Sitting in the comfort of my own living room couch always makes me long for a night camping in the jungle. Lazying on a camp chair around the campfire, sipping hot chocolate, chatting with fellow campers or carving a new hilt for my axe and simply enjoying the night.... What a bliss, what a jungle bushcraft experience. But as with night-time in any recreational outdoor activities, a night in the jungle may reveal to be either a positive or negative experience. Do it right, and a person may be bitten by the camping bug and the camping fever will never pass. Do it wrong, it is highly possible that the camper will never go for camping again and then we'll start hearing from that ex-camper; "That jungle campsite is haunted! Don't go there!".
Only those who have been blessed with a really enjoyable night in the jungle may fully appreciate the calmness and tranquility that camping in the jungle provides.
It's very common to see even a seasoned jungle camper neglecting the proper preparation and procedures before spending their night in the jungle. And these are usually the types that enjoy the philosophy of roughing it out every night out. Maybe nighttime camp-life does not matter much for them or maybe they have their own way of spending a night in the jungle - i.e. sleeping after dinner till breakfast.... but for me, night time is the time to recollect the day's activities, maybe even doing some night time activities like reading, carving, chatting with my partner and night time photography. After a slow down from the days' activities, sorting out my feet with talcum powder, comfortable in my dry clothes then sleep will come easy and relaxing. For me, that is one of the essence of bushcraft - learning to live comfortably anywhere we are in nature, with only what we can carry on our backs.
It is not difficult to enjoy your night in the jungle. Assuming you have trekked into the jungle for hours on end, painstakingly claimed a perfect camp site on a piece flat ground, close to a stream and you have spent your time cleaning the campsites and erecting your flysheet (establishing dry area a.k.a living area) then you're halfway to ensure a cozy night in the jungle. Here's what you have to do next before nightfall (at minimum, assume 6.30 p.m. as night fall);
- Always assume that it will rain every night in the jungle.
- Everything that need to be dry, put them under the flysheet.
- Always collect and cut extra firewood before night fall.
- Dig a shallow trench with small banks around your dry area.
- Protect your dry area from intruders (insects, leeches and snakes).
- Clear all jungle litters on the dry ground, leaving bare earth.
- Ensure that no ant holes is in the dry area.
- Put repellents around the dry area's perimeter and trench.
- Sulfur, salt or chilly/lime juice can also be used as repellents.
- Finish all light dependent activities before night fall.
- Cook your dinner early - eat later if you want.
- Bathe and clean up early.
- Make a few creature comforts and camp gadgets to reduce clutter.
- My all important, a camp chair with leaning back.
- Boot/shoe stand to hang your shoes away from scorpions/leeches.
- A small table to put your essentials like golok/parang and utensils.
- Wet clothes Hanger near the fire (not on the fire)
- Clear the living area of all non essentials.
- Clear the dry area grounds from rubbish etc.
- Hang your backpack to a dry place or keep inside the tent.
- Put your parang/golok where it's easy to see and reach.
- Improve the layout of your camp site.
- Leave no clutter on the grounds.
- Chill out and relax.
- Change into your dry clothes, put on flip-flops or rubber shoes.
- Put on your personal mosquito repellent.
- Light up your night campfire with plenty of split firewood for spare fuel.
- Bring out your torchlight, keep with you at all times.
- Powder your feet, check for any blister/cuts/leech bites (if any, sort them out)
- Always have your survival kit about your person - see here.
However, I will never accuse anyone differing from this method as incompetent. Every person have their own interpretation about bushcraft and of course, spending a night in the jungle. I consider them all correct for their own needs under their own circumstances. At minimum, whoever spent much time in the jungle will have to follow some of the rules I put here especially very basic ones and they should be common practice. But this is my particular style and it suit my particular idea of camping in the jungle. Nonetheless, I do believe that according to my experience, campers who follow this guidance properly and skillfully will definitely enjoy their night stay in the jungle or at least, it won't make them more miserable.
Night in the jungle