How to Survive in the Jungle with only a Machete and a Penknife

Alex shares his summary of the belt week episode of our Expedition Leader Training program.

Deep in the Costa Rican jungle, the trainee Expedition Leaders are left alone with just a few items. Here’s how they survive.

Contents of a belt kit

  • Machete
  • 2×1 litre water bottle
  • Notebook and pen
  • Small personal medical kit
  • Penknife
  • Headtorch
  • Lighter (taken away at 3pm on day 1)

Expedition Leader Training


  1. Find an appropriate place to build a camp, including a fire, a shelter and a bed. Preferably flat ground, near a water source and dry.
  2. Collect all the raw materials and bring them to your camp – wood, vines and leaves
  3. Think about the type of camp you want to build.
  4. Build the shelter’s structure and frame.
  5. Add the leaves for protection from the rain.
  6. Make your bed – raised off the floor and with vines for springiness!
  7. Start to make your fire, so it self sustaining.
  8. Remember to keep feeding your fire.
  9. Enjoy yourself and admire what you have created.
  10. Sleep, but don’t forget to keep your fire going.

Are you thinking about learning how to survive in the jungle on your gap year? We’d love to hear from you and answer any questions on your mind.

About the Author


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Gapforce run independently inspected and award winning expeditions, outdoor training courses, volunteer abroad programs, conservation and aid programs. From 2 weeks to 1 year, your adventure starts here!