The first survival shelter I made was a lean-to with a roof of palm fronds, beneath which I slept on the jungle floor.  I was very grateful it didn’t rain that night as the roof had large gaps between the leaves and wouldn’t have kept out much more than the briefest of drizzles.

In comparison, and as anyone who has been in the jungle will tell you, getting into a hammock at night (with a fully waterproof roof and a mozzi net to protect you) is a wonderful feeling and makes any problems you have to face the next day seem more manageable.

Of course we can make a shelter and a raised platform with natural materials – rattans and vines for cordage, bamboo for a bed and palm leaves woven to form a roof – but it takes time and luck.  Tribesmen on hunting trips tend to make a communal shelter  – and, with many (skilled) hands, the work is quick to complete.  Also, I imagine, they often know in advance where they are likely to camp and choose places where they know the needed materials are plentiful and near at hand.

As a lone traveller, lost in the jungle, making a shelter from purely natural materials is going to take quite a bit of time and you will probably need to search around for the materials you need (and may not find ones that are really suitable).

In the video below I show you how to make an emergency shelter system that is 100% waterproof, relatively comfortable, cheap and fits into a small belt pouch.

Even the system in the video takes a bit of time to put together.  If you haven’t done it before I would allow 1-2 hours to be on the safe side, and it is always a good idea to stop and make camp early in the afternoon (not later than 3pm) so that you have plenty of time to get comfortable before it gets dark.

In the heat and humidity of the jungle it is a good general rule to reduce your expectations of how much and how quickly you can do things.  If you think a journey is going to take 2 days, give yourself 3 days instead and then you can slow down and avoid getting tired and hassled by the inevitable unforeseen problems that the jungle throws at you.