Health, Medical, First Aid Info for Trekkers

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The Kokoda Trail runs through the Owen Stanley Ranges, rough terrain in a remote region of Papua New Guinea. Walking the Kokoda trek for between 9 and 10 days, is both physically and mentally demanding, so it important that trekkers are physically fit and medically prepared. For pre-trek training, we will email you our Kokoda Trek Fitness Plan, or contact one of our Kokoda Trail specialists for advice on (02) 8958 8813, 043 848 3789 or  
or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Kokoda Trail Safety is our #1 Priority

Although the Owen Stanley Range is a demanding and challenging environment, it is not overly dangerous in and of itself. Unfortunately accidents including fatalities have occurred, but almost without exception, each of these could have been avoided with proper safety and emergency preparedness, training and communication. The most common health issues on the Kokoda Trail are exhaustion and dehydration, which are easily controlled and avoided through proper hydration and training.

The bottom line: Be prepared and the risk is minimal

Please see our Trek Safety and Security section for ways that Kokoda Trail Expeditions minimizes risk on all of our treks and tours.

Medical Certificate

It is mandatory that each trekker complete a medical check before visiting Papua New Guinea, and trekking the Kokoda Trail. A doctor must certify that the trekker is physically fit, and medically cleared to walk the Kokoda Trail in PNG. Failure to get medical clearance may result in the cancellation of the trip. We email the trekkers with the forms which needs to emailed back to us, when completed by their doctor. This includes copies of passports and travel insurance.

We offer a variety of different treks and tours with varying intensity levels, and are happy to discuss the best option given your unique goals, fitness level and priorities.

Physical Fitness

It is important to be physically fit before completing the Kokoda Trail trek. We provide trekkers with our Kokoda Trek  Fitness Plan in an email at the time of booking, to be used as a guide to prepare for the physical challenges of the Kokoda Trail.

Contact Kokoda Trail Expeditions trek and tour experts, if you need advise on how to prepare physically for the Kokoda Trail.

Travel Insurance

Kokoda Trail Expeditions takes your trek and tour safety very seriously. It is important for trekkers to have travel insurance with a reputable insurance company, before visiting Papua New Guinea, and trekking the Kokoda Trail. We recommend QBE Insurance for your travel insurance, which covers the Pacific, and PNG.

First Aid

Our Guides and Porters are trained in Basic and Wilderness First Aid,  and carry first aid kits on all our treks and tours. It is also advisable for trekkers to bring along a small personal first aid kit for treatment of minor ailments, or a specific personal medical condition. We can provide a detailed checklist of what your own first aid kit should include at the time of booking.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

In an emergency, our Guides and Porters will use satellite and mobile communications to contact QBE Insurance, or your travek insurance medical team in Australia, for an evacuation to occur immediately. This will occur from a designated evacuation point like a helipad, airstrip, or road. This may require the movement of the casualty by stretcher to the evacuation point. In most cases,the casualty will be moved back to Port Moresby and treated at a hospital there, or medically repatriated back to Australia.

It is therefore paramount that all trekkers take out travel insurance with QBE Insurance, or a reputable travel insurer, that covers the South Pacific and Papua New Guinea.

General and Public Liability Insurance

Kokoda Trail Expeditions carries General and Public Liability Insurance with Liberty Insurance Underwriters that covers all of our clients in case of an accident that results in permanent disability. Our limit of indemnity is $10,000,000.00 AUD on anyone occurrence. You can request a copy of the insurance by contacting us. 

Immunisations

Although no vaccinations are required for entry into Papua New Guinea, it is important to discuss your trek with your doctor, as they may advise inoculations or booster shots if you are not up to date. Please make sure this is done several weeks before your trek in case you need to schedule treatments in advance.

Health Hazards

Although the Kokoda Trail is challenging, it is not overly dangerous. The most common health hazards in Papua New Guinea, and on the Kokoda Trail are Dehydration, Heat Stress/Stroke, and Malaria:

Dehydration / Heat Stress / Heat Stroke

The most common ailments affecting Kokoda Trail trekkers are heat related. As you will be undertaking a strenuous exercise in hot and humid conditions between eight and nine hours per day, you will need to replace lost fluids regularly. Drink sufficient water during your trek – roughly 2 to 4 litres per day - and it’s a good idea to bring Gatorade or Staminade powder (electrolyte replacement powder) to mix in with your water for extra protection against dehydration.

You will be able to deal with the climate better if you are physically fit, when you begin your trek. Our compulsory 12-week Kokoda Trek Fitness Plan is included in your tre and tour package, and we strongly advise that you use this as a guide to prepare physically for your Kokoda Trail trek.

Malaria

Malaria is a fairly common tropical ailment transmitted by malaria-infected mosquitoes, which only bite at night. Mosquitoes are present in the warmer, lower-altitude areas of Papua New Guinea, and large parts of the Kokoda Trail situated at high altitudes where it is colder, are mosquitoes-free. However, it is wise to take anti-malarial medication when doing the Kokoda trek as malaria can be very serious. Kokoda Trail Expeditions provides mosquito nets, if we think you will be subjected to mosquitoes. One of your best defense is to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in the evenings and at night, and regularly use tropical strength mosquito repellent to cover any exposed skin.

Hyponatraemia

Hyponatraemia is a potentially fatal medical complication of ultradistance exercise, and there has been a prevalence of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) on the Kokoda Trail. Research by Dr Sean Rothwell and Dr David Rosengren in 2010, in conjunction with the Kokoda Trail Authority, found that the KokodaTrail is a safe and fantastic experience for most trekkers, and only a small number of trekkers can become susceptible to fatal EAH.

The following measures may help you prevent a potential EAH:

  • Treat associated conditions that may contribute to low blood sodium;
  • Educate yourself and beware of the signs and symptoms;
  • Take precautions during trekking periods of high intensity by drinking only as much fluid as you lose;
  • Consider drinking sports drinks containing electrolytes such as Gatorade; and
  • Drink water in moderation by taking in sufficient daily fluid intake and not overdoing it.

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