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Travel information 
 

Savaia guest house
Visitors arrive in Sunbird's Islander at Kokoda Airstrip

  • Scheduling
    Allow at least one spare day before your flight out of PNG in case internal flights are delayed due to weather or shortage of aircraft. Travel insurance is essential, but not all travel insurance covers the consequences of delays so check the fine print.
  • Clothing and weather
    PNG weather is predictable: it will be either very warm or hot. Except around Port Moresby, it will always be very humid.
    A wide-brim hat and plenty of SPF 30+ sunscreen are essential.
    At night it can be quite cool in elevated settlements (in the Highlands, and even around Kokoda in villages such as Hagutawa and Misima) so carry a light jumper. A lightweight microfibre blanket can be very handy.
  • This is a mountainous area in the tropics so most days are sunny, but late in the day it's likely to rain. A folding umbrella is very useful for both shade and when the inevitable rain shower arrives, usually mid-to-late afternoon. Lightweight rain jackets are useful, with "breathing" fabrics being more suited to the combination of heat and humidity. Your clothes will dry quickly in the heat once the rain passes.
  • Slip-on, open-toed footwear is ideal around a village, but roads and tracks can be stony and sometimes muddy, so robust shoes are recommended.
  • Water
    All Kokoda Homestay villages are fanatical about water quality. They get their water from springs, as close to the source as humanly possible and are meticulous about avoiding possible sources of contamination.
    Carry plenty of water whenever you go walking but don't drink more than you really need because the effects can be as bad or even worse than not drinking enough.
  • People
    Walking along rural roads is a social event. Expect kindness and smiles. There's only light vehicle traffic in most areas, and with all your fellow pedestrians it's hard to be lonely. People are respectful of your privacy so you'll probably need to break the ice. Many older people speak good English and enjoy conversation.
  • Don't be alarmed when you see someone carrying a huge grass knife.
                     Grass knife
    It's everyone's favorite tool for tidying stray wisps of lawn, working in the garden, opening coconuts and nearly any other outdoor job you can think of.
  • Phones, Internet and mail
    Communication with the world beyond PNG can be difficult and expensive. The good news is that things are improving fast. Mobile phone service (Digicel GSM) is now available along the road between Popondetta and Kokoda, and is steadily extending south along the Track.
  • Most visitors find it cheaper to buy a basic mobile phone at Port Moresby airport (around AUD$25), purchase K20 of prepaid calls and use it in preference to the ruinous expense of roaming with their normal phone. Internal calls in PNG are very cheap (around AUD 10 cents to anywhere in the country). Your phone will be very handy to liaise between villages, arrange lifts and so on.  
    Tip:
    Around Kokoda opportunities for charging your phone are rare as there is no mains power. Don't get carried away with long calls and GPS use, and remember to turn off your phone at night. A few villages have generators but the high cost of fuel makes their use fairly infrequent.
  • There is no internet facility and data services are not available on mobile phones.
  • Mail is very slow and unreliable. There is a post office in Kokoda but opening hours are sporadic. As a general rule in PNG never send valuables in the mail because postal theft is very common.
  • ATMs
    There are ATMs in Popondetta, but do not assume your bank's ATM card can be used in PNG. Before leaving home ensure that your card can be used with Bank of South Pacific terminals. Neither should you assume any ATMs will be working.
       There are no credit card, ATM or banking facilities in Kokoda so all transactions much be in cash and in kina.

    Kokoda Hospital
  • Health
    Kokoda has a good hospital, located on the Kokoda Station plateau at the northern extremity of the Trail. A 24/7 ambulance service operates out of the hospital. The aid post at Kebara is currently being renovated and is not operational. We strongly recommend carrying a basic first aid kit at all times.
  • As in most tropical locations, malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are common in PNG. Immunisation against typhoid and hepatitis A may also be necessary. Consult SmartTraveller and your doctor about preventative medication well before leaving because some need to be taken before entering a malaria zone. Use an insect repellent containing DEET.
       An insect net is always useful when sleeping. Not all villages have nets, and at present those that do only have a few. A generous and common practice amongst departing overseas visitors is to leave their nets with their hosts.


PMV crossing the bed of the Kumusi River, between Kokoda and Popondetta.

 

Getting to Kokoda
There are three ways to get to and from Kokoda:

1. Fly direct
At various times of the year Sunbird Aviation offers scheduled flights between Port Moresby and Kokoda. These are once per week, usually around midday, and cost K300 each way with a 10 kg baggage limit. There may be a charge for excess baggage. They also offer charter flights for K4600 (limit: nine passengers). The flight takes about 25 minutes.

Charter flights by operators such as Tropic Air or Central Aviation are sometimes available. These cost from K7000 to K16,000 depending on the size and type of aircraft, with the cost divided amongst the passengers.

We can try to arrange seats on charter flights that are not fully booked, but these are only occasionally available, mostly in the trekking season and usually only 2-4 weeks ahead.
Note: Airlines PNG no longer operates scheduled services to Kokoda.

2. Fly to Popondetta, then take a Public Motor Vehicle (PMV)
Fly with Air Niugini or Airlines PNG from Port Moresby [POM] to Popondetta [PNP], then take a Public Motor Vehicle (always called a PMV, and usually a tray truck) to Kokoda.

The air fare costs around K250 each way, though it's likely to be higher if not booked early.

Popondetta airstrip is about 10 km from the town along a sealed road. Vehicles are usually available at the airstrip to take you to town for around K30 per person.

Due to the road damage from the 2007 cyclone getting to Kokoda from Popondetta requires planning and patience. You can ride the daily PMV for around K30 each way. The truck will take at least five hours to travel the 80 km due to extensive bridge and road damage caused by Cyclone Guba in 2007. In the wet season it can take more than 24 hours. The trucks are fitted with some bench seats and usually have a tarp over the top. PMVs to Kokoda leave Popondetta around noon. Expect to arrive at Kokoda late in the afternoon or early evening.

IMPORTANT
Many flights arrive in the early afternoon after the PMV leaves for Kokoda, and some depart early in the morning before the PMV from Kokoda arrives. If you need to stay overnight in Popondetta allow an extra day.
  Very basic accommodation is available at the Comfort Inn Hotel (phone +675 629 7222) for between K292 and K422 per night. We have yet to hear any good reports of this place and there is no shortage of evidence that its name is not correct. The availability and quality of meals there are regularly reported to be unreliable.
  A better alternative would be the Oro Guest House (phone: +675 329 7127) with prices advertised between K32 and K84. Bookings are essential.
  Homestay-style accommodation nearer the airport is sometimes available. Contact us for details.

3. Walk
The tough and unforgettable 96 km trek between Owers Corner and Kokoda can take up to eight or nine days. Get very fit and book with a reputable trekking company to do this. Three companies worth considering are BackTrack Adventures, Kokoda Trekking and PNG Trekking Adventures.

   
 
Kundu performers
  • Traditional dance
    To watch a traditional dancing performance, it's necessary to book it at least two weeks in advance. This is because it may take up to a week to contact the dancers, and another week for the them to gather the materials needed for their ceremonial dress.


 

 

 
Kokoda Homestay      owned by the people of Kokoda