Believe it or not, a jungle expedition is not as scary as it sounds. Expert Dominic Hall runs Fieldskills, a UK and Borneo-based specialist with ten years experience in preparing expedition teams and providing bespoke training for fieldwork overseas.
As head of the UK training program, he teaches essential survival skills to wannabe trekkers and leads groups through jungles around the world. Hall tells Wideworld his top tips for surviving a journey through the jungle…
1. Drink, drink, drink….
Remember how important hydration is – when temperatures are in the 30s and humidity can reach 80% – 90%, hydration is vital.
2. …But not just water
Your body relies on salt as well as water, so a good balanced diet, maybe supplemented by some rehydration solutions is the best way to make sure you stay hydrated.
3. Check your Pee!
How you know how hydrated you are? It sounds bizarre, but pee colour is the key! A dark – orangey colour suggests that you are dehydrated, but a pure “evian-like’ could suggest that you are over hydrated or lacking in salts. The optimum colour is light a straw coloured yellow pee.
4. Keep it Clean
You’ll need to drink a lot of water, but make sure every last drop is purified and pre-filtered. Jungle water is often murky and dirty, so it may be necessary to filter and/or stand the water before boiling. Alternatively, you can use a chemical solution like iodine tincture- use about five drops of solution per litre, and leave it to stand for half an hour.
5. Look after your feet
The jungle is hot, sweaty and damp, so feet can really suffer. The best way to look after them is to treat them like babies – clean, dry and powder them every day…
6. Forget Fancy Clothing
Wear cheap things that you don’t mind wrecking! In the jungle technical materials like Goretex generally don’t work effectively in such high humidity. So wear basic clothing that’s light weight, quick drying and hardwearing.
7. Put on Your Boots
One of your most important pieces of kit is a pair of Jungle boots. There are lots of schools of thought on this but to my mind military designed US or UK army jungle boots are the best – they are designed to work well when they are wet – and in the jungle they will be!
8. Don’t worry about Big Animals
Worry about the small ones instead. Mosquitos, sandflies, even caterpillars are the everyday hazards which you have to try to avoid – especially mosquitos which can carry disease.
9. Hang Out in a Hammock
Forget packing a tent – hammocks are cooler, lighter and allow you to sleep off the ground. But your average garden string hammock won’t do – buy a specialist hammock and put a tarp over the top to keep the rain off and use a mosquito net. .
10. Wash regularly
It sounds obvious, but keeping yourself clean is even more important in such a hot and sweaty environment. The humid environment is idea for bugs, as cuts and scrapes can get infected easily, and bacteria can breed quickly. So basic hygiene is really important to avoid infection, prickly heat and other nasty rashes.
The jungle is one of the places people are most afraid of, probably because it’s a journey into the unknown. People who have trekked also like to make out how extreme things are to make themselves look good! But it’s a beautiful environment and all the basics you need are there – it’s warm, there’s plenty of water around you and contrary to most people’s fears – everything is not out to get you!
For more information on jungle expeditions, adventure travel and training courses log on to www.fieldskills.com