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Follow in the footsteps of history on this classic traverse of Papua New Guinea
For most the Kokoda Track is a fitting reminder of the Australian Army's heroic battles fought in 1942, to defend Port Moresby at extraordinary odds from the advancing forces of the Japanese. These historic encounters on the Owen Stanley Ranges ensure that the Kokoda Track remains a classic. In the company of our expert guide we trek across the geographical heart of PNG following trails from the tropical rainforests to the rarified climes of the ranges. At night we stay in secluded jungle camps and share experiences with the traditional villagers in some of the most remote regions of PNG. It takes ten days to cover the 96km trail - offering tremendous rewards and a feeling of accomplishment as we complete the final stages from the highlands to the township of Kokoda.
- Walk the historic Kokoda Track
- 10 full walking days to offer sensible acclimatisation
- Experience local village life and culture
- Develop an accurate insight into the history of the trail through your experienced guide
- Visit the historic villages of Gona and Buna on the north coast
Day 1 Arrive Port Moresby
If you are arriving on Day 1 of the trip you will be met and taken to your hotel for pre-trek preparation. Afterwards a 'meet the crew' function and trek briefing by your leader will be held. NOTE: You must arrive in Port Moresby no later than 14:00hrs. If you cannot arrange a flight to arrive before this time, please ask us for details of transfers and pre-tour accommodation (additional cost applies) so that you can arrive the day before.
Day 2 Drive to Owers' Corner and trek to Basil's Camp
Today we travel by road from Port Moresby into the mountains and Sogeri, where there is a white stone monument marking the beginning of the Kokoda Track. We then continue to Owers' Corner allowing time to take photographs enroute, and enjoy the surrounding scenery. We also take time to visit the Bomana War Cemetery where over 3000 Australians have been buried. During the war, the road from Port Moresby was only accessible by motorised vehicles up to Owers corner. We will start along the Kokoda Track and cross the Goldie River past the abandoned village of Uberi. Our first night's camp is in primary jungle at the foot of the 'Golden Stairs' to Imita Ridge.
Day 3 Trek from Basil's Camp to Ua Ule Creek
The first full day of the trail walk includes the ascent up the Golden Stairs over the top of Imita Ridge. Although this is not the steepest or the highest of the mountain ranges, it will give you an indication of things to come. Our walk today ends at the jungle camp on the track beside Ua Ule Creek located on the (roughly) level ground of an old wartime campsite in the heart of thick rain forest.
Day 4 Trek to Ofi Creek
We have an early start today as we leave Ua Ule and walk the track to arrive at our mid afternoon destination of Ofi Creek, another jungle camp. During the day's walk the trail climbs the Ioribaiwa Ridge, winding through two village sites, one of which is abandoned. This is the most southerly point the main Japanese Force reached, within earshot of aircraft taking off and landing at their target - Port Moresby - less than 20 air miles away. Relics of the fighting are often found near the track. We inspect the concealment efforts of the Japanese to protect their small artillery piece on the ridge. The top of ridge has extensive Japanese trench systems, plus defensive weapons pits left by the Australians. (Overnight in tents or basic rest hut/ shelter)
Day 5 Trek to Naoro Village
Our journey takes us across the Kokoda Track up and over the Maguli Range then down to the village of Naoro, the first village where we overnight. On the way up the Maguli, there is a concealed Japanese trench system through which the walker can be guided. We utilize a basic village rest hut/shelter for tonight, or you may choose to camp on the open grass areas adjacent to the village. There might be an opportunity to buy fresh vegetables and fruit from the local people.
Day 6 Trek to Menari Village
From Naoro Village, we cross the Brown River, after about an hours walk through swamp and marshy ground. It's mostly level to the river with the more difficult sections spanned by log bridges and causeways. There is a steep climb shortly after the Brown River that brings us to a crest with views down to Menari Village - our overnight stop. It is a steep decent followed by an amble through the village to our simple style rest hut/shelter or we can also set up our tents. Local fruit and vegetables are usually purchased here to supplement the food supplies carried. As with all villages along the track, travellers are well accepted by the 'locals'. In fact, village people will often be eager to talk to visitors and are keen to hear about their lives and families in Australia and elsewhere. In exchange much can be learnt from the villagers about their lifestyles and interests, as many have a working knowledge of English. One of the guides is always there to assist should communicating be a problem. Your own photos of home, family or even (dare we say it) work – will be of immense interest to folk who have limited ideas of the world we come from. By now, an easy routine has been established on arrival at the day's end of the journey. Drop the pack at the campsite, collect clean clothing from the pack and head off for a welcome bathe and swim in the nearby creek. While group members are away freshening up, the guides and group leader set up the cooking arrangements, arrange purchase of fruit and vegetables (depending on availability) and negotiate accommodation for the night in the village. By the time the main part of the group have returned, things are organised and dinner is being prepared. There is time to explore the village, meet local people and photograph whatever catches your eye. Remember, you can never take too much film (or digital batteries); there is just so much to record! Dinner follows, usually just before the tropical night falls, with every one gathered to exchange experiences of the day and hear what is to come. After dinner the fire becomes the focal point and while the guides and carriers clean up, walkers exchange stories of the day's encounters. Each day will bring a sense of personal achievement which is a good last thought before sleep.
Day 7 Trek to Efogi Village
From Menari the next major climb is up Brigade Hill. Along the track occasional weapon pits mark 'stay behind' positions of both Japanese and Australian Forces as each retreated before the other. Brigade Hill was also nicknamed 'Butchers Hill' by the Australian soldiers due to the number killed, on both sides, during the Australians' fighting withdrawal. There are remarkable views back to Menari as the trail approaches the crest of Brigade Hill and there are even more spectacular panoramic views on the northerly side of the mountain of villages spread out below. Efogi Village is the major settlement along the Track, with an airstrip and a first aid post. Efogi is the halfway mark and the altitude we have ascended to becomes apparent in the rapid cooling of the evening after nightfall. A light jacket and light trousers are recommended; now you know why they were on the kit list of things to bring! Food and supplies which were prepared and purchased in Port Moresby are flown in as on an ‘airdrop’ and are awaiting the group's arrival. It is here all members of the party 'top up' with food and have their warmer gear delivered from Port Moresby. Remember though what you have flown in you must carry out yourself! Overnight in rest hut/ shelter or tent.
Day 8 Trek to Digger's Camp (near Myola)
Our journey is a day of steep ups and downs. We start by walking up to Efogi Village No. 2, down to a powerful creek, then up to Naduri Village and onwards up and over the shoulder of Tovolo Ridge, leading in to the Myola Lakes area. There are spectacular views back to Kagi and Efogi as the track winds up to the ridge top. We pass some vegetable gardens where the plots are fenced with logs laid parallel to each other in long zig zags, with crude stiles for walkers to clamber over when the track meets the fences. The fences are to keep wild pigs out of the crops. Without the vegetables grown in these gardens the villagers would starve, so the prodigious effort in felling, trimming and dragging the logs to form a 1.5 metre high fence line is a matter of survival. The change in vegetation is remarkable, with moss forest (sub montaine) featuring from near the top of the ridge and onwards to camp. Beautiful country, but often quiet and even peaceful with cloud and mist. “Stay behind” pits are scattered along the track, the larger (3 man size) indicating the position of a machine gun. Engagement ranges vary from 3-4 metres out to 50-60 metres. Very close combat indeed! We are nearly as high as Mt Kosciusko and camp this night is in the moss forest jungle some three hours climb below the the highest part of the Track. An eerie place, where boots make no sound as you progress along the Track which is now enclosed with trees and vines festooned with moss. The moss hangs in streamers from dead and living trees with little sunlight to pierce the gloom. Until the war, this was a taboo place and avoided by all. The campsite tonight is crowded in by rain forest with numerous gigantic pandanus trees, and insect noises (the soldiers called them “six o’clock crickets”) on nightfall so loud they drown conversation. The stream which adjoins the camp is so cold it is a marvel it flows at all! Once you stop walking the cold of the altitude is apparent. Humidity is still high which, accompanied by cloud and mist, means there is often a continuous patter on the leaves of falling droplets of condensation. The carriers will keep a fire going all night to combat the cold in their lines. Tonight we stay in our jungle camp although there is a rest hut/ shelter as well if available.
Day 9 Trek to Templeton's Crossing
For those who wish to walk into the war time air drop zone at Myola, it is possible in the morning to secure the packs and walk in and out over about two hours. Most people opt to continue straight on! Myola is an old dry volcanic lake bed where stores and ammunition were dropped from cargo aircraft to supply the Australians. There is a remarkable transition at Myola from jungle and moss forest into a wide open space some 1.5kms x 1 km in size; the change from dense vegetation to an open grassed area occurs in less than a dozen paces! From the night's camp we start upward to the shoulder of Mt Bellamy. Nearby is a vantage point called 'Kokoda Gap' with clear views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Kokoda Gap and Kagi Gap localities are used by aircraft travelling north of Port Moresby as a lower part of the Owen Stanley Range and they can be heard droning overhead several times during the day. What takes nine or ten days for those walking the Kokoda Track, a passenger aircraft can complete in 35 minutes! The descent from the Kokoda Gap lookout is steep initially, but eases some 350 metres down the track to a more steady descent to Iora Creek at Templeton's Crossing No. 1. The area is dotted with weapon pits. Major delaying actions were fought here; Japanese positions on the north side and Australian positions to the south side of Iora Creek. As we have found, most of those who travel the track have very little, if any, accurate knowledge of the true position of battle sites or even a good knowledge of events which happened during the campaign. They plod past areas unaware of relics, remains and earthworks hidden 3 or 4 metres off to their sides. They miss a great deal as a result. On our trip we aim to give you an accurate insight into the history of the trail and it is our expert staff who provide this link. Bridging the creek is usually a temporary span made of timber bundled together and the traveller crosses carefully, with dry feet - for a change. If no “ bridge” is there, then it is back to sandals and ropes and helpful carriers! The dry feet don't last long anyway as from here to Templeton's Crossing No. 2, the muddy track parallels (generally) Iora Creek, but it is intersected with innumerable small creeks flowing across the track, often along it for a short distance, until cascading down into the main creek, Iora. The main creek swells with these tributaries and, when Templeton's Crossing No. 2 is reached, it is a roaring, foaming torrent. The noise is constant, amplified by the deep, sharp sided valley walls early in the day, leaving the valley floor (where the camp site is) in afternoon shadow. A series of areas were levelled here during the campaign for the construction of store huts, medical post, kitchen (haus kook) and other native built buildings. The areas are overgrown and the buildings long gone, but the level sites stand out from the natural roughness of the terrain. Digging exploration on a number of trips has turned up a wide variety of relics, ranging from expended and live ammunition of all calibres, Australian and Japanese (including live 36 pattern hand grenades) to personal equipment such as an Australian Army boot - still preserved in the soil covering it - webbing buckles, water bottles; also telephone equipment and numerous other items. Often late afternoon mist creeps up the valley enclosing the already dark camp area giving the place an atmosphere of its own, which is not surprising with the memories this place must hold.
Day 10 Trek to Alola Village
An easy start today as the track takes us over small ups and downs as we roughly follow Iora Creek. After about one and a half hours the track begins to steadily climb and near the crest more and more weapon pits become visible. As the track descends from here it becomes apparent you are clearly passing through a major defensive position. The track drops suddenly, almost vertically, to the abandoned Iora Creek Village site. This is a small level area with an open, iron-roofed small shelter marking the site of the one time village centre. This too, was a major staging centre for carrier-borne transport across the track. Beetling overhead is a massive hill which overlooks the whole area. A Japanese defence system here, halted the returning Australians in their tracks for some two weeks, before they overcame the tenacious defence of the Japanese. Another near-to-vertical descent and a river crossing brings us to a boulder-mounted memorial plaque erected post war by the Australians in memory of their dead. Three and a half hours further on lies Alola Village. The track meanders mostly along the contour line of the ranges until a sudden drop, about half an hour before Alola Village. With the usual bush bridging (we make our own if the earlier efforts have been washed away) it’s across the river then up into Alola Village. The rest house at Alola is rustic, but will keep your dry if you choose not to pitch your tent. The view is fantastic. Similarly, the wash point nearby has spectacular views, including down toward Kokoda. The locals are friendly folk and often we can buy supplementary vegetables and fruit. We are literally up in the clouds here and often Alola is 'clouded in' with a fog like veil. However, it clears in a few hours and the panoramic view returns.
Day 11 Trek to Kokoda and transfer to Popondetta
A long day as the track unwinds into a long one, but it is nearly all downhill. An early start takes us to Isurava, the location of which has been described as one of the least known but most significant battles of the South West Pacific War. A greatly outnumbered, mixed force of Australians, held a vastly greater number of Japanese for some days, breaking up their important timetable and commencing the attrition toward the final destruction of the Japanese units. The original site of Isurava Village is cleared, with the Australian funded and designed Isurava Memorial in place. It is a place of memories and well worth the pause in trekking we take there to read and reflect. The villagers moved out of that locality a decade ago suspecting sorcery over some events. The new Isurava Village is about three quarters of an hour from the old site and is a well set out location with small hedges and flower gardens amongst the huts. Our descent continues, crossing numerous streams and open spaces where the ground and trees are blanketed by leafy vines. Occasionally the open spaces coincide with the sides of the valleys and expansive views are offered of the lower countryside toward the coast. Suddenly, a few paces and you step out onto a bare ridge line with the village of Hoi off to the side in the distance. Children from the village shout greetings, and run to gather around the walkers. From here, it's a fast walk on near-level terrain, along a wide well-kept track, to the larger village of Kokoda. An hour from Kokoda the track becomes a rough road, and twenty minutes out power lines appear. Village folk using the same road become more frequent, responding to greetings with wide smiles - they know you have come over the hard way and respect you for it! Finally, Kokoda. You have walked the Kokoda Track and the sense of personal achievement will grow, along with appreciation of the endeavours and suffering of those before you. You have truly walked in their footsteps. Kokoda was defended by the Australians on a tongue-like plateau that overlooks the land below. On this plateau are a number of memorials and a small museum. There is time to now relax, take photos and reflect on the experiences at this place. Road transport soon arrives - packs, people and reminders of this part of the trek are loaded and we travel down to Popondetta over a rough stone road for some two hours. On arrival you are received at the Comfort Inn, a clean but basic hotel, with long awaited hot showers and beds with mattresses. The staff are hospitable and friendly - seemingly more so to Kokoda Track walkers, who are regarded locally as somewhat above the business people or the rare tourist who visits in their ability and desire to 'fit in' with the country and village people as indicated by a willingness to walk in the 'hard way'. Popondetta provides the first opportunity since Port Moresby to ring home and change from our ‘bush clothing’.
Day 12 Trip to Gona and Buna
This morning we see the local sights and travel by vehicle, on a rough (dry weather only) road from Popondetta to Gona (1 hour each way). After clearing the rooms, our packs are left in storage, but we take our cameras, hats and water bottles, and clamber into 4WD vehicles. Gona was the scene of bitter fighting at the closing of the campaign. The Australians lost many men, some of those being Middle East and Kokoda veterans. We can have a “lukabout” from Gona (subject to tides) along the beach to the Basabua area, about 3km from Gona. Here the first invasion waves of Japanese landed in July 1942. The village is a peaceful place of four buildings on the sea shore, dominated by a large white wooden cross. All areas around here are rarely visited by “tourists”. Visitors have a strong “novelty” appeal, especially to the local children! We return to Popondetta and purchase lunch. Luggage is collected and loaded for the afternoon’s tour down to Buna (1.5 hours each way); departing on 4WD vehicles again as they are often the only way of accessing Buna Village. We travel initially on bitumen, then turn off onto the now familiar bush roads. Travel is through oil palm plantations to begin with, then coastal rain forest, interspersed with small rural villages. A number of sites of interest are taken in along the way. The welcome at Buna is an experience, along with the ingenious use of basic construction material, and the organisation of the village style accommodation for the guest house. It is a peaceful, quiet setting and here the coastal lifestyles of the local people are quite different to those in the high country along the Track. Dinner is of a local style, with much local produce used.
Day 13 Early drive to Popondetta and fly to Port Moresby
This morning we have a pre dawn start as our 4WD vehicles transfer us directly to Popondetta Airport. We fly back to Port Moresby and on arrival we are met and transferred to our group hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. The 'End of Trek' optional function is a welcome celebration!
Day 14 Depart Port Moresby
After breakfast, if you leave Papua New Guinea today, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Your journey draws to a close as you reflect on the sights and experiences that will remain a part of your memories forever.
- 13 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 10 dinners
- airport transfers on day 1 & day 14 only
- expert western trek leader
- expedition crew
- all group camping and cooking equipment
- emergency medical kit
- accommodation on a share basis in rest huts when in villages
- hotel accommodation in Port Moresby and local guesthouse in Popondetta, twin share
- private transportation (excluding internal flight Popondetta to Port Moresby)
- development fund contribution for local communities
- track fees
- Emergency Radio communication equipment, satellite phone
- 14 day trip
- 10 day trek with a full pack
- 9 nights camping
- 4 nights hotel
Group Size Min
Group Size Max
Specialist gear required include comfortable walking boots, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tent or shelter for jungle camps and a rucksack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).
What You Carry
Participants are expected to carry their own personal belongings including sleeping bag, fly sheet or tent, maximum of six days food, water, as well as a change of clothes etc. This should not exceed 15 kgs and must be carried in a rucksack of min 75 litres. A porter or local carrier can be hired at an additional charge, in which case participants carry a day pack (minimum 40L) only. Please ask our staff for more details.