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  Jungle Rules

The Jungle tends to develop a man’s personality, the more time a man spends there the better is his personality. Jungles and forest make perfect getaways, and nature there has an ability to bring back the peace and tranquility we miss so much in today’s busy rush. But however there are certain rules and ways that one must follow in order to enjoy camping or spending time in the jungle. Below are a few tips I personally think will help you in your camping forays.

Clothes and Shoes

Wear light clothing cause our jungles can get pretty hot and humid. Use Earth/Jungle color clothing like olive green and browns, this makes you less conspicuous and helps u camouflage with the Jungle background. You will thus get to see more birds and animals. Avoid wearing primary/bright color and white in the jungles – white irritates most animals specially elephants and wild boars. Winters in the jungles can get pretty cold, especially in the night – you would need your warm pullovers and jackets here. Pack sleeping bag and clothes in waterproof stuff sacks. Clothes that you'll need on the trail such as rain pants should be at the top of your pack for easy accessibility. Wear comfortable, well fitting hiking boots/shoes. Blisters are the most common problem for beginners. Avoid buying new boots right before a camping trip. Tape foot areas prone to blisters prior to start of trip. Don’t use deodorants and perfumes in the Jungle; the smell can attract wildlife towards you.


Backpack weight is very important. The pack weight should be 1/4 of your body weight or less. Too much weight, just like blisters, can spoil a trip. Shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet are the stress points. Downhill hiking is much harder on joints. Uphill hiking stresses quadriceps and lungs.

Things which you might need more often, light snacks, torch etc should be packed last or in any of the side pockets so time is not wasted in pondering for them through the whole backpack. Prefer water resistant backpack to others.

Choosing a Camping spot

Choose flat ground to pitch your tent. If you have to pitch your tent on sloping ground – be sure to sleep with your head on the higher end, if done otherwise excess of blood flow to your head will lead to headache and nausea.

Choose your spot close to a water source that would help you in washing and cleaning. If you are camping in winter or monsoons pitch your tent under a medium size tree, this would offer protection against rain and dew. Use a dew cover in winters or you may awake to find your tent completely drenched. When you peg your tent make a note of the peg lines as we all tend to trip over them, sometimes it leads to injury while most of the time the tent gets a bad jolt. Do not smoke in a tent or light candles.


I have experimented with various types of outdoor foods, the best and easiest is tin food but tin food increases backpack weight. Maggie noodles with few veggies tossed in are quick and easy to cook. The latest, is the ready-to-eat food packets – “Ashirwad” is one of the brands. All one has to do is put the contents into a pan and heat it or dip the packet into hot water. The food packets are very convenient and tasty.

Chicken bar be que can be quite exciting, you must get along your pre marinade chicken or marinade the chicken at least an hour before roasting it. Cook over slow fire – coals. Fruits like apples and oranges are also good. Though they make a great diet, I avoid bananas cause they invariably get squashed up in the bag and turn all black. Eat light and drink a fair amount of water. While trekking carry at least two liters of water. You'll determine right amount for you with experience. Trail snacks [bring stuff that's easy to eat such as chocolate bars/chips, dry fruits etc. they give you an instant energy boost.] should be in outside pockets or near the top, this way you don't have to take out lot of gear from your pack while it's raining!

Starting a Fire

In order to cook or make a cup of tea you must have a fire. Staring a fire can get pretty difficult especially when there is no wind or when it’s raining. Start the fire with small twigs and dry leaves, let them burn well and then insert slightly bigger branches and finally the logs. To start a fire quickly, add kerosene, but again kerosene tends to leak and mess your bags. Best is to insert a small-lit candle between the twigs, this gives a permanent source of fire and the twigs will burn quickly. During the rains most of the wood is wet, you would need to dry the wood over a small fire first. A small fire can be started with a candle as mentioned above or by burning a little bit of plastic with the wood. The plastic will give you a persistent flame. Be careful of the fumes emitted by the plastic; hence use plastic only in cases of wet wood. I carry a small portable stove, which works on paraffin inflammable balls. This stove suffices to cook a small meal and some tea.

If you are making a campfire be sure that you collect a lot of spare wood. Campfires can get very demanding in their consumption of wood – stick to large logs, as they will not only burn brighter but also last longer, even after the fire has died out the embers will keep you warm. A note of caution, see that there is a buffer of cleared ground with radius of atleast 1 meter around the fire and make sure that your fire is completely stamped out before you leave. Most forest fires are cause by carelessly lit fires. These fires consume and destroy 100’s of acres of prime forest.


Flashlight should be small enough to fit in your mouth because that's where it will be when you pitch your tent solo after sunset. Carry extra batteries and bulb. Candles are an important source of light and also provide a nice ambience. If you want to spot wildlife in the night carry a 4 or 5 cell sturdy torch, the MAG lights are the best with their adjustable focus.

One more important tip for spotting night game is that you embark on such trips on “no moon night” the reason being – your torch light will shine much more in pitch darkness than on a full moon night where everything is bright. One more reason is that in pitch darkness your torchlight can pick up the eyes of animals easily and in turn the animals cannot see beyond the blinding effect of your torchlight giving u a much better chance to creep up on wild game.

Insects & Insect Repellents

The basic rule. that if you go camping then brace your self for a few bites, scratches and itches. Although it is a small price to pay.

Mosquitoes: The humming that they make in your ears can be more irritating than the bite. During monsoons the mosquitoes are at their best. Most mosquito repellents are quite effective, but they all wear out pretty quickly. So the trick is to reapply a new coat every 3 to 4 hrs or whenever you feel the mosquitoes have made their undue presence felt. Try Neem leaves, it is a natural repellent – on condition that you find one close at hand.

: Leeches are by far the most dreaded creatures, as small as they are they will and shall suck your blood. No need to panic, although the sight of a leech sucking blood is unnerving but the bite of a leech is completely harmless and sterile. They have bitten me on numerous occasions with no side effects. They are attracted to the sound of your feet and the heat of your body. Some of them may even choose an Arial attack, don’t worry they don’t fly !! They fall of branches onto your back and when they have had their fill they will comfortably drop off. I have spent a lot of time with the leeches in the Jungles of India, the point is not to frighten the readers but caution them a bit. Most repellents will work with limited success. Salt or tobacco juices are the best preventions. Though in the jungle most smokers would find it a pity to waste their precious cigarettes for making a juice. Try the leeches:) Try not to pull the leeches off, instead gently apply the tobacco juice or salt and they will fall of immediately.

Cow Ticks: I have saved this insect for the last because in comparison it makes a mosquitoes look quite harmless. Cow ticks are found around cattle and feed on their blood. Avoid camping on cattle grazing grounds and near cow dung, also avoid frolicking there in the grass or wayside. Cow ticks are minute insects but deliver a nasty bite. The climax is that the bite does not heal for almost 3 months and will send you into an itching frenzy. The itching will turn into violent scratching and the more you scratch the worse the bite will get. I am a living example – itching at work – home – restaurants –dates everywhere. Till, a good soul took mercy on me and suggested a remedy. Apply a cream called “Propygenta” as often as possible, it is effective! And of course you would have to contain your scratching.

Snakes and Venom

I am not going narrate anything frightening and terrible against these beautiful creatures. The very fact to be noted is that people die of fear and panic more often than the venom of the snake bit itself. In India we have only 5 varieties of poisonous snakes the rest are all non-poisonous. The 5 varieties are – Hamadryad (king cobra), Cobra, Kraits, Russell’s Viper and Saw Scaled Vipers. People are under the belief that once bitten by a snake, death will come in seconds, it is not so! Here are some facts from a very authentic source – a Cobra poison will take 4 – 6 hrs before its victim can die, a Krait 2-3 hrs, Russell vipers 12-36 hrs, Saw Scaled Viper 3-7 days and final the Hamadryads which is the king of snakes and most dangerous, cause of its shear size and quantity of venom it can inject – the death comes in 90 minutes. Ofcourse these are average timings and a lot depends on the age, health, physique etc of the victim. The point here is not to panic as you have got some time to get help and get to a hospital in most cases. The key words is DO NOT PANIC – It KILLS!! In the jungle the only reliable remedy for a poisonous snakebite is to immediately make a deep cut into the wound with a sharp knife and suck out as much poisoned blood in the area as possible. This will minimize the effect of the venom and give you more time to get help and to a hospital where the anti venom can be administered. Oh! almost forget - The venom consumed by the person sucking the blood is harmless – venoms are just high in protein J. On final note snakes don’t bite and infact are very timid. They bite only when you trample them or come too close, they attack in self-defense. Ankle length boots and thick pants serve as good protection against snakebites. Keep an eye out for scorpions – their bite does not kill but can be a very painful experience. Remember to dust your shoes in the morning when you awake in the jungles, scorpions love cozy warm places. There have been many instances of scorpion bites when campers wear shoes in the morning.


Just a short note on Wildlife - consider yourself lucky indeed to have spotted any. The tiger is an animal of the past and if you happen to chance by him just hope you have a camera and strong nerves to use it. The tiger is a gentleman and will rarely attack unless it’s a mother with cubs. He will just look at you and stride off –“ Good day and be on it’s way” Panthers are illusive beast and are rarely seen, they will completely avoid you. Elephants in there wild state are usually peaceful unless you come across a male elephant in “musk” a period when he’s on a sexual high. In this condition he sports a nasty temper and will attack without any provocation. Elephants kill more humans in India then all other animals combined. Elephants and wild gaur (Indian Bison) dislike the colour white and will usually attack people or vehicles that are white in colour. The animals you should be careful of are, the wild boar and sloth bear they are quite dangerous and will attack on site in most cases. The reason being the poor animals lack good eyesight and hence feel threatened when approached. The Jungle rule is when in a situation with an animal in the jungle DO NOT turn your tail and “RUN”, instead stand your ground. All animals will make warning calls before they charge unless it’s a man- eater! Running only instigates an animal like the stray dogs on your street corner. Do not make any jerky actions, slowly back track to a safe distance by which time most animals would have made off too.

Jungle Ethics

Wear camouflaged clothing. Avoid using deodorants and perfumes, also soaps if taking bath in Jungle stream. Jungle walk should be done in silence, avoid talking, gestures is the best way to communicate in Jungle. Best time to spot Wild game is during Dusk and Dawn.

Do not urinate or defecate near any water source, campsite, or at a place where people are likely to congregate. Bury toilet paper in the hole, replace sod/dirt, and tamp down lightly. Wash hands or clothes well away from any water source. Remember, this is the same water you and others use to cook and drink!

Never litter while camping, plastic bags and other non-bio-degradable stuff should all be collected in a waste bag and discarded at a waste management spot.

Dean Gonsalves

If you wish to add more tips which are not mentioned above, kindly e-mail them at
We will gladly add them to the list.

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