So you embarked on what was supposed to be a great holiday to a remote lodge in the heart of the Bolivian jungle. However your journey is cut short and the plane is struck by the wrath of a severe tropical storm and it makes its way through the jungle canopy tearing the wings off one at a time. Eventually the cabin of the plane settles to the jungle floor and you realise you are the sole survivor of the crash.
This may all seem far-fetched, but honestly it is not, there have been a few recorded accidents like this leaving only a sole survivor stranded to fend for themselves.
Let’s steer clear of sounding too morbid and take a fun but informative look at how to cope as the sole survivor of a jungle plane crash.
Check Your Resources
The jungle is harsh with loads of nasty critters and is a harsh environment if you are new to it. First and foremost you need to assess your immediate situation to see what you have available around you for shelter, food and protection.
Obviously the plane wreckage will have plenty of resources that will aid your survival, it itself can provide you with a protective shelter.
Number one is to check if there is any radio contact available from the damaged cockpit of the plane. Well that’s if the console hasn’t been damaged by the mangled bodies of the pilots. This is an “either/or” kind of situation, you are either in luck or not.
Ready as Rambo
After checking if there are any other survivors in the wreckage, see what they have available for you to use.
You realised that your forearm was broken in the accident and you will need to stabilise your arm somehow, luckily a security officer was on the plane and his baton is ideal for a splint. You also find a long scarf worn by another passenger, which is the perfect bandage to wrap the baton to your arm.
A really great find is the security officer’s service pistol which comes loaded with a magazine full of rounds, so now you are sorted for protection and a hunting weapon… bonus! Now you are ready as Rambo.
You start getting dehydrated fairly fast after the trauma and shock of the accident and you have to stay hydrated in survival situations.
Fortunately in the jungle and rain forest water is fairly easily accessible. Search for rainwater trapped in nooks of trees or in the large leaves of jungle plants. Avoid stagnant pools on the ground as these definitely will harbour the diarrhoea type bacteria that will send you further into the downward spiral of dehydration.
If you only have stagnant water available, then you need to purify it somehow. The first step would be to filter the water somehow to get rid of any particulate matter. Fine fabric and textile will serve well for a filter, so any shirts or clothing will work very well for this step.
Fruits and berries are a poor source of nutrition because you wouldn’t know which are poisonous or edible. The best would be to locate the closest troop of monkeys or even lemurs in the jungle to observe what they are eating; the fruits they eat would be safe for human consumption.
If you don’t want to hassle with the fruit you could always just shoot one of the lemurs with the security officer’s pistol.
Thankfully, you manage to find a fishing equipment from a group of passengers that were on their way to a fishing trip. You really want to hold onto these items if you find yourself close to a river or lake. Usually jungle rivers teem with fish life and this will be a great source of nutrition and most fish could be eaten raw if necessary. Just consider it the freshest sushi you will ever find.
The plane still has some fuel in one of the wings that is lying on the jungle floor. It’s the perfect thing to fuel a fire with in the jungle; the wood is fairly moist and won’t burn without assistance.
Check the passengers again and hopefully one of them was a smoker and you could get a cigarette lighter to light your fire. There might even still be a seat or two burning somewhere… grab some fire there.
Hey at least you can cook the monkey you shot earlier.
You have a plane load of luggage to rummage through, so there will be clean clothes and various other items that can be useful to you. The options here are endless, for example mobile phones that still carry a charge can be useful for contact. WhatsApp and various other international social platforms could very well put you in contact for help.
Navigating and Getting Your Bearings
Firstly observe the direction of the sun during the day to get a basic idea of east and west. Check the lay of the land around the crash site, downwards slopes will lead to water courses eventually. Finding a water course is always good because they lead to other water courses, like bigger rivers used for transport by local inhabitants.
The jungle is dense and there are wild animals to contend with and the possibility of indigenous tribes that live close by that might find you. Fortunately you have the pistol that you salvaged from the plane. If you didn’t have that, well then you may be in trouble and would have to rely on other measures for protection.
If you were unarmed and confronted by a tribe, the best would be to show that you are friendly and giving. Try to win their confidence and trust; they could be your only safe way out of the jungle back to civilization. This is tricky though because there are known head-hunter tribes still out there in the jungle!
Signalling for Help
Well the best possible way to get help would be to make yourself visibly noticed.
The plane wreck could definitely be of assistance here, there should be ample reflective material that could be used to signal for assistance. Fortunately there will definitely be someone that was on the plane who has a make-up kit with a mirror in it that could be used for signalling. This might be an issue in the jungle because it’s dense, but at least the plane would have left a path of destruction and opened up the jungle canopy to some extent.
Summary to Surviving the Jungle
Try and keep a cool and collected attitude at all times. You might not get found, so you’ll have to keep your calm and make your own way to safety. Following a river may lead to the safety of a village. You may even find that the experienced changed you… for the better?
Hopefully a slightly satirical look into this grave dilemma has given you some insight on getting out alive.
Good luck! And if you do find yourself in this situation, let us know how it went in the comments below.