You Don’t Need to be Crocodile Dundee to Survive in the Jungle

by matt on April 9, 2011

Jungle GuideThe jungle can be a dangerous place mate. Its lush and spectacular diversity offer both challenges and unique opportunities for survivability. Over half the world’s species of plants and animals are competing for survival in the jungle, and thanks to Hollywood, this fact may give you a false impression that your greatest dangers are jaguar or fer-de-lance bites. On the contrary, heat exhaustion, falling tree branches, and infections present much greater risks. Here are a few tips to help you deal with the REAL problems in the jungle…

Mental Clarity

Keeping a focused and positive outlook is the most important tool for escape. Dragging your hide through endless thickets of wilderness will certainly be mentally antagonizing. Your stamina will be sapped as you constantly sweat from maximum humidity, and, to top it all off, your ominous surroundings contain billions of crawling insects and hidden predators challenging your courage.

Humidity, erosion, and termites all create conditions where your greatest danger is a rotted tree that crushes you like a bug.

Cheer up mate! While the dangers of the jungle are conspicuous and real, they tend to be greatly exaggerated. Good tidings are found within the facts that water is readily available, and that you are surrounded by a bounty of nourishment and natural cures. Just relax, make a plan, and don’t be afraid to modify it along the way. Staying optimistic will insure you don’t sloppily misstep your last print.

Navigation

Darling, you got to let me know… should I stay or should I go?” This is first question that you will need to ask yourself if lost in the jungle. To answer this question many factors should be taken into account. Are their people looking for you in a near proximity? Do others know the direction of your trek? Does the canopy obscure your visibility? Armed with these answers you’ll certainly be able to answer the question, “Should I stay or should I go?”

If it has only been fifteen minutes since you wandered off a guided tour it is recommended that you relax, settle down, and call for help every few moments to insure that the group finds you promptly. Carrying a whistle is an excellent recommendation in these circumstances because it’s unnatural, piercing cry can be made with a minimal expenditure of energy. It is also recommended that you inform others of your plans before you escape on a solitary expedition. Following these tips will help others approximate your position if the need arises.

If your situation is one of a graver matter (i.e. plane crash, solitary expedition gone awry), it’s best that you get a move on. The dense canopy of the jungle will more than likely be masking your current location. Luckily, your drenched setting offers streams, waterfalls, and rivers a plenty. Visibility is higher along a stream or river, and civilization is quite fond of these watery locales. Springs, to streams, to rivers, to seas and lakes should be the path that the lost journeyman takes.

If lost on a mountain, head down to the valley. More than likely, a stream or river will be found running through a valley. Climbing a ridge or tree to identify an indention or valley between peaks is sometimes beneficial in locating a stream or river. If doing so will meet your peril than try and just descend to follow any water along the way.

Pay careful attention to any existing trails, or signs of humanity along the way. Attempt to travel in as direct of a path as possible. The use of a compass, GPS device, or one of many directional techniques will assist you in this process.

Finally, when hiking through the jungle try and keep your feet as dry as possible, or they will quickly become useless pulp. Swamp boots are the most effective means in keeping your feet dry and safe. In certain circumstances you will be forced to get your feet wet (i.e. crossing a stream or river). In this case, it is safer to leave your boots or shoes on for protection, however, take every opportunity to dry out your wet footwear upon crossing. If fortunate enough, apply foot powder.

Flora
Humidity, erosion, and termites all create conditions where your greatest danger is a rotted tree that crushes you like a bug. The impenetrable canopy of a primary jungle area prevents foliage from basking in a plentiful amount of light. One has an easier time traversing here than in a secondary jungle but rescue helicopters will never see your smoke signals. A machete is a valuable tool in the jungle but resist the urge to needlessly waste too much energy with excessive slashing.

Burning an old termite nest can also deter these pests from your camp.

Take heed where you place your hand to avoid bringing down a rotted branch or grabbing sharp spines. Avoid the temptation to disrobe in attempts to avoid the heat. Your long sleeves help protect you against sharp spines and insects. Gloves will find much use because many vines, creepers, and trees have sharp thorns which can lead to lacerations and inevitably bacterial infections. Finally, many plant saps contain toxins and irritants, so they should be avoided as well.

Fauna

Mosquitos are much more dangerous than piranhas, snakes, or crocodiles. They may carry yellow fever or malaria and have no hesitation passing along this gift. Larger animals (including snakes) will typically flee before you even have a chance of spotting them. To combat insects, mosquito netting is preferred, but lathering in eucalyptus oil or sap from a camphor tree can be used as a substitute “bug repellent”. Burning an old termite nest can also deter these pests from your camp.

A walking stick can be a helpful assistant in tapping away snakes in tall grass. Snakes are typically nocturnal hunters so make sure you have a raised bed or hammock before you settle in for the night. A platform will also help you catch some much needed sleep without millions of ants pestering you.

Be careful where you place your hands and feet, especially around logs and brush piles, scorpions and snakes often reside there. In the morning, knock your boots before slipping in your tender feet, because a scorpion, spider or some other critter may have found a new home.

Hydration

Dehydration can quickly set in under the scorching heat and humidity. Dark colored urine, decreased sweating, and “goose bumps” can be strong signs that you need water immediately. The fear of parasites, bacteria and dysentery may damper your spirits, but greater peril awaits you if you don’t quench that thirst.

If collecting standing water, it should be filtered, or boiled for at least 3 minutes before consuming. Rainwater can also be collected. However, it is advised that you wait 15 minutes after the start to minimize any toxins or bacteria that the drops may have found above in the trees. Water vines are easily recognizable being three to six inches thick. Cutting a meter long piece of the water vine should produce a stream of clear, neutral or slightly fruity tasting water. If the water is cloudy, milky, or any other color than refrain yourself. Water from rivers or streams should be carefully selected. Collect only clear, fast moving water. Creatures like crawfish swimming within are good signs the water is less likely to be contaminated.

Nourishment

The jungle offers a bounty of nourishment but some caution is needed. Unless you plan on living in the jungle instead of simply making an escape it is recommended that you stick with known food sources such as bananas, coconuts, mangos, papayas, and sugarcane. You can use the Universal Edibility test to verify if a plant is edible but the risk isn’t worth it if you plan on making a quick escape. Remember, the human body can go much longer without food than water and being a little famished is better than being poisoned.

Worms, grubs, and termites are excellent sources of protein. Boil or roast any beetles or grubs to eliminate any parasites or harmful toxins. Unless you were raised by a pack of jaguars, hunting within the jungle should be avoided because of the danger and difficulty. Fishing or collecting shrimp and crawfish are much safer alternatives.

River Safety

Dirty, stagnant, or slow moving rivers can often host a variety of bacteria and parasites. Avoid drinking, or exposing your nose, eyes, mouth, or ears to contact with this kind of water. Men with condoms should use them at this point, not for a sexy river nymph, but rather to avoid parasites and bacteria taking up residency in the most horrific location imaginable.

In fast moving current swim with the current towards the other bank of water. Select a spot where the rivers current will send you to the other side. If being carried away by fast moving current keep your feet up and lay on your back.

You can travel larger distances in deep, slow moving rivers with a floatation device. Log rafts, poncho rafts, or air filled trousers can be used. Try and exit the river shortly before the mouth to avoid being sent out into the sea or surrounding yourself with crocodiles.

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