How to Survive in the Jungle

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Most people think of the tropics as a huge and forbidding tropical rain forest through which every step taken must be hacked out and where every inch of the way is crawling with danger. Actually, over half of the land in the tropics is cultivated in some way.

A knowledge of field skills, the ability to improvise and the application of the principles of survival will increase the prospects of survival. Do not be afraid of being alone in the jungle; fear will lead to panic. Panic will lead to exhaustion and decrease your chance of survival.

Everything in the jungle thrives, including disease germs and parasites that breed at an alarming rate. Nature will provide water, food and plenty of materials to build shelters.

Indigenous peoples have lived for millennia by hunting and gathering. However, it will take an outsider some time to get used to the conditions and nonstop activity of tropical survival.

Tropical Weather

High temperatures, heavy rainfall and oppressive humidity characterize equatorial and subtropical regions, except at high altitudes. At low altitudes, temperature variation is seldom less than 10 degrees C and is often more than 35 degrees C. At altitudes over 1,500 meters, ice often forms at night. The rain has a cooling effect but when it stops, the temperature soars.

Rainfall is heavy, often with thunder and lightning. Sudden rain beats on the tree canopy, turning trickles into raging torrents and causing rivers to rise. Just as suddenly, the rain stops. Violent storms may occur, usually toward the end of the summer months.

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons develop over the sea and rush inland, causing tidal waves and devastation ashore. In choosing campsites, make sure you are above any potential flooding. Prevailing winds vary between winter and summer. The dry season has rain once a day, and the monsoon has continuous rain. In Southeast Asia, winds from the Indian Ocean bring the monsoon, but it is dry when the wind blows from the landmass of China.

Tropical day and night are of equal length. Darkness falls quickly and daybreak is just as sudden.

Information courtesy of the U.S. Army Survival Manual

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