Lost in the Jungle


The first mistake that we made was to follow a trail that lead up a muddy and steep 50-60 degree incline just after the first river crossing. We had assumed that the trail itself was the obvious path as it looked fairly well used. The compass bearing that we were supposed to have been following was also not too far off the direction of the path. The actual path itself went over some rocks around a bend in the river and there was no trail marker that alerted us to this fact. The blue trail markers that we had come across on the trail before reaching this point had been rare and sporadic and as such we did not realize that they were completely absent from the trail until much later on - which was mistake number 2. As the muddy ascent began to level off, we found ourselves in dense jungle vegetation that was criss-crossed with thorny (and extremely annoying) ferns as well as swaths of bamboo (Tribe : Bambuseae).

Stumbling along in a bit of a daze due to sleep deprivation, I would often forego stopping to remove leeches from my feet as doing so would seemingly cause a swarm of mosquitoes to suddenly materialize in front of me. As we trudged on, it suddenly began to rain and I at first thought that it would be a mood dampener (pun intended) but was relieved to find that the rain not only significantly lowered the ambient temperature but also seemed to dissipate any swarms of insects that were still lingering. I also realized around this point that when looking up, the towering 10-12-metre-high ferns came across as somewhat beautiful and almost majestic with the rain slowly dripping off their leaves.


The (almost non-existent) trail that we were following along the plateau was also running along the exact same compass bearing that the original path that we were supposed to have taken was. This was almost reassuring to me at that point as the fact that it was running parallel left me to assume that the discrepancies were caused either by GPS inaccuracies, irregularities when the route was initially plotted, or (even less likely) a path that had diverged that was running parallel before converging once again - all these assumptions made for mistake number 3. Upon reaching the end of the crest however, we found that the elevation began to drop and that we were making a descent. We decided to carry on trekking east as the sounds of the river were coming from that direction as we knew that the path had several river crossings and we were starting to run low on our water supply. This turned out to be another mistake however as the already difficult descent was followed by an even trickier ascent back the way we came (upon finding that the vegetation became almost impenetrable further down).

By the time we had made our way back up the plateau, we were critically low on water as the searing humidity and difficult terrain had increased our rates of water consumption. We decided at that point to make our way back to the first river crossing that we had come upon earlier in the day but by the time we had just started to make some progress, the sun began to set and the lack of light completely rendered our attempts to remain on the (almost non-existent) trail futile. We ended up backtracking to a small clearing in order to make camp for the night, frustrated and drained by a lack of sleep and a lack of water, which was compounded by the sheer exasperation of having gotten lost in the first place.

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Next : Lost in the Jungle (Part 3)