Like any adventure travel, trekking the Kokoda Trail can also be dangerous, especially for those that are ill-prepared. The remote and rough locations makes it difficult to get help and 4 deaths along the track in 2009 caused some media attention
The Kokoda Track is a very remote track that leads across the Owen Stanley Ranges and connects Ower’s Corner (close to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea) in the South, with Kokoda village on the Northern side of the mountains and further, the coast of Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province. The area is so rugged that besides walking the only other mode of transport is air travel. Not even animals can safely and efficiently navigate the track,a nd even if they could it would not be efficient to have to carry along supplies to feed the animals. The area is also too steep to build roads or small tracks or cars or other motorised vehicles.
Getting Sick On The Track
What if I’m sick on the track? It’s actually quite common to get sick while trekking Kokoda. It could be anything from simple exhaustion, to tummy bugs due to changed hygienic conditions, side effects of malaria medication, heat exhaustion or dehydration. Whether you feel nauseous, need to run to the toilet, simply feel weak, or dizzy, it is certainly not comfortable to be sick when trekking Kokoda. But let’s face it, nobody goes on an adventure travel trip such as the Kokoda Trail to be comfortable.
Some, people may ask themselves, why walk the Kokoda Track, if it can be dangerous? Well, that is the excitement, isn’t it? And it’s certainly possible to deal with sickness along the track, even if it is uncomfortable. In the end there are two major choices: you can stick it out or you can choose to be evacuated.
Trekking While You’re Sick
Most smaller illnesses are uncomfortable but do not need to end your journey prematurely. If you are generally physically fit and able to recover quickly, it may only take one or two days for you to get back to 100%. You should bring your own basic medication, such as pain killers and anti-nausea tablets in your first aid kit. If you are trekking with a reputable company, your trek leader will also have a supply of medication with him. He or she will also be able to assess whether you are seriously sick and need to be evacuated, or whether you can overcome your illness and continue along the track. You should also use all possible rest you can get, such as going to bed early, resting during morning, afternoon tea and lunch breaks, and considering staying back for small side trips to use the time to rest instead.
Every reputable Kokoda Trail Tours company will have compulsory insurance for their trekkers. This covers you for most mishaps. However, there is no ambulance on the Kokoda track. You are literally in the middle of the jungle and there are only select places for helicopters to land to fly you out in the event that you get sick, injure yourself or physically can’t continue. Each trekking company makes its own arrangements with helicopter crews in Port Moresby. This can be very costly, as you must pay on a per hour basis. Really, the use of a helicopter is only as a last resort.
In summary, if you are unwell, it is best to talk to the trek leader, as they are very experienced and can help you gauge whether it’s simply temporary discomfort, or whether it is a serious matter.
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