“To him who is in fear, everything rustles” (Sophocles)

Fear is a good thing.

Fear stops us from doing dangerous things that might kill us.  However, irrational fear is not such a good thing as it stops us from doing things that are relatively safe because we perceive a threat that is far greater in our mind than it is in reality.

I met someone on a beach holiday who was telling me how he would look up the danger of shark attacks before selecting his beach holiday location – at the time he was sitting with a beer beneath a palm tree and happily oblivious to the much greater threat of a coconut falling from above and splitting his head open.

Admittedly, fear sometimes has to be overcome – if you’re faced with a tiger the last thing you should do is listen to your instincts and run – but, overall, fear is a good thing; a primal warning system that we all have built in and someone who is truly without fear is unlikely to survive long in the jungle.

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The jungle, perhaps more than any other environment, evokes fear in people’s minds and a lot of this is simply due to the limited field of view in the jungle which means that most of the time we can’t see potential dangers that are often near at hand.  For example, I am sure I have walked past hundreds of deadly snakes in the jungle without even realising they were there.

So how dangerous is it to go camping in the jungle?  My view is that for someone well prepared, who is aware of their surroundings and uses their common sense, the jungle is no more dangerous than any other wilderness that contains wild animals (e.g. camping in bear county in the States).

dyneema_ridge_lineHowever, for the unprepared or foolhardy, the jungle is full of potentially life-threatening hazards and the most likely thing to kill you is yourself : underestimating the dangers of river crossings or swimming beneath waterfalls with their dangerous undertows, setting up camp beneath a widow-maker, someone who picks up or tries to pet a wild animal or snake (I’ve seen people do this!) or even something as simple as going into unfamiliar jungle alone and without a guide… these are poor decisions that can end up being your last.

So, in this video, I wanted to look at some basic precautions I take when setting up camp and also a few thoughts on how to deal with the threat from wild animals.  When it comes to animal attacks I have never, ever, had to deal with such a situation (other than being harassed by village dogs!) and, if you are trekking with a group, my feeling is that the likelihood of such an event is extremely remote.  However, that’s not to say it can’t happen and having some idea of what to do in the event it does will do a lot to calm your fears and let you sleep better at night.

However,if you are camping on your own, I think the threat is greater…and, although I have camped alone, it’s not really a good idea and something to avoid if possible.

In the video I mention the danger of camping to close to a waterfall and here is the link to the Youtube video which shows just what can go wrong and how disastrous the results can be.

For those interested in the Dyneema ridge line, here is the Amazon link.

A lot of people are put off camping in the jungle because of irrational fears and scare stories and this is a real shame as they are missing out on experiencing one of the most beautiful parts of the world.   But with a bit of common sense, awareness and the right preparation, the jungle is far less dangerous than they might imagine.

And the sad truth is that the most dangerous thing in the jungle is us – both to ourselves and to the animals that roam there (and they know it!).

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