Camping in the Jungle

Camping in the Jungle

If you do not own a 4-wheel drive vehicle and you love camping, chances are that you would have gone camping at the beach or at one of those pay-to-camp places which look like a village of tents. I mean, these places are alright if you just want to get away and don’t mind having lots of other campers around you. To really enjoy your camping experience, you should try camping in a jungle along a mountain stream.

Is camping in the jungle dangerous?

At the mere mention of the word ‘jungle’, some of you might be conjuring up images of tigers, snakes and other animals, reptiles or bugs. The truth is that camping in the outdoors has changed a lot since 20 or 30 years ago.

I remember when I was camping in the forests of Malaysia in the mid-seventies. All we had was a canvas sheet we used as an “A” tent, and another sheet that we laid on the ground under our blankets. We cooked over an open fire and had a campfire on each entrance to the tent to keep wild animals out. In the morning, we would see tiger tracks around our campsite showing that we had visitors during the night. The fires kept the animals at a distance so we were safe. From our experience, jungle animals and snakes would rather avoid us than have a confrontation.

The most likely animal you would come across in the jungles these days are wild boars. They are quite abundant and most of you have camped in the Malaysian jungle would have seen wild boar tracks but have never seen the animals that made them. They would rather run away from humans or hide in the bushes. You may have passed them without realizing they were there. These animals like a romp in the mud and the mud covered bodies blend in well with the surroundings.

In certain jungles, you have a better chance of hearing elephants crashing down trees and maybe even see one or two animals. You will know that they are around when you see their droppings in the area. Elephants are usually found in the deeper parts of the jungle. If you do see an elephant on your camping trips, avoid them. Do not make noise or try to take photos with your flash on. These animals will attack with the slightest provocation. But so far in my 48 years of enjoying activities in the Malaysian jungles, none of the elephants we seen were aggressive. They just moved away.

There are scorpions in certain areas. When you put on your shoes after a swim or when you wake up from sleep, check that there is nothing inside. Incidents of scorpion stinging someone are very rare.

Considering the fact that the inhabitants of the jungles are more terrified of humans, camping in the jungles can be very safe if you take precautions.

What do you need for an enjoyable camping experience?

There are three main way people get to their camping spots in the jungle. They either go by 4×4 vehicles, dirt bikes or hike in. The last two ways do not allow you to carry much equipment. Having a 4 wheel drive vehicle means that you can enjoy better comforts in terms of bringing equipment such as generators or power stations, ice-coolers, refrigerators or a freezer for your food, tables, chairs and whatever else you need that can fit inside or on the roof of the vehicle.

The most important item on your list will be more than sufficient fresh water for drinking and cooking.  Water should be abundant in case of any eventualities such as landslides or flash flood that make rivers impassable.  You can survive a few days without food but you would not survive long without drinking water. Having water filters will help turn river water safe for drinking.

Food will be next on your list. To save time, certain foods can be prepared at home so that your cooking time is reduced, allowing you to spend more time enjoying nature. A cooler box, 12V refrigerator or freezer keeps your food fresh if you plan to spend more time in the outdoors.

Of course you will need a stove and gas to cook the food and boil water. You may want to bring charcoal, a portable BBQ grill and fire starters if you are planning on a BBQ.

The next must have item should be a well-stocked first aid kit. This should include medicines for cuts and burns, plasters and bandages. Personally, I always include antihistamines in case anyone suffers from an allergy attack, as well as a massage liniment in case of sprains.

A pop-up changing tent would be convenient fort the ladies as it can double up as a changing room or portable toilet.

Tents, sleeping bags, camp beds, mosquito tents, lights, fans tables and chairs would be good to have if you have the space. These days many people prefer to sleep in their cars or in rooftop tents.

What precautions should we take when camping in the jungle?

When you camp in a tropical jungle, you would most probably be camping by a stream. A dip in the cool, clear stream really helps to take the strain out of our muscles and refresh the body and mind. When camping by a stream, never camp to close to the water. Take a look around to see if you can spot signs of where the highest water level has reached. You can usually tell by the difference in color of the vegetation on the banks. But if there are no signs or you want to be safe, do not camp too close to the river. Choose a higher ground to camp. When it rains, the water rushing down from higher ground can cause flash floods that raise water level by a few feet in a matter of minutes. There are cases where campsites and even vehicles have been washed away by these flash floods.

Another precaution you should take is to avoid setting up your tent next to a slope. When it rains water coming down the slope can flood your campsite making the ground muddy. If you have no choice, dig a trench to divert the water from your campsite. A little extra work can avoid a messy situation that will spoil your camping adventure.

Avoid places with a lot of bamboo plants. These are the breeding grounds of sand-flies. It is good to bring along those paper egg trays on your trips. Burning them will produce smoke that will keep these pests away.

If you are going into the jungle using a 4×4 vehicle, make sure you are not going in alone. Having another vehicle with you can help get you out of situations like getting stuck or having problems with the vehicles. Even if you have a winch, certain situations may occur when even your winch may not help, especially if your winch develops problems that cause it not to function.

Taking the right precautions will help keep you and you group safe to enjoy the experience of camping in the jungle. We don’t expect anything bad to happen, but if something does come up, being prepared will get us through.

A jungle camping adventure in the heart of nature allows you to see things first-hand that you would otherwise have to see on the Internet, TV or in travel magazines. And the air in the jungle, that’s something you really have to experience for yourself. Stay Safe and have fun.

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