creeks to the steep ascent of the Maguli Range, and with Port Moresby in sight, you’ll sleep your final night amongst the trees and star-filled sky. Upon completion of the trek, you’ll undoubtably be filled with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment at what you, as an individual, and as a team have achieved.
What’s the best time of year to trek Kokoda?
The best time to trek Kokoda is in April-May and September-November. These months are the most temperate part of the year in PNG, avoiding the cold of winter, and the blazing sun in the summer. From December to March, the rainfall is torrential and is the highest of the year, so we avoid those months too and try to keep your shoes dry as long as possible!
Preparing for Kokoda?
As soon as you decide that Kokoda is on your bucket list, it is the perfect time to begin preparations! There is no better day than today to start training, and getting your body physically ready, not only makes the adventure more enjoyable, it also helps to prevent any little injuries from occurring.
Shoes can make or break a hike, so choose wisely! You’ll want rugged and water-resistant shoes, and to have broken them in with as many 10km+ walks that you can fit in the months leading up to Kokoda. Making sure prolonged wear doesn’t cause any spots of irritation on your feet and ankles is key. For socks, a thin pair of merino wool will do the trick, keeping your feet cool and blister-free.
When packing, think light and water resistant. Your big suitcase will be housed in Port Moresby when you first arrive, and then you’ll need to narrow down the essentials into your day pack. A backpack (with hip straps), up to about 55L in size from any of the major hiking brands will be perfect. Keeping it under 10kgs, for the porters or yourself, will make all the difference. You will get wet, so zip lock or dry bags for any electronics, and if you can, your clothing. Aim for a change of socks and underwear once a day, and bring quick-drying (or sweat-wicking) shirts and pants. You will have opportunities to wash your clothes each night, and knowing that they will dry quickly overnight will help you rest easy!
To prepare for the terrain and conditions, find some local nature hikes with hills and slopes. Plan a big hike, and then follow it up the next day with a smaller one. You will be hiking back to back in Kokoda, and having your body used to working multiple days in a row will be helpful.
Take comfort in the fact that there have been participants from 8 to 80 years old, and your mental strength and willpower play just as big of a part in getting you to the finish line.
Need more info?
You can check out the entire Kokoda Track itinerary on our website. Alternatively, if you’ve got any questions about this challenge or would like to sign up for one, you can call us on 1300 905 188.
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