How to Survive the Rain Forest

Written by kent page mcgroarty
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How to Survive the Rain Forest
(rainforest image by Heng kong Chen from

Rainforests are acres of dense jungle filled with dangerous animals such as boa constrictors and jaguars. The Amazon rainforest encompasses parts of Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Boliva, Ecuador, the Guianas and Venezuela. Getting lost or stranded in the rainforest is a frightening thought, however survival is not impossible. Staying calm, knowing how to find water sources and edible plants, constructing a weapon and avoiding insect bites and stings will keep you alive until you are rescued.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Knife
  • Rock

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  1. 1

    Stay calm. If you have become separated from your group of travellers or are a victim of a plane crash, you will probably start to panic. While this is a natural reaction, take as much time as you need to calm yourself. You may be lost, but you are surrounded by everything you need to survive. Panic is very tiring and will increase your body's need for food and water.

  2. 2

    Assess your current situation for any useful tools you have. Look through plane wreckage, if applicable, for anything you can use as well as food and water. Look around for recognisable landmarks, and gather reflective objects to make a trail if you wish to return to the area. A trail made with edible objects won't last very long.

  3. 3

    Make a fire. There are a few ways to do this if no matches are available, such as the fire plough. Procure a flat piece of softwood, such as red ceder, and cut a groove in the board with your knife or thin piece of wood. Rub the wood back and forth in the softwood's groove until it ignites. Another option is the hand drill. Do this by cutting a V-shaped notch in a flat piece of softwood and create a depression adjacent to it with your knife or rock. Use a piece of bark underneath the notch to catch the ember and place a 2 feet-long stick, or spindle, into the depression. Maintain decent pressure as you roll the spindle between your palms in a quick, up-and-down motion, which will ignite the ember.

  4. 4

    Find a source of drinking water. One of the main problems with rainforest survival is that the water is generally contaminated with parasites which can enter your system and make you extremely sick or kill you. Parasites can enter the body via drinking water or through the skin if you walk through a swamp. Wear clothes when walking through a swamp and use water purifying tablets to clean water. If using tablets is not possible, boil the water in a pan (if you have one) for at least three minutes before drinking. If neither of these options are possible drink the dew from plant leaves and trees. Fill up a water jug with this water to avoid insects crawling in your mouth.

  5. 5

    Find edible plants. There are many edible plants in the rainforest, however there are many that are highly poisonous. Watch monkeys and birds for what kind of plants and berries they eat, but still use caution. If you are unsure about a certain root or berry eat a small amount and wait an hour for adverse effects. Also consider boiling any fruit or vegetable you find if possible to kill any pathogenic organisms. Refrain from eating raw food sources if you do not recognise them. Look for certain edible palm trees such as the Wasaí or Yarina. Cut a chunk from the loose, light green part of the stem or trunk of such palm trees to be eaten raw.

  6. 6

    Make a harpoon or spear for hunting animals as well as for protection. Do this by taking a long, thick tree branch and tying a knife or other sharp implement to the end of it with whatever string you have, such as laces from boots. Use this or another large stick when travelling through the forest to keep insects that reside on plants out of your way.

  7. 7

    Keep your body covered to expose as little skin as possible. Place socks over pant legs, roll your sleeves down and wear a hood if possible. This protects you from insect bites, such as from mosquitoes, which carry the deadly malaria virus. Treat any wounds immediately.

  8. 8

    Construct a shelter. While you may not be apt at creating a hut or tree house, almost anyone can create a lean-to shelter.Gather large, thick tree branches and bind them together with any material you have or non-irritating vines or saplings. Prop the branches up against a tree. Light a fire near one side of the shelter to keep you warm at night.

Tips and warnings

  • Refrain from grabbing bushes or vines for climbing purposes as many contain saps that irritate the skin.
  • Dense concentrations of insects indicate a water source.
  • Sap from vines that is milky and sticky is most likely poisonous. Clear sap is most likely drinkable. Let the water drop into your mouth as opposed to sucking on the vine, which can irritate the skin.
  • Eat fish in small amounts to see if there are any side effects.

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