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Submitted by blackcat on Fri, 2006-02-10 23:21.

Black Cat Trail

This track is not for the faint hearted, nor for the inexperienced bush walker. For those of you who have done the Kokoda Trail it makes that trek seem like a stroll in the park. The track is still in a very raw state. It is leech and snake-infested jungle, moss covered rocks and fallen tree stumps, precarious cliff crossings and potentially dangerous river crossings. This makes the Black Cat arguably one of the toughest treks in Papua New Guinea.

Some Australian soldiers have described the Black Cat as the hardest walk they’ve ever done. The Lonely Planet guidebook quotes a local expatriate, as saying the Black Cat is “suitable only for masochists and Israeli Paratroopers”

There is so much WWII history attached to the “Black Cat”. Some of the bloodiest battles were fought here. 61 years ago in 1942 Salamaua was recaptured from the Japanese. We saw many war relics. Munitions pits, guns, clothing, a cargo plane wreck and huge bomb craters now full of water. The villagers went out and collected guns and live mortars for us to look at. They were everywhere and easily accessed.

On the 27th October'03 a team of us decided to experience for ourselves just what all the fuss was about. We walked from Wau down to Salamaua taking us four days. The track threw absolutely everything at us. Torrential rain, 3 hours walking in the pitch blackness of night and of course leeches en-mass.

But, it has to be some of the most awesome and exciting terrain we have ever trekked through.

The animals and birds of the jungle were prolific, magnificent flora and fauna. We saw Birds of Paradise bathing in a river. Had to negotiate round a huge mound of leaves where a Niugini Fowl had decided to build its nest right in the middle of the track. The Flame of the Forest tree was in full bloom. What a beautiful site, seeing streaks of red splashed through the jungle. Wild orchids were everywhere. Butterflies flitting around our hats.

Best of all though were the people. We overnighted in villages. The second village we stayed in was so isolated that the woman and children had never seen a white woman. When the children saw my red hair they scampered off into the jungle in fright.

We could not speak the language but the hand of friendship is the same all over the world. It was grueling 8-9 hour days but well worth the effort when you were greeted with such kindness and hospitality at the end of it.

On the last day after a 5 hour leisurely walk down to the San Francisco River we rafted out to Salamaua. The village on the banks of this river had been notified that we were coming and had offered to make the raft. It took 2 hours to raft out to the sea and Salamaua. So peaceful floating down the river with so much bird life to see.

Salamaua has to be one of the best kept secrets in this world and one of the most idyllic places I have ever been. I will say no more, except it is a great way to end a hard four day trek through the jungle.

There is so much more I could say but feel that some secrets should be kept for people to experience for themselves.

If you have a sense of adventure running through your veins give this a go. For those of you who just want to step out of the box and have an experience of a lifetime, have a go.

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Black Cat Trail