7 Lessons Learned Surviving off the Grid in a Wild Jungle

  May 12, 2018 travel posts 🕑 4 minutes read

Me in the jungles of Costa Rica.


Today while we hiked up a steep hill in Christchurch, New Zealand, Kelli and I recalled hiking up a steeper, more intense, flat out brutal mountain during our house sit in Costa Rica.


We did a 6 week hut sit there. Intense as hell. 3 hour hike into the jungles around Bribri, Costa Rica. We had one neighbor 20 minutes away but no other humans existed for miles.


I wanted to share 7 lessons I learned living way off the grid in a wild, dyed in the wool, remote jungle, to help you experience what we experienced without having to be assaulted and eaten alive by mosquitoes.


1: You Cannot Prevent Humidity from Ruining Clothes Computers Tablets Phones Etc.


Kelli and I sealed our:


  • lap tops
  • tablets
  • phone


in Zip-lock bags. We stuffed said bags into plastic bags, and zipped up in backpacks. After our 6 week sit, nothing worked the same. The tablets became ruined; mine never powered up after the sit. My laptop conked out soon after too.


I ruined a handful of shirts and shorts, the victims of mold and jungle funk, a smell that did not disappear after washing my clothes 10 times.


Remote jungle moisture is omni-present and feasts on anything and everything, no matter how you seal stuff or dry clothes in the sun or whatever you do. Buy a cheap laptop for the jungle and a cheap wardrobe too. Toss both post trip.


2: Wear Long Sleeves and Sweat Pants at Dawn and Dusk; Sweating Your Balls off Beats Being Eaten Alive by Mosquitoes


I sweat mis cajones off in la selva at sunrise and sunset but the uncomfortable feeling was worth avoiding dem pesky skeeters. Hated the sweaty, overheated feeling for a few nights but waking to 50 plus bug bites and itching my rear off quickly set me straight.


After wearing sweat pants and long sleeved shirts I did lose water weight at a sick clip but also avoided being consumed by mosquitoes and other tiny critters.


3: If Your Life Depends on it, You Will Do Fearless Isht


The heavens had opened for 14 hours. Torrential downpours roared down the valleys, streams bursting at the seams.


I noticed dirt in our water supply. Big no-no, per the homeowner’s advice. Dirt meant contaminated water which meant severe stomach sickness. Not a good thing if you’re a 3 hour hike from humanity.


Even though I was terrified to do so, I simply nutted up and hiked up the gully to shake the hose leading to our water source, loosening silt so the water would clear up. I was aware how the homeowner saw numerous fer de lanz snakes in this gully, the most aggressive venomous snake on earth.


As I waded up to my thighs in infested waters during Biblical downpours I realized this; either I fixed the hose with venomous snakes around me, drank dirty water and got deadly ill in the jungle, or became dangerously dehydrated.


I did the ballsy thing to survive, loosening the silt and fixing the water so it flowed clearly.


4: Some Puddles in the Jungle NEVER Evaporate


Some puddles under permanent canopies never evaporate a millimeter. One particular group of puddles remained constant for our 6 week sit, even after a 2 week rain-less stretch.


Insanely high humidity levels plus 24-7 shade means moisture preserves puddles. And mud.


5: Having a Lion Hunter with You Helps


We cared for an 80 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback named Thunder. This breed of dog hunts lions.


Thunder was a fearless pooch – the dogs are dubbed the Navy SEALs of the canine world – who literally made the ground shake when she sprinted down jungle paths, hunting, chasing and terrorizing creatures in the area. I felt much safer when she arrived 1 week into the sit.


I saw her do insane things like scale a 30 foot vertical cliff. She was pretty much the Canine Terminator.


6: Nature Emits a Stable Vibe


Kelli noted how nature emitted a stable vibe. Agreed.


Nature is perfect. It does as it means to do, effortlessly. Being surrounded only by nature in a remote jungle may scare you sometimes but the overall vibe is stable, peaceful and chill. The rhythms of day and night, storms and sun, rain and shine was miraculous to observe.


7: Be in by 6 PM or Risk Being Amid Poisonous Creatures in Pitch Dark Conditions


With 100 foot high jungle canopies, by 5:30 PM things started getting dark. By 6 PM you needed to be back at the hut, inside, with doors barred to be safe.


Pitch black conditions kicked in. Meaning you could not see your hand 6 inches in front of your space.  No light in the jungle once the sun fully sets.


Poisonous insects and snakes could pick you off in darkness but you could also trip and break a leg or walk off of a cliff if you weren’t home by dark. So I made sure to head home by 4:30, and worried my rear off one late afternoon when Thunder took off and didn’t return until 5:15.


Your Turn


Have you ever spent time in a remote jungle?


What lessons did you learn?

  1. Bhawna says:
    at 9:11 am

    Hey Ryan.
    I have never been off the grid and despite going to the gym ( cross fit ) I don’t think I would be able to survive. Mindset is the biggest problem.
    Even if people have strength and skills but sometimes the fear and mindset and the tension takes away everything.
    Nice of you to share these amazing tips.
    Keep up the good work

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 3:45 pm

      Fear definitely arises a bit on this off the grid journey Bhawna, but there are some inspired freedoms too we experience. Scary as hell sometimes though LOL! Thanks my friend 🙂

  2. Julie Syl Kalungi says:
    at 9:27 am

    Hey Ryan,

    Well I grew up in Remote, jungle like Surrounds, In the middle of nowhere stood my boarding school. We walked for miles to cultivate our lunches and dinners and it was not rare to see snakes and monkeys. Mosies were our constant companions and trust me we didnt have Sweatpants or long sleeved shirts!…
    We were “Ladies in the making TVM so dresses were the norm” Got bitten we were till our bodies became immune lol!

    Loved this post, nothing usual about it at all! 😉 Thanks for sharing with us!


  3. BG Jenkins says:
    at 9:40 am

    Hi Ryan, I have to say honestly, this time it’s great to learn this by reading. I do believe I remember seeing a video of you in the jungle a couple or so years ago? I will definitely mark jungle visit off the list.

    What I learned from this post… be ready for everything and any condition. Get your mind SET for these types of adventures. Nature you can’t control, you can only control your reaction to it.

  4. Denis Cardoza says:
    at 2:24 pm

    Thank you for a very interesting article. Of course living off the grid is not possible for everyone, still I think striving for independence, at least far as possible, should be on everyone’s mind if they want a fulfilling life.

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 7:48 pm

      We all can live off the grid Denis; just a personal choice to do what it takes to design this life. Unless you have no interest doing so 😉

  5. Sue Slaght says:
    at 3:21 pm

    Good grief Ryan my hands are sweating and my stomach is churning just reading this let alone trying it. Although our theme is ‘never too old to explore’ I’m declaring either I’m too old or too experienced or too much of a wimp for this my friend. When you described walking through thigh deep water with venomous snakes I sat here screaming “Get out of the water!” I can see the dilemma, no good choice to be had. I’m also very unhappy with the idea of my electronics being drowned by jungle humidity. Bravo to the two of you is all I can say. Yikes!

  6. Aditia Novit says:
    at 4:48 pm

    hallo ryan have you ever been to my country, indonesia? if ever where did you visit? if you have not yet visited it, come here and see how beautiful my country is

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 6:36 pm

      Many times Aditia! We have spent over 1 year in Bali between 5 trips. We love Indonesia and your beautiful, kind people my friend!

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