British citizen Mattew Iovane and American Michelle Clemens, both 31, told a London-based newspaper, The Sun of their Kokoda ordeal.
On Wednesday January 13, The Sun newspaper ran the tourist account on its front page with the headline, “Kidnapped by cannibals: Brit and girlfriend stripped, beaten and tortured by Papua New Guinea tribe.”
Lynn said the duo came unprepared to walk the trail and their account of the Kokoda incident is smokescreen to sell for money.
“In my opinion, they wanted something to happen so they can sell the story, I will stand by that and argue that with anybody because that is the most foolish action that I have ever come across with my 25 years involvement with Kokoda Trail.
“They did not have tracking boats, they have sneakers, they had casual clothing, and they had no food, a guide, map, no sleeping bag and tent, no torch, and were walking during the wet season.”
Lynn who has been associated with the World War II trail for 25 years said what was reported in the overseas media does not add up.
“According to the story published in the Sun, The couple was robbed at Templeton Crossing and all their possession stolen, their shoes were stolen and they tracked from Templeton to Alola Village semi-naked.
“That is 15.5 kilometres, they would have walked in bare feet, and I have been tracking Kokoda for 25 years as an expatriate person, there is no way I can track barefoot.
“Their feet would have been seriously lacerated during the 8 – 12 hours it would have taken them to complete it under the conditions they described.
“On their arrival in Alola village the local VHF radio operator contacted the KTA and arranged for an emergency helicopter evacuation.
“A photograph of the two trekkers in the helicopter at Alola shows them dressed in fashionable western clothing with Iovane wearing a backpack.
“Alfie Jack and George Kavana have confirmed that this was the same clothing they were wearing when they departed from Owers Corner.
“This begs the question as to how the clothing they were wearing on the helicopter at Alola village miraculously reappeared after their semi-naked trek from Templeton’s crossing when, according to their own account, all their possessions had been stolen, “Lynn said.
Meanwhile, Sogeri Lodge owner Warren Bartlett told Loop PNG in an interview early this week that the tourists might not be telling the truth.
Bartlett’s Sogeri Lodge is where the couple stayed before embarking on walking the world famous Kokoda Trail which stretches from Central to Oro provinces.
“The story is fishy and I think it’s a scam to come up with a story to sell, and try to destroy the tourism industry in the country,” Bartlett said.
He added that the couple came unprepared to walk the track and also declined to have a professional guide when given the advised.
Caption: Mattew Iovane and Michelle Clemensn evacuated from Kokoda after walking 15.5km. Picture source: Charlie Lynn.