Trekking Fever – Preparing Yourself For Trekking in the Jungle
Being a guide myself for some years in Borneo, I would surprisingly come across quite a few people expecting a jungle trek to be a simple walk in the park! I would get a lot of questions like…believe it or not, “are there leeches in the jungle?” or my favourite, “are there bugs?” Well if you have this same question, then the answer is yes, there is a very, very good chance that both exist in your impending jungle.
The best advice I can give someone about to endeavour on a jungle expedition and wanting to be prepared is the following.
Feet: Ok, so you really do need to keep your feet dry when possible. In quite a few (real) jungle treks you will inevitably come across river crossings, marshes or bogs, unavoidably large murky puddles and the well timed tropical downpour generally early in the trek. There is a fabulous shoe that can be found in Borneo called the Adidas Kampung. It is a light weight rubber shoe with rubber football spikes on the sole, so quick to dry (being rubber) and can be emptied out if they fill up with water, a dry foot is as simple as changing socks, a fantastic little invention adored by most locals. If you can’t get your hands on this great little shoe then I do recommend a really good waterproof shoe/boot but one that can be removed easily for an over the ankles river crossing, unless your boots are super, super waterproof. I like to hook a pair of light shoes, strap sandals or a bike slipper to my pack that can be easily put on when it is inevitable your feet are going to get a dunking. Remember you may think you can brave wet shoes, but if you get a blister, and it is fermenting in jungle water in your shoe, there is a possibility it will develop into a tropical ulcer, and that is not pretty.
Leeches: Well these little blood suckers along with bugs have a real dislike for high strength Deet! Now I know there are quite a few people that don’t like to swab their bodies in this harsh substance, however, simply putting it on the skin whilst trekking through a humid jungle isn’t a good idea anyway, it simply runs off with the sweat. I never go trekking without a pair of knee high footy socks. These can be pulled up over your trek pants, shorts, or if it takes your fancy Lycra tights, and covered with Deet, it will not come off, and you will be safe from bugs and leeches. Now to assure the leeches don’t travel up to the nether regions, make sure you have a good hugging pair of undies on, bike shorts, or bloomers, never, ever wear a g-string girls or guys. As for the upper part of your body, you just need to make sure your t-shirt is covered in Deet as well, and you should be ok, you can generally see leeches on your arms, don’t panic they do come off, just roll them into a ball and flick. Most of the smaller types like tree dwelling Tiger Leeches or Brown ground dwelling leeches are easy to get off. If you’re going near still water, then you may require a lighter or salt to remove the big black Buffalo leech that lives in the water and is clever enough to hang on to you for seconds.
Keep it light: If your bag is heavy it’s going to get heavier the further you go or the wetter it gets. If you are stopping for the night in the jungle then I recommend a porter, in most countries this is a profession, and you’re not only making your holiday more enjoyable but also giving someone a job, an income and dinner on the table for his family. You need to carry at least 2 litres of water. Again I recommend a water bladder with tube and mouth piece rather than a bottle. I also recommend a plastic emergency poncho to wrap your bag in, and another one for you. No one enjoys a heavy waterproof coat in humidity, or you can try an umbrella in less thick jungles, you may look like Mary Poppins gone wrong, but you will enjoy the freedom of movement and extra air on your body. Don’t forget to wrap your valuables and dry clothes in a garbage bin liner inside your bag as well!
dirk gently’s holistic detective agency s01e01
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