The history of the Kokoda Trail

The significance of the Kokoda Trail

The Kokoda trail is a 96km Track located in Papua New Guinea that runs from Owers Corner in Central Province to the Village of Kokoda in Oro Province. It’s highest point is atop Mount Bellamy, at 2,190 meters. The Trail can take anywhere between 4-12 days to complete; however the average time is 7 nights and 8 days.

The Village of Kokoda housed the only airstrip along the Kokoda Trail during World War 2; this therefore provided a strategic advantage to either the Japanese or the Australians dependent on who occupied and controlled the Village at any significant time.

The legend behind the 1942 Kokoda Trail is renowned in Australian history and rightly so. The Kokoda campaign began in July 1942, in the midst of World War 2, when the Japanese Army landed in Buna in an effort to capture Port Moresby. It is widely believed the Japanese intent was to secure Port Moresby as a possible insertion platform into Northern Australia. As they entered via a track over the Owen Stanley Range they were met by a hugely inferior, however incredibly brave young (average age 18.5 years) Australian Force. This marked the beginning of a four-month campaign starting in July 1942 and ending in November, which lost around 600 young Australian lives.

The Australian and Japanese forces fought on both land and at sea. Records show there were 120,000 military personnel engaged in the four-month battle. In military terms, it was classified jungle warfare given the strategic challenges due to the dense jungle conditions.

Who walks the Kokoda trail?

Australians are exceptional when it comes to our passion for respect and celebration of our military service history and the sacrifices our people have made for the freedom and rights of our country. As much as it is a massive physical challenge, walking the Kokoda trail for many is a way to honour our soldiers who fought there. Each year around 5000 people will attempt the trek.

As well as being a wonderful personal achievement (and feather in your cap) the trek can also be beneficial in other ways; many create fundraising events for their preferred charity, it can also be a good bonding undertaking for companies or groups. For information about this event please refer to our upcoming 2019 Bears of Hope charity trek.

A few common questions

Do you need a guide to walk the Kokoda trail?

The Kokoda trail is 96km long with 10,000 meters of ascents and descents through rugged jungle and multiple river crossings. It is a physical and mentally demanding challenge. Before attempting the trek, intensive physical preparation is needed. Attempting the trail without a guide is absolutely not recommended.

There is what’s called a “trekking season”. It loosely begins at the start of April and finishes around the end of October. From the months of November through to April it is the monsoonal season and not advised to attempt the trek at this time. Although April is peak time for sentimental reasons, we regard it as too unsafe after several years of operating at this time. Experienced guides will tell you conditions change from one year to the next. It would be near impossible for a sole trekker to compare data and make informed decisions.

For more information on Adventure Excellence’s 2020 Kokoda dates see details.

A reputable adventure company should have a great deal of experience. They will have trekked the area many times and will be able to compare conditions from one year to the next. They will also have adequate medical procedures should any problems arise. An experienced trekking company will have good knowledge of the area and its history, to really empart the story of the region and its significance.

Every Adventure Excellence experience is led by a minimum of two Australian adventurers to ensure your safety and success.

The Adventure Excellence team’s adventure record (safety and success) is second to none:

  • Our team leaders have guided more than 2,000 clients safely and comfortably across the Kokoda Trail.
  • Our success rate, and safety record, for trekking the Kokoda Trail is the single best of all Kokoda Operators.
  • Our team leaders planned, organised and led the first Anzac Day Kokoda Service, which was televised live into Australian homes by David Koch and the channel Seven Sunrise team.
  • Our team leaders planned, organised and led the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Soldiers Kokoda Programs, taking well over 100 wounded Australian Soldiers, and Parents/Spouses of Soldiers Killed in Action, across the Kokoda Trail.

How safe is the Kokoda trail?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions by people contemplating the journey. It is not a flat trek, it is rugged and a long way from any city or hospital. It is 96 kilometres of tough jungle terrain. It comes with risk and there can be no safety guarantees. Injuries are not common as long as people are well prepared and undertake a consistent training schedule prior to the trek. Injuries that tend to occur are limb sprains.

What vaccinations are required to walk the Kokoda track?

There are no vaccinations specifically required to walk the trek. Obviously the trekking area is in the jungle so it would be strongly advised to vaccinate against cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis A and B. Also make sure all tetanus injections are up to date.

It is certainly one of the more challenging treks offered by adventure companies like Adventure Excellence. Their aim as an adventure provider company is to have all participants complete the 96 kilometre Kokoda challenge safely.


Adventure Excellence are true professionals when it comes to taking teams along the Kokoda trail. We provide a whole package to make your Kokoda trek experience everything you had hoped for.

  • The duration of the event lasts ten days all inclusive (from Australia back to Australia and includes 7 nights and 8 days on the Kokoda Trail).
  • On a challenge scale of 1 to 5, the Kokoda track is considered a 4.
  • Accommodation on your first and last night in Port Moresby is provided in a four star Hotel
  • Flights are also included
  • You are responsible for bringing shoes/boots, shorts, underwear, socks, hiking poles, and personal medical items on the trek. Adventure Excellence provide the rest.
  • People who have made the trek often say the Kokoda experience is the most rewarding challenge of their life.
  • Why provide the history and knowledge of the significance of Kokoda to add even more significance to the experience.