Hiking through History: the Kokoda Trail
Often called a pilgrimage for any Australian history buff, the Kokoda trail is an iconic and awe inspiring journey. Those who hike it say it is life changing, empowering and humbling.
The hike itself is 96 kilometres through the thick jungle and stifling heat of Papua New Guinea. While the hike is difficult physically, it can be emotionally just as trying when remembering the Australian Army’s heroic battles to defend Port Moresby and thereby Australia from the advancing Japanese armies.
“Life changing, empowering and humbling…”
Kokoda is not just a journey to take for the history; it’s an opportunity to participate in cultural experiences, to view exceptional flora and fauna and to meet many locals and get a unique insight into remote indigenous cultures.
“Cultural experiences, exceptional flora and fauna and get a unique insight into remote indigenous cultures…”
Numerous companies offer tours and guides to help you prepare and walk the iconic trail. Along with local knowledge, porters can help you carry those heavy bags- just remember the Aussie soldiers didn’t have this luxury!
Top Tips for the Kokoda Trail:
- Train! The hike is quite taxing on the human body, with numerous steep mountains to tackle. The high humidity and temperatures inside the jungle also make the walk more difficult, so be prepared.
- There are so many fascinating books on the history of the Kokoda trail, with our picks being Kokoda, by Peter FitzSimmons and the Field Guide to the Kokoda Track by Bill James. Don’t forget to research outside the Aussie history section and learn more about the fascinating local tribes you will meet. This will make your journey even more interesting.
- Plan for some rest time during and after your hike. After all, you’re not just there to hike the trail. Papua New Guinea has some amazing destinations away from the trail, including beaches that are ideal to stay at for a few days while recovering from your hike.
- Invest in quality hiking equipment, especially shoes. Good quality hiking boots are essential. While you may see your porters and guides doing the trek barefoot, it’s certainly not recommended (nor comfortable!) You must have boots that are well fitted and durable. This journey is meant to be enjoyable, and it’s hard to be happy with sore feet!
- Be respectful. Be mindful of where you are. The jungle is still littered with the debris of war, which may give you some uncomfortable reminders when you spot a bullet casing or shell resting in the mud near your tent. Have respect for your surroundings, the locals and your tour guides and company, and enjoy your journey.