Many women may wonder: ‘Is the Kokoda Trek too hard for me?’ The answer is a resounding no!
Kokoda has been conquered by women of all age groups, all backgrounds and with varying levels of fitness. Certainly the Kokoda Track is very hard, but women should not feel as if it were too difficult for them. Most women choose to employ a porter to carry their pack, opting instead to carry a small ‘day’ pack with the bare essentials such as water, food and toiletries. The weight difference between a ‘day’ pack (max. 4kgs + water) and a backpack (around 12-15kgs) is substantial, and you may want to consider asking for a porter. This also helps the local community as the porter is effectively ’employed’ by you, which is how many earn a living.
What about Kokoda training?
You should really ask: ‘How fit do I need to be?’ Well, you need to be physically ready for the pressures that 9 days of solid hiking will have on the body. If you have not physically exerted yourself for a while, 10-12 hours of exercise each day will feel very unnatural. Your body will acclimatise to these ‘new’ conditions. However you should have a good fitness level as a basis before you start. You should consult your trainer or trekking company regarding the best preparation for Kokoda for your personal circumstances.
Is walking Kokoda dangerous? No more dangerous than going to work on in the car, in my opinion. If you choose a reputable Kokoda tour operator, they will be certain to maintain high levels of safety and security along the track. The porters are locals – trekking is a vital component of their tourism industry. They will be fully aware of any problems or concerns ahead or behind. Scouting parties normally set out each day well before the trekkers to make camp and report back any issues via two-way radio. I always felt very safe.
I’m adventurous…can I attempt the track on my own?
This is not advisable. Although it is feasible to obtain your own permit and guide to walk the track (it is still a working thoroughfare servicing villages), you are still in a foreign country. A woman on her own or even a woman with a porter may be seen as a potential target. Why risk it? Travelling in larger, organised groups is a much better idea. Like the old adage says: there is safety in numbers.