Living on the Road

Jungle Travel and Survival


How to survive jungle expeditions

The tropical medical advice here can be found elsewhere, but I’ve found no other source to deal with the psychological and logistical preparations needed to run a small expedition into the jungle (with a bias toward the Amazon).

-- KK 02/9/04


Anecdotally, there is a lot of support for the notion that the tropics somehow engender sexual activity. The experience of those of us who spend essentially all our wilderness time in the hot ones, as opposed to those whose preferences are for high altitude and freezing environments, leads inescapably to the conclusion that group tensions brought on by sex or the pursuit of sex are much more an issue in the tropics than in colder climates.


All sorts of problems, especially injuries, seem to increase logarithmically when you get beyond 7 to 10 members in a wilderness group.



Water may be collected from a banana or plantain plant by cutting the plant approximately 6 to 12 inches above the ground and scooping out the center of the stump into a bowl shape. The hollow thus formed fills immediately with water. The first two fillings have a bitter taste and must be discarded. The third and subsequent fillings are drinkable. A banana plant can furnish water in this fashion for several days


Indigenous peoples move along the trail at a rapid, sustained pace, somewhere at the upper end of fast walking and just before breaking into a run. They seldom slow down for any reason, but they will speed up when fleeing enemies, pursuing game, or hurrying home to sleep in their own hammock or bed at night. Not only do they move along at this clip on level ground and downhill, but they also keep the same pace going uphill! Chances are, you do not maintain your regular pace when ascending an incline, and initially you will find this trait among natives perplexing and tiring. Tribesmen know what they are doing here...their idea is to maintain a constant rate as they move from point A to point B, and it doesn't occur to them that going up a hill is any more reason to go at a lower pace than when walking on level ground. Remember, they are supremely fit, so going uphill really isn't all that much more taxing than walking on level ground. By the same token, they do not go faster when going downhill. It's just a steady and, for them, comfortable gait. Back home, as you are getting in shape (physically and mentally) for jungle trekking, you should hike at a fast pace and practice maintaining your speed regardless of the terrain.


It's mostly good news for women travelers in the tropical rainforest. I have yet to see a woman become incapacitated by heat illness on jungle expeditions.


Scented lotions, moisturizers, and perfumes attract insects; jungle travelers must avoid looking and smelling like a flower.