Top 10 tips for jun­gle treks

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The words “jun­gle trekking” can con­jure up all sorts of im­ages to the new­bie trekker. Be­fore my first jun­gle trekking ex­pe­ri­ence in Su­ma­tra back in 00 , I had no idea what to ex­pect. I en­vi­sioned spi­ders the size of din­ner plates, snakes hang­ing from ev­ery branch, hack­ing my way through chok­ing vines with a ma­chete, sweat pour­ing down my face as I gasped and scram­bled my way through the for­est cov­ered in gi­ant leeches.

While a trek on a RAW Wildlife En­coun­ters tour may con­tain some of the above, the re­al­ity is en­tirely dif­fer­ent. RAW Wildlife’s mas­sively ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cal guides have spent their lives ex­plor­ing their jun­gle and know it bet­ter than we know our own back­yards.

Whether you’re a new­bie trekker or an old hand, jun­gle trekking is for ev­ery­one and it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence that you’ll re­mem­ber for the rest of your life. I’ve con­sulted with some of our ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cal guides and we’ve come up with th­ese tips to help you get the most out of your jun­gle ex­pe­ri­ence.

1. Hy­drate! Drink be­fore you go, drink on the go, drink when you ar­rive! Drink be­fore you’re thirsty and drink - times as much as you think you need! De­hy­dra­tion is your num­ber one en­emy while trekking. The rain­forests of Su­ma­tra are hot, and you will sweat out al­most more wa­ter than you can drink in.

2. Pro­tect your­self from preda­tors Pro­tect your­self from preda­tors While you will be trekking through jun­gle that is home to tigers, ele­phants, wild pigs and snakes th­ese aren’t the preda­tors you need to worry about, I’m talk­ing about mos­qui­tos and leeches. Mos­qui­tos are drawn to darker colours so avoid wear­ing black, and they also tend to go for wrists and an­kles, so it’s help­ful to wear long pants and long sleeves.

Mos­quito re­pel­lent is an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity it works to re­pel both mos­qui­tos and leeches. As for leeches, it all de­pends on the weather more rain means more leeches. Th­ese tiny crit­ters are harm­less. Best way to avoid leeches is to tuck your pants into your socks, your shirt into your pants and douse your skin with in­sect re­pel­lent.

3. Fuel your­self well! Set your­self up for trekking suc­cess! My best treks have all come after a night of good sleep and a hearty break­fast. My worst trek came after a late night with too many Bin­tangs! et a solid night sleep be­fore your trek. Even if you are not a big break­fast eater, try and eat some­thing sub­stan­tial in the morn­ing. Pre-trek, dur­ing and post-trek jun­gle food is all pro­vided by our lo­cal guides or ac­com­mo­da­tion, and is all de­li­cious!

4. Dress for suc­cess Un­less you’re blessed with ex­tremely rare and unique beauty genes, (in which case I’m su­per jeal­ous) jun­gle trekking ain’t pretty. It’s about be­ing com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal! In the trop­i­cal heat, light­weight cloth­ing is best, and quick-dry ma­te­rial is es­sen­tial.

Long pants are best for pro­tec­tion from in­sects as well as the sticks and spikey vines that oc­ca­sion­ally trip you up. Long sleeves are op­tional, but min­i­mum of a t-shirt both for cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity and for pro­tec­tion from the flora and fauna.

5. Put your best foot for­ward While many of our guides trek bare­foot or in flip flops, I wouldn’t rec­om­mend try­ing this your­self! The key things here again are com­fort and suitabil­ity! Ide­ally, you need some­thing that can go from walk­ing through rocky rivers to tak­ing you up steep slopes with­out slip­ping. Look for some­thing non-slip, wa­ter proof or quick dry­ing. Light-weight sneak­ers, or spe­cific out­door shoes are your best bet.

6 . Pack light Whether you are em­bark­ing on a day trek, overnight trek or longer, the golden rule is less is more! While the guides will be car­ry­ing all the es­sen­tial equip­ment for cook­ing, shel­ter, and en­ter­tain­ment, you’ll be re­quired to carry your own back­packs! Bring the min­i­mum amount of clothes you’ll need if you bring quick-dry­ing clothes, it is eas­ier to just rewear them on day two (no­body will be able to smell you over their own lovely scent)!

7. Em­brace the jun­gle toi­let The great thing about jun­gle trekking is that you don’t have to go far to find a loo! The jun­gle pro­vides myr­iad spots for pop­ping a quick squat be­hind the pri­vacy of a fern. Em­brace the life of the jun­gle and leave some en­rich­ment for the an­i­mals to in­ves­ti­gate later! Any­thing par­tic­u­larly of­fen­sive should be gen­tly cov­ered with leaf lit­ter.

8. Look and lis­ten Hu­mans make a racket in the jun­gle! Even when we’re do­ing our best to tread lightly, the an­i­mals can hear us miles away. As lo­cal RAW guide -ack told me, “give your­self to the na­ture.”

Mean­ing heighten those senses that have been dulled by tele­vi­sion and noisy malls and the chaos of mod­ern life; look up into the canopy ev­ery few steps - look for move­ment; use your ears, lis­ten for the tell-tale crack of a far­away branch or the dis­tinc­tive swoop­ing wing beat of a horn­bill. Slow down your pace, your breath­ing and your mind and let the jun­gle take over!

9. Re­spect Re­mem­ber that you are vis­it­ing the an­i­mal’s home, not the other way around. Have re­spect for the in­cred­i­ble eco-sys­tem you are in dis­pose of your rub­bish re­spon­si­bly. Re­spect all the plants and an­i­mals you come across keep your voices low and lis­ten to your knowl­edge­able guides at all times. RAW tours en­deav­our to im­merse you in the cul­ture of the places you visit, so ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity to learn about dif­fer­ent ways of life and re­spect the cul­ture of the com­mu­ni­ties you are vis­it­ing.

10. Keep smil­ing! Prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant thing on this list! A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit will en­able you to get the most out of your jun­gle ad­ven­ture. RAW Wildlife tours are unique in that the wildlife lead­ers and lo­cal guides, along with other peo­ple on your tour, will be­come like fam­ily. The bonds you form while spend­ing time in the jun­gle are amaz­ing. RAW Wildlife En­counter tours are about the jour­ney just as much as the des­ti­na­tion, and what a jour­ney it is!

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