Safety Tips For Hiking the Jungles of Jamaica
When you have a passion for adventure and adrenaline it can be hard sometimes to remember safety. Hiking in a Jungle isn't like hiking the mountains in the United States. There are certain hazards you should be aware of, no matter where you decide to go hiking in the world. So here are 7 safety tips when hiking the jungles of Jamaica.
1- Marijuana Is Not Free There
Please for the love of all that is holy, do not try and take Marijuana from anywhere or any property. The Marijuana there is very much a part of each property and a way that those individuals make money. There are some properties that if you try and take Marijuana they will actually come out with guns and actively try to shoot you. This is not an exaggeration nor a joke....just don't do it....and don't try to jump the fences.
2- There Are Ticks, But No Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is typically associated with White tailed deer, and other animals that typically do not reside in Jamaica, so the incidence is much less common. From one Medical Research article that I found, it appears that those who claim to have positive results for Lyme Disease, were actually false positives due to other cross reactive parasites that are found in Jamaica such as : Treponema pallidum which is typically given via Sexual Contact, and can pass to the fetus (baby).
3- The Ground is Slick All The Time
If you have balance issues, I would suggest bringing some hiking poles. Hiking poles typically cost $16-$60, depending on how much of an avid hiker you are. I typically place these in my check on luggage as the pointy ends found on many hiking poles, may be considered a safety hazard on most planes. I can usually fit them in after my suitcase is all packed and I place them at an angle.
4 - The Wild Food Is Incredibly Delicious, It's Ok To Eat It
Don't be afraid to try the food picked up off the side of the trail. I drank water from the river when my guide said it was ok, I tried the Turmeric plant he pulled up off the side of the trail, I ate 2 seeds from a Cocao plant we stopped at along the side of the road, drank the water of a raw coconut, and chewed on a freshly picked sugar cane stick. All of it was delicious, and I didn't get sick once.
5 - Unless You Are A Local, You Will Get Lost
The trails in the jungles of Jamaica are sometimes very difficult to find, and if you don't know which way you are headed, it is easy to get lost. I am pretty good about following an established trail in and out, but the soil is so rich and the weather is optimum for plant growth; so the trails have plants that grow over them quickly, large Palm leaves that have fallen cover the trail making it almost impossible to know where to go unless you are a local. The good thing is that guides there are pretty reasonably priced, just make sure you arrange one prior to arriving to make good use of your time there.
6 - The Snakes Aren't Poisonous
There are 5 species of snakes on the island & none of them are poisonous, One that is the protected Yellow Boa. there is no need to fear this creature as it typically goes after the smaller animals, and typically goes out at night to hunt. It can grow up to 6.5 feet long, so likely if you see it, you aren't going to miss the yellow monstrosity. The other 4 include the Jamaican Blind Snake eats small insects, Thunder snakes that feed on small vertebrates, the Black racer that feeds on frogs, lizards and birds and is reportedly RARELY seen, and then Garden snakes and hunt fish, frogs and lizards. So really no snakes to really be worried about.
7- Mosquitos Are Plentiful and Spread Disease
Make sure you wear good Mosquito repellent as there are some things that can be transmitted through mosquito bites there. ie/ Zika is a concern there according to the CDC, and a case of local transmission of Chikungunya Virus (sx: fever/joint pain/rash). I typically use Jungle Juice that you can found on Amazon, or in the USA you can find it at REI. The stuff literally will make all things with blood in them avoid you, including annoying sales people ;)
Other health information recommended by the CDC before visiting Jamaica
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My name is Janiel, a leader in the travel industry with over 20+ years of experience with international travel. I specialize in solo female travel, cultural connections, sustainable adventures, food and history to help make your travel experiences fun, meaningful, and delicious. My experience in travel, and my personal story have allowed me to get published in Fodor's Travel, Atlas Obscura, Metro.co.uk, Trip Advisor, and multiple Podcast interviews. You can find me on pretty much every social media channel YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok. To read more about me and my story click here. If you are a brand and would like to work with me, click here.