The Kokoda Trail is famed in Australia as the site of the most important battle citizens fought—and won—against the Japanese in World War II. Now, trekking the 60-mile trail is like a rite of passage for Australians. Still, few other travelers know about it. Naturally Eruç, who trekked it on his circumnavigation of the globe, does.
“You’re in valleys, you’re in thick jungle, ridgelines, river crossings, a lot of mud,” he says. “Your feet turn to prunes.” No doubt, it is a knee-weakening, resolve-busting challenge. Only a few remote villages dot the trail, precarious log bridges cross raging rivers, mountains rise mercilessly to some 7,185 feet, and a maddening tangle of underbrush thwarts trekkers at every turn. Not to mention the steam bath of the country’s equatorial heat.
Those who do venture along the trail, however, get an intimate view of one of the world’s great frontiers, Papua New Guinea, which has changed little since Australians and Japanese fought here. Plunge into deep gorges filled with a thousand hues of green, tiptoe along narrow ridgelines, and view the winking, empty ocean just like soldiers did some 70 years ago.
The Kokoda Track Authority offers information on trekking and lists licensed guides for the Kokoda Track.
Turkish explorer Erden Eruç has tallied an impressive roster of firsts. He was the first person to cross an ocean from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern, the first to row from mainland Australia to mainland Africa on the Indian Ocean, and the first person to row three major oceans. But easily his greatest accomplishment was completed in 2012, when he finished the first official solo human-powered circumnavigation of the Earth on foot, by bike, and by rowboat that included summiting highest mountains on six continents. His record stands at 5 years and 11 days.
Erden Eruç's Gear Pick: Power Grips
“These straps fit on bike pedals diagonally and one enters from the side then turns the foot into position,” Eruçsays of Power Grips, which are simple weatherproof straps made of elastomeric polymer laminate. “I covered a lot of ground around the world and I don’t think one can do that with cleats on. These straps allowed me quite a bit of control on the pedals and were fairly efficient, allowing me to walk up hills and on sand and on mud.”