Coast2Coast - Black Cat Trail and Bull Dog Track
(Extracts and photo's from James McCormack article in May 2011 Mens Health)
WHAT? A 12 day trek in the raw jungles and mountains of Papua New Guinea. The 65 kilometre long Black Cat and Skindiwai tracks between Salamaua and Wau and 69km Bulldog Track from Wau to Nukeva offer some of the this country's finest walking. While you can do each leg separately, you can also link them together - and end with a 72km dugout canoe trip down the Lakekamu River to form a grand transect from one coast to another.
WHY? Adventure, Adventure, Adventure. PNG is the real deal when it comes to getting wild. But it's not just that: there's World War 11 military history on the Blackcat and Bulldog tracks to rival Kokoda, only there's better walking, it's far more raw and there are no crowds. Add to that the gentle kindness of the locals and a fascinating culture, and you really do have the trip of a lifetime.
WHEN? April to October. technically this is the dry season, the reality is a matter of degree.
HOW? While they're tougher than Kokoda, these tracks are not insanely challenging. If you're fit, you'll be fine. But you do need a guide no two ways about it. Local knowledge really counts, Chris Stevens our PNG Trekking guide is the only guide locally or internationally that can take you across the Coast to Coast
When kids in the village of Kudjeru deep in the Papua New Guinean high country, are warned to "be good or a white man will get them", it is, for better or worse, my face their mind's eye will see. There is no doubt that, when I met them, I was scary, I was hairy, sweaty, stinky. I was also halfway through a 12 day north to south crossing of the island on foot, tracing a combation of tracks the Australians had used fighting the Japanese in World War 11: the Blackcat/Skindiwai and Bulldog tracks. Of course, they'd all been used before the war, for transporting gold from Wau to Salamaua in the Twenties, and by local people undoubtedly long before that.
But now the tracks are virtually unused by outsiders. And that's why the kids will remember me: well, me and my guide, Chris Stevens. It was not merely our appearrance or stench; it was that we were the first white men the kids of Kudjeru had ever seen.
It seems strange in theis day and age that this might be possible. But this is truly wild country. Unlike the famed Kokoda Trail, few trekkers venture here. Which is surprising really. It has more arefacts than Kokoda including PNG's best preserved WW11 plane wreck, and the Battle for Wau had a significant place in the Pacific campaign. But I can take or leave military history; for me such riches were casting pearls before swine. I was here because this country offers even better walking than its more famous counterpart, the route is uncrowded, and because - I'll probably cop flak for this -Kokoda isn't that tough.
It's still a fine walk, of course, but when I met Chris - I said I wanted something more challenging. A real adventure. He suggested this trek. This trek has dodgy river crossings. Deep mud. Leeches. Torrential rain. When he talked about how physically shattered everyone is at the end, how nearly everyone got sick, there seemed a touch of glee in his voice.
It sounded perfect.
We can only take bookings for up to 7 trekkers. 2012 fully booked. Taking bookings now for 2013, limited space left.
We only run one trek per year due to the difficulty of the logistics of organising this trek. There is no communication with the villagers/tribes along the Bulldog and they very rarely see white people let alone a group of white people. This trek is expensive, but if people want to see isolated communities that the children and many of the adults have never seen caucasians then one has to ask why, there is a reason and if it were easy then everyone would be doing it.
Trekkers that take on this challenge must be very relaxed travellers. This is unlike anything else out there.
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PNG Trekking Adventures based in Papua New Guinea. PNG's largest inbound tourism operator. Pioneering the gateway into PNG. Specialising trekking, climbing, cultural festivals, diving and other specialised areas of tourism based activities.
Tufi is a boutique resort situated in Oro Province on the North coast of Papua New Guinea. Famous for its diving and culture. This is a very unique part of the country.
PNG Trekking Adventures (PNGTA) is a fully licensed Papua New Guinean Tourism Company.
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