Advice for trekking in the jungle

Trekking through the jungle on steep slopes

Trekking through the jungle on steep slopes

Here are a few points I learnt about travel in the jungle after a 400km expedition through the jungles of Madagascar:

  • Use antibacterial wet wipes or cloth soaked in Detol solution for a full body wipe down especially armpits, crotch and feet to prevent fungal infections in humid conditions
  • Nappy san or nappy rash cream is great for fungal infections, rashes chafing or athletes foot
  • Do not wear gortex or waterproof boots. Wear light canvas boots that drain easily.
  • Never leave your boots outside you tent over night as some nasty critter might use it as a home. Plant a couple of sticks in the ground and invert your boots on these sticks. Give them a good shake before you put them on again.
  • Use short ankle gaiters to prevent stones and twigs getting into your feet. I used canvas ones with elastic on top
  • Look after your feet every evening without fail. Just before going to bed dry your feet and areas between your toes, rub your soles with cream like Climbers Salve. Keep one pair of socks which are always dry for putting on at night. Great article by Andrew Skurka here
  • Attend to all cuts, nicks and blisters before they start acting up
  • Carry good quality waterproof ducktape or gaffa tape to fix everything from your equipment to your body.
  • Wear heavy duty canvas pants which have a good range of motion not thin quick dry variety. Why? You will always be wet so there is no point trying to be dry while you are moving. Heavy duty canvas will protect you against thorns, spikes, leeches, biting insects, grazes and falls. They will also not rip apart easily. Yes, they will be heavier when wet but I figure that their advantages out weigh the slight increase in weight.
  • Treat and blisters, apply tape and pads like Compeed patches in evening as this gives the glue time to set over night and they will stay on a lot longer. Warm Compeed pads between your palms before applying as this makes them sticker (You will learn to love the oh-so-expensive Compeed pads!)
  • In wet conditions, the morning apply a thick layer of Vaseline to the soles of your feet before putting your boots on (obviously). This will act as a barrier for water and help stave off foot rot.
  • For leeches, carry a bunch of Tobacco leaves in a zip lock bag. Keep one handy, when you get a leech pinch it off with the leaf. The tobacco burns their skin and they release almost instantly
  • Take off your shoes and dry your feet at afternoon breaks.
  • I found this by accident, take up barefoot running or just skuff the soles of you feet by running barefoot in a paved car park (sprint, jog, change directing, run sideways). This will hurt and be very uncomfortable but you will soon end up with bulletproof or blisterproof skin on your soles. I did this and didn’t end up getting a single blister on a 400km jungle trek in Madagascar. Blisters are your enemy and in the jungle where you are constantly wet they do not heal very well and can get infected very easily. Some guys on the Mada trek for huge blisters on their feet on day two of a 16 day trek and had a very bad time.
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