Kokoda Track

Kokoda Track

The following is general information on the destination of your expedition. It will include such things as trip extensions, accommodation, history, ecology and more.

HOW WE OPERATE

Our No Roads operations in Papua reflect our deep belief in treating all people well (both workers and clients) and treating the environment well too. We work directly with the Koiari land owners along the Track, treating the porters and guides we employ with the respect they deserve. They are well paid, well fed and well equipped and this transfers into the happiest work team you will see on the Track. We supply our clients with great food, excellent service and an intimate knowledge of the Track. The environment is protected by our environment policy of taking all rubbish (including other operators rubbish) off the Track, preventing degradation of the environment with smaller than average size groups and not washing with soap or cleaning dishes in the river systems. We provide shower tents and washing sinks that are kept well away from water courses. We have an operations team on the ground in-country in Papua and all this combined, makes the No Roads Kokoda Expedition the best on the Track bar none.

TRACK OR TRAIL

There has been considerable debate about whether the difficult path that crossed the Owen Stanley Range should be called the "Kokoda Trail" or the "Kokoda Track". Both "Trail" and "Track" have been in common use since the war. "Trail" is probably of American origin but has been used in many Australian history books and was adopted by the Australian Army as an official "Battle Honour". "Track" is from the language of the Australian bush. It is commonly used by veterans and is used in the volumes of Australia's official history. Both terms are correct, but "Trail" appears to be used more widely.

KOKODA HISTORY

The Kokoda Trail was a path that linked Ower's Corner, approximately 40 km north-east of Port Moresby, and the small village of Wairopi, on the northern side of the Owen Stanley mountain range. From Wairopi, a crossing point on the Kumusi River, the Trail was connected to the settlements of Buna, Gona and Sanananda on the north coast. Its name was derived from the village of Kokoda that stood on the southern side of the main range and was the site of the only airfield between Port Moresby and the north coast.

Having had their initial effort to capture Port Moresby by a seaborne landing disrupted by the battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese saw the Kokoda Trail as a means by which to advance on it overland. Troops of the South Seas Detachment began landing at Gona on 21 July 1942, intending initially just to test the feasibility of the Kokoda Trail as a route of advance, but a full-scale offensive soon developed. The first fighting occurred between elements of the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion at Awala on 23 July. Although steadily reinforced by the battalions of 30th and 21st Brigades, the Australian force was unable to hold back the Japanese. It was poorly equipped, had not yet developed effective jungle warfare tactics, and was fighting at the end of a very long and difficult supply line. A number of desperate delaying actions were fought as the Australians withdrew along the Trail. They finally stopped on 17 September at Imita Ridge, the last natural obstacle along the Trail, a mere 8 km from the junction with the road to Port Moresby. The Japanese held the opposite ridge, 6 km distant at Ioribaiwa.

The tactical situation however, had now swung in favour of the Australians. Their artillery at Ower's Corner was now in range and their supplies could be trucked most of the way forward; whereas Japanese supplies had to be carried all the way from the north coast. As a result of severe losses suffered by the Japanese on Guadalcanal following the American's landing there, the South Seas Detachment was ordered to withdraw to the north coast of Papua and establish a defensive position there. Australian troops of the 25th Brigade began to edge forward from Imita Ridge on 23 September; the Japanese withdrew from Ioribaiwa the next day. In the course of their retreat, the Japanese fought delaying actions every bit as determined as those of the Australians. Several difficult and costly battles were fought before the 16th and 25th Brigades crossed the Kumusi at Wairopi in mid-November, heading for even more bitter fighting around the Japanese beachheads at Gona, Buna and Sanananda.

The Kokoda Trail fighting was some of the most desperate and vicious encountered by Australian troops in the Second World War. Although the successful capture of Port Moresby was never going to be precursor to an invasion of Australia, victory on the Kokoda Trail did ensure that Allied bases in northern Australia, vital in the coming counter-offensive against the Japanese, would not be seriously threatened by air attack. Approximately 625 Australians were killed along the Kokoda Trail and over 1,600 were wounded. Casualties due to sickness exceeded 4,000.

"Kokoda Trail" and "Kokoda Track" have been used interchangeably since the Second World War and the former was adopted by the Battles Nomenclature Committee as the official British Commonwealth battle honour in October 1957.

PREDEPARTURE INFORMATION
 
Once your expedition is confirmed, we will send you detailed Pre Departure Information which includes a list of recommended clothing and personal equipment, along with other relevant information to help you prepare for your trip.

INFORMATION AND SUPPORT

If you have any comments, questions or want more information, please let us know. We are here to support you with information to help you prepare for your travels in PNG.

WHAT DO OUR KOKODA EXPEDITIONS INCLUDE?

SERVICES OF AN EXPERIENCED AUSTRALIAN AND LOCAL GUIDE

Our lead guides are both an Australian and a local and they form one of the most experienced Kokoda teams in PNG. All our trek guides have been carefully selected for their ability and temperament. Each guide has training and proven abilities in eco-friendly methods, safety and careful trek operations, keeping the health and happiness of the trekkers as well as his crew, uppermost. Our guides are committed to making sure that all our trekkers have an enjoyable trek, come back safe and are overwhelmed by their experience. Your guide will be a friend and companion, who takes pleasure in showing you his country's specialties and perhaps, meet his home and family too.

The Australian guide is trained in first aid and has experienced the Kokoda Track before.  He/She will liaise with the porter team and make your trek as comfortable as possible. The guide will liaise with the trekking group prior to departure and at the trek briefing in country.

SERVICES OF PORTERS TO CARRY LUGGAGE AND EQUIPMENT

Wherever possible, we employ porters from all along the Track. We deal directly with the Koiari land owners and we are thus committed to employing the youth from villages deep along the Track. This places income back into the villages and keeps the youth away from Port Moresby. These porters have intimate knowledge of the environment and are a great source of information. Porters who prove themselves are chosen for training as trek helpers, cooks and guides, thus giving them an avenue to improve the quality of their life.

You can employ a Personal Porter who will carry your backpack for you and look after you along the Track. You will need to provide the backpack for the porter or  hire a pack directly from us for $70.

The cost for a personal porter is $720. This fee includes their wage, food and flight to and from Kokoda. This is a very good option for people who wish to enjoy themselves that little bit more.

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation includes 2 nights hotel accommodation in Port Moresby and all accommodation on the Track. On both Australian Led and Locally Led trips, we use the Holiday Inn, one of the best hotels in Port Moresby.

Accommodation on the Track is either in two man tents or in guest houses. While many of our expeditions use tents to accommodate clients, our other forms of accommodation - hotels and guest houses are always clean and comfortable. The process of eco-friendly lodgings is a slow one, however No Roads encourages those establishments that recycle and obtain power through wind or the sun. We try to use these places as much as possible.

ALL MEALS WHILE ON EXPEDITION

Another feature of this expedition is that we try to maximise the economic benefits from your presence to the village people living along the Track. Some trekking groups fly in all their own guides, food and equipment and contribute very little to the micro-economy of the local villages.


As an ecotourism company, we are always looking for ways to maximise the benefits of tourism to the people living in the local area. Our tours use experienced guides and porters recruited from all along the Track and much of the food you will eat along the way is supplied by village people en route. This not only gives the villagers a market for their vegetable crops but gives you a wonderful opportunity to try out local foods. Food purchased locally includes pineapple, bananas, potatoes and pumpkins as well as eggs.

Our food is one of the biggest differences between us and other operators.  We do not get you to carry the food and we do not supply baked beans and 2 minute noodles for every meal. We cook up curries, vegetarian pastas, damper, prawn crackers, fried rice and the list goes on. We get you to help prepare it with the porters so that you can engage them in conversation and build a bond otherwise not obtained.

Camp breakfast is billy tea/milo/coffee with damper and Porridge, Weetbix or Corn Flakes with powdered milk. We may also have a selection of locally grown fruits. Camp lunch is noodles, cuppa soups, biscuits , tuna and cheese.

We also provide you with 9 days of electrolyte replacement to replace fluids and essential electrolytes. This process helps prevent muscle seizures and cramps.

Finally, we provide you with 9 days of snacks that will help you from meal to meal.  These consist of muesli bars, lollies, soups and fruit/nut mix.

TREKKING PERMITS

All trekking permits, National Park and Conservation Fees are included.

WATER

Drinking water along the Kokoda Track is collected from a variety of water sources. Some of the creeks you pass through may be crystal-clear, free flowing and safe to drink from. Your guide will know which is which. Some villages have good drinkable water supplies recently installed by AusAID-funded projects. 

Note: However, no matter how safe the water may be, we insist that all trekkers use either water purification tablets (iodine) which you can purchase from most chemists, camping or army disposals stores or use a Steri Pen.

Village guest houses will supply cooled boiled water for drinking, on request. If you get stuck at a camping site where there is no clean water available, you can boil water on your campfire and cool it in your water container for the next day or add water purification tablets. In the drier months of August to October, small creeks disappear so we suggest 2.5 litre camel backs so that you will have plenty of water on you.

We are the only company that discourages washing in rivers with soap. Even biodegradable soap pollutes. We provide a portable shower tent that is erected away from rivers and streams.  If you wish to wash with soap, we provide the liquid soap and the shower tent so you don't need to think about a thing. If you want a hot shower this can be arranged for 10 Kina with all raised money going to the Porters who need to fetch the water and boil it for you.

SAFETY

The Kokoda Track is no picnic and there is every possibility that you may suffer a form of injury during your trek.

Your guide will brief you on preventive safety and your porters will support and assist you with traversing difficult parts of the walk, but no matter how experienced a hiker you are, there is always a chance you will slip on a mossy rock or one of the hundreds of exposed buttress roots that cross the Track.

You may also suffer a gastric reaction to something you eat or drink. If you fall ill or have an accident while on the Kokoda Track, we have a contingency plan in place. An emergency radio and satellite phone is carried by your guide which can be used to call for help and it is our company policy that all trekkers must have comprehensive travel insurance that includes medivac service (this is available on our website). 

We recommend that you have a medical check-up with your doctor before leaving home to confirm that you are in fit condition to undertake this strenuous walk. If you suffer an accident or you fall so ill that you need to be evacuated, we will contact your medical insurer who will then coordinate the assistance you require. A medical doctor will first have to talk to you over the radio to confirm that you need to be evacuated and then if you are able to walk to the nearest airstrip, your insurer will organise a chartered aircraft to fly in to pick you up. If you are unable to walk any further, you will be carried to the nearest airstrip and flown out from there or picked up by helicopter from your current position. You will then be flown to Port Moresby initially and onwards to Cairns or Townsville if your condition dictates.

No Roads is the only operator that has a River Rescue policy. Several river crossings (especially in the wet) can be very dangerous and if one falls in, it could be fatal. Our procedures ensure that if you do fall in, you will be rescued as promptly as possible.

In writing this, we have a 99% trekker completion rate so far.

EXPEDITION GRADE (EXPEDITION DIFFICULTY)

GRADE 1 - EASY

Very little walking involved and when there is, it is usually for a short distance.

GRADE 2 - MODERATE

Moderate trekking 900m/3,000ft. and 2,000m/10,000ft. but possibly involving side trips to higher elevations.

GRADE 3 - DIFFICULT

Reasonably demanding trekking at altitudes up to 4,000m/13,000ft. Some expeditions included here will, in part, be well away from villages on ill- defined mountain trails.

GRADE 4 - STRENUOUS

Expeditions of a demanding nature, requiring all participants to be fit and in excellent health, often in remote alpine areas and sometimes reaching altitudes in excess of 5000m/18,000ft.

ALPINE
Extremely demanding treks, sometimes in very remote areas on rough terrain and perhaps including (in Nepal) one or more of the so called 'trekking peaks' - maximum altitude, Mt. Mera, at 6,461m/21,192ft. Participants should have at least a basic knowledge of use of crampons and ice axes, though first time climbers may be accepted on some of the so called 'easy' routes on these peaks. Medical certificates are required prior to acceptance on any climbing treks.

BOOKINGS

If you would like to discuss this or any other matter with us please feel free to call us on (03) 9598 8581 or email us at info@noroads.com.au

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