The best jungle survivall skills teacher may just be yourself. It all boils down to how much you are willing to learn and the amount of practise you have invested in mastering the appropriate skills. You can actually learn jungle survival skills from the internet or by reading books but some of these knowledge would require you to practice (fire making, shelter building, knife handling etc). Spending time in the jungle helps to expand your comfort zone and understanding of the jungle better.
Here are a few jungle survival skills teachers I have met in the past. While some may not claim to be teachers, I still learnt a lot from them. If I had to name jungle survival teachers (whom I know personally) here in Malaysia, these would be the individuals.
Disclaimer: The following are based strictly on my personal experience and opinion.
I come to know of Utan Bara Adventure Team (UBAT) in the 1990s. UBAT used to conduct jungle survival skills courses in the jungles of Perak. They were often featured in local papers and had both local and international participants. UBAT’s leader Mr Razali himself was an ex-special forces (not sure exactly which group) and his team consists of men from diverse background and speciality. UBAT’s survival courses were no joking matter. They are usually multi-days with real actual hands on experience in jungle survival. Participants are brought into the jungle with minimal gear (usually with just a parang and a few other essentials) and were taught how to procure and make full use of things they can gather in the jungle. The experience is real and so were the skills. Besides jungle survival courses, UBAT was also involved in animal (especially elephants) recues and jungle trips. Despite the many positive feedbacks from participants who have been on their courses, UBAT somehow lost its shine and slowly waned away in recent years.
Like Razali, Vee is also an ex-security forces personnel and a trained medic. I met Vee several years ago and we worked together for a bit. A Malaysian Thai decent, Vee grew up in a small village in Kedah where a big chunk of his growing up years were spent outdoors hunting squirrels and living off the land. His playground was literally the jungle and knowing his heritage… children were taught to survive and fight for themselves from a young age. I was fortunate to have the chance to go camping with Vee on several occasions and it is very obvious the jungle is like his second home. In his bare shorts at 8pm, he is still in the river spearing for fishes. When probed, he can share more about the jungle around like areas in the jungle to avoid, how to recognize land features and what sort of gear to carry.
Last I spoke to Vee, he is occupied with private groups like home-schooled children and international schools, providing the service of teaching them survival, bushcraft and jungle skills to nurture a future generation of individuals he refers to as ‘Campmasters’. On top of that he is also working with field professionals like researches and conservationists on areas of jungle expedition preparedness that include more in depth look at gear, food, emergency procedures as well as navigation. Vee is still active and he can be contacted via his Facebook profile here.
The one civilian I know who would make a good jungle survival skills teacher is Paul of Junglecraft. Paul is the sort of person who picks up a new thing, put it to test, tears it apart, put it back together. He then tests it over and over again and does not hesitate to repeat the entire process again. He then modifies, adapts and make changes to it to fit his liking. If at the end he doesn’t like, he puts it aside. Paul adopts this approach not only to gears but also to jungle survival skills. Fire starting methods, cutting techniques, shelter building and even food preparations are scrutinized and adapted to his liking.
I have been on several jungle trips with Paul and his approach to camping in the jungle has always been to pack light. While this may sound like the conventional ultralight approach, I believe Paul’s methods are slightly different. Instead of buying light weight gear, he simply carries less because he understands what he needs and what he doesn’t. Like the saying goes…the more you know, the less you carry. Paul is a practical guy and does not hesitate to voice his honest opinion about things. After having sung all these praises, the fact is Paul has time constraints committing to programs and teaching sessions. The only few he manages to conduct was definitely an eye opener. You can learn more about Paul and his interests by looking up his website www.junglecraft.com and his Youtube channel Junglecrafty.
The above are 3 individuals (well, one is a group technically) that I know personally to be good jungle survival skills survival teachers. I recommend you choose your teacher carefully as you are investing for valuable skills and knowledge that will greatly improve your enjoyment in the jungle as well as increasing your chances in a survival situation. Up next, I will share my thoughts on jungle bushcraft and jungle survival and two individuals who may be good teachers in these two fields.