Jungle camping in Central America (1 Viewer)

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Hey guys! I'm starting to plan a trip to South/Central America this winter, and I'd like you guys' input and experiences.

I've been considering trying to spend as many nights as possible sleeping outside, on beaches and bushed areas, like I usually do when I travel, but I also know by experience (in Nepal) that the jungle can be quite terrifying and/or dangerous, come nightfall.

So I was wondering if any of you guys ever done it? Was it nice? Horrible? Did you almost die?
 
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Juan Derlust

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EITHER: 1) on thin ice OR: 2) in hot water
yeah in Baja tripping balls in a downpour - unknowingly ending up next to a remote landing strip, and when a plane landed and several individuals got out and approached we fled

not quite Central America but you get my point
 
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Older Than Dirt

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From what i have seen in southern Mexico, expect mosquitoes the size of small helicopters. A mosquito net that hangs around your hammock with airspace between net and hammock is probably needed. You will need the hammock if you stay at very cheap posadas etc as they will usually have no beds but only hooks for the hammock they will expect you to be carrying.

Hammocks are available cheap in all Central and South American countries but they will be heavy as fuck and suck if they get wet, which they will since it rains every single day most of the year; they are usually cotton fabric or cotton netting depending on country. Buy a modern parachute cloth camping hammock with whoopee cords etc. before leaving the first world.

Get current on all possible vaccinations (explain where you are going to doc). Your Spanish (and Portuguese if you get to Brazil) should be very fluent for your safety.

If you tell most country people you plan to sleep in the jungle, they will tell you that you are crazy and offer you somewhere to sleep. Country people in Central/South America spend a lot of time and energy making sure they sleep indoors.

As discussed in a recent thread, you will need to take a boat (or fly) from Panama to Colombia as it is essentially not possible to cross the Darien Gap overland.


Also read up on the candiru, and take appropriate precautions when swimming (at minimum 1) wire mesh jockstrap and 2) sturdy knife to cut off your penis if the worst happens despite #1):


Sure they say it's all a myth and the odds of a candiru swimming up your urethra and into your guts and eating you from inside are "(a)bout the same as being struck by lightning while simultaneously being eaten by a shark." You will not find a lot of folks swimming in those areas though.

And never women swimming, as they don't have the few seconds of safety while it is swimming up your penis and you can still amputate.

OR A really short answer: NO IT'S NOT EVEN A TINY BIT SAFE. You will be robbed if jaguars don't eat you. Or both.

That you are asking this means you have not done your homework at all. The Mexico & Central America Handbook and South American Handbook are good places to start, as are the various Lonely Planet books. With the most minimal research, like googling "camping Central American jungle" (i just did), you would have already found out what a very bad idea this is.

It is possible to travel dirt-cheap in these countries, but not by camping. You've been to Nepal- imagine India, except they're Catholic and drink.
 
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Tony Pro

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If you’re considering a hammock I can recommend the Hennessey brand, their ‘jungle expedition/explorer’ series is designed to prevent mosquitoes biting your ass through the fabric which is a problem with the cheaper hammocks when it’s too hot to sleep with a sleeping bag. I believe that guy who hiked the length of the Amazon river used a Hennessey. If you’re worried about animals you can string that fucker 20 feet off the ground nd sleep feeling like one of your own monkey ancestors.
Unfortunately they’re very expensive for what is essentially a substandard tent with unique advantages. And my one complaint is that they don’t handle rain+wind as a combo very well.
My other advice is don’t go during the rainy season. I just finished a week camping in a jungle; all that time all my gear only got progressively wetter. All notebooks turned into pulp, and a thriving ant colony in my bag.
Also make sure whatever water purification system you use can handle viruses (that hammock has rainwater collection attachments for the tarp, which is awesome)
Here’s my hammock setup a couple weeks ago.
 

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Older Than Dirt

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A very interesting review of a book about the role of the mosquito, and of mosquitoes as a disease vector, in history:


Probably worth a look for anyone going to areas where they are a major part of your life every day. There are many additional noxious insects, and moths the size of bats (no wool clothing, it will be a mass of holes in a single night). Oh, and bats.

When i said above that if you are not eaten by jaguars you will be robbed (remember the poorest dirty kid is very rich to any Central/South American campesinx/caipirx), i hadn't even thought about the monkeys.

Monkeys will take your shit, especially your food. North America has no animals that can hang upside down while they untie the knot on your suspended food bag, and then open the jars inside.



On the other hand if you have been rough camping in the jungle in Nepal, there are monkeys in parts of that country, and fucking tigers too, so perhaps none of this will phase you.
 
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MFB

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I did 3 months each in consecutive years. All of CA except Panama and in SA i did Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.

Unless you have 6 months or more, break up the trips. Theres a ton to do.

For central,
I started in Tulum and worked my way down to Costa Rico. Pretty much exclusively camped except the occasional night in a hostel to shower, laundry, internet and talk to humans. I camped everywhere, Jungle, beach, cities, etc. But, its not ALL jungle.
I used a trek light hammock, 32 degree sleeping bag. No fly net. Skeeters were annoying, but not too bad. That being said I was always dead tired. I always swam in every river I passed w no problems. Didnt get any vaccinations prior to going. There was only one night I remember hearing something big prowling and being scared shitless.
I only got wet in the cloud forest of costa rica.
Totally doable.

Outside the cities ppl are extremely friendly, willing to feed you, help you, and let ya pitch your hammock in thier yard if ya need. My spanish was shit, but i tried and always apologized first for my bad spanish. Hand gestures and smiles go a long way! Learn a few phrases, and LISTEN to audio before ya go. I could often convey what i needed, but would get lost trying to understand thier response. Avoid the capitol cities, Gaut city, san salvador, etc. Sketch as fuck.

Hitching is super good except in central Gautamala.
My fave places, places to check out;
Bacala, Mex
San Ignacio, Bel
Bartons Cave, Bel
El Remate, Gaut
Antigua, Guat
Monterico, Gaut 😍
Jayua, El Sal
Sochitoto, El Sal
Alegria El sal
El cuco, El Sal
Isle del tigre, hon
Leon, Nica
San jaun del sur sucks, but if you head east on the road at the super maxi there's about 4 of the prettiest non visited beaches youll ever see.
Monteverde CR
Estirillos CR

I learned this late, but get an airbnb account. Hostels would be 6-8 bucks, whereas ya could find your own room w clean everything for 8 bucks on AirBnB. Nice to get clean, eat well, and do research for your next leg. Also, I got almost all my weed from airbnb host in south america.
 
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MFB

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In South America i started in Bogota and worked South to Lima. Columbia is amazing and my favorite country. So much love.

Camping is different as your much higher. I was wet alot. But less bugs and pests.
Still, I always found a safe comfortable place wo much issue.

Hitching is tough, except in Peru. But even Peru wasnt the best. And I waited a lot. Buses are kind of cheap, about 2 bucks an hr. Travel in the Andes takes forevvvveeeerrrrrr. Like, 8 hrs for 200 miles. Be prepared.

The border from Columbia to Ecuador was the worst I ever crossed. Again. Be prepared.

Places I loved,
In Colo, Barichara might be where i retire. 😍
Bogota, and Salento.
In Ecuador. Cuenca. The Quilotoa loop.
All the beaches along Ruta de Sol.
Peru, chachapoyas, Hauraz.
 

MFB

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In regards to worrying about swimming, outside of cities, there were almost always children playing and women doing laundry in any river or larger body of water I would pass.

Lastly. Bring candy fornthe kiddos up high in the Andes. The expect it and come running!
 

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