Jungle Travel Tips From Sir Kaukonen

March 30, 2011

The most important factor when traveling the jungle is to establish base camps.  Put some effort into constructing, supplying and defending camps at ideal locations.  Surviving in the jungle is difficult enough, but to do so without having good places to rest, resupply, and reassess is asking for trouble.

A typical day’s travel for my outfit was six miles of progress.  I say “progress” because as much effort is spent going up, down, and around various obstacles as going forward.  Much time was also spent each day either resting or hunting and foraging to supplement and extend our preserved rations with the bounty of the jungle.  Some days presented ideal conditions allowing us to as much as double our progress, but then others days met us with hardship that slowed us considerably.

Of course, an expedition should travel the waterways when possible. They enable the transport of a greater bulk of supply, deeper into the jungle.  Going upriver is hard work, but still faster than stomping through the bush.  Going downriver with a sturdy craft and stout oarsmen, it was possible to travel thirty miles or more in a day.  River travel is less eventful, but also presents its own dangers such as rapids, waterfalls, and fish and snakes larger than I’d seen before or since.

The jungle has swamps and mountains too.  A small canoe is of use in the swamps, but any larger craft will be impractical.  Valleys and cliff-side paths in the mountains aided travel there, but some ranges were just impossible for my men to cross.  More than once I hired a brave mountaineer to guide just myself to the top of some of the most treacherous ridges so I could make observations.

Speaking of which, a jungle traveler should take advantage of any opportunity to get atop the canopy and have a look around.  Down on the floor there are no landmarks.  Everything looks the same.  Despite my skill and experience I often discovered that I wasn’t traveling precisely in the direction I had intended.  Seldom did I get to where I was going without an unintended detour or two.

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