The only thing you need to survive in the jungle is know how. And the biggest, baddest, sharpest knife you can lay your hands on.
I went on a two day trek in Gunung Leuser National Park in Aceh, northern Sumatra and found that hiking in the jungle is an extreme experience. I experienced extreme discomfort and frustration, but also extreme wonder at the singular beauty of the rainforest.
The region receives high rainfall, which makes venturing out into the wilderness not for the faint hearted because you are going to get very, very wet. The night before I set out it poured for hours. I mean rain that turns every road and path into a surging stream, rain that washes away whole mountain slopes, rain that brings down trees and swells a river to double its size overnight and means a wander through the jungle becomes a slipping, sliding, squelching experience.
In order to ensure your visit to the jungle is without too much cursing I’ve compiled a survival guide for an overnight stay.
1. Aforementioned badass knife.
2. Guide to use the badass knife. Guide is also useful for building a waterproof shelter and cooking all meals.
3. Plastic sheeting to keep out the torrential rainfall. Will find it in guide’s backpack.
4. Decent hiking boots. Maybe. You walk through so much water and mud – and may to cross a river or two – it’s nearly impossible to keep your feet dry. Better just to enjoy the feeling of water pooling between your toes. Or, do it the local way and go barefoot.
5. Non-squeamish attitude. In the jungle there are leeches. They are of the big, blood sucking variety and latch on to any bare leg. To avoid them wear long pants, long socks or plastic leg covers like real hikers do.
6. Most importantly, a sense of humour. When sweat is pouring down your face, mud is seeping into your takkies, your legs ache from climbing the steep slopes, vines keep tripping you and you’re getting bitten by all manner of stinging insects it’s hard to enjoy the jungle, but it is a unique environment that offers incredible beauty.
To get you excited for your jungle experience here are some of the things I did and saw…
A wild orangutan eating fruit high up in a tree, and dropping the shells which hit the ground with a crack.
Mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns.
The rays of the sun filtering through leafy branches and mingled with the steam from a hot spring rising from the pebbled riverbank.
Crossing a raging river over a fallen tree truck.
Taking a shower in a small pool of a waterfall.