The Jungle tends to develop a man’s personality, the more
time a man spends there the better is his personality. Jungles
and forest make perfect getaways, and nature there has an ability
to bring back the peace and tranquility we miss so much in today’s
busy rush. But however there are certain rules and ways that
one must follow in order to enjoy camping or spending time in
the jungle. Below are a few tips I personally think will help
you in your camping forays.
Clothes and Shoes
Wear light clothing cause our jungles can get pretty hot and
humid. Use Earth/Jungle color clothing like olive green and
browns, this makes you less conspicuous and helps u camouflage
with the Jungle background. You will thus get to see more birds
and animals. Avoid wearing primary/bright color and white in
the jungles – white irritates most animals specially elephants
and wild boars. Winters in the jungles can get pretty cold,
especially in the night – you would need your warm pullovers
and jackets here. Pack sleeping bag and clothes in waterproof
stuff sacks. Clothes that you'll need on the trail such as rain
pants should be at the top of your pack for easy accessibility.
Wear comfortable, well fitting hiking boots/shoes. Blisters
are the most common problem for beginners. Avoid buying new
boots right before a camping trip. Tape foot areas prone to
blisters prior to start of trip. Don’t use deodorants
and perfumes in the Jungle; the smell can attract wildlife towards
Backpack weight is very important. The pack weight should be
1/4 of your body weight or less. Too much weight, just like
blisters, can spoil a trip. Shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and
feet are the stress points. Downhill hiking is much harder on
joints. Uphill hiking stresses quadriceps and lungs.
Things which you might need more often, light snacks, torch
etc should be packed last or in any of the side pockets so time
is not wasted in pondering for them through the whole backpack.
Prefer water resistant backpack to others.
Choosing a Camping spot
Choose flat ground to pitch your tent. If you have
to pitch your tent on sloping ground – be sure to sleep
with your head on the higher end, if done otherwise excess of
blood flow to your head will lead to headache and nausea.
Choose your spot close to a water source that would help you
in washing and cleaning. If you are camping in winter or monsoons
pitch your tent under a medium size tree, this would offer protection
against rain and dew. Use a dew cover in winters or you may
awake to find your tent completely drenched. When you peg your
tent make a note of the peg lines as we all tend to trip over
them, sometimes it leads to injury while most of the time the
tent gets a bad jolt. Do not smoke in a tent or light candles.
I have experimented with various types of outdoor foods,
the best and easiest is tin food but tin food increases backpack
weight. Maggie noodles with few veggies tossed in are quick
and easy to cook. The latest, is the ready-to-eat food packets
– “Ashirwad” is one of the brands. All one
has to do is put the contents into a pan and heat it or dip
the packet into hot water. The food packets are very convenient
Chicken bar be que can be quite exciting, you must get along
your pre marinade chicken or marinade the chicken at least an
hour before roasting it. Cook over slow fire – coals.
Fruits like apples and oranges are also good. Though they make
a great diet, I avoid bananas cause they invariably get squashed
up in the bag and turn all black. Eat light and drink a fair
amount of water. While trekking carry at least two liters of
water. You'll determine right amount for you with experience.
Trail snacks [bring stuff that's easy to eat such as chocolate
bars/chips, dry fruits etc. they give you an instant energy
boost.] should be in outside pockets or near the top, this way
you don't have to take out lot of gear from your pack while
Starting a Fire
In order to cook or make a cup of tea you must have
a fire. Staring a fire can get pretty difficult especially when
there is no wind or when it’s raining. Start the fire
with small twigs and dry leaves, let them burn well and then
insert slightly bigger branches and finally the logs. To start
a fire quickly, add kerosene, but again kerosene tends to leak
and mess your bags. Best is to insert a small-lit candle between
the twigs, this gives a permanent source of fire and the twigs
will burn quickly. During the rains most of the wood is wet,
you would need to dry the wood over a small fire first. A small
fire can be started with a candle as mentioned above or by burning
a little bit of plastic with the wood. The plastic will give
you a persistent flame. Be careful of the fumes emitted by the
plastic; hence use plastic only in cases of wet wood. I carry
a small portable stove, which works on paraffin inflammable
balls. This stove suffices to cook a small meal and some tea.
If you are making a campfire be sure that you collect a lot
of spare wood. Campfires can get very demanding in their consumption
of wood – stick to large logs, as they will not only burn
brighter but also last longer, even after the fire has died
out the embers will keep you warm. A note of caution, see that
there is a buffer of cleared ground with radius of atleast 1
meter around the fire and make sure that your fire is completely
stamped out before you leave. Most forest fires are cause by
carelessly lit fires. These fires consume and destroy 100’s
of acres of prime forest.
Flashlight should be small enough to fit in your mouth because
that's where it will be when you pitch your tent solo after
sunset. Carry extra batteries and bulb. Candles are an important
source of light and also provide a nice ambience. If you want
to spot wildlife in the night carry a 4 or 5 cell sturdy torch,
the MAG lights are the best with their adjustable focus.
One more important tip for spotting night game is that you embark
on such trips on “no moon night” the reason being
– your torch light will shine much more in pitch darkness
than on a full moon night where everything is bright. One more
reason is that in pitch darkness your torchlight can pick up
the eyes of animals easily and in turn the animals cannot see
beyond the blinding effect of your torchlight giving u a much
better chance to creep up on wild game.
Insects & Insect Repellents
The basic rule. that if you go camping then brace your self
for a few bites, scratches and itches. Although it is a small
price to pay.
Mosquitoes: The humming that they make in your
ears can be more irritating than the bite. During monsoons the
mosquitoes are at their best. Most mosquito repellents are quite
effective, but they all wear out pretty quickly. So the trick
is to reapply a new coat every 3 to 4 hrs or whenever you feel
the mosquitoes have made their undue presence felt. Try Neem
leaves, it is a natural repellent – on condition that
you find one close at hand.
Leeches: Leeches are by far the most dreaded creatures,
as small as they are they will and shall suck your blood. No
need to panic, although the sight of a leech sucking blood is
unnerving but the bite of a leech is completely harmless and
sterile. They have bitten me on numerous occasions with no side
effects. They are attracted to the sound of your feet and the
heat of your body. Some of them may even choose an Arial attack,
don’t worry they don’t fly !! They fall of branches
onto your back and when they have had their fill they will comfortably
drop off. I have spent a lot of time with the leeches in the
Jungles of India, the point is not to frighten the readers but
caution them a bit. Most repellents will work with limited success.
Salt or tobacco juices are the best preventions. Though in the
jungle most smokers would find it a pity to waste their precious
cigarettes for making a juice. Try the leeches:) Try not to
pull the leeches off, instead gently apply the tobacco juice
or salt and they will fall of immediately.
Cow Ticks: I have saved this insect for the
last because in comparison it makes a mosquitoes look quite
harmless. Cow ticks are found around cattle and feed on their
blood. Avoid camping on cattle grazing grounds and near cow
dung, also avoid frolicking there in the grass or wayside. Cow
ticks are minute insects but deliver a nasty bite. The climax
is that the bite does not heal for almost 3 months and will
send you into an itching frenzy. The itching will turn into
violent scratching and the more you scratch the worse the bite
will get. I am a living example – itching at work –
home – restaurants –dates everywhere. Till, a good
soul took mercy on me and suggested a remedy. Apply a cream
called “Propygenta” as often as possible, it is
effective! And of course you would have to contain your scratching.
Snakes and Venom
I am not going narrate anything frightening and terrible against
these beautiful creatures. The very fact to be noted is that
people die of fear and panic more often than the venom of the
snake bit itself. In India we have only 5 varieties of poisonous
snakes the rest are all non-poisonous. The 5 varieties are –
Hamadryad (king cobra), Cobra, Kraits, Russell’s Viper
and Saw Scaled Vipers. People are under the belief that once
bitten by a snake, death will come in seconds, it is not so!
Here are some facts from a very authentic source – a Cobra
poison will take 4 – 6 hrs before its victim can die,
a Krait 2-3 hrs, Russell vipers 12-36 hrs, Saw Scaled Viper
3-7 days and final the Hamadryads which is the king of snakes
and most dangerous, cause of its shear size and quantity of
venom it can inject – the death comes in 90 minutes. Ofcourse
these are average timings and a lot depends on the age, health,
physique etc of the victim. The point here is not to panic as
you have got some time to get help and get to a hospital in
most cases. The key words is DO NOT PANIC – It KILLS!!
In the jungle the only reliable remedy for a poisonous snakebite
is to immediately make a deep cut into the wound with a sharp
knife and suck out as much poisoned blood in the area as possible.
This will minimize the effect of the venom and give you more
time to get help and to a hospital where the anti venom can
be administered. Oh! almost forget - The venom consumed by the
person sucking the blood is harmless – venoms are just
high in protein J. On final note snakes don’t bite and
infact are very timid. They bite only when you trample them
or come too close, they attack in self-defense. Ankle length
boots and thick pants serve as good protection against snakebites.
Keep an eye out for scorpions – their bite does not kill
but can be a very painful experience. Remember to dust your
shoes in the morning when you awake in the jungles, scorpions
love cozy warm places. There have been many instances of scorpion
bites when campers wear shoes in the morning.
Just a short note on Wildlife - consider yourself lucky
indeed to have spotted any. The tiger is an animal of the past
and if you happen to chance by him just hope you have a camera
and strong nerves to use it. The tiger is a gentleman and will
rarely attack unless it’s a mother with cubs. He will
just look at you and stride off –“ Good day and
be on it’s way” Panthers are illusive beast and
are rarely seen, they will completely avoid you. Elephants in
there wild state are usually peaceful unless you come across
a male elephant in “musk” a period when he’s
on a sexual high. In this condition he sports a nasty temper
and will attack without any provocation. Elephants kill more
humans in India then all other animals combined. Elephants and
wild gaur (Indian Bison) dislike the colour white and will usually
attack people or vehicles that are white in colour. The animals
you should be careful of are, the wild boar and sloth bear they
are quite dangerous and will attack on site in most cases. The
reason being the poor animals lack good eyesight and hence feel
threatened when approached. The Jungle rule is when in a situation
with an animal in the jungle DO NOT turn your tail and “RUN”,
instead stand your ground. All animals will make warning calls
before they charge unless it’s a man- eater! Running only
instigates an animal like the stray dogs on your street corner.
Do not make any jerky actions, slowly back track to a safe distance
by which time most animals would have made off too.
Wear camouflaged clothing. Avoid using deodorants and
perfumes, also soaps if taking bath in Jungle stream. Jungle
walk should be done in silence, avoid talking, gestures is the
best way to communicate in Jungle. Best time to spot Wild game
is during Dusk and Dawn.
Do not urinate or defecate near any water source, campsite,
or at a place where people are likely to congregate. Bury toilet
paper in the hole, replace sod/dirt, and tamp down lightly.
Wash hands or clothes well away from any water source. Remember,
this is the same water you and others use to cook and drink!
Never litter while camping, plastic bags and other non-bio-degradable
stuff should all be collected in a waste bag and discarded at
a waste management spot.
If you wish to add more tips which are not mentioned above,
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We will gladly add them to the list.