My friend and I just completed a nine day trek with Kotrek. Without a doubt it was one of the most enjoyable and professional guiding services we have had the privelige of dealing with. These guys stack up well to anything you will come across in Africa, South America or the Himalayas. The pre-trek training guides, suggested packing lists and payments help make the logistics for a far flung trip quite easy. Matt Bollinger doesn’t cut corners and makes it clear the track is not something to be thought of lightly. That being said he gives all the help he can in informing you of what is required to do this strenuous trek. Safety is paramount and his guides are trained in first aid, carry a satellite phone and have enough staff to deal with emergencies. Simply put, top notch.
The staff in PNG was amazing. From the pick up at the airport to staying at the farm the day of arrival, to Popendetta and on to Kovelo, we were nothing but comfortable and at ease. Andrew Youga is one of the most amazing personalities I have ever met. He has the energy of twenty people, is knowledgable across a broad spectrum from WW 2 history to flora and fauna and will do everything to make your trek a success. Rod Ori put us up for a wonderful night in Kovelo and walked the track with us. A more caring guide you can’t come across. Colin and Lancelot rounded out the crew. Both were quiet and confident on the trail and a joy to share time with in camp.
The main thing I noticed between our boys and other groups was that we walked, ate and slept together. We were always welcomed in the cooking hut to talk, joke and have a great time. From that, we developed an attachment to PNG and the trek that I suspect is more long lasting than that of casual visitors. One of the highlights came when a hunter brought a wild boar into the village we were staying. Colin and I watched it getting butchered and sure enough they brought us some fresh pork off the bone. The boys prepped the meat and Andrew cooked it up nicely with garlic and onion; an extraordinary and memorable treat! The next night Andrew showed up with a live chicken, Lancelot prepped it and feasting again!
If you want to do some serious trekking, are ready to do the preparation required and want to interact with the locals in a meaningful way this is the company for you.
James Caba, Kenneth Sumner
(two misplaced but happy Yanks).
“What an Adventure!
From the time we left Pt Moresby to the time we got back Andrew Yauga was a barrel of laughs yet professional. We started off with a thunderstorm as we were heading out to Owers Corner with lightning striking a power line overhead and then the rain and mud stopping the van in its tracks before we even got there so we headed off on foot. Sometime after McDonalds Corner Andrew organised to get us on a truck with a heap of locals that was somehow making its way through the mud, the truck delivered us to Owers Corner where we were greeted by the Ranger. We setup camp for the night ready for an early start to our trek. Andrew gave us some advice on the best way to tackle the track and a plan that should see us right to do the 30hr trek attempt. Andrew’s fitness is remarkable, he just doesn’t stop, yet seems to just know when his trekkers need a break. Although both Marcus and myself had trekked Kokoda in 2007 this was a very different trek, trying to complete the track in 30hrs meant very different training than for a 7 day trek, we had altered our training but obviously not enough and therefore needed a break at the halfway point. Both Marcus and I had our moments throughout the trek where we had issues of some kind, whether that be muscle strains/fatigue, cramps or just sheer exhaustion, Andrew was patient yet persuasive enough to keep us going. The track was much wetter than when we had last trekked which in turn made it much heavier going and taxing on the body.
I distinctly remember, about an hour and a half from finishing in the middle of the night, just as we were really struggling this familiar voice from the darkness…”Marcus, Jacko, so good to see you”… we were greeted by our previous guide and friend Rod Ori…he had trekked up to greet and encourage us, walking with us to the finish at Kokoda Hospital. Matt had also been on the phone regularly checking to see how we were going and to make sure we were safe.
We had completed the famous Kokoda track in 41.5 gruelling hours (including a sleep at Efogi). Although disappointed we hadn’t managed the trek within the 30 hour time frame we had set ourselves it was a great trek with a fantastic guide and an experience of a lifetime.
It was great to catch up with Rod and a number of the porters from our last trek… all in all an awesome trek!
Thanks to the guys at KoTrek who were very accommodating and catered to our requests for a trek with a difference.
I wouldn’t hesitate to trek with these guys again and plan to do so when we next attempt a sub 30hr trek!
PS…the trip from Kokoda to Popondetta to catch our flight home was almost as exciting as the trek”
Two treks under his belt…. another in the pipeline
“The trip was great. 41.5hrs… was a good time but I would really like to break 30hrs. Next time I will train differently. We certainly didn’t slow down due to Andrew. He was very encouraging all the way. Always makes for a good trip when you “connect” with your guide and Jacko and I certainly did that. He slipped over as much as us…. ! The track was really wet. You know you’ve been on the Kokoda tack when the water from the rain makes the track into a stream and you just have to plough on.
Organisation was great. It was also good to see Rod and spend some time again in his village. Though I think Rod was in a bit of a panic when it looked like we may not make the flight back to Moresby. But we made it (with 5mins to spare).
On a whole, the trip was well organised and a lot of fun… Thanks!”
2nd Kokoda trek… & definitely not his last!
“What an adventure with a great group of people!
From the moment we started making enquiries into KoTrek they were professional. We all came from varies backgrounds and differing fitness levels. They suggested the 8-day trek, which was perfect for our group. With a small group the KoTrek team made it a personal trek by the end it was more like a family group.
In summary all had a fantastic time and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending KoTrek as a tour company. If they were to do diversify into more adventure activities or treks I will be doing them.”
Capt Ashley Hart
“We chose KoTrek, upon recommendation of a friend, which is a fairly new company owned by locals but has vast experience from working with other companies. Rod, Matt and the boys give you a very personalised and tailored tour and the camaraderie was second to none. These guys know what customer service is all about and we left with 7 new found brothers. They even carried a guitar and played music for us at each stop and around the camp fire at night. One highlight each night was their “Information and Interrogation” sessions where you told them of your life and then they grilled you for more. We learnt so much about each other and in fact learnt more than most of us would know about our best friends. They have the edge on all the other companies.
I highly recommend Rod and his Kotrek team. They are friendly, easy going and professional and nothing is too hard. You will not only leave with a sense of achievement, you will leave with unforgettable memories and everlasting friendships. Kotrek is the Company for you. Your only choice is when you are going to do it.”
Dr. Paul Rollason
“Thanks for an amazing trip! I had the BEST time and would do it all again in a second. It was so much fun, in fact I felt the trek went far too quickly. The staff catered perfectly to my vegetarian dietary requirements and also inspired a wonderful team spirit, ensuring we all got through safely together and were still smiling at the end. I especially liked the nightly ‘get to know you’ sessions and the interesting conversations we shared whilst walking.
I would recommend KoTrek without hesitation as the best company to go with. The small trek sizes guarantee personalized service and the happy, super friendly staff ensure a trek which is filled with memories you will treasure.”
Australian Customs Officer
“I recently walked the Kokoda Track with Matt Bollinger, Rod Ori and a group of friends which included my son and the experience was one of the most rewarding of my life. The track is beautiful and challenging, and an insight into how impossible it must have been for soldiers to fight in this grueling environment can only be gained from experiencing it first hand.
Rod and Matt have a delightful passion for the Kokoda track, and I encourage anyone with a sense adventure and Australian history to share the experience with them”.
Dr. Gordon Rogers
Director, Applied Horticultural Research
“I first walked the Track in 2002 and met Rod Ori the following year when I was 2IC on a trek. Since then I have been back innumerable times as a trek leader and competitor in the Kokoda Challenge. Rod is one of those guys that delivers. Delivers on the overall trek experience with expert local knowledge. Delivers when the going gets tough… and it will. Delivers on the significance of the locations and events of July to November 1942.
In 2008, I took a party across that included my teenage daughter. Although the popularity of the Track has increased in recent years, it is still a place that must command the utmost respect. Rod gives the Track the respect it deserves and in the process ensures that trekkers are safe at all times and are able to absorb the full significance of the events that occurred.
The Track belongs to the locals. They know the country, they know the local customs and village relationships. I look forward to another walk across the hills with Rod and his team – next time with my other daughter.”
CEO, Grain Trade Australia Ltd.
“I walked The Track with Matt, Andrew and Rod a couple of years ago and it was one of the highlights of my life. I loved every sweaty minute of it and am looking forward to doing it again, in the reverse direction, in 2010 with KoTrek. Highlights for me were numerous but included:
- great father – son bonding
- beautiful rainforest scenery and seeing birds of paradise
- the tranquillity and also dramatic & sombre atmosphere of different sections of the track
- the history! To be able to drop into Japanese and Aussie weapons pits and spend a few minutes reflecting on what it may have been like.
- whoever you walk with will be life long friends afterwards – after sharing such an experience.
- I expected a tough walk and wasn’t disappointed at all.
- spending evenings and lunch breaks talking to the locals in the villages added immeasurably to the experience.
- the sense of achievement is beyond my ability to describe
I would not consider going again with anyone else but Matt, Andrew & Rod.”
MD, Bollinger Shipping Agency