Anybody who has ever had to sleep in the bush when wet will attest to the value of a sleeping bag.
In the early days of trekking Adventure Kokoda had to rely on companies with a specialised knowledge of PNG to arrange for their logistic support. It was a trust exercise with a high degree of risk.
We had a group at Templeton’s Crossing when we were hit by a storm as we were setting up camp – there were no shelters in those days. When I checked on our PNG guides and carriers I found they were cutting palm leaves to lay across the mud and use as mattresses. I was advised that they were not issued with sleeping bags or mats. I was obviously not happy with this arrangement.
When I brought this to the attention of my agent after I returned to Australia I was advised that they didn’t issue sleeping bags to PNG guides because ‘they pinch them’!
I then ditched the agent and established a partnership with Warren Bartlett at the Sogeri Lodge to provide for our logistic support. We then purchased 200 sleeping bags and mats to issue to our guides and carriers. These are issued to them at the start of each trek and returned at the finish. They are then washed, dried and stored for the next trek.
We have lost very few over the last decade and have just received another 300 new sleeping bags and mats for their use. Our guides and carriers appreciate the issue (we also issue them with a complete trek uniform comprising a cap, shirt, shorts and a waterproof poncho) and treat them with respect.
We have made submissions to the PNG Kokoda Track Authority for the provision of such gear to PNG guides and carriers to be a mandatory requirement for licensed trek operators. They have refused to include it as a condition.
During a Trek Operators Forum in Sydney in March 2015 we moved that all Australian operators provide a sleeping bag and mat for PNG guides and carriers they engage. It was voted down because of the cost involved and problems with inventory control.
Adventure Kokoda is proud of the fact that we are the only trekking company operating on the Kokoda Trail that provides a full trek uniform and an individual sleeping bag and mat for all of our PNG guides and carriers.