The Kokoda trek is an increasingly popular destination for the adventure traveller. The 96km is usually covered over 10-12 days, involves moderate technical difficulty and requires a good level of physical fitness. Accommodation is in huts in a number of villages, as well as open-air camping.
Challenges include steep and muddy narrow trails, creek crossings, high levels of heat and humidity, frequent heavy afternoon rain and cool nights at altitude.
Prospective trekkers should prepare for the arduous journey with a fitness program starting several months before departure, preferably with 40 minute walks involving steep climbs carrying a 15-20kg back pack at least 3 times a week. A fitness for travel assessment should be conducted prior to booking the holiday, particularly if the traveller is over 40 years of age or has risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, hypertension or a family history of coronary artery disease.
Our experience indicates that many trekkers acquire minor nuisance medical problems on this trek, rashes and feet infections are very common. Blisters of course can be avoided by good preparation, but antiseptic, bandaids and padding are essential.
The most serious infectious disease encountered by trekkers is malaria, often of the severe falciparum variety, although this may not appear until after return home. It is recommended that all travellers should be taking medication to reduce the likelihood of developing this disease, as well as mosquito avoidance measures, such has using DEET containing repellents and permethrin soaked mosquito nets and clothing. It is vital for the medication to be continued on return home for the recommended period to minimise the risk of illness.
Other notable health risks include hook worm (the larvae penetrate intact skin from mud contaminated with dog faeces), other intestinal worms and parasites, skin infections (bacterial and fungal), dengue fever and trauma from falls and other injuries.
Vaccination against hepatitis A, B, and typhoid are often advised, as is checking the status of routine childhood vaccinations such as tetanus, measles and chicken pox.
A comprehensive first aid and medical kit is recommended. The medical kit ideally will contain medication for the rapid treatment of traveller’s diarrhoea and other common ailments. Water purification tablets +/- filters are also advised.
The Travel Doctor-TMVC Services for Kokoda Trail Treks
The Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics throughout Australia have had much experience in preparing expeditions to Kokoda, and encourage prospective trekkers to organise an initial consultation well before the planned departure date.
Special arrangements for groups are available, and medical kits can be tailored to groups or individuals.
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