KST understands that making the decision to trek the Kokoda Track is one that needs much research to ensure students fully understand what exactly will happen once they are out on the Kokoda Track. To make the research as easy as possible, below is list of KST’s most important FAQ’s for students. For further information, take a look at the Tips & Advice page as well as the FAQ’s for Teachers page.
How do I get my School involved?
Most schools will need to do considerable research before they commit to the program. This is because they have a duty of care to student safety. KST suggests that students speak to their History or Outdoor Education teacher, or year level co-ordinator. The best thing to suggest is for that person to contact KST, at which point questions will be asked in relation to the school’s goals and objectives with regard to the program, in addition to their overall focus and values. The more information that can be provided by teachers, the better the outcome will be for everyone.
Do I need to do the research before I go on the trek?
KST believes the more effort students put into learning about the Kokoda Campaign and the soldiers who fought there, the more they will get out of their experience. The few students who have neglected this part of the program invariably regret that when they get out on the track.
What fundraising initiatives do you suggest I undertake?
There are several ways students and their school can raise funds. Previously, students have sold chocolates, held sausage sizzles, fetes, free dress days at school, done car washes, etc. Trivia nights are always good fun too!
Who will receive the money I raised during my fundraising efforts
The villages of Buna, Sanananda and Gona on the Northern Beaches of Papua New Guinea are home to most of KST’s local staff, and as such, the KST team have a long standing relationship with these villages.
Every person trekking the Kokoda Track is required to purchase a permit (included in students trek fee) from the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA). The KTA invest some of that money into villages along the track. Unfortunately, their investment area stops at Kokoda and does not extend to the villages. The Kokoda Campaign did not start and finish at Kokoda – the Japanese landed on the Northern Beach heads, and it was there we pushed them out into the sea. KST believes it is quite unfair that these villages receive no funds from trek permits.
All donations from students goes into these villages. Money is paid through the Kokoda Track Foundation, a registered charity providing services to villages along the track and out to the beaches. Equipment donations are provided directly to elders of the villages for distribution to the people.
Are there any vaccinations required?
Yes. KST recommends students keep up to date with official health information to ensure they are well advised in this area. Note that reference to Japanese encephalitis relates to areas of PNG that the KST program will not be visiting. Students will also need malaria protection and should consult their own doctor about the different options available.
What equipment will I need to buy before the trek?
KST will provide students with a full equipment list on registration. The list is significant but KST will help keep pricing down as much as possible. For example, students will need a personal first aid kit, however they may choose to have one kit between two or three as it is unlikely that all would need everything in the kit.
The most expensive items will be boots, a backpack and sleeping items. KST can assist with a hire kit of sleeping bag, liner, mattress and mosquito net. It is recommended students purchase their boots sooner rather than later. This will provide ample opportunity to break them in slowly, not to mention having comfortable boots to train in. Choosing the right boots can and should take students between 1-2 hours. It’s not unusual for KST leaders to take a couple of hours to choose a new pair of boots for themselves.
How difficult will the trek be?
The difficulty of the track is directly related to how much preparation has been done. It is extremely important that students work hard getting ready for this trek – because once they are out there, there’s nowhere to hide! The better prepared each student is, the more fun they will have at camp, playing with the kids in the villages and relaxing at the end of the day with their friends.
What will we eat whilst on the trek? What if I have dietary restrictions?
KST team members make sure every student has plenty of food to keep them fueled up for the day. The food is not gourmet, however students might be surprised how tasty and fresh the meals are. Spaghetti Bolognese, Nasi Goreng and Thai Noodles are just some of the dinners. Breakfasts are a combination of cereals, porridge and fresh baked damper. Lunches can be dry biscuits, cheese and other toppings, or hot noodles. Fresh fruit and vegetables are purchased from the locals wherever possible, which makes for both delicious and totally organic meals!If students have any special food/dietary requirements, KST asks that it is discuss as soon as possible. Generally speaking, all dietary requirements can be catered for. Please bear in mind though, that PNG has less availability for some food than in Australia.
For further information regarding dietary requirements and meals, please refer to the meals page under the Tips and Advice tab.
What’s the accommodation like?
It is great fun! Students stay in guesthouses wherever possible. These are usually large one room constructions made from bush materials. The group will set up their mattresses, sleeping bags and mosquito nets (where required) and all bunk in together.
All trek operators need to have back up accommodation in case the track is busy, so KST trek leaders also carry a bivvy; that’s one tarp underneath, and another over the top. It is similar to big communal open air tent. KST carry a couple of tents too, which are usually reserved for people who aren’t sleeping well or are feeling a little unwell.
Every village the group camps at will have some kind of washing facility. Either there will be a river or creek, or the village will have created some kind of shower with a screen. Don’t expect hot water though!
What are the toilet facilities like and do I need to bring my own toilet paper?
The toilet facilities are basic, no point in trying to say anything else! The villages create long drops for students to use; some have wooden or plastic toilet seats erected and some are just a hole in the ground. OK, so it’s definitely not a highlight – but it is what it is, and most people get used to it pretty quickly.
Toilet paper is definitely on the equipment list and it is recommend students take some wipes.
Who will be leading our trek?
KST leaders are experienced, qualified and passionate about what they do. All leaders have Wilderness First Aid qualifications and have done several trips. KST leaders have a thorough understanding of what happened during the Kokoda Campaign and will give students information all the way along the track. Every leader is experienced in supporting students along their journey, and understand that many people will have some physical and emotional ups and downs. All leaders have current Working with Children accreditation.
What’s the weather going to be like?
The dry season along the Kokoda Track runs from April to November. KST treks only operate within this period, however in a tropical environment there are no guarantees. Often the rains will start mid afternoon, though the group will likely have arrived into the camp before that happens.
What happens if I get hurt/injured whilst on the trek?
That’s a really good question. As stated before, all leaders have Wilderness First Aid qualifications, carry a group first aid kit, and are well equipped to deal with minor injuries. If a KST leader considers an injury – or an illness for that matter – to be significant enough that the student needs to leave the trek, arrangements will be made for an evacuation. For this reason, all trekkers MUST have travel insurance that covers helicopter evacuation.
If a student is evacuated, they would be taken to Port Moresby, where they would be met by a member of the KST ground staff. This team member will ensure the student is taken safety to hospital for assessment. Depending on how serious the situation is, KST’s local staff would then work with the Australian staff to make arrangements for the student to be returned to Australia.
Part of the preparation period is working to establish a series of ‘what if’ scenarios that fit in with every school’s procedures and expectations, and comply with KTS’s safety standards.
Is there any dangerous wildlife?
Students won’t see a lot of wildlife though they will often hear birds. The group will be trekking through the jungle though, so on the odd occasion there will be a snake on the track. One of the benefits to getting such close attention from the porters is that they are continually keeping an eye out. It really is quite rare, so students shouldn’t be too concerned.
Are the locals friendly?
The locals are incredibly friendly! KST team members love the porters, and they love KST’s trekkers. The porters take great pride in what they do and consider students their absolute responsibility.
The KST team believe they employ the best porters on the track! Why? There are lots of reasons, but one is they live in small rural villages, so their way of life is very simple. When they are not trekking, they are fishing, growing vegetables and working with the community. There are no televisions, computers or cars. They are very gentle, honest and humble.
KST have had loads of clients who have been in tears leaving their new friends. There has been loads who have gone back to PNG to spend time in the village. Some clients have even had kids named after them!
How much spending money will I need?
Students don’t need a lot. All meals are included in the trek fees. On the track, students will have the opportunity to get a bit of a junk food fix with Twisties (about PGK3) and cans of soft drink (about PGK7). Students may also have the chance to have a photo taken with one of the last remaining Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, although this depends on his health at the time. Students typically provide a donation of PGK10 to the village for the privilege of having their photo taken with this inspiring historical figure.
KST recommends students take approximately AUD$250, changed into PNG currency.
What is the currency in PNG?
PNG currency is the Kina. Click here to see what the current exchange rate is. Kina is not a mainstream currency, so students can’t just go to the bank to exchange money. A KST team member will talk to students and their parents about the best way to handle this.
Can I take my mobile phone on the trek? What about a camera or iPod?
There is no mobile phone reception on the Kokoda Track. The trek leader will carry a satellite phone, but this is reserved for emergency use only.
It is highly recommended that all students take a camera as there is a lot to photograph! Don’t forget spare batteries though.
iPod’s are totally optional.
What age do I need to be to trek the Kokoda Track?
There is no hard and fast rules on this as some 14 year old’s may be more mature than some 16 year old’s. Most of students that have trekked with KST have been Year 9 and upwards, but this really comes down to a discussion between the school, parents and KST leaders.
I’m not studying Australian History, can I still do the trek?
This is a decision to be made by individual schools. There are certainly no restrictions which prevent non Australian History students from trekking with KST. In saying that though, it is important for all participating students to conduct some research into the Kokoda Campaign before the trek, as this will increase their understanding of the Campaign and make the whole journey more powerful.
Are flights included in the trek price?
Flight prices change all the time, and they are also dependent on when the group is looking to trek. Because of that, KST likes to give schools an up to date quote when we know what their plans are.
Many schools have different requirements, for example, teacher to student ratios, minimum numbers, etc and as such past experience has found it is best to do individual pricing for each school.
Do I need a Visa & Passport?
Yes you do. Your Passport needs to have at least 6 months before it expires. The Visa situation in PNG is ever changing at the moment, so up to date advice will be provided to your school at the time a booking is made.
If I drop out because I decide I don’t want to travel anymore, can I get a refund?
Deposits are non-refundable. This is because there is a lot of forward planning needed to make sure everything goes to plan, and most suppliers need to be paid up front when a booking is made with them.
KST recommends all students take out travel insurance as soon as they pay their deposit. This is because if they drop out because of illness or injury, their insurance should take care of them.