17/11/2005 at 7:01 am #94198
Summary: Facts at a glance:
- Value for money
- Complementary Tee Shirt
- Complementary book on KOKODA – Author Bill James CLICK HERE to read more:
- Certificate of 'Achievement'
- VHF radios in all 'Motor Vehicles'
- Option of 'private' or 'open' treks
- Motor Vehicles both 'ends of the trail'
- 'Custom treks' create 'your own trek dates'
- Tour of Port Moresby 'included' in trek costs
- Bases in 'Port Moresby'; 'Kokoda' & Australia
- Liability Insurance both in Australia and PNG
- VHF base radios in both 'Kokoda' & 'Port Moresby'
- Home cooked meals in Kokoda at 'Rusty's family block'
- Traditional' welcome in Kokoda at 'Rusty's family block'
- Food supplemented by local food purchased from villages
- Competitive Airfare & Accommodation Packages available
- Gona and Buna connections for anyone wanting to 'extend'
- Sleep in your tent next to the creek at 'Rusty's family block'
- Guides and Porters wear KTL Tee Shirts so easily recognised
- Friendly courteous staff – always prepared to go the 'extra mile'
- PNG based – local knowledge and experience on and off the trail
- Sleep in a traditional 'win haus' in Kokoda at 'Rusty's family block'
- Table tennis; darts or touch footy – challenge your porters to a game
- Tents can be provided for shade at Kokoda Airstrip or Kokoda Station
- Two of the longest walkers John Derick & Russell Eroro trained by Clive Baker
- Three years in a row, we have taken more trekkers on the trail than any other trekking company.
- 'Live updates' on our website – family & friends can follow your progress…send messages via our website & receive replies
- We only hire Orokaiva & Koiari guides and porters who are very loyal & hard working. Closely supervised and disciplined to ensure you have a great trek.
- KTL boys can quickly turn a canvas into a stretcher in no time at all if an emergency occurred and you had to be carried to the closest clearing.
- 24 Hour Ration Packs – supplied by Food for Treks – http://www.food4treks.com.au – light on our KTL boys backs – less than 1kg in weight per trekker per day
- Bonus: you will have more fun – our boys like to entertain you by singing & playing their uke'ule's
- Extra Bonus: all treks are clearly shown and displayed on our website including the number of trekkers listed on each trek. They all have their own guide; assistant guide and food porters; pots and pans and other equipment. Each trek is limited to a total of 20 trekkers and the majority of treks a lot less. Some companies can take up to 100 trekkers on the trail at the same time and most trekkers are not aware of this until they arrive in PNG. How would you like to share a campsite with that many trekkers and added staff?
- As an Australian, you can be assured that I work here in PNG and have my own WORK PERMIT, how about the person you pick as your trek leader, is he/she a tourist like yourself or do they hold a valid work permit? and or Business Visa? It costs our company a lot of money and time to apply for a work permit but we want to operate legally. For me to apply for a visitors visa and then work here in PNG is not the correct thing to do. So ask other companies, does your trek leader have a valid work permit?
At Kokoda Trekking we feel we offer you the best price for the best service.
KOKODA TREKKING (KTL) STATISTICS:
- Number of Trekkers in 2003 = 24 x 5 treks
- Number of Trekkers in 2004 = 426 x 43 treks
- Number of Trekkers in 2005 = 682 x 75 treks
- Number of Trekkers in 2006 = 850 x 104 treks
- Number of Trekkers in 2007 = 722 x 80 treks
Over 2700 trekkers since we first commenced operation. For four years in a row we have taken more trekkers on the Kokoda Track than any other operator. This is indeed something we are proud of. Our Kokoda operation is PNG run and you can be assured your money employs hundreds of porters and guides from Kokoda and surrounding areas right up to Sogeri. We have invested heavily in motor vehicles; satellite radios; two way radios and other equipment we feel necessary to run successful Kokoda Treks.
We would like to think we must be doing something right as our business continues to grow which is something we are very proud of. In the beginning 98% of all our trekkers ticked 'Google' as to how they found us. Now it is almost 50/50…'Word of Mouth' and 'Google'.
CLICK HERE to compare based on the purchase of trek permits from Kokoda Track Authority. We also pride ourselves with being honest and if you trek with us you can be assured trek permits will be purchased. If trek fees are not paid to the Kokoda Track Authority then they cannot action projects along the trail for your benefit and that of villagers who live there:
We notice some other kokoda websites degrade other trekking companies but we do not intend to do that. Some ask you questions and like to fill your heads with doubt. Some recommend certain trekking companies and exclude others.
As we all compete in the same market place but attract different types of clients, we would like to think there is a package out there that is suited to what you are looking for. Naturally we would like you to choose Kokoda Trekking but we know you will have a great time no matter who you trek with.
Lonely Planet – Papua New Guinea – Guide Book – 2005: Their comments about ourselves is as follows: this PNG-owned company has no expert guides, which makes their trips cheaper and often encourages greater interaction with local guides and carriers. Good feedback, but historical knowledge is limited. unquote
Lets define these comments. yes, we are PNG based and proud of it. yes, we encourage interaction between you the trekker and our boys…colonial rule no longer applies here in PNG and you will loose their respect if you try and bully them in anyway. With regards to 'expert guides' thats their way of saying we do not have a 'white expatriate guide' walking alongside of you reading details you more than likely know anyway. On one of our treks there was an war historian in the group who volunteered to give a trek briefing each day. One trekker remarked later that it was ok but in the end he just wished he would shut up.
What we are finding more and more is that you our trekkers are so well read by the time you arrive on PNG soil that the majority, well 75% of you are walking experts yourselves having read and digested several books. Honestly, even if these KTL boys read the same amount of books as yourselves they would still not compete as they have never had any real public speaking training and most have never finished high school.
Lets define 'EXPERT' when it comes to KOKODA….do you want someone who can memorise or read from a book the history of the trail….or do you want someone who can get you home no matter what the conditions. Someone who can get you over any river crossing no matter whether its flooded or not…..someone to encourage you when you are feeling down….someone to hold your hand and help you up a hill when you are struggling….when it comes to these kind of skills, yes, the KTL boys of KOKODA TREKKING are 'EXPERTS' they will try their hardest to allow you to follow in the footsteps of our diggers and to give you our trekkers the best adventure of your life!.
If you do not believe me just ask our previous trekkers by posting a message on our forum. What we suggest at Kokoda Trekking is that you are well read before coming. We also hand out a free Kokoda Diary which states the major battles and also has 9 free pages at the back for your own notes. What you have to ask yourselves, do I want to pay more money out of my pocket for an expatriate led trek.
The Kokoda Track/Trail whilst being an historical journey, is also one of the 'best adventures' you will ever have. This time last year I was out there myself and it was the best thing I have ever done! and when you conquer the trail and finish…wow…the rush you feel is really hard to explain!
Before I walked myself I used to say to trekkers…well what was it like…the answer would be something like….Gail you just gotta do it….its hard to put it in words! Now I know exactly what they mean. CLICK HERE to read about my own trek in November 2004:
What's the difference between the various trekking companies? Some Companies are Australian based whereas some are PNG based. Some are Australian led, some are PNG led. Some are run like boot camps others are more casual. Some have PNG citizens walking alongside of you, some do not and have them walk ahead of you. Some companies allow their porters to talk and integrate with you – others sadly do not. Some companies hire highlanders not Koiari's or Orokiavans, whilst some companies hire from all over the trail. As for ourselves, we are based in Kokoda however when a treks commences from Ower's Corner its top heavy of staff from this end of the track. When it commences in Kokoda the majority of our staff are hired from that end. We also employ guides from Efogi & Kagi and porters from all over the trail.
With Kokoda Trekking you will be walking with 100% national led treks, ie proud Papua New Guinean guides and porters unless you request an expatriate led trek.
Having a base in Kokoda naturally means the majority of our staff live in and around Kokoda Station but as we have grown we find we hire from all over the track. The District Administrator has thanked us for helping to keep the boys of Kokoda and surrounding areas out of the court system by giving them employment, hope and a future to support their families. (NO SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS IN PNG). You will find not only in Kokoda but everywhere, that they are all pretty much self sufficient, they grow all their own food. Their protein comes from small chicken businesses and anything they can catch hunting…definitely no butcher shops! If they want to purchase meat besides poultry they have to pay to go down to Popondetta the closest town to Kokoda.
We have two bases. Our head office is in Port Moresby situated close to the airport in Gordons. The other is in Kokoda at my business partner's residence or commonly known as Rusty's Family Kokoda Block.
A little about ourselves: My name is Gail Thomas and I have lived and worked in PNG since 1972 with the exception of two years spent on the Gold Coast settling our eldest two children back into life in OZ. I have lived in Lae for 14+ years; Goroka for 2 + years; Mt Hagen 1 year and the remainder in Port Moresby.
In 2000/01 Dec/Jan – I was in Australia for my annual holidays when I noticed the majority of Australians thought I was crazy to live here. In Feb'01 I started working on a website – http://www.pngbd.com to put something positive back into the market place and try and change some views and encourage tourists to visit PNG.
This website now attracts over 7000+ visitors per day and for the month of October almost 4 million hits so I feel I have achieved what I set out to do….statistics are made up as follows: Statistics for http://www.pngbd.com; Registered Users: 6,324; Photographs on pngbd: 9,719; Comments: 1,690; Views: 3,333,487; Disk Space: 629.0mb
This website has never made me any money quite the contrary, it has cost me money and more time and energy than I dare think about. However, if anyone thinking of walking the Kokoda Trail wants to know anything about exchange rates or other places to visit than you will find that and more on pngbd.17/11/2005 at 3:52 pm #94219
How I met my business partner Russell Eroro from the town of KOKODA a veteran of 287 treks:
In late 2003 I was approached by the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) and the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) and thanked for my contribution to business and tourism. With TPA I got to know their media representative Malum Nalu. I asked Malum if TPA ever sent him anywhere so that he could write about PNG through experiencing an adventure. He answered no, only the people at the top get to travel.
I decided to cover all his costs for him to walk the Kokoda Track with a local operator. He walked the track and found it tough going and was supposed to get air lifted off the track at Efogi due to sore knees. I went to bed thinking the next morning I would be organising a a charter flight to pick him up.
Not so, he was lucky enough to have on his trek, one of the longest walkers on the track, Russell Eroro. Every morning Russell would get him up earlier than anyone else and they would set off. Russell got him to Owers' Corner much to his delight and he was so excited he phoned me the next day asking if I meant what I said that I would help a PNG person to start his own company who did not have any capital or resources to do so. I quickly agreed and soon got to meet Russell Eroro.
The rest as they say is history, as Russell Eroro is now my business partner in Kokoda Trekking. We started from nothing except the will to succeed. Russell had dreamed for 12 + years of running his own company and employing his own staff. Russell has walked somewhere in the vicinity of 270+ treks. His brother John Derick Eroro has walked a lot more years and is closer to the 400 + trek mark. Between the two of them we have all bases covered. Russell works as my sub contractor and handles all the Guides, Porters & landowner issues. I guess you could say I handle everything else along with other important staff of Kokoda Trekking Ltd.
Russell Eroro & myself Gail Thomas seen here at Nauro Village Guesthouse when he took me out on the trail in 2004 and acted as my personal porter to show me the ropes:
Gail_and_Russell_Naoro.jpg17/11/2005 at 4:21 pm #94216
Russell Eroro, his assistants Rod Ori and Andrew Yauga are in charge of Operations the Port Moresby end and John Derrick Eroro along with their nephew Paulo Talanoa takes care of the Kokoda end. Both brothers were trained by the legendary Australian Guide and historian, Clive Baker. They worked for several years with Clive's Rope, Pack & Paddle Company. After Clive stopped coming to PNG both Russell & John were for hire to anyone requiring their services. During this time they worked for almost all trekking companies operating today at one time or other. Due to their years of walking the track they were always considered two of the most experienced guides on the trail and highly sort after by all trekking companies.
With his own company Kokoda Trekking Ltd (or commonly known as KTL) Russell has tried to create all the things he enjoyed from his trekking years and disregard everything else he didnt like. He decided the main objective was to get you all across the track as safe as he possibly could. He wanted you to thoroughly enjoy your trekking experience and really get to know your porters. One of the things he disliked when walking was the way some companies separate trekkers from porters. He also feels it important for your safety that your porters are never far from your side.
Compared to us as Australian's, people living here in PNG have very little with regards to material assets. Most are lucky if they could afford to purchase a stereo their prized possession. With their first lot of wages its usually the first thing they purchase, a radio/dvd player; torches; bush knives and so on in that order.
When I first visited Russell's block in Kokoda my heart went out to the families who were forced to live the way they had been for generations. Some people may argue they are happy that way so why change them. However, right or wrong, I do not think that way. I was born and raised on a dairy farm near Kyogle, northern NSW and although we did not have a fancy house, we did have the basic amenities such as a house that did not leak; toilet that flushed; kitchen; bathroom; TV; water tank and so on. It has taken me 2 years but Russell and his family now enjoy a higher standard of living.
The women on the block now have a kitchen they can cook in. They have a generator and solar to provide power. Lights operated by solar; a tank to supply water for showers/kitchen; water pumps; motor vehicles; stove; refridgerator; freezer; home theatre system…I could keep going! As Australian's we have these items per household, the items mentioned above are 'shared by the whole community' that lives on the family block. This makes me sleep better at night as even if landowners were to close the track tomorrow, I have helped improve the standard of living of quite a few people. Through the employment of guides and porters you too, are doing a huge service for these people. Thank YOU! in advance.
Photograph: John Derick Eroro. Due to popular demand, anyone wanting to book John as their guide, an added cost per group of $500.00 applies:
John_Derick_Eroro.jpg18/11/2005 at 2:58 am #94220
Consequently with our treks our boys stick with you all the way. They walk…sing…play their uke'ule's and just spoil you rotten. By the time you return to Port Moresby you have not only conquered the bloody track, but realise how good the boys looked after our diggers during WWII. We encourage you to talk with them….joke with them…and share anything at all with them and they will do likewise. They in return will encourage you all the way….lend a helping hand when you need it…erect your tent if you wish them to do so…cook for you from start to finish…take things out of your pack if they see you struggling and much much more.
Throughout 2004 & 2005 trekker after trekker had nothing but praise for our KTL boys out on the track. All trekkers who hire a personal porter think they have the 'best' porter. Russell always tells me that they all love the work they do so much that it is a holiday and an honour for them to accompany you. For so many years they never got any work at all…now that they do, they really want you to enjoy walking with them. There is also more boys wanting work than there is trekkers to trek.
In Kokoda the boys will tell you they do not rely on the Government for anything. Up here in PNG there is no dole handouts and they look forward to us hiring them. Other than that they are all subsistence farmers trying to make a living from planting vanilla; oil palm; chicken projects or small tradestores.
A group of our KTL boys seen here at Ower's Corner recently at the end of one of our treks in October. PLEASE NOTE: Our KTL boys walk in uniforms provided by us so you can easily distinguish them from other nationals in villages and on the track:
ktl_boys.jpg18/11/2005 at 3:40 am #94221
Another added feature of trekking with Kokoda Trekking is our website. As we update the website ourselves, it is always 'live' with reports from the track. Your family as a result can follow your progress back home. If necessary we can pass messages back and forth and keep you in touch. For this purpose we employ a full time radio operator whose name is Jessie Garap.
This year I laughed when I heard our radio operator talking with a farmer on the trail asking for a key to a shed as a heifer was calving. Jessie didnt even know what a 'heifer' was but somehow or other communication flowed back and forth and his wife back home soon found the missing key. Being a dairy farmers daughter I quickly explained to Jessie and we all had a laugh..but hey the system worked.
Jessie, I have known since she was a very young as I have worked with her mother Samariti for around 28 years of my life in PNG. In fact when I resigned from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu after 9 + years to work full time for Kokoda Trekking, it was Samariti who took over from me. I now have as much pride in training Jessie in all facets of office work but her primary function is to listen out for you all on the trail and to post updates on our website. The boys also rely on her when it comes to their food as she is our purchasing officer and helps with the packing.
Jessie also accompanies our driver Kei whenever trekkers are driven around Port Moresby and acts as our tour guide. Jessie walked the Kokoda Trail in 2004 with her sister.
Front row centre two sisters Jessie (left) & her Ilyana (right) seen here at Jackson's Airport before they departed for Kokoda
With_other_trekkers_at_the_.jpg18/11/2005 at 4:54 am #94222
One of our major assets is that we have transport both ends of the Kokoda Trail. In Kokoda we have two vehicles a Mitsubishi Canter and a Toyota 4 Wheel drive Hilux. Here in Port Moresby we have two 4WD buses and a Mazda 3 tonne truck. Due to this fact if you wish to come in off the trail early or change your itinerary it does not prove a problem for us. We can also drive your group around town free of charge if you book through us providing of course that it does not interfere with trekker pick up or drop offs to Ower's Corner.
At the Kokoda end we are able to cope also if something goes wrong as we can quickly drive trekkers down to Popondetta if the need ever arises. Also one trekker this year missed her flight out of Sydney and didnt therefore connect with the flight leaving Brisbane for PNG. We quickly were able to deal with problem simply getting her to travel via Cairns to overnight and come up the next day.
Instead of the morning flight into Kokoda with the rest of the trekkers in her group, we flew her into Popondetta around 4pm in the afternoon and our truck went down and picked her up. She may have arrived around 8pm that night in Kokoda but she was still there in time to commence her walk the next day to Isurava with other members of her group.
On the day of your arrival or departure from Kokoda you are either driven to / or picked up from the Kokoda airstrip rather than being exposed to the elements and walking in the hot sun.
KTL 2 seen here parked at Ower's Corner:
KTL_2_at_Ower__s_Corner.jpg18/11/2005 at 1:05 pm #94223
Whether you are flying into Kokoda or flying out, all 9 day trekkers will spend one night at Russell (Rusty's) Eroro's family block in Kokoda. At Rusty's block are quite a few guesthouses that belong individual members of his family. Depending on the size of your trek some are spread around to make more room or if a small trek they are designated to one particular guesthouse.
At Rusty's block we can overnight up to 100 people. Some people prefer to stay in a guesthouse which are commonly called 'win haus's'. Others choose to erect their tent on the lawn or next to the creek that runs through their property.
Throughout 2005 we have been trying to encourage our guides and porters to also build guesthouses in their own villages so they too can earn in overnight accommodation and their wives and extended families can benefit from tourism.
When we first started our trekking business, the people of Kokoda would often complain that no-one stopped in their town, just landed…looked at the monuments and walked past to Isurava. With Kokoda Trekking you all overnight in Kokoda which makes the people of Kokoda feel they too benefit from tourism. In the past they have felt left out. The other main reason is of course the airline. Sometimes you do not land in Kokoda until around midday and if you did not overnight you would be forced to walk in the hottest part of the day up to Isurava.
Before we commenced overnighting our trekkers in Kokoda we found some really struggled on that first day due to the heat. Now we find we have a 100% success rate as you are up bright and early the next day following your arrival and you walk in the cool of the day instead. An army guy who has walked the trail many many times, suggested this to us and it has worked out really well. Now the first day whilst still tough is made much easier with a good nights sleep and an early rise to start your trek.
If walking from Ower's Corner to Kokoda – how would you like to relax at the end of your trek as one trekker did this year in Kokoda at Rusty's family block sharing a beer with your personal porter. Rusty's place also has a fridge and freezer so you can even have COLD BEER providing you give them enough notice and send a runner ahead to purchase and put in the fridge. Another alternative is to let your guide know to inform the block to freeze some water for ice to put your beer in their esky:
Picture_095.jpg19/11/2005 at 8:35 am #94224
All our treks with five trekkers or more are given a traditional Oro Province welcome when they arrive in Kokoda. This also gives back to the community as more villagers earn from tourism. It also allows Russell's family to share with you some of their culture which they are so proud of. Russell's mother and father are still alive and live on the block having raised 17 children.
Rusty's Family Block to an Oro Province Welcome. Traditional sing sing dancers complete with kundu drums, grass skirts and chanting of the words ORO ORO ORO which means WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME in the Oro Province.
100_0115.jpg19/11/2005 at 8:42 am #94225
If you choose to trek with Kokoda Trekking (KTL) we also look after you at Kokoda Airstrip where there is very little in the way of amenities. Airlines of PNG fly into Kokoda at times to suit themselves not necessarily according to their timetable.
This year we invested in a couple of tents to give you shade while you wait. Due to owning our own transport we can always run you back to Rusty's block should the need arise before catching your flight back to Port Moresby.
Traditional Sing Sing dancers seen here in front of our tent whcih is based at our Kokoda Base:
Sing_Sing_Dancers_Kokoda.jpeg21/11/2005 at 7:00 am #94266
Our KTL boys are renowned for their singing and uke'ule playing. If you do not like music than I suggest you pick another company to walk with as our boys will drive you mad.
At night you will go to sleep to the sound of their music. When you wake up of a morning you will hear them strumming their uke'ule's and singing. By the time you arrive back in Port Moresby you will all be able to sing the KTL song.
On the trail itself when you feel you cant lift your leg one more time….you will hear the sound of a uke'ule somewhere in the distance. As you get closer and closer the sound will be louder and you know you can make it. How do you know this…because the food porters generally walk ahead to a place they know you might find it hard to cross a river crossing for example.
They will wait there to help you and your porter to cross before moving on. While they wait they play and sing. On my own trek I loved the sound as it gave me motivation and encouragement to reach the next point. Some trekkers have even come back into Port Moresby and have wanted to buy a uke'ule from a store to take home.
When one of our treks came back this year, I asked what the highlight of their trek was. The answer was not what I expected…..it was John Derick Eroro singing at the top of his voice walking up Emita Ridge when the rest of us were finding it really hard and out of breath, they loved it!
Andrew one of our guides (far right) with other KTL porters. Kokoda boys have had no formal musical training but they all 'love to sing' and do so in harmony. No matter where they are, the boys of Kokoda's relax by singing and playing their guitars and uke'ule's.
KTL_Boys.jpg21/11/2005 at 9:06 am #94250
Another plus for Kokoda Trekking is that whether you start or finish in Kokoda the women of Rusty's block prepare food for our trekkers. When you live on 24 hour ration packs, the sight of a home cooked meal at the end of your trek can be really exciting.
Photograph: wives of our KTL guides and porters at Rusty's Family Block in Kokoda waiting on trekkers to sample their cooking. Russell's mother is second on the right in this photograph and John's wife Alice is in the centre. The women of the block are proud to wear their uniforms:
Women___food.jpg21/11/2005 at 10:08 am #94251
Kokoda Trekking guides are all equipped with a VHF radio which enables them to be in contact with any of the following:
- KTL base in Port Moresby (Head Office)
- KTL operations Port Moresby (Russell Eroro)
- KTL vehicles are fitted with radios – KTL 1; KTL 2; PNGBD 1; PNGBD 2; RCE1
- KTL base in Kokoda
- KTL guides can also communicate with each other on the trail if the need arises.
We are therefore contactable on a 24 hour basis both ends of the trail and on the trail itself providing the repeater station has had sufficient solar power for the battery to stay charged.
Having lived in PNG for 30+ years, we are familiar with how everything works here and feel as mentioned earlier we have both ends of the track covered should an emergency occur.
Photograph: One of our guides Bevan Evari seen here carrying one of our radios. Guides are expected to report three times per day at designated times as set down by Russell Eroro. In an emergency they are naturally able to contact us immediately:
IMG_0910.jpg23/11/2005 at 1:19 pm #94245
Certificate of Achievement:
At the end of each trek you are given a Kokoda Trekking tee shirt and a 'Certificate of Achievement' to take home with you.
Granger Narara one our trekkers receiving his 'Certificate' at the end of his trek from Russell Eroro. Although a PNG citizen, Granger is the Fleet Captain on the Airbus for Emirates Airlines and came back to his homeland to walk the Kokoda Trail. Along with him were several pilots mainly from Australia. Next year one of his fellow trekkers is coming back again on another trek and is bringing friends along for the experience:
Certificate.jpg23/11/2005 at 1:24 pm #94246
Traditional Win Haus's are seen in the background. In the foreground are trekkers enjoying a meal and a rest after they successfully completed their trek. The table serves two purposes as seen here and also to play table tennis if you still have some energy left.
To continue reading please click on page 2 left hand side below:
Kokoda_Block.jpg23/11/2005 at 2:01 pm #94247
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