Beautiful Yet Dangerous; Jungles and Deserts

If you’re an adventurous person who loves the little extra something for what comes to unique experiences, exciting travelling and fabulous, pristine nature destinations…

…You would probably love adventures in huge tropical jungle areas, places like Borneo, Madagascar, Amazon, Costa Rica…or in a majestic, sandy desert area such as the ones in Mexico, New Mexico, Africa or Middle East…

I am a person like this – especially I would enjoy a ride thru or huge desert area with my man (and perhaps with a friend couple). And for what comes to jungles – I could certainly enjoy a camping adventure there – although I’d prefer glamping if only possible. I haven’t yet done it but I was thinking of this not so long ago when writing my travel guide and adding there some amazing nature destinations as recommended places to visit.

So I decided to get to know more of the subject of what you need know before going on a jungle or desert adventure – how you need to prepare yourself and keep yourself safe.  

Your jungle adventure would probably involve hiking into a remote and huge jungle area filled in dense rainforest, rare flora and fauna and high mountains, valleys, rivers and waterfalls… You would probably enjoy an exciting camping adventure in the mountainous jungles of Borneo, Madagascar, Brazil, Peru, Thailand, Papua New Guinea or Costa Rica.

Maybe you would be dropped of there, in middle of nowhere – in middle of jungle, with a helicopter or seaplane (if there’s a convenient coastal area for this), maybe with a jeep (as far as the road goes) or with a boat via some remote river. Maybe you would go with a companion rather than alone, maybe with a small group of equally enthusiastic explorers…  You would enjoy exploring the jungle, mountains and valleys and take a swim in waterfalls or rivers, kayak or canoe along some rivers – get to know the flora and fauna, maybe find some remote, ancient remains of temples… You wouldn’t even care of the insects so much – you’re a nature lover so let them be you’d think. Maybe you would go on a hunt of some unknown orchid or inject species to get it named after you, maybe after some plant that could be a big hit in medicine. Maybe you would explore the myths and truths of cannibalism in the area… Maybe you would go see if YOU can find out what happened to  Michael Rockefeller…

Or if you’re into desert adventures, you would probably love to go to an adventurous SUV trip through a huge, majestic desert area, drive in middle of the fantastic landscapes, explore some abandoned mining ghost towns or mining places, remote mountains and sand dunes… Maybe you would go sand boarding there, hike a little, take a lot of unique photographs…

The distances are huge – there’s nothing but sandy desert, mountains, valleys… Perhaps those abandoned ghost towns and mining places… It would remind of the views in the movie “Hills Have Eyes” (which was actually shot in New Mexico). Just you, the SUV, your companion, your camping equipment – and a couple of days driving thru the fabulous desert in a lonely area where there are no roads really and no other traffic, nothing actually. Just pristine desert, nothing else.

You camping in middle of these stunning landscapes next to your safe and strong SUV, having a campfire dinner, ghost stories, a little tent, enjoying a romantic adventure with your companion under the fantastic starry sky you can only experience in desert, then in the next day, another 200 km drive thru the rest of the desert…

If you are a thrill lover and would enjoy these types of adventures – you need to understand that these two very different areas are stunningly beautiful yes, but also very dangerous, especially to a person who’s even a tiny bit inexperienced (but thinks that he’s experienced enough).  

Actually no one is experienced enough to be able to prepare for all the possible dangers of these fabulous places.

The other thing is that many times us adventurers and thrill lovers are independent travelers – we don’t use package or ready-made tours, and many times not even a local guide (if we’re that experienced that we know we can manage it without a local guide). This is all cool – but there are more dangers in this. If you forget to let someone know your DETAILED travel plan, no one will know of your exact whereabouts.

Before you go have an adventure like this, prepare yourself as perfectly as you can. Let’s take a look at the things you need to know before getting your adventure trip started.

Jungle Survival

The setting was something out of a travel brochure; in fact, it looked exactly like the travel brochure, with blue waters and pure white sandy beaches. The tropical rain forest made a perfect backdrop, and just like in the movies, the jungle was alive with sound…

The scent of tropical flowers was intoxicating. The breeze off the ocean swept away the insects and cooled the skin… The jungle was just there like a parallel universe. You imagined you could feel eyes on you as you lounged on the beach, eyes offering an invitation.

You briefly wondered what it would be like blazing a trail through uncharted jungle, exploring for ruins and maybe you would discover some lost city of gold or discover an as of yet unknown plant or animal species…

The guided tour was laughable; you wanted to explore the mist-shrouded mountains you could see from your balcony, you felt the need for adventure…

So the next day, you and your companion packed some good camping equipment, foods and drinks and took off to a private and very exciting adventure to the surrounding large jungle areas…

You didn’t advertise your little adventure too much – you just didn’t think it was that necessary really.

After 24 hrs, you’re in middle of remote, mountainous jungle, fight with some insects, try and figure out your way out of there and can’t even cross a powerful stream from anywhere. It’s beautiful yes and a nature explorer’s dream, but you’re also lost already and no one knows where you are…

Your drinks and foods are about to end soon and your cell phone does not have a network.

Hundreds if not thousands of people from experienced explores to tourists looking for adventure, have walked into the jungle to never walk out again.

Even ones with years of experience can be bitten by a deadly snake, insect, or fracture a leg bone and lay for days before succumbing to dehydration or a predator. The jungle is dangerous even when it is at its most beautiful. The need to know what is over the next hill or around the next bend is strong in many people. However, exploration is what has developed nations and built cities and towns.

The jungle is not malevolent, it is simply there, it does not plot and plan your demise you do by not being prepared and not understanding that your decisions have consequences and the wrong one may mean death.

If you must explore and find that mist shrouded mountain top then you must prepare and yet that is no guarantee.

 

Jungle Survival Quick Essentials

  1. Wear heavy long pants and long sleeved shirts for protection against thorny brush and insects and wear heavy high top shoes for protection against snake bite
  2. Have enough food for your expected time in the jungle and then add three more days worth
  3. Water for your expected time and the means to collect and purify water: You cannot rely on rainfall, so you must be able to collect filter and purify water by boiling or chemical treatment using iodine tablets or chlorine dioxide tablets (carry coffee filters for water filtering)
  4. Stainless steel canteens can be used to boil water in or use a camp coffee pot
  5. A quality and heavy brush knife (machete)
  6. Rope for shelter building at least 50 feet
  7. Multi-tool knife and a heavy fixed bladed knife
  8. Magnesium stick and Ferro rod for fire starting do not rely on matches even if they claim to be waterproof because one day in the jungle exposed matches are useless for fire starting
  9. Mosquito netting and insect repellent in liquid form it is recommended you use 100 percent DEET
  10. Rain poncho large enough to cover you and your shouldered pack can also be used for emergency shelter
  11. Extra socks, one day of wet feet and you can get trench foot/immersion foot which makes it impossible to walk so keep your feet dry at all cost
  12. Bush hat
  13. First aid kit and include a suture kit open wounds in the jungle can become infected in a matter of hours also carry a quality topical antiseptic such as 10% Providone-iodine (Betadine)
  14. Ask your health care provider to prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics for bacterial infections so inform your provider your intentions and make sure your vaccinations are up to date and inquire what shots are needed to enter the country you plan on visiting and also you should have malaria drugs with you
  15. Rope hammock to keep you off the ground at night

 Jungle Survival Methods and Techniques     

To some the jungle is an inhospitable place full of lurking predators with glowing eyes, and every insect, snake and plant waits to attach itself to your flesh. To others the jungle is a place to be explored, to conquer and tame. The jungle cannot be conquered or tamed. The jungle is not malevolent, and it does not have an agenda, it is simply there. It must be respected and those that come to it unprepared can find themselves in a life-threatening situation.

Overnight camping expeditions or even day hikes through the jungle can turn into nightmares quickly leaving you stranded and lost possibly miles from civilization.

You will find that your cells phones do not work in the jungle and any scratch or abrasion can turn into a deadly infection in a matter of days. In less than a week clothes can literally rot off your back if you do not know how to survive in the jungle.

Ideally, someone would know that you ventured off and after a few days would assume you need help. If you know that someone is looking for you, stay put.

Make camp and keep a signal fire burning. Clear a spot in the undergrowth to make it easier for anyone in an aircraft to spot you. If there is any elevation, build signals fires there, as well.

If you realize no one will be looking for you then you have to self-rescue, meaning you will have to hike out on your own. However, you will still need shelter, fire, water and food. Once you realize you are lost or stranded you will need to set up camp for the first night before it gets dark.

You cannot hike through the jungle at night, no matter how panicked you are or how convinced you are that civilization is just around the bend. If it were just up ahead, you would not be lost. You will need a shelter and an elevated sleeping platform and fire. Food though essential is not your first priority in the first few days. Shelter, water and fire are immediate concerns.

Inventory your supplies, for survival essentials.

Ideally, you will have matches, and other fire starting materials, a knife, and a large machete. Machetes are designed for jungle environments but if you have to cut your way through the brush, you need to find another way through. You may make 50 feet a day if you have to cut and slice through it. Use the machete as an extra hand to move or cut vines and other foliage away this prevents you from reaching your hand out and having it bitten by a snake.

Shelter

Use you machete or axe to cut poles to make your shelter and bed. Lay poles across logs to provide airspace and a zone of protection between you and the ground. The poles will be your sleeping platform. Use palm fronds or ferns as bedding if you do not have your own. Place a pole at each end and secure one across the top using the end poles as support, so other poles can be leaned against it. This will make a tent shape and then fill in with vegetation or use emergency blankets, ponchos or tarps if you have some with you. If you have netting suspend it, so your body is not in contact with the netting. Fill it in with foliage or any suitable materials you have with you and create a raised sleeping platform.

Fire is critical to keep insects and predators away it provides warmth and moral comfort, cooks food and purifies water.

If you do not have any fire starting materials with you then you will need to use friction to create a fire or intensify the sun’s rays using a magnifying glass or piece of glass to ignite dry tinder. Many compasses have a small magnifying glass included so do not overlook this essential tool. Make the fire using forest debris, shoelaces or the cord from your backpack. You will need dry tinder such as cotton from bandages from your first aid kit or pull threads from your clothing. You can also use a knife to peel bark from wood to find dry pulp underneath or by scraping along the wood to make shavings.

You will need shelter and fire even if you are only staying in place for the night. Once you have these essentials you must find water.

In the jungle to prevent dehydration you will need at a minimum of two quarts/liters daily and likely more if you are hiking out.

Water is everywhere in the jungle, but it contains harmful bacteria and parasites. If you have canteens and/or water bottles, you can use purification tablets, liquid iodine or boil your water for ten minutes to make it safe to drink.

If you do not have any purification, tablets or a vessel to boil water in you can drink water contained in vines and bamboo or possibly find an underground spring.

Surface water will be contaminated and you should never drink untreated water from any standing pool. Natural springs originate from underground. They can be found in rock crevices or in some cases bubbling up from the ground where many streams originate. Water that comes up through the soil is filtered and can be consumed in an emergency without treating. Ensure you collect as close to the source as possible.

Keep in mind animals will also use the source so you have to avoid water that has collected nearby.

Remove the possibly contaminated soil away from the source, and collect the water using a hollow piece of bamboo, your hands or a water bottle.

Green bamboo has water in its hollow stems. Bore a small hole and use a hollow reed as a straw or tip the bamboo to drain into your mouth. You can also carry bamboo with you and use it as a storage vessel.

Many vines contain water but the liquid must be clear, avoid milky or thick slimy liquid or any that has a bitter taste. To extract water slice a vine at head level and allow it to drip into your mouth or container. Once done turn the cut end up and secure for later use.

Side Note: Do not burn bamboo because it will explode from the heat because of the moisture content and the smoke is considered an irritant, and can cause breathing problems

Self-Rescue    

Hiking toward civilization is you goal but which way is civilization. Villages and towns are typically found close to a water source.

Rivers and streams in the jungle are highways and once you find one you will find civilization.

People will be going up and down waterways, and you can wait by a river or stream and catch the attention of someone or you can walk downstream to find a village. If you know there is a coast nearby follow birds to the coast or walk into the wind, the wind will come off the ocean waters.

People imagine snakes and large predators are hiding under every bush or behind every tree. Snakes as a rule try to avoid contact with people. People are bitten when they try to handle a snake or step on one.

You must watch where you are stepping and never lay or sit down until you have cleared the area with a stick or your machete. Never turn over rocks by hand or step over a log. Walk around fallen trees if possible.

Predators come out at night to include snakes so you must have a camp set up with a fire and shelter when it gets dark.

Try not to brush up against trees or bushes to avoid thorns and insects and always use your machete to move vines and foliage out of the way.

Because of the humidity, you must remove your clothes at night and dry them using smoke and fire.

Smoke will, to some extent remove bacteria from your clothes and skin. Dry your clothes every time you have a fire to prevent rot and bacteria growth. Inspect your body for ticks and leeches and treat every bite, cut or abrasion with alcohol, iodine or anti-bacterial cream from your first aid kit and if you do not have a first aid kit rinse abrasions frequently with hot water.

Food is plentiful in the jungle.

Mammals are safe to eat one cooked to a temperature sufficient to kill any bacteria or parasites present. Snakes can be eaten but unless you are in a crisis, and starvation is a possibility it is best to avoid trying to kill one. Fish and frogs can be eaten if cooked. Coconuts, papaya, wild yams and wild bananas can be found in many tropical jungles and of course are edible. Unless you know that a plant or fruit is safe to eat, you should avoid them. Coconuts bananas and papaya are easily recognizable but other fruits can be toxic. Ants, termites, earthworms and grubs are edible and easily obtained in the jungle. Avoid, fuzzy or brightly colored insects. Scorpions are edible and are considered a delicacy in many cultures. Be sure and remove the stinger before eating. Cooking any insect improves the flavor and reduces your risk of getting a parasite.

Tools Materials and Other Essentials for a Jungle Excursion

This article assumes you would have a minimal amount of food and water in your pack for your day hike or camping adventure along with suitable clothes and extra socks.

Machete

Multi-Tool Knife

Fixed Bladed Knife

50 Feet Of Quality Rope

Insect Repellent And Netting

Water Purification Tablets

Vessel To Boil Water In Such As A Camp Coffee Pot

Fire Starting Materials Other Than Matches Such As A Ferro Rod And Magnesium Stick

Compass

Magnifying Glass For Fire Starting

Dry Tinder For Fire Starting Such As Cotton Balls

First Aid Kit And Include Allergy Medication Over The Counter Pain Medication And Stomach Upset Medicine And Broad Spectrum Antibiotics Malaria Medication

Rain Poncho

Canteens For Water Collection And Transport

Fishing Tackle Spool Of 15-20 Pound Fishing Line Assorted Hooks

Thermal Blanket

Light Weight Nylon Tarp

Rope Hammock

 

 Desert Survival

What if something unexpected happens when you are driving in a huge desert area…? In a desert area like the ones in South Western United States, New Mexico, or Africa and Middle East.

What if simply something goes wrong with your strong SUV, you’re in middle of desert, even 100’s of kilometers to all directions, no one else around, no official roads, just the fabulous sandy desert and its valleys, mountains, hills and dunes…

What if your car breaks up, you’re in a desert like the one in Hills Have Eyes – movie and you have no idea what to do. Nothing you try fixes the issue.

You thought you knew something of cars but now you have no idea how to fix this thing. The nearest gas station or any sign of settlement must be dozens of miles away. Your cell phone does not work. What’d you do?

There have been numerous accounts of people setting off in their vehicles for a trip across the desert and becoming stranded because of a mechanical failure.

People today assume they can summon help or get what they need at the push of a button. Even with today’s technology, many areas of the country and world are in what are called “dead zones” where cell phones cannot receive a signal.

When planning a trip across the desert or across any remote expanse for that matter, you must prepare. Many times you can use the vehicle for shelter. However, do not assume you could do the same because it may have slide off into a ravine or have been damaged by an accident.

 

Quick Essentials for Desert Survival

Two Gallons Of Water Per Person Daily You Will Sweat And Lose More Body Fluids So The Typically One Gallon Per Day Is Not Enough (Assume You Will Be Stranded At Least Five Days)

Food Such As Beef Jerky And Other Ready To Eat Foods That Can Withstand Heat

Matches/Lighters And Other Fire Starting Tools And Materials

First Aid Kit

Signal Flag For Your Vehicle (Brightly Colored Cloth)

Thermal Blankets One For Each Person (The Desert Is Cold At Night Due To Radiant Heat Loss Because There Is No Cloud Cover To Prevent The Heat Loss And No Objects That Can Absorb Thermal Heat And Retain It)

Sturdy Shoes Long Pants And Long Sleeved Shirts The Desert Is Not The Place For Shorts Or Tropical Shirts You Will Need Cover From The Sun

Sun Hat

Sunscreen

Battery Operated Lights (For Signaling And Your Own Use) And Do Not Rely On Ones That Use Your Vehicle’s Battery

Sunglasses

Cloth For Collecting Dew From Your Vehicle Use The Cloth To Absorb Morning Moisture From Glass And Metal Surfaces

Tarps For Emergency Shelter

Multi-Tool/Axe/ Machete/ Fixed Bladed Knife

Small Shovel

Coffee Filters For Emergency Water Filtration

Water Purification Tablets

Desert Survival

You can become stranded or even lost in the desert for various reasons and one of the more common occurrences is mechanical failure as people drive across large expanses of desert.

The desert puts a strain on humans and machinery alike. The heat alone during the day can cause an otherwise functioning vehicle to fail.

Heat will cause engines to overheat and tires to fail leaving you alongside the road miles from any town. In some cases, people have miscalculated their fuel usage and have run out of fuel miles from home. Hiking in the deserts has it perils as well, an injury, or a miscalculation on directions can leave you and lost and wandering aimlessly as night falls.

If you do become stranded stay with your vehicle for at least the first night because, it is your shelter from the cold and predators. If you have the means start a fire.

Fire is needed for warmth, cooking and to signal people you are in distress. Water is a priority, and if you have any empty, water bottles or canteens do not discard them. You may very well have to spend the first night huddled inside your vehicle without a fire.

You will notice the next morning that your vehicle is covered in moisture. This moisture or dew can save your life.

Dew is atmospheric moisture heated during the day, which then settles on cooling surfaces in the early morning hours. The sun during the day evaporates moisture and it collects in the atmosphere. As night settles, surfaces near the ground begin to cool which allows the moisture to condensation on glass, metal, vegetation and plastic. Absorb the dew from any surface using a clean piece of cloth. Then squeeze the cloth into your mouth or a container.

Once morning comes, you have to decide if you will stay with the vehicle or attempt to walk back to civilization.

If you had told others of your plans they may very well alert the authorities and they may be begin searching after 24 hours. If someone does know your schedule, it is recommended you stay in place.

If you plan to hike out you will need to get prepared. You will need to calculate how long it will take and are you physically able to hike for miles. The average adult can walk at about three miles per hour.

Take terrain and rest breaks into account. Therefore, if you are 50 miles from civilization you can determine roughly how long it would take.

In the desert, you would have to walk at night because the heat during the day will dehydrate you quicker than you can consume water. Additionally you will have to know whether your destination or where you started from is closer.

You should hike along the road you where traveling on if you had become stranded while driving.

The road is your guide back to civilization and many roads do not run in a straight line but to keep from getting lost you must follow it.

If you became lost while hiking, you can follow railroad tracks, power lines and roads, if you do not have a compass or simply do not know which direction to travel in.

If you are in desert of the South Western United States walking west may be your best option because civilization is closer to the ocean. The sun sets in the west so plot your direction of travel using the sun and landmarks as a visual reference.

Desert Water

There is very limited surface water in the desert hence the reason it is a desert as defined by less than 16 inches/400 millimeters of rainfall annually.

However, plants and shrubs as well as the soil itself can store water that you can obtain. Dry creeks beds with surrounding vegetation are ideal places to construct a solar water distiller if you have plastic with you. You may have plastic garbage or grocery bags in your vehicle, which can be used. You will also need a tool for digging such as a tire iron or stout stick and a collection cup.

Find an area that has vegetation, which indicates ground moisture.

When digging the depression you must ensure the plastic you have can cover the entire hole. Put the collection cup in a small depression in the hole and add green vegetation without covering the cup. The sun’s rays will evaporate/sweat moisture from the plants and the soil. The moisture will collect and condense on the topside of the plastic. Place a small rock over the cup and put a small hole in the plastic over the cup. This gives the water a place to drain to and then begin dripping into the cup under the plastic. You can expect with the right conditions to collect up to two quarts in 24 hours. Use this method and others to build a supply of water.

Plants

Plants do contain water and can be a source of food as well. However, you are cautioned not to eat any plant unless you are sure it is safe. The following are very common and easily recognizable plants found in many deserts. The plants or fruits are edible and can be a source of hydration as well.

The Prickly Pear fruit is edible as well as the leaves once the thorns have been burnt off over a fire. Squeeze the leaves for water, before cooking or eat raw for nourishment as well as hydration.

The Christmas cactus has small hard red berries that have thorns that must be scraped off before eating. The berry is very tasteful similar to a strawberry and it contains some liquid to help with hydration.

The fruit of the Saguaro Cactus is edible and it is juicy so it provides nutrition and hydration. All of the listed plants and fruits are edible but ensure you know what you are eating.

Any mammal you can capture in the desert is edible along with crickets, locusts, scorpions, termites, ants, grubs and earthworms. It is recommended you first roast any insect over a fire to kill any bacteria or parasites present. The stinger from the scorpion must be removed before attempting to eat or handle. Pin the body down with a stick and cut the stinger off with a knife or sharp rock. All wild game must be cooked to a temperature sufficient to kill any bacteria or parasites that may be present.

Fire

Start a fire using a piece of glass, eyeglasses or the magnifier that maybe included with your compass. If you became stranded in your vehicle, you can start a fire using the battery by attaching battery cables to both posts and striking the cable ends together. Ensure you do not ignite a fire near the battery or under the vehicles hood. Strike the ends over a dry tinder pile or connect both ends to a piece of bare wire. The wire will heat up enough to ignite the dry tinder.

Shelter

Shelter in the desert is important for protection from the hot sun during the day and to keep you warm you at night. Shelter can be your vehicle, a rain poncho or tarp or thick bush you can crawl under or even a sand pit.

Dig a sand trench deep enough that your body is below ground and then a foot longer than your body. Cover two thirds of the trench with a poncho and/or vegetation and then pile sand along the sides and ends to add more protection. Crawl inside with your head facing away from the uncovered end. This is protection from the sun as well as the cold.

More on Desert Survival Essentials – Make sure to have these with you

Carry as much water as you can whether you are in a vehicle or hiking. You simply cannot have too much water.

Carry as much food as you can as well.

It is assumed you would have sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and bandanna for protection from the sun along with appropriate clothing for the deserts such as long pants and long sleeved shirt.

Multi-Purpose Knife

Camp Ax

Fixed Bladed Knife

Fire Starting Materials Matches Magnesium Stick Ferro Rod Magnifying Glass

Compass And Map Of The Area And State

Canteens For Water Collection

Sheet Of Clear Plastic 5×5

Rope

Digging Tool

Empty Can Or Water Bottle For Use With A Solar Still

Poncho/Tarp For Shelter And Ground Cloth

Thermal Blanket

Signal Mirror

Signal Flag For Your Vehicle

Jumper Cables If Traveling By Vehicle

Water Purification Tablets

Clean Cotton Cloth

NOW you’re ready to start planning on those jungle and desert adventure trips….!

Remember to stay safe and don’t overestimate your skills and level of experience and knowledge – Be humble enough!

 

 

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