Finding the next big challenge has become a craze in recent years. Discovering ways to bring you closer together with friends, family or coworkers while also understanding your own physical and mental limits; this is the ideal that many have been searching for. One option that has been growing in popularity recently is the Kokoda Track.
The Kokoda Track is situated in the southeastern part of Papua New Guinea and it runs a total of 60 miles from Kokoda Village to Owers Corner. Originally used as a path for European miners in the later part of the 19th century, it was also the location of a bloody World War II campaign between the Japanese army and Australian allied forces. The terrain ranges from rocky peaks to narrow creek bridges with plenty of jungle trails and small villages in between. However, this is only the start of the challenge; scorching hot days and freezing cold nights along with the heavy rainfall and risk of tropical diseases will test your body and your mind. However, with the right conditioning and a highly skilled guide you can conquer this track without any ill effect.
How should I prepare?
The track can take up to twelve days and the trails are not accessible by helicopter or any other type of transportation other than your own feet. It is also quite far from medical facilities, so your number one focus should be your medical well-being. Have a medical checkup to make sure you are in good shape and think about getting a few vaccinations since tropical diseases are always a risk. You should also do some heavy fitness and stamina training since there are many stretches that involve steep inclines. At the least, you should walk or jog every day from one month before your trek. A healthy diet is also recommended.
Beyond your physical health, you must be ready for the solitude that you will be facing on the trek. Make sure to study a map of the terrain and develop a daily regime to keep yourself busy even when you are resting. Studying is also a good way to help you choose the right gear for the trip to minimize discomfort and stress.
Can I make the trek alone?
In the past few years the amount of people walking this track has grown exponentially; unfortunately, the amount of deaths has also grown. To help combat this, the Kokoda Track Authority instituted a permit system to help keep track of travelers. Most trekkers will also advise against going it alone. Even if you hire a local guide or porter, the isolation can be very draining and even the most minor injury can put you in serious danger. For this reason, joining a group trek or using a reputable company is the best route to take.
Once again, the most important thing to look for when choosing a trekking company is the health considerations. Make sure you ask what kind of food and snacks they bring on the trek and how they prepare it. You should also ask what equipment, such as heart defibrillators, and medicines are included in their first aid kits, as well as the guide’s means of communication with the outside world and how much medical training they have. The other key to a good trekking company is how they treat their porters and guides. Ask how much they are paid and other ways they help out the local porters.
The Kokoda Track is a truly challenging and beautiful track that can help you understand yourself and the people around you.