Hot Tip 1: Prepare your body
Don't try and cheat yourself. Have a complete medical check-up. Develop a training plan with a professional from your local gym or sports club - then stick to it. Remember that every step taken in training is the equivalent of a deposit in your physical bank account. If your account is healthy you will have plenty to draw on during the hard yards of your trek - but if you have to go into debt it can be painful!
Kokoda is unforgiving and doesn't accept excuses.
Hot Tip 2: Get the right gear
Work on the principle that it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Do not compromise on quality - use Paddy Palin camping stores as your benchmark. They might be a bit more expensive than those who rely on turnover rather than quality. If your cheap head-torch goes bung early in your trek you will literally be in the dark in your tent at night - and you won't be thinking about the couple of dollars you saved at that point.
We have developed our recommended clothing and equipment lists over many years trekking in all conditions along the trail. If you stick with them you will be suitably well-equipped, very grateful and you will have a comfortable trek.
Hot Tip 3: Look after your skin
Your clothing will be saturated with sweat soon after the start of your trek due to the tropical humidity. You therefore need to anticipate 'hot-spots' which can lead to chafing or blisters. A chafing stick and a blister-kit will quickly ease the discomfort which can turn nasty if you don't tend to them.
Malaria is caused by mosquito bites and the only foolproof way to avoid it is to not get bitten. You therefore need to apply tropical-strength mosquito repellent to any exposed areas of skin in the morning and evening when the malarial mosquito is active.
Your feet will be vulnerable to fungal attack if you don't look after them. Wash them thoroughly each night then apply anti-fungal powder when dry. Apply antiseptic cream in the morning before putting on a clean pair of dry socks. Also wash the inner of your boot with antiseptic soap and dry them by the campfire each night.
Carry antiseptic hand gel in your pocket and wash your hands before meals, after you visit the toilet and before you touch your eyes or mouth.
Hot Tip 4: Avoid dehydration
The amount of water in our bodies ranges from 50-65 per cent. This varies according to gender and fitness level because fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue. The average adult male is about 60 per cent water. The average adult woman is about 55 per cent because women naturally have more fatty tissue than men. Overweight men and women have less water, as a percent than their leaner counterparts.
The percent of water depends on your hydration level. People feel thirsty when they have lost around 2-3 per cent of their body's water. Mental performance and physical coordination start to become impaired before thirst kicks in, typically around 1% dehydration.
First the couple of days on the trail we lose a lot of fluid and electrolytes though sweating while out bodies are acclimatising to the conditions.
Both fluid and electrolyte replacement is necessary for maintaining correct water balance and the correct functioning of muscles. Electrolytes contain important minerals including sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
The body is able to replace, at best, only about one-third of what it loses during trekking in a tropical environment. This is true for fluids, calories, and electrolytes. If you try to replace all the fluids at once, you may end up with dilutional hyponatremia (overly diluted blood sodium levels) or water intoxication. If you attempt to replace all the fuel you expend, your stomach will back up in total rebellion, and refuelling will grind to a halt. Likewise, if you try to replace in equal amounts all of the electrolytes you lose, a number of hormonal triggers may create all sorts of problems such as gastric distress, edema, muscle spasms, and cramping.
We therefore recommend you get an adequate supply of electrolyte replacement tablets or powders and that you mix them in strict accordance with the instructions on the label. On the trail for the first few days you should drink about 15 good gulps from your water bladder every 25-30 minutes until you acclimatise.
Hot Tip 5: Keep your carbo-energy tank full
Carbohydrates are the source of energy for our bodies.
Simple carbohydrates are based on sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose) and fruit sugar (fructose). These are great for providing quick energy when it is needed right away – a couple of glucose jelly beans, a banana any other type of fruit.
Complex carbohydrates are contained in cereals, potatoes, bread, rice and pasta – these pack in more nutrients than simple carbs because they are higher in fibre and digest more slowly. A good supply of these in your stomach wills drip feed your body with its energy requirements.
Our meals on the trail are planned to meet your daily energy needs by keeping your carbo-fuel tank topped up. Each mealtime will contain an abundant supply of muesli, weetbix, milk, fruit, pasta, rice, meat and vegetables.
We recommend you bring a small snack-pack with some glucose jelly beans, muesli bars and some trail mix to keep drip feeding your carbo-energy fuel tank as you trek.
Hot Tip 6: Keep the bugs at bay
Papua New Guinea does not have large predatory animals such as lions, tigers and elephants.
However it is home to the world’s greatest variety of microscopic parasites that can cause malaria, dengue fever, cholera, typhoid, blindness, debilitating gastroenteritis, scrub typhus, dysentery, etc.
The most effective way to avoid these conditions is to maintain a highly disciplined approach to your personal hygiene though the use of antiseptic gel on your hands before meals, before you touch your face and after going to the toilet.
The only effective way to avoid malaria and dengue fever is to not get bitten by mosquitos. You should therefore apply tropical-strength mosquito repellent to any exposed areas of the skin (avoiding your eyes) in the morning and evening each day.
Ask our guides and carriers to fill up your water bottles – they know which areas are likely to be contaminated and which are fresh and clean. Use water-sterilization tablets as per the instructions on the label to avoid the risk of typhoid.
Hot Tip 7: Organise your gear – and keep it organised
Pack your gear into separate waterproof bags – 1st Aid items in a red bag; toiletries in a yellow bag; spare batteries and come-in-handy items in a blue bag; daily snack-packs in clear zip-lock bags with each day numbered on them; etc. etc.
Whenever you remove an item from a bag get into the routine of packing up the bag before using it.
Personal discipline is based on routine – establish your routine early.
Hot Tip 8: Double check your Passport Expiry Date
You passport must be valid for six months prior to your departure for PNG. This is a very easy fact to overlook for those who travel frequently. Don’t leave it to chance – double check it before you go.
Also put your passport and travel documentation in a prominent place the day before you leave. Don’t wake up in the morning of your departure wondering where you put it!
Hot 9: Wear your trekking boots on the plane to PNG
We can replace most things that might go missing if your bags don’t turn up on time as we carry quite a large amount of reserve stock at our Sogeri base.
Trekking boots, however, are a little more problematic. We therefore recommend you wear the pair you have broken in on the plane to Port Moresby – the rest of the stuff we can usually fix if your bags go missing for a day or two.
Hot Tip 10: Let your friends know they can follow you
Adventure Kokoda trek leaders carry satellite messenger systems (Spot and InReach) which allow them to post their position each night on Google Earth. This allows your family and friends to go into Google Earth and see exactly where you are camped each night – they can also see what type of terrain you have crossed during the day.
All they have to do this is go to https://www.facebook.com/AdventureKokoda/ and become a ‘friend’ to access these daily updates.