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Just outside Manaus we went on a trip to learn some jungle survival skills. ‘Very useful to know’, the guide told us. ‘In case you are in a plane crash and land in the jungle.’ As if to emphasise his point, a large black vulture circled above his head as he was talking.
The first thing we needed to learn that day was how to cope with the rain or, in my case, how to wield a camera when covered by a functional but cumbersome rain cape. We walked along slippery paths into a jungle where all the animal life had sensibly taken shelter (or perhaps flight from a noisy group of British tourists!). In fact, all we saw that day was a tarantula and some giant red ants.
Tarantula in the rain forest near Manaus
A tarantula searches for cover

However, we were shown some skills. Lighting a fire using steel wool, how to climb a very tall tree with a machete to gather the fruit at the top (the guide made it look easy, but I suspect it isn’t), which plants are poisonous and which can be used as a source of food and water. We also looked at trapping animals (in good Blue Peter fashion he showed us some traps he had made earlier), and how to climb into a hammock and sleep in it without falling out.
Making fire without matches
Making a fire without matches
Climbing a tree to gather jungle fruit
Climbing a tree armed with a machete – possibly easier said than done!
We got to try some drinks made from jungle plants. Then he passed around some grubs which he assured us were delicious (‘they taste of coconut’) and much prized by village children, but which I could not quite face trying.
It was quite a fun day out but I’m not sure how much I really learnt in the way of survival skills. Other than that if you are planning to be in a plane crash it is advisable to be armed with steel wool and a machete.
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