Day 1: Kokoda The first section of the trail is relatively populated, and you’ll trek through commercial plantations, quiet villages and choko fruit gardens, before heading up a steep trail into the Owen Stanley Range. Spend the night in a village.
Day 2: Templeton’s Crossing II Today, you’ll reach your first battlefield at Isurava, with an Australian memorial to those who lost their lives here. You’ll pass more villages, but also walk through rainforest. Take a well deserved break at Iora Creek, where you can take a dip in the cool waters. Camp beside the creek, or stay in a community run guesthouse at Templeton’s Crossing, surrounded by iron rods marking where soldiers fell.
Day 3: Digger’s Camp & Myola Today involves a challenging climb up to the 2,200m summit of Mount Bellamy, with gorgeous views from the top. The trail onward to Digger’s Camp is through slippery mud, but the tranquil campsite here, surrounded by jungle, is worth the effort; alternatively, Camp 1900 offers a particularly refreshing night thanks to the altitude. Take a walk to Myola – the flat grassland which was the only place supply planes could land during the 1942 campaign.
Day 4: Efogi I & II This section involves descending from Mount Bellamy, through open grassland which leaves you exposed to the hot sun. Stop off at the village of Efogi I where you can stock up on locally grown fruit, then continue downhill to Efogi II, home to around 400-500 people, plus a cooperative guesthouse.
Day 5: Mission Ridge & Menari Ascend again today, this time to Mission Ridge, where you can look back out towards Efogi I and Mount Bellamy. After a tricky descent, you’ll trek up to the village of Menari. This is known as the home of the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ – Papuan soldiers who carried wounded Australian soldiers back along the track to safety. Their descendents live here today. Stay in the village, or in a comfortable campsite.
Day 6: Menari Ridge & Nauro Valley A 90 minute hike takes you to the top of Menari Ridge, before descending down into the Nauro Valley. Cross the Brown River to reach Old Nauro, and your guesthouse for the night.
Day 7: Nine False Peaks, Ioribaiwa & Uaule Creek Three hours of strenuous ascents take you to the top of Maguli Ridge, with a rest in a local village. Descend to Jap’s Ladder, followed by Ofi Creek, and finally Ioribaiwa, which was the scene of the final battle before the Japanese withdrew. The challenge continues as you trek through nine creeks, before setting up camp by Uaule Creek.
Day 8: Imita Ridge & the Golden Staircase You are reaching your goal, but there is still one long trek to go, and it’s a tough one. If your boots are still soggy from yesterday, don’t worry; there are a further 14 creeks to cross today. You’ll then head up Imita Ridge, and descend via the 2,000 wooden steps of the ‘Golden Staircase’ which was built by Australian Troops. Imita Ridge was the final natural barrier before reaching Port Moresby, so troops were ordered to hold back the Japanese here – or die trying. Owers’ Corner marks the end of your expedition, and a vehicle will collect you to take you onward to Port Moresby, where a comfy hotel bed and a shower await.
On the way, you might stop off at the Bomana Cemetery, the final resting place of 3,600 Australian soldiers, and a poignant place to end your trek.