NOBODY has ever crossed the route without aid. But intrepid trekkers Richard Johnson, 26, from Abingdon, and friend Patrick Hutton, 26, from London, are walking from Vamino to Daru Island in Papua New Guinea.
The duo, who hope to raise £10,000 for Childfund from the four- to six-month expedition, will rely on local guides and basic knowledge of pidgin English on their travels.
This will be the first time since 1928 that there has been an unaided crossing of the country.
The main concern for the friends, who were the recipients of the Neville Shulman Exploration Award, is suffering injuries but they have made preparations with medical supplies in their backpacks.
Mr Johnson, a physiotherapist, said: “Our bags weigh about 35 kilos. The main worry for us is the medical side of things if either of us were to get a nasty cut for example.
“We are going to have to sort out the guide when we are out there in Papua New Guinea. But we had the same problem when we were in Mongolia, and within 48 hours, we had three camels and a guide. Hopefully we will find someone this time too.”
The trekkers had the original idea for the trip after an expedition in 2011, which saw the friends walk 1,000km in Mongolia across the Gobi Desert with camels.
Mr Johnson has been training for the trip with walks in Uffington. He said: “You can’t really prepare for seven to eight hours of walking in a jungle here but I have tried to go walking every day to train.
“I am a little bit nervous. We know it is going to be hot and very wet out there in Papua New Guinea. We are going to be tired. But I am looking forward to getting out there and doing it now.”
They leave tomorrow and the pair will be tweeting and blogging.