The jungle – no place to be at night.

Been watching ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ which is becoming quite tiresome now. I’m sure it didn’t ALL involve eating and drinking animal products in past series. Anyway, I was thinking that all those ‘celebrities’ are quite lucky to have lights. The rainforest can be a creepy place at night. Imagine it without the lights. Black. Complete darkness. Like being inside a cave except you’re surrounded by the constant, electrical hum of life. Croaks and chirrups and shuffles and squeaks and coughs and…and you don’t know where it’s coming from or what’s making it. My brother and I used to camp out on the river sometimes in Brazil, but we always stuck to a beach on the Araguaia, chucking a couple of waterproof ponchos and a mosquito net over some sticks. Once we got canny, (seasoned ‘adventurers’, oh yeah) we even found ourselves a couple of semi-comfy bedrolls. There, under the open sky, it was distracting to hear the turtles coming up onto the beach during the night, river dolphins surfacing for air, maybe a caiman or two, but actually in the forest? Scary. Some of the locals used to hunt lowland paca (click the link for a quirky video of the little fella that’s very good to eat) by going into the forest at night and stringing a hammock high in the trees over a paca run. They’d wait for the animal to pass underneath and shoot it.

Eat me!

My brother and I decided we’d go into the forest one night with our friend Marco to try a similar deal but we didn’t last long. The forest was dense. Unlike the forest in ‘I’m a celebrity…’ this forest was thick and almost impenetrable in some places at ground level and we thought we’d lucked out when we found an opening at the edge of the trees, with a narrow track leading deeper inside. So we switched on our torches and held our assorted weapons ready for the first paca.

I don’t think we made it more than about a hundred metres in there.

After a short while of creeping about like great hunters, we encountered a heavy smell that settled over and smothered the usual odour of the forest. And as we progressed further in, the smell grew stronger. A kind of musky smell, with an underlying hint of decaying flesh. Being brave souls, we pressed on until we came to the end of the track which was a kind of cul-de-sac of death. A hollowed out lair, scattered with bones and scented with the rotting corpses of forest animals. Something lived there, though I have no idea what, and it liked meat. We shared a look, turned around, and decided the jungle was no place to be at night.

Dan Smith’s Official Website


6 thoughts on “The jungle – no place to be at night.

  1. I know what you mean about complete darkness. I have only experienced this a couple of times. Once when me and Jo were travelling in Thailand we ventured out to Koh Lanta, which, at the time, only had electricity for 6 hour per day or so. We took a trip, recommended by the locals, to meet a ‘guide’ who lived by himself , in a shack, in the moutains. He would take us to the summit of a mini mountain, enter into a cave system which lead, in complete and utter darkness, to the foot of the mountain. We hired a step-through (Honda C50) and found the shack to be confronted with a local guy smoking the largest reefer I have ever seen…..the rest of the trip passed in a haze….. Just as well because the thought of doing such a journey fully compos mentis would be frightening.

  2. Complete darkness AND underground? I can see why you needed the giant reefer (which, ahem, of course, ahem, you didn’t, ahem, touch.) Actually, I’m just trying to imagine you two on a Honda C50, riding through the mountains. Scary enough in itself!

  3. As always, my bro’s account of the event is far more eloquent than I would ever be able to be! However I can recall that our brovado dissipated almost as quickly as I felt movement in my bowles when we stumbled across that ‘lair’.
    My fondest memory of river camping was the time we were woken by a pig rootling by our bivvie. Dan pounced into action, grabbing a large knife with the intent of stabbing the thing to death and a cry of ‘bacon for breakfast’. Just two nights in the jungle and he’d gone all “Lord of the Flies” on me. Fortunately the pig seemed to understand English and high talied it back into the jungle. For reasons explained in Dan’s blog we took the immediate decision not to follow. Incidently you can catch some very strange looking fish night fishing in the Araguaia river!!

  4. How lucky to have lived the ‘real’ Indiana Jones experience. The only thing that comes close from my youth, altough it didn’t seem scary at the time, was a Friday night out in the Bigg Market You can catch some very strange and scary looking mammals night hunting down there for sure.

  5. You’re a braver man than I. Even Indiana Jones would run screaming (as from a large boulder) if he tried the Bigg Market in those days. Only copious amounts of lager could aid a man in navigating such a jungle as that! Seems there’s been a migration to new watering holes these days, though. The Quayside’s become quite the new stomping ground for those packs of hunting mammals.

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