Imagine your river exploration trip suddenly went awry when an unexpected current sent you into some rapids. You go under and get separated from the group. They try to get to you but rapids send them sailing farther down the river. You struggle a bit, but find the strength swim to the shore. Suddenly, you're in the rainforest, alone, with only your wiles and the precious items in your backpack to get you through the night. Would you have the knowledge to get by?

1) Water

Waterfalls are a good source of water in the rainforest
Waterfalls are a good source of water in the rainforest

The good news: there will be water all around you in rain, in puddles, in rivers. Bad news: bacteria and parasites. If you have the ability to carry a simple water purifier, find room in your pack. Some water bottles have a built-in water purifier. These save space and are convenient as heck.

Other ways to find clean water:

  • Green bamboo has clean water filled inside it
  • Boil a plastic bottle. The lack of air inside it will keep it from melting
  • Create a solar still from a poncho. Dig a hole at least a few feet, and drape a plastic sheet or poncho over it. Weigh it down with rocks. Below it, in the pit, put a jar or can for collection of water. Groundwater will react with the sun to will send groundwater that is on the surface down the poncho and into the jar.


2) Dry Feet

Keeping your feet dry is hard in the rainforest
Keeping your feet dry is hard in the rainforest

Seems like a paradox a bit, right? Get enough water, but keep your feet dry. This is so important in preventing trenchfoot, which occurs from being in still water for too long, and can lead to amputation. Bring a ton of socks. As many as possible. Because it is going to take a long time for them to dry.



3. Head Downhill

Going downhill in the rainforest is not as easy as it looks
Going downhill in the rainforest is not as easy as it looks

Downhill leads to rivers which leads to civilization, simple as that. Don't bother heading in straight lines, just look for gaps in the rainforest that will allow you to exert the least amount of energy.



4. Bugs

Spiders are plentiful in the rainforest
Spiders are plentiful in the rainforest

Bugs are gross but that's not even the bad part about them. Uuugh. Mosquitoes carry malaria and a bunch of other real cool illnesses, so if you can wear long sleeves, it'll help so much. Also, DEET. DEET it up all the way to 11.



5. Animals

Watch out for deadly snakes
Watch out for deadly snakes

Guuuhh. Snaaaakes. If you're like me, a person who just doesn't want to deal with any of that, then you'll know that they aren't good business. If you're not like me, you should know that the rainforest is like the major leagues for snakes. Here they are bigger, more poisonous, more constricty. Watch where you are going, don't place your hands anywhere that you can't fully see. Shelter yourself when you are sleeping. And don't touch the frogs, no matter how awesome and cute.



6. Food: How to Get it

Spiders are a good source of protein
Spiders are a good source of protein

It's the rainforest, your best bet for food (and survival) is getting near some running water. To survival fish, look around for bamboo. Using a knife or the closest resembling thing to a knife, split the shoot into 4 crosshairs. Use a vine to drive them apart. This will be your 4-pronged fishing spear. Sharpen the ends with a rock or knife, and boom. You're in the fishing business, now. Go for big fish. Unlike myths, piranhas don't actually attack humans that often, but they also aren't very much meat. Go for the big boy fishes.

As for non-meat, only eat food that you are familiar with, since you never know would could be poisonous. There are plantains, coconuts, cucumber, citrus, and squash in plenty in the Amazon. The universal edibility test is also an option if you get more desperate. Rub the plant on your skin, lips, and then hold it briefly inside your mouth to see if there is some unwanted reaction, but that's taking the risk that there may be some unwanted reaction. Tread carefully. Roasting bugs over a fire may sound nasty, but they are in plentiful supply, and carry a hearty source of protein that you can't beat. Go for beetles, grubs, and worms but stay away from anything brightly colored. In fact, stay away from all things brightly colored in general.



7. Shelter

Take shelter in caves but watch out for bats
Take shelter in caves but watch out for bats

Take shelter in as high of ground as possible. If you have a way of building a hammock or reside in a tree, do it. Build as much of a shelter as you can, anything to separate yourself from bugs, snakes, and predators. Build a fire close to you to scare things off and to get as dry as you can. Dead branches are your best bet for dry firewood.