The great thing about travel bucket lists is that everyone’s is unique. While some people may daydream of skiing their way through the Alps, others long to catch a glimpse of the enthralling Northern Lights. Last year, I managed to tick a destination off my list when I had the opportunity to stay in a remote part of the rainforest in Borneo.
Aware of the fact that we’d be roughing it out, I did my research to ensure I packed all of the essentials for my jungle adventure. However, in hindsight, I should have brought along a few more things. This quick and handy guide will help anybody else embarking on a few days in the jungle.
Let’s face it. The monkeys and birds you’ll be sharing a temporary home with don’t care what you look like, so there’s simply no point in dressing to impress. Bring some basic t-shirts and shorts, some long trousers and tops for sun and bug protection, some long socks and a hat.
With regards to footwear, a pair of boots or shoes that you’re comfortable to walk through rough terrain in is key. You also need to be okay with destroying them with mud and water.
As for other accoutrements, a poncho or three is also key. These double-up great as a backpack cover if you’re out in the elements on a wet day. Throw in some clean underwear, some sunglasses, and a towel and you’re all set.
Beware of bugs
Mosquitoes are likely to be rampant wherever you go, so be on the defence at all times. Pack plenty of repellent with DEET (diethyltoluamide — a common active ingredient in insect repellants) and some bite relief cream in case you get bitten.
Your choice of outfit makes a difference too. It helps to wear long thick socks, long-sleeved tops, and trousers, especially at night time. Some places will require you to take malaria medication and shots, so be sure to thoroughly check this out with a medical professional before visiting.
There’s also no harm in bringing a spare mosquito net if, like me, you won’t have the luxury of any windows and doors surrounding your mattress. While many places will provide them, bringing one will come in handy in the event of a tear.
If you thought I was going to recommend a few long-lasting makeup products and fresh holiday scents, I’m not. Really, don’t bother. All you need is some sunscreen, a toothbrush and toothpaste, wet wipes, and some deodorant.
Okay, it may be a bit of a stretch to label a torch and some toilet paper as luxuries, but whatever you want to call them, make sure you cram them in. There’s also no harm in bringing several bottles of water and some snacks, even if you’ll have access to food where you stay. As a serial snacker myself, I highly recommend this! However, if you do bring food, make sure you put it somewhere extremely secure to avoid attracting and potentially losing it to any hungry visitors. Your guide will advise you of the best way to safeguard those snacks.
If you’ve gotten this far down the list and realise you don’t have an inch of bag space left, you’re in luck! My final recommendations won’t weigh you down and won’t cost you a thing.
First, go with an open mind. If your experience is anything like mine, your accommodation is likely to be minimal, you’re going to get muddy, bugs will be aplenty, and the night-time jungle symphony might keep you up at night. The food will be basic and you probably won’t have enough. Showers and flushing toilets can be forgotten about, as can any lights at night, apart from the stars and your new best friend – your torch. So you’ll need to mentally prepare for this.
If you don’t think you can live without your creature comforts, then maybe an overnight jungle adventure isn’t for you. However, if you can focus on the fact that you’re getting a once in a lifetime experience and laugh through the tiny hardships, then I highly recommend a trip like this.
Finally, be responsible. Take any rubbish with you, listen to your guide, and respect the place that you’re visiting. We all want to get up close and personal with the natural world, but sometimes this more harm than good (littering, carbon footprint and so on). Always put the environment ahead of your own convenience.
Ideally, you’ll want to research a truly eco-friendly company that holds environmental sustainability at its core. It may be more expensive, and you may not have as much freedom as you like, but it’ll be worth it. For example, we spent most of our time on a boat to prevent disturbances that can be caused by trekking. Suffice to say, your conscience will be all the better for it and an incredible experience is still guaranteed.
By Amy Lewis
This article originally appeared on Zafigo, a travel guide for women travellers in Asia and the Middle East, and is republished with permission.