You can read about my Kokoda trip – all nine days – here.
Before I trekked Kokoda, I asked people who had previously walked the famous track for their tips. Now that I’ve done it, I’ve got some tips for you! If you’re considering trekking the Kokoda Track, here are some thoughts on getting prepared and what to pack.
- Start your training early! There are plenty of suggested training plans available on the interwebs and it’s recommended that you start six months before your trip. I spent a lot of time walking up steep hills and also climbing stairs, taking two stairs at a time (incredibly boring but highly effective!). Do your training in your hiking boots, and carry your pack with the weight that you’ll have on the trek so that you get used to this.
- I really wish I could have taken my DSLR but it was just too bulky, so I took a small camera with me. Carry your camera in a waterproof bag if you can, and attach it to something you can put around your neck or tie it to your bag so it’s close to you. It’s highly annoying having to stop and pull your camera out every time you want a photo – and there are lots of photo opportunities.
- Do the research on the trekking companies. They are all very different in terms of their focus, understanding of the track and the history, how many porters they have, how they treat their porters, the food you’re provided with and the equipment they carry. I travelled with PNG Trekking Adventures and I would highly recommend them.
- Put all your gear in ziplock bags or dry sacs. Everything gets wet at some stage, and this will help to keep all your stuff dry. This isn’t just limited to your clothes – put your medicines, toiletries and other equipment into bags. Separate items and pack them together. For example, put all your underwear in one bag, socks in another, stuff you need for bathing in another bag and so on. This will help you find what you need when you’re rifling through your large pack at the end of the day.
- Have a few carabiners on hand. I found these useful for attaching items that I used frequently to my backpack so they were easily reachable.
- A bumbag (or fanny pack for you Americans out there) is something that I wish I’d brought with me. Or any small bags that attach to the front of my pack. This would have been handy for things like my camera, tissues or hand sanitiser, items that were used frequently.
- There’s no electricity along the track, so bring along additional batteries for your electronic gear or portable re-chargers.
- Even if the history of the Kokoda Track is not one of the main reasons you’re doing the track, do read some of the many books that are written about the track and its importance during World War Two. When you’re standing at any point along the track, even some minor understanding of its history will give you a completely different view of your trip.
My packing list
Here’s what I packed – with some thoughts on what I would and wouldn’t take if I did the Kokoda Track again.
- Hiking boots – my boots didn’t have ankle support and I was fine, but it is recommended to walk in boots that do cover your ankles, as there are a lot of rocks and tree roots along the track
- 2 x pants – I wore quick dry, knee-length pants that I wear to the gym. Whatever you decide to wear, make sure it’s quick dry material. You sweat. A lot. If you tan easily, I would advise wearing long pants so you don’t get tan lines from the top of your calf to the top of your ankle – speaking from experience, it’s not a good look
- 2 x short sleeved tops – again, quick dry material. I wore the same shorts and top for the full eight days, washing them each night with soap. I treated myself with the fresh pair of clothes on the last day and it was a great feeling putting those clean clothes on 🙂
- Long-sleeved zip-up jacket for night
- Light pants for night and wearing around camp
- Hiking socks x 5 pairs
- Underwear x 7
- Sports bra x 2
- Thongs (flip-flops) to wear around camp – a few other people brought Crocs which were also a good option
- Hat – you’re mostly covered under the canopy, but there are a few sunny spots
- Bandana – great for wiping off sweat and wetting to use around your neck to cool off
- Rain poncho – just one of the thin, cheap ponchos
- 2 x t-shirts for sleeping in and wearing around camp
- Shorts to wear around camp and sleep in
- Head band
- 2 x socks for wearing at night and around camp – it can get surprisingly cold and I was very glad to have these extra ones to put on some nights!
- Gaiters – I brought the smaller gardening-style ones, but others brought long ones that cover the entire shin area. Luckily for us, they were never used
- Sarong – great for having when showering or bathing in creeks, also handy as a sheet
- Large backpack – carried by my porter
- Daypack – carried by me (it weighed around 8kg)
- Water bladder
- Mattress and sleeping bag
- Small pillow
- Pack cover
- Swiss Army knife
- Mosquito net – this is one thing that I never used
- Cutlery, cup and bowl/plate
- Water bottle – used for mixing up hydralyte
- Dry sac – put all my clothes in here
- Quick drying towel
- Trekking poles – I HATE trekking poles and only used these for downhill parts
- iPhone – for photos (there is little network coverage along the track)
- Small camera
- Head torch and spare batteries
- Pack of Uno cards – great for lazy afternoons
- Hair ties and bobby pins
- Lip balm (pawpaw balm) – handy also for cuts and chaffing
- Small hotel bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
- Toothpaste and toothbrush (with cover for the head of the toothbrush – everything gets dirty!)
- Face wipes
- Wet wipes – useful for everything: “showering”, the (ahem) toilet, wiping off your muddy feet, cleaning items: a must have
- Baby powder (small container)
- Cotton buds
- Pocket mirror so I could put my contact lenses in and out each day
- Soap – mostly used to wash my clothes
- Hair brush
- Contact lenses
Most of the medicines I didn’t end up needing, thankfully, but they’re handy to have anyway, just in case. All tour leaders should have a pretty extensive kit with them, but it is expected that you bring your own items.
- Cold and flu tablets
- Glucose tablets
- Eye drops
- Bandaids – all sorts of sizes, make sure they’re waterproof ones
- Sports tape – handy for taping up my knees after all the downhill walking
- Antihistamine tablets
- Insect repellant
- Foot powder
- Vaseline – cover your feet in this every morning to prevent blisters
- Safety pins
- Water purification tablets
- Hand sanitiser
- Tea tree oil antiseptic
- Deep Heat lotion
- Voltaren gel
- Hydralyte – this is essential to have: many people have died on the track because they didn’t replace their electrolytes
- Nail brush for scrubbing mud off boots
- Book to read in our downtime
- Journal and pens
- Toilet paper
- Spare plastic water bottle which I filled and used to wash my hands or wash mud off me
If you’ve done the Kokoda Track – or another tough hike – do you have any other tips to share?