An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Permitting Permit

Finally pulled my finger out and am organising for my little team the legal right to submit ourselves to 6-9 days of gruelling jungle hell.

There's an statutory body called the Kokoda Track Authority, which requires everyone who walks the track to buy a permit - this little bit of paper apparently goes towards upgrade and maintenance of the track. Good stuff.

I should have organised this a while ago, but of course I only started to do it last week. No real worries there though in the end, Warren from KTA sounded like a good bloke and we have arranged to pick them up when I pass through Moresby on Friday.

My plan is as follows, fly to Moresby on Friday, meet my team members (the old man and a mate from school) at the airport, collect permits and stay with an ex-vol mate I know. Then on Saturday fly to Popondetta, stay overnight and visit the battlefields of Buna and Gona, and either head to Kokoda on Sunday afternoon or on Monday (am leaning towards the former). From Kokoda of course there is only one way to go, walking along a track that is up and down, up and down ... repeat.

I originally heard that the cost was K15 per day you are on the track, and then I heard it was a round figure of K200. On the phone speaking to KTA I learnt that it was K200 for international hikers and K100 for PNG residents. Then when I got the permit form I finally found out that it was the figures above but it is also free for Volunteers and Aid Workers (ok if you insist - it is good being a volunteer).

In case you ever want to do the gruelling thing, here are the guidelines as stipulated by the KTA, which make interesting reading. I particularly like how they mention no credit facilities are available for payment at Village Guest Houses ... umm yeah, you're in the jungle dude!

Guidelines for Trekking the Kokoda Track (Trail)

The Kokoda Track Authority and Landowners of the Kokoda Track welcome you to the experience ahead of you.
  1. Ensure you have your Trek Permit obtained from Kokoda Track Authority or through your Travel Agent or Tour Operator.

  2. Trek Permits are to be carried by Trekkers and stamped by Village Recorders if desired as a memento of your trek. There is no fee charged for stamping of these Permits. Trekkers without the Kokoda Track Authority permits will be required to return to Kokoda Track Authority office at Sogeri or to the Kokoda agency office, presently located adjacent to Kokoda Post Office to obtain their permits upon paying the Permit Fee.

  3. Individual Trekkers or Groups should be accompanied by a recognized Guide from the Kokoda Track area, and if required, porters from the Kokoda Track villages. Such is a safety measure to protect people from becoming lost and assisting in case of injury, ill health and advising on war history, eco-tourism interests and general information.

  4. Please follow the recognized Kokoda Track. Do not detour off the Track, your guide knows the way.

  5. Overnight in village guesthouses is welcome. Ensure Guest House fees are paid in cash and obtain a receipt. Up to K20.00 per night is the recommended fee for trekkers and sometimes K5.00 for guides and porters. No credit facilities are available. Meals are a separate cost.

  6. Bush campsites are available in numerous locations but trekkers may be requested to pay the landowners an overnight fee up to a maximum of K15.00 per trekker. Guest house, bush campsite accommodation and food for meals are normally paid by the Tour Group Leader or Guide.

  7. Please pay villagers for any fresh vegetables and fruits they are happy to supply. Other food items are limited.

  8. Please respect the culture and religion of the communities. Seventh Day Adventist is the predominant religion and people observe prayer daily between 5.00 pm and 6.00 pm, and their Sabbath from 5.00 pm Friday to 6.00 pm Saturday. Do not put requests to the communities at these times. You are welcome to join their church services.

  9. Trekkers commencing and completing their trek should visit the Kokoda Track Offices or representatives at Riverside Store Sogeri and Agency at the Kokoda Post to have their journey recorded. Your trek can be monitored by radio transceivers located in each village along the Track. Some Guides may carry a handheld radio for additional communication with their base in Port Moresby or Kokoda, other villages and Kokoda Track Authority.

  10. Trekkers should be medically fit and have medical insurance coverage and also carry basic first aid supplies. Your Guide should have a First Aid Kit for medication of the group of trekkers and porters if required.

  11. Do not litter the Track, village, guesthouse or campsite areas. Please burn or bury waste.

  12. Do not deface or damage memorials, trees or buildings.

  13. The Trek Permit Fee paid by all trekkers is for funding community infrastructure projects and their maintenance, together with the maintenance and upgrading of the Track facilities such as walking track and creek/river crossings, radio communication, signage, memorials, airstrips, etc. It is not for paying Trekkers? personal expenses of guesthouse, campsite, food, cultural performances, village museums or scenic attractions.

  14. The Kokoda Track Authority accepts no liability for any injury or loss sustained by trekkers and their guides and porters on the Kokoda Track.