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Travel Safety Recommendations to the Amazon

Sunday 8 January 2017, by Imeru Alfonzo Hernandez

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The Venezuelan Amazon is a mainly jungle region with an extension close to one fifth of the country. It develops large and complex terrestrial ecosystems, some of the niches in these ecosystems contain vectors that are capable of causing serious injuries to humans, likewise the climatic conditions derived from low latitude and altitude can add certain risk factors if no basic care is observed.

This brief writing contains some basic recommendations for an excursion or field work in these areas.

Alto Orinoco
Espejo de agua en invierno.

Climatic factors

The intense humidity and raininess of the area forces the explorer to follow the following suggestions

* Wear a raincoat (poncho)

* Pack all the contents of the bags in plastic bags, especially the clothes and the sleeping bag.
* If dry, store the sleeping bag in its cover until it is used at night.

* Take medicines to treat colds, if you will be for more than 3 days.

* Avoid bathing in rivers during rainy periods, or immediately after them.

* Preferably use plastic boots for field work and short walks through the jungle.

* Bring sunscreen, especially if you have fair skin.

Hydration

A poorly attended aspect is the hydration of the group in Amazonian expeditions, heat and humidity produce, especially in men, a high sweating, which translates into a rapid loss of fluids, to avoid this problem be recommended the minimum consumption of 3 liters of water per day in case of moderate activity.
For electrolytes it is advisable to mix the water with powdered preparations and also improve the taste of this, remember that a pristine environment does not guarantee the quality of the water. In all cases use water purifiers, they are very economical and easy to carry.

Insects and stinging plants

Among the greatest risks of the Amazon are the great diversity of terrestrial and aerial insects in this area, although the probability of encountering any of these is scarce, it is preferable to take some precautions.

* Vaccinate against the Yellow Fever, if you go to areas of the upper Orinoco or Río Negro.

* Take chloroquine during the stay in jungle regions with Malaria incidence.

* Use insect repellents, especially in the hours close to sunrise and sunset.

* Wear light but wide-coverage clothing, long pants and long sleeves or fra.

* It is advisable to use light colored clothing, as a measure to face the sun and to avoid flying insects.

* In case of bite, take antihistamines if you know of previous allergies or if you have excessive inflammation.

* In case of sting by insect or plants, should not be scratched. In the case of plants, the picture worsens and an infection can be added.

Dangerous animals

Being in the Amazon people think of Jaguars, Anacondas and Caymans as care animals, the truth is that while they deserve attention, it is unlikely that we stumble upon one of these.
On the other hand there are other animals that are of care for how often they can be sighted or detected in the Amazonian area. This small list includes the most important:

Poisonous Snakes: Primarily Rattlesnakes and Mapanares, cases of accidental poisoning are rare, most of the recorded attacks are due to manipulation of these ophidians without proper equipment or due to negligence. Accidental cases are bites in the extremities due to not paying attention to the place where the hands and feet are resting, being barefoot between areas of leaf litter or lifting logs and rocks without precaution.

Scorpions: Although most of these animals do not possess a lethal poison, they are considered highly dangerous in allergic people, so it is advisable to carefully monitor the symptoms in case of sting, the rest is the same care than with poisonous snakes.

Parasitic fish: Some species of small and very small catfish can lodge in cavities of the body, such as the urethra, so you should never urinate in the water of the rivers, and as far as possible avoid entering the naked water. Some people consider this a myth! But in the area of ​​the Amazon, especially in areas of the Upper Orinoco, Casiquiare and Río Negro, these fish are frequent. To treat this parasite in areas devoid of surgical means, a vitamin C therapy and high fluid intake is used.

In general to avoid these and other animals it is recommended to keep the tents permanently closed, as well as the bags, boots and equipment that these animals can see as a good hiding place.

Recommendations for sleeping

Take a sleeping bag (light) and thermal insulation, if you sleep on this floor, we recommend you take a tent with mosquito net, if you use a hammock you should use a mosquito net and the sleeping bag can be placed on the bottom of this.

It is possible to use a Churuata or Chabono as a camp, if the captain (Cacique) of the community allows it, in this case consider the hammock with mosquito net as the best option.

First aid

Carry a well-equipped first aid kit for this trip, include medicines to treat diarrhea, flu, pain in general, antiallergic, and to treat blows, cuts and abrasions. Consider carrying antivenom and antiscorpionic serum, you must know its application, preservation and transport.

Feeding

It is advisable if an arduous work will be carried out having a basic diet of at least 1,900 Calories per adult man per day, this may consist of canned goods such as Tuna, Pasta, Cornmeal, Canned Meat, Mechada or Lunch, Dried Mashed Potatoes, lyophilized foods, dehydrated eggs and others, it is necessary to make two meals a day and supplement them with rations rich in carbohydrates, such as dried fruits, cereals, etc.

We must pay special attention to food allergies that have members and unfavorable reactions to medications, these should be well known by the person in charge of the camp.

I hope these recommendations are helpful.

Autor en la Avioneta

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(C) Imerú Alfonzo-Hernández: Museo Geológico Dr. José Royo y Gómez, Escuela de Geología, Minas y Geofísica, Facultad de Ingeniería - UCV