MEDICAL CHECK

It is mandatory that each trekker complete a medical check before trekking Kokoda and visiting PNG. A doctor must certify that the trekker is physically fit and medically cleared to do Kokoda Trail. Failure to get medical clearance may result in the cancellation of the trip. We email trekkers with the forms which needs to be completed emailed back to us when completed by a doctor, together with copies of passport, travel insurance and return flight itinerary if booking your own flight.

We offer a variety of treks and tour with varying intensity levels, and are happy to discuss the best option to suit your unique goals, fitness level, and priorities.

FIRST AID

Our Guides and Porters are trained in Basic and Wilderness First Aid, and carry first aid kits on all our treks and tours. It’s also advisable for trekkers to bring along a small personal first aid kit for treatment of minor ailments, or a specific personal medical condition. See the checklist section of what to pack in your personal first aid kit.

IMMUNISATION & HEALTH HAZARDS

Although no vaccinations are required for entry into PNG, it’s important to discuss your trip with your doctor for advice on any inoculations or booster shots if you’re not up to date. Please make sure this is done several weeks before your trek in case you need to schedule treatments in advance.

HEALTH HAZARDS

Although the Kokoda Trail is challenging, it is not overly dangerous. The most common health hazards in PNG and on the Kokoda Trail are Dehydration, Heat Stroke, and Malaria.

MALARIA

Malaria is a fairly common tropical ailment transmitted by malarial-infected mosquitoes which only bite at night. Mosquitoes are present in the warmer, lower-altitude areas of PNG, and large parts of the Kokoda Trail situated at high altitudes where it’s colder are mosquito-free. However, it is wise to take anti-malarial medication when doing the Kokoda as malaria can be very serious. Kokoda Trail Expeditions will provide you with a tent that has a fly screen to keep mosquitoes off. One of your best defences is wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts in the evenings and at night, and regularly using tropical strength mosquito repellent to cover any exposed skin.

HYPONATRAEMIA

Hyponatraemia is a potentially fatal medical complication of ultra-distance exercise, and there has been a prevalence of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) on the Kokoda Trail. Research by Dr Sean Rothwell and Dr David Rosengren in 2010, in conjunction with the Kokoda Trail Authority, found that the Kokoda Trail is a safe and fantastic experience for most trekkers, and only a small number of trekkers can become susceptible to fatal EAH.

The following measures may help you prevent a potential EAH:

  • Treat associated conditions that may contribute to low blood sodium;
  • Educate yourself and beware of the signs and symptoms;
  • Take precautions during trekking periods of high intensity by drinking only as much fluid as you lose;
  • Consider drinking sports drinks containing electrolytes such as Gatorade; and
  • Drink water in moderation by taking in sufficient daily fluid intake and not overdoing it.

WHY YOU NEED TO BE FIT TO DO KOKODA

The Kokoda Trail runs through the Owen Stanley Ranges, rough terrain in a remote region of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Walking the Kokoda trek for between 9 and 10 days is physically and mentally demanding, so it’s important that trekkers are physically fit and medically prepared. For a pre-trek training guide, you can download the free Kokoda Trek Fitness Plan or contact one of our Kokoda Trail specialists for advice on (02)89588813, 0438483789 or email us

Although the Owen Stanley Range is a demanding and challenging environment, it is not overly dangerous in and of itself. Unfortunately, accidents including fatalities have occurred but almost without exception. Each of these could have been avoided with proper safety and emergency preparedness, training, and communications. The most common health issues on the Kokoda Trail are heat stroke and dehydration, which are easily controlled and avoided through proper hydration and training.

The bottom line: Be prepared and the risk is minimal!

Please see our Trek Safety and Security section for ways that Kokoda Trail Expeditions minimizes risks on all of our treks and tours

PHYSICAL FITNESS

It is important to be physically fit before completing the Kokoda Trail trek. We provide trekkers with our Kokoda Trek Fitness Plan  to be used as a guide to help you prepare physically for your Kokoda Trail trek.

Contact Kokoda Trail Expeditions trek and tour experts if you need advice on how to train for the Kokoda Trail.

MEDICAL EVACUATION (MEDEVAC) & REPATRIATION

For an emergency, our Guides and Porters will use satellite and mobile communications to contact QBE Insurance or your travel insurance 24/7 medical team in Australia for an evacuation to occur immediately. This will occur from a designated evacuation point like a helipad, airstrip, or road. This may require the movement of the casualty by stretcher to an evacuation point, which in most cases will be an airport, airstrip or helipad. The casualty will receive treatment in Port Moresby or medically repatriated and treated back in Australia.

It is therefore paramount that all trekkers take out travel insurance with QBE Insurance or a reputable travel insurer that covers the South Pacific, PNG and the Kokoda Trail.

DEHYDRATION & HEATSTROKE

The most common ailments affecting Kokoda Trail trekkers are heat related. As you’ll be undertaking strenuous exercise in hot and humid tropical weather conditions between eight and nine hours per day, it’s important that you drink enough water on a regular basis to replace lost fluids. Drinking at least two to four litres per day, and take along a container of Gatorade or Staminade powder (electrolyte replacement powder) to mix in with your water for extra protection against dehydration if you can.

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