The tropical conditions of the Kakoda Trail will reward every adventure travel fan. Dense jungle forest, steep inclines and declines, raging rivers and the heat, humidity but cool nights of jungle climates, present a challenge for even the fittest athletes.
Not only is walking the Kakoda trail an adventure, it also requires physical preparation, smart planning and financial resources to complete. So, it’s no surprise that travellers want to be well prepared for this adventure.
Officially the trail sneaks from Ower’s Corner in the South, to Kokoda Village in the North, although some say the original start was at McDonald’s Corner, a few kilometres further south. The route meanders across the Owen Stanley Ranges and is nearly 100 kilometres long. The trail can be walked in both directions from Kokoda to Owers Corner, and from Owers Corner to Kokoda.
There are many Kokoda tour operators that provide professional tours along the Kokoda Trail, and they all use both directions. In fact they often vary their treks slightly so they can visit different viallges and spread the benefits of tourism to the native communities along the track.
Which direction should you choose when you want to travel to Papua New Guines to walk the Kakoda Trail?
Based on discussions with various trek leaders, most groups fly in to Kokoda and then trek back south to Owers Corner near Port Moresby. Some say that it is ‘easier’ to trek from Kokoda to Owers because there are more downhill sections. This may well be true, but the Kakoda Trail is a physical and mental challenge in any direction, so the difference is simply nominal. Walking from Ower’s Corner to Kokoda has the advantage of trekking in the footsteps of the Allied Soldiers during World War 2, you thus have the opportunity to follow the story of most battles chronologically during your trip. However, starting from Kokoda means you will first have a short 30 min flight from Port Moresby to Kokoda, on which you have beautiful views of the landscape and a sense of excitement of what is to come on your track. Of course, if you walk in the other direction, you will have the flight at the end of your trip instead.
Depending on the trekking company you choose, they may have their own opinion on which way to walk along the Kakoda trail, and, they may also take you on small detours to show you other sites of significance. You must remember there is no single track and the landscape is constantly changing. The track splits and reforms in many places to connect villages and outposts.
Rest assured, a reputable trekking company will always take you to important battle sites e.g. Isurava, Brigade Hill, and explain the history of the area. In peak season accommodation along the route is in demand, and this may determine the direction of travel. These logistics are all controlled by your trekking company, so make sure you choose the tour operator that suits your needs best. They will organise your route, camping, food, etc. Wherever possible, your campsite will be for your group only, and will not have to share with other groups. This helps to add to your experience and allow you to better feel the mystery and awe of the jungle environment.
Papua New Guinea: Country Profile
Explore this remote part of the world with me as I go from Papua New Guinea’s mountainous Highlands to the Karawari River and Sepik in the Lowlands. With few roads, we took a charter plane between locations on the most remote experience of my life!
Live like a Local in Papua New Guinea: USTOA’s Travel Together Series hosted & produced by Kelley Ferro