Sometime back I got this wonderful opportunity to visit the jungles of Wayanad in Kerala, India. So, with nicely packed bags, a group of three, my sister, my brother-in-law and me, set out on a drive to the jungles of Wayanad from Bangalore. The specialty of the place is that it promises a night safari. Night safari is an excellent way to see the nocturnal animals from up close. Little did I know that my preparation before coming to the jungles were no match to the levels of excitement I had. The guide who was to accompany us during our travel, almost laughed out loud, when he looked at my outfit. I was covered from head to toe, which is completely unacceptable in jungle trek. I did not know that. I had to immediately go and change. Throughout the next couple of hours during the trek, I got some really useful information from him. In this hub, I have shared those learning’s and a few others which I think would be useful to you if you were to go on a jungle trek.
Why Jungle trek?
If you want to experience nature at its best, there is nothing better than a jungle trek. You can watch animals in their natural habit. You get to see a plethora of flora and fauna. If you have completed a jungle trek before, you would know that walking in the jungles and waiting patiently, listening to the signs of nature is extremely thrilling. Mind you, that jungle trek can be very dangerous. This danger adds spice to the adventure. It is a complete treat to the mind and body. Mind because the flora and fauna relaxes you and connects you to Mother Nature. I say body because, jungle trek is a serious exercise. You need to walk a lot on not so friendly surfaces. Following is a list of the things you should watch out for.
What clothing should you wear?
It is a popular misconception that one should be covered from head to toe. That is, full sleeves t-shirt and rugged pair of jeans, with shoes and socks. This is what I wore that day when the guide laughed at me. This attire is inappropriate because of several reasons. The jungle, especially if it is one of the damp ones is home to many insects and smaller organisms like leeches. These leeches hook onto your body when you brush past them. If you are fully covered, then you wouldn't even realize when the leech sneaked inside your clothing and started sucking blood. One should thus wear shorts and half sleeves t-shirt, so that you are always aware when a leech hooked on to you. This way you can get rid of it quickly before it sucks your blood and swells up. In continuation with this I would also recommend that wear whites or other light colored clothing. During evenings, the insects, especially mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing. Dark colored clothing also absorbs a lot of heat. So, it makes good sense to avoid the blacks.
What footwear should you wear?
This is a tricky question. The terrain of the jungle is such that good comfortable sports shoes and socks is comfortable. However, socks, especially nylon can become very moist with sweat and can lead to discomfort and itchiness. The best footwear according to me is shoes without socks if you are comfortable with it or floaters. Keep checking your feet from time to time for leeches and other insect bites. Don’t worry about dirty feet. It is bound to get a bit muddy.
One needs to pay at most respect to the jungle and its inhabitants. This is primarily because of three reasons. One,You are a guest here. Two, Any disturbance to animals can be very dangerous. Three, You might scare away the animals. It is of utmost importance that you maintain silence when you are in the jungle. Loud music is a strict no. This is commonsense, but since I am writing about it I might as well say it, please don’t litter the jungle. This might attract some animals towards you and might be harmful for them as well.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation if at all, the previous night
Generally, jungle trek is best during early mornings. Heavy party a night before can lead to a serious hangover the next day. You surely don’t want that when a tiger is running towards you. Although I sipped on a peg of vodka to ease myself before the trek. I recommend that you don’t do that as the smell of Alcohol is intriguing to the wild animals.
Flash photography is discouraged during the night. Animals get scared by this. It is very difficult from then on to predict the reaction of a scared wild animal. Some might attack you. Some might run away. Use flash only if you want to test your luck.
No waving or touching animals
I am making this a separate point because I have heard numerous stories of kids and adults trying to show off to their peers that they are brave enough to touch a wild animal. Obviously, such a bravado does not live long enough to tell his story himself. Wild animals feel threatened if you come too close. It is best to observe them from a distance.
What to do if you see a leech on your body?
The first thing you should do is not to panic. Panic will only worsen things. A leech sticking on to your body looks scary, but it will not be painful. Always carry some salt with you for the trek. Apply salt on the leech generously. The leech will lose it's grip. Then it can be plucked easily.
The wound needs to be washed with soap and water once you are back. Put a bandage if needed. Some people develop allergic reactions to leech bite. In such a case, take an anti- allergy tablet and go to the nearby hospital at the earliest.
Walking with a stick
The rough terrain can be slippery at places where water is available. To get a better grip, it is advisable to walk with a stick in your hand. Another benefit of the stick is that it can scare away the wild animals, if they are too close to you for comfort. To protect your hands from the harsh surface of the stick, you could consider wearing gloves as well.
Watch out for signs
For your safety be very alert. Always be on the lookout for signs left by animals and learn how to draw inference from it. For example, A green uprooted tree might suggest that an Elephant has just passed by. The freshness of pug-marks tell you at what time a tiger crossed your path. If it is moist, then a tiger is nearby. If it is flaky then things can be a bit relaxed.
What to do if a tiger is after you?
This section and the one below is something I wish doesn’t happen to any one friend or foe. But in case this unfortunate incidence happens one should know what to do. I asked the same question from my guide. What to do if a tiger is after you? His answer was very simple in theory. Climb a tree. Having said that, I also understand that, in practice this would be the hardest thing to do.
What to do if an elephant is after you?
In this case, climbing trees won’t help. Elephants can easily uproot trees. If an elephant runs after you, you should run straight as fast as you can. Once you have covered 300-400meteres take a sudden right and run. The elephant is very huge and heavy. Because of inertia, the elephant keeps on running ahead for another 300-400meteres. This will give you enough time to run to safe place.
Hope these little things are useful to you in your jungle trek. Have a safe trek.
It's a jungle out there (poetry)
A little bit of adventure in life is what I seek.
I am trapped inside the mundane door, every day and every week.
I looked for a holiday, a day with something unique.
The vast and dense jungles lay outside, when through the keyhole I gave it a peak.