In July 2017, Chris Hormann won a place on our jungle survival course after she entered our Facebook competition. A seasoned adventurer herself, Chris was keen to branch out and try her hand at a Bushmasters trip. Safe to say, the experience was one she enjoyed immensely; you need only head over to her own blog page to work that one out! Here, she runs us through some of her personal highlights from the trip in our latest survival story.
Scariest moment: lost in the jungle!
Let’s start our survival story with the juicy bits first, shall we? Chris chose something that happened on her second day of isolation as the trip’s scariest moment. You can read a detailed account of the events in her journal, but we’ll run you through the main bits here.
“I have to find kukrit palm trees to fix the roof and the bench of my shelter. There are no palms close to home, so I walk away from the river, deeper into the jungle. I keep turning around while I’m walking, trying to remember markers like tall trees or openings in the canopy. I’m slowly making my way to the right, doubling back through the forest, expecting that I will arrive a little upstream of my shelter on the river.”
“When I finally do reach the river, I’m happy I’ve made it … except, nothing looks familiar! Do I go left or right? Have I bypassed my shelter or not gone far enough? I know that if I make the wrong decision, every step will take me further away from my shelter. For a moment, I stand frozen, while a wave of panic hits me. What if I walk out of range of the emergency radio?”
“I decide to keep walking in one direction for a few more minutes, and finally come across a log I’m pretty sure I have crossed earlier this morning and then .. I see my shelter! “Home” has never looked so good!”
Proudest moment: fire in the rainstorm
Knowing how to make a fire is essential during the isolation phase of a Bushmasters trip. Otherwise, you end up facing an entire night with no light whatsoever. On your own in the jungle, that’s not exactly comforting.
“I am half done with building my shelter when I hear thunder in the distance. I drag my palm fronds faster back to my site. Then I hear thunder again, louder, closer, and the wind picks up. I know I have only a few minutes to throw whatever leaves I can find onto the roof, and protect my firewood.”
“The first fat drops of rain begin to fall, and quickly turn into a huge rainstorm, with thunder and lightning and with dead tree branches coming down all over the jungle, and rain pouring, as if from buckets. I sit in my half-thatched shelter, crouched over my firewood, protecting it with my body. After a while, when the storm shows no signs of letting up, and it’s getting darker and darker, I know I have to make a fire, or spend the next 12 hours in total, pitch-black darkness (no flashlights in isolation)!”
“Getting the cotton wool to light is a challenge, under my drippy roof, and with all the humidity in the air. On the third try, I finally get a flare-up and carefully feed the flame with wood shavings, then tiny twigs, then larger twigs.”
“Keeping the fire lit during the night is an even bigger challenge. I get up from my knobby bench every 15 minutes to blow on the fire and put on more wood, so it will not go out. Whichever way I turn my head, the wind seems to blow the acrid smoke right into my face. I cough. My throat hurts, and my eyes water .. but I have FIRE!”
Again, a full, unabridged version of of Chris’ firelighting skills can be found in her journal.
Funniest moment: falling into the river
Chris has been quick to point out that, despite the heading, this wasn’t that fun while it was happening. More, it was one of those moments you can look back on and laugh about, despite the mad panic you felt while it was actually going on!
“On our second day of fishing, I sit crouched on the sloping, muddy rocks by the river, trying to balance on the incline, barely reaching the water with the end of my fishing line. After having gotten no fish the day before, I quickly get a bite and pull out a small red-bellied piranha, then soon after, another longer fish. Patting myself on the back for my fabulous fishing skills, I then land an even bigger piranha!”
“He flops around madly on the bank, and, in the process, loosens the hook … suddenly free, he’s jumping and sliding down the bank. I am not going to let this one get away! I grab for it, and miss. I reach further and grab for it again, and feel myself sliding down the slick, muddy rocks, heading straight for the river … where I make a fantastic splash, falling in with boots, belt kit, machete and all!”
“The river is deep here, and I can’t stand. To help me get out, I am not really trusting the lonely vine snaking down the rocks, split in the middle and hanging on by a thin layer of bark. After I take off my belt kit and my boots underwater and throw them up onto the bank, I’m finally light enough to heave myself out of the water and head back to camp, dripping water with every step. No bath needed today!”
Best animal moment
You might have picked up on it, but we enjoy writing about all the creepy, exotic, and wonderful animals you might encounter on one of our trips. Chris certainly knows a lot more about a particular breed of arachnid after one got a little too close for comfort one night …
“Ian brought back an orphaned tarantula from one of our night fishing trips … and pretty soon she got comfortable … and started crawling all over us, in all her ginormous hairy spider glory. Up my sleeve, onto my collar … and then onto my face – eeek!”
As you can probably tell from her survival story, our jungle trip went down rather well with Chris. She’s left us with this to wrap things up and, hopefully, inspire some of you readers out there to make the jump and join us in Guyana.
“It was an awesome course! I learnt so much, and accomplished things I never thought I could, and made some great new friends. Ian is an amazing teacher and I can’t recommend this course highly enough. I was actually sad when isolation was over because it was the end of the course! ”
Get in touch
If Chris’ survival story has inspired you to get involved, then head over to our dates and costs page. There, you’ll see everything we’ve got coming up and can get in touch by filling out one of our online contact forms. If you’d rather do some more digging, drop us a message on Facebook and we’ll get back to you. Can’t wait to hear from you!