- 07/08/2008 at 5:32 pm #100685
If you have trekked with Kokoda Trekking and you fit into this age category, please post here as it would be very much appreciated so that other potential trekkers can read your honest comments.
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Kokoda Trekking Ltd (KTL)
Gail Thomas (Boss Meri)08/08/2008 at 6:12 am #100684AnonymousGuest16/08/2008 at 5:26 pm #100900
Hi Gail, we are all back safe and sound in melbourne. A couple have stayed on in Brisbane to enjoy the warm weather. Its only about 15 degrees here, so its hard to get used to it again after the tropics.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trek, it was a blast. The guides and porters both personal and food, were exceptional. They are such an easy going but very professional group of young men. We enjoyed their company and everyone agreed this is what has made the experience so worthwhile.
Kim's dad summed it up beautifully on the last night in Kokoda at Rustys block. We had a lovely dinner and a few beers with with the boys. Bill then said that he may never see Harold, Thomas or the other guys again in his life. But after everything we had been through he will never ever forget them. It was a very short sentence but we all found it to be so powerful and so emotive.
During our stay in Port Moresby we spoke to other trekkers from other companies, every one loved the experience but their biggest complaints were always the size of the groups. When we explained we had only 10 in our group, they were always dumbfounded, plus what the cost was compared to the other companies, some were over 2 1/2 times more expensive. So we spread the word that KTL is the best trekking company by far!!! Other trekkers from other companies had a multitude of complaints, we have none!
Again, thanks it was a great trip. Pass a huge thanks again onto Harold and the boys, they were the ones that made it such a great trip and I already have 4 people interested in doing an anzac trek next year so I will get them to contact with you. (alas i wont be there!!!) but in a couple of years time we will be looking at doing the black cat trail.
It was the second time I have trekked the Kokoda Trail with KTL and they have continued to leave an impression of professionalism and excellence with me. The guys knowledge of battlesites and points of interest along the way impressed me greatly.
Fraser.jpg16/08/2008 at 6:06 pm #100908
Comments from Trek for Tom – trek 366:
I highly recommend KTL for anyone considering engaging a trekking company for the Kokoda. Gail, Russell and her crew offer a very professional service and our walk went as smooth as clockwork. The trek leader was superb (thanks John!), and the porters (thanks Bill!) are a fantastic bunch who are dedicated to making the trip fun, but also ensuring everyone makes it home safely. However, what most impressed me was the obvious commitment KTL has to the local Kokoda communities. If you think it is important that a portion of your trek fees stays in the country and helps Papua New Guineans, then go with KTL! Good luck Gail and Russell and the rest of the KTL gang. Thank You, Gail, Russell and the KTL Gang
I had a fantastic time – the days were always hard but the nights were great – the porters kept us going and were great company. Your staff wre always happy to answer questions and were very knowledgeable about the areas and the people.
Personally I was very happy to both complete and experience KOKODA.
Thanks Gail, John and Russell
Photograph: Michael Anderson (Left) and Jim Ferguson (Right) relaxing at Owers' Corner at the end of their trek:
Ferguson.jpg17/08/2008 at 10:18 am #100943
Hi Gail, I have just completed trek no 470 – Ower's Corner to Kokoda, 9 to 19 May – and wanted to thank you so much for such a well organised trek.
The trip was amazing and emotional, and made all the more special by your porters. They were all so helpful, friendly, respectful, humble and I felt safe with them every step of the way. My porter was John Korove, and he was great – supportive, determined that I get to the end on my own two feet and understanding my desire to walk the track as independently as possible with assistance at only really difficult places. And that's how I felt at the end – confident on the track, walking with little assistance and meeting the physical challenges that the track brings. A few of the porters told us the stories of the Aussie and Papua history of the track, and it was obvious that they wanted to be just as helpful as the Fuzzy Wuzzy angels they told us about.
The nightly singing was an added bonus and now as I listen to Freddie's music on the CD you gave me, takes me back immediately to the atmosphere on the track.
I was also impressed by the respect the porters showed to you and the company. It takes a great leader to receive such loyalty, so congratulations on the approach you have taken to build such a successful organisation.
I'm planning to send some things through to John – he told me to contact him via the company in Port Moresby – trust this will be Okay with you.
Gail – if you ever need a volunteer for any of the work you are doing, or if you hear of any volunteers needed in other areas – I'd be interested. My husband and I are doing some volunteer work at the moment with a remote aboriginal community – and we are interested in doing volunteer work in other cultures. Alan did some work with AusAid in Lae for about 10 months about 11 years ago.
Again – thanks for a memorable journey. The style of trek that you offer was just what I was seeking and I am already singing your praises here in Brisbane – hopefully more business will come your way.
Cheers for now24/08/2008 at 11:51 am #101004
Hi Gail, Finally home after the Goroka show…well that was one show and a half…I don't know what I expected but whatever it was what we experienced was better!!!!
I have burnt a CD of pics including the shots from Goroka, and will put it in with a copy of the DVD we took along the track. I hope you and the boys get as much pleasure out of watching it as we have. I don't know if you have had a chance to make it up to Goroka for the festival but let me tell you IT'S A HOOT!!! 100 times worth doing, and what a way to get in a bit of R & R after the hard slog on the track. I can't believe more people don't combine the two experiences.
On to the Track….feedback….
Firstly I would like to thank you sincerely for all the help that you gave us from the planning stages until the day we left. Without your help my dream would not have been as full and round and easy to achieve as it was. Frankly, I don't know how you do it!!!
Thank you to you and thank you to Sippy and to Seclan and to Ramsey and Rolf and to Vinney and Eddy and to Atta and to Murray. Each of you helped make our time in PNG very special.
My goodness Kokoda….. and…. PNG and the track and the boys and the festivals and the people….
People need to know that it's not just about the Track and the pain.
The track for us was not all about pain, mind you I definitely needed to draw on every hour of training I had invested prior to getting there, and was thankful for it on a daily basis. The day we flew out from home I came down the stairs at the Comfort in to a pile of freshly packed backpacks and a party of fresh trekkers all decked out in there polished boots and pristine gaiters. I got butterflies all over again and said to Bill that I could easily go back upstairs, grab my pack, get on my boots and go with
them….right there and then.
The food was great, the boys were great, the sticks are fantastic touch (t'shirts go all out of shape and wear out), but it's the care that makes the difference. I felt so cared about that I never considered a problem could occur that could not be solved. My confidence also rubbed off on Bill (the more conservative one of us) and he felt so much more comfortable than I thought he would and so enjoyed everything immensely. He just won't shut up about it…frankly he's driving me nuts!!
For us, we felt all the guys did their jobs really really well and also got on really well as a team…at least that we saw.
Sippy, always being so very responsible even when he was having fun. He wants sooo much to do a good job and to know about the history and for the rest of the porters to know about the history and to be able to answer questions etc.
Seclan, Very shy and quite reserved, did a great job and constantly reminded me that if I needed any help he was there to provide it. Didn't talk a hell of a lot but was always happy to continue the conversations we initiated.
Vinney…what a muso and what a fantastic addition to a team as well as being a nice guy, every team needs a vinney
Eddy, What a cutie and poor kid copped the most demanding bloke with the heaviest pack for his first time at that job. The kid earned a gold star (and heaps of respect from us) for the way he looked after Bevis and tolerated his rude rejections when he didn't want the help that was being offered at times.
Murray is just a nice quiet guy who went about his work with no fuss and was there and happy to help if anything was required.
Atta, now there is a really sweet man. Just one example…one night I had this bright idea of drying my sox and stuff by the fire. I draped things over sticks. Nothing said, Atto goes off with his big knife and soon comes back with all these forked sticks with whittled ends. Soon I had a drying rack for my clothes….and boots. I made him a nice hot coffee in return. Little things like that a lot of the time.
Rolf, well educated and loves a serious conversation as well as being a good mixer and great with the music as well. Reads a heap of stuff and is right up there on the PNG history…both pre and post war. Any questions I wanted credible answers to…asked Rolf, and a nice kid to boot. Mixes well and enjoys interaction with the trekkers
Ramsey, now although Ramsey and Bill became special friends this guy got more of my respect than any of the others on the day I was sick. I wanted to battle on… and stubborn as I am didn't want to hand over any weight or ask for any help. Finally I realised I had to have a little help and when I
asked if I could hand over some weight, Ramsey had his pack open before I could say Jack Robinson.
I also gave a bit to Bill, though he was nearly as sick as me anyway. As I came good round smoko I took back my stuff from Bill and asked Ramsey if I could get the stuff back from him. Ramsey answered me in a most quiet but assertive manner. I knew I was not to argue. We'll see at lunch time he said. Then there were also places that I normally would not have required help (which by now Seccy knew), but due to being so weak needed it this day. Ramsey was aware of the slight difference in my ability level that day and also aware of my "want to do it by myself attitude"… he calmly, but with a quiet yet assertive insistence took my hand at those times and made sure I was OK. I was thankful for his insistence.
Now at the same time, he is the funster and the joker and the life of the party. Sing sings that were shared along the way were initiated by Ramsey, In fact Ramsey could sing and play that little wooden box under water with a mouth full of marbles whilst carrying his pack and being ever so aware and sensitive to the needs of those around him. Ramsey is special and was the shining star if the bunch. I hope he goes far with his life …he deserves it!
Well done team, goodonya and goodonus and goodonme!!!24/08/2008 at 3:40 pm #101010
Dear Gail, Please pass on Sami's and my thanks to David, Paul, Bobby, Clement, Wiki and all the other porters in 362B.
It has now been a week since we returned and there are so many wonderful memories.
The charity pledges together with Macquarie Foundation matching should reach $75,000 – so thanks again to ensure we got to the end so we can collect the monies for these charities.
I think you have a Macquarie man trekking with you tomorrow – Damian with his father.- from Melbourne.
I am already thinking how to do it again and whether it is possible to request the same porters?
Thanks again Gail – your boys do you proud
Trek 362 B
Trek_362_B.jpeg17/09/2008 at 7:30 am #101161dcorkerMember
My husband and I decided to take up the challenge of the Kokoda track after seeing it on TV. After many months of training in 2006 we headed off, unfortunately with my husband ill from a flu. He still felt he was well enough to do the track and there was no way he was missing this opportunity.
Well the track beat him and after 3 arduous days, he was flown off the track to a hospital in Port Moresby. We flew home to Perth bitterly disappointed that our long held dream had not been fulfilled.
After a few months of contemplating we decided to give it another go so early 2007 we contacted Kokoda Trekking again to book our second trip. Then the hard work started, many months of training, and trying to find challenging climbs in Perth is difficult. Stairs, stairs and more stairs all at Jacobs ladder – for those not in Perth, its 242 stairs that are used mainly by people training for a trek or fitness training. We also drove south to the Stirling Ranges to get some hill climbing in, so it was very full-on for at least 4 months prior to leaving.
End of July 2007 and we're off again – flew to Kokoda station with 5 other trekkers in our group and we were off. Its difficult to put into words the experience other than you have to do it to really understand what Kokoda is all about. I could talk on about it for hours but I'm sure people look at me sideways when I say 'I loved it there'. It really was a wonderful experience from forming friendships with the other trekkers, living with the porters, learning about village life and understanding what the Aussie diggers went through.
All 7 of us in our group managed the trek with no problems but we saw many others that had not trained sufficiently, really struggling. Its not a walk in the park but if you get reasonably fit, you can make it comfortably. We feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity and would go back to Kokoda at the drop of a hat.
As for Gail and Kokoda Trekking, everything was organised and very well planned and we wouldn't even consider trekking with anyone else – we've done it twice with them so they must have been good! The porters are the most wonderful people, so genuinely wanting for you to succeed and doing whatever it takes so you make it. As for me, being the only female, not a problem. When you trek, your sex doesn't come into it, everyone is the same and thats just the way I wanted it.
So for all you empty nesters/mid-life crisis people out there – put on the boots and start walking and give Kokoda a go!
Life changing, absolutely. Better people for having done it, no doubt at all.
Our sincere thanks always to Gail and everyone involved in our trek, particularly our leader David Clark Embo.
Donna & Neil Corker
Trek 340 July/August 2007
Donna_Corker.jpg21/04/2009 at 12:28 pm #101996
Dear Gail, Thanks so much to you and the KTL Boys for the trek and for looking after us so wonderfully. I tried to log into the forum page but technology got the better of me. The pics are great thanks as well!!
We (the Byrne's and Tom and Herman) missed our connecting flight to Canberra but all got back fine this morning.
We were chatting at dinner last night and we couldn't think of anything that could have made the trek better (perhaps flatter mountains!!). We had no rain during the day until the second last day, a pretty quiet track and no injuries or illnesses to speak of (apart from Wayne of course and Siobhan having an allergic reaction to the malarial tablets). When it did rain it gave us an indication of what is was like and the track was messed up the last two days due to all the other trekkers that also illustrated to us (albeit very partially) what the track would have been like with 1000's going up and down it in WW11.
A wonderful trip overall!
Trek 487 – April 2009
IMGP6270.jpg08/08/2009 at 1:12 pm #102602
Kym & I want to thank you for one of the best experiences of our lives : we are of course back into our normal routines again now but we are still reliving our trek and thinking about it all the time.
Looking at our photos/films is an enormous pleasure (from the ease of our lounge chairs!!), and I have spent ages happily rewriting and typing up the journal that I kept whilst on the Track. We had the opportunity to observe many other trekking companies during our trek and it was obvious to us that KTL provides a high level of management skill in trek organisation.
It was greatly to our advantage that we were a small group, as this enabled us to form great friendships with the other members of our group and also with our porters.
We appreciate your respect and care for your porters : of course we came extremely quickly to almost revere them! – & so we admire & fully support your policy to assist the local people with opportunities to work & gain skills for a modern world, whilst maintaining old commmunity traditions. I cannot speak too highly of our porters : they were wonderful : so vigilant for our safety & well being, & we loved their gentle humour & respect for each other. We want to reiterate the sentiments we expressed at the hotel on "pizza night" – that they are the men of steel & that the legendary fuzzy wuzzies are still real today. I could go on & on!
Thanks very much, Gail. We are still enjoying looking at your website & there are plenty of emails flying back & forth between "Peter13h" & all the rest of us! (especially about those boots!!!)
IMGP0223.jpg20/08/2009 at 6:57 am #102725peterh13Member
Everything Wendy said about the boys is true, they are all true professionals and we all came to depend on them.
Rhonda , Anne and I want to thank you all so much for a trip that we will never forget.
Peter.04/04/2010 at 7:46 am #102455
Hi Gail and Shane,
Thanks so much for such a rewarding experience. It's funny how much comes back to you when retelling the stories back home in Australia.
One thing that I am sure to do is to spread the word of how wonderful your porters are. Ramsey in particular was an intuitive guide who took care of us on the track by picking the path that would be most suitable, adjusting the pace to how we were travelling and being there to offer words of support and encouragement all the way along.
I am delighted to hear that he is going to do the race and I hope that he does really well.
Shane was a great guide who provided us with a well managed trek making sure that we were well catered for and prepared for each day. The way he took into consideration the needs of everyone and his advise on how to handle the situations we faced made the adventure doable.
You mentioned that when people arrive they are interested in doing the trail and what they are going to get out of it.
When they leave they are impacted by the relationships that have been formed with the porters and the community. There is no doubt that this was the case for Hayden and I. We really loved the way everyone on the trail greeted us and their willingness to chat and include us in their lives. There is a bond that goes back to the fuzzy wuzzy Angels that is still there today I believe.
Finally I am delighted that we chose to trek with you and your team. While the ability to run a well managed trek was important I believe that the way that you guys give back to the community and include the locals in your operations makes a unique difference to the whole experience.
I felt like I was being included in the history of the trail rather than just observing it as a visitor.
Thanks for creating that opportunity.
Paul and Hayden
Trek 599 – March 2010
IMGP1297__640x480_.JPG09/07/2010 at 2:26 pm #104489Huw ap ReesMember
Over Christmas 2009 I was bemoaning the fact that I was 15 kg overweight and every time I tried to do something about it I failed and it made me feel that at 52 I had lost my mojo.
My 21 year old son told me I needed a bigger objective than just losing weight and challenged me to do the Kokoda Trail with him. It took me a week or so of internet research and a deep breath and I committed by signing us both up for the first week of July.
I gave up alcohol, started eating properly and went to the gym three times a week and in three months I was down from 100 kg to 85 kg. I turned to bushwalking doing three full day walks in the Blue mountains covering 20 km a day with 1200 m of climbing. Then I did a two dayer convincing myself I could back up two days in row and finally, two weeks before we left to Kokoda I did a three day walk with three sub zero camps, and big climbs. I felt ready to go.
The challenge for us was a 7 or 8 day day trek carrying our own packs – 10 kg plus water 3lt and daily food pack 0.9 kg.
We just got back home today after an amazing Kokoda Experience. Trek 660, 28 June to 7th July 2010.
We had Ernest as our Guide – a great leader with the respect of all his team, Clement and Tommy singing and playing guitar every night, at breakfast and even on the Track!. Clement showed us all the military sites and helped us understand how the soldiers of both sides must have felt as the battle turned first in favour of the Japanese and then the Australians.
We had a great small party of three trekkers, Ernest and four porters so we got to know each other well and understand what life is like in Kokoda Village where they all live.
We started at the Kokoda end and imagined the Japanese attack into the mountains as we progressed – how could they believe it was possible to get through to Moresby by this route? We saw each of the battle sites and each of the new defensive lines drawn by the Diggers in the fighting retreat. They picked some great positions to defend! Eventually we got to the furthest point of the advance and the start of the Australian advance.
We walked for 7 full days and the challenge was massive – physcially on the up hill climbs, and mentally on the long steep descents in very muddy slippery conditions. Ernest and his team walked closely with us when we were tired and let us charge off with energy in the morning. We had a well deserved swim in the Goldie River and then climbed up the last hill to Owers Corner in the afternoon and spent a great evening looking back at the view over the track we had conquered. We camped there overnight and had breakfast and a final sing song as the sun rose.
What a great feeling!
We are all elated with our trip and 100 pct supportive of the way KTL run the program – local guides, music, small groups, flexible pace to suit the group with alternate daily end points every day, history without being overly militaristic, and the leadership and support to get you through safely whilst respecting your desire to do the challenge as unaided as you can manage. This is no Package Tour – unlike some we saw with 15 to 20 trekkers, 30 to 40 porters – stretched out over kilometers with no chance for the leader to see who needs support, mass catering at night compared to our little group sitting around the camp fire.
Thanks to everyone at KTL!
Huw ap Rees16/09/2011 at 9:41 am #105771mronhifi123Member
Everything Wendy said about the boys is true, they are all true professionals and we all came to depend on them.
Rhonda , Anne and I want to thank you all so much for a trip that we will never forget.
Peter.08/01/2012 at 9:43 am #105971
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