Exploring Guam: Safety first when hiking in jungle

Exploring Guam: Safety first when hiking in jungle

by 36th Wing Safety Office
U.S. Air Force

Guam’s jungles, from the outside looking in, offer views of beautiful flowers, World War II relics, colorful foliage, secret caves, boonie peppers (which some people love to eat), hidden rivers, etc. This tropical paradise sometimes becomes so irresistible that we feel compelled to enter the exciting and seemingly harmless jungle.

The Wing Safety Division recommends that you do not enter nontraveled jungle areas.  If you do, take the following mentioned precautions and notify someone when and where you are going and the time you will return.  This is for your own safety.  Andersen AFB Outdoor Recreation, Naval Base Guam and Guam’s Department of Parks and Recreation often have organized boonie stomps conducted by trained guides. And you can always hook up with Guam Boonie Stompers (see story to the right).

If you decide to go “boonie stomping”, please consider taking along some of the following items:  water, compass, insect repellent, food/snacks, knife, flashlight, rope, cell phone, whistle and a friend.

It is recommended that you stay out of the caves on Guam unless you are prepared and aware of the hazards. There are many caves on Guam that are frequented and relatively safe to explore.  If it’s your first time, go with a guide who has been in the cave and can brief you on the dangers.  Keep in mind that caves are not well lit, so bring a flashlight(s) and/or lantern.  Also, the ground inside the cave will most likely be very slick and the rocks may be very sharp.  Ensure you are wearing proper footwear for this event and take your time walking inside the cave.

Once you enter the jungle, you may encounter deer, wild pigs, frogs, brown tree snakes, mice, bats (dawn, dusk, and night), and coconut crabs (that can amputate fingers if given the chance).

Some of the insects you will see while enjoying your exploratory walk are ants, termites, several varieties of spiders, flies, gnats, and, worst of all, swarms of boonie bees (paper wasps) and other stinging insects. Something to be aware of is the fact that you might experience getting lost or walking in circles, due mainly to the limited visibility in the dense jungle.  If you do get lost in the jungle stay calm, the heat and high humidity can dehydrate you and increase your need for food and water.

Other jungle hazards you should know about include slippery undergrowth and vines, razor sharp coral protruding from the ground, cliff lines and large holes hundreds of feet deep that are covered with leaves, fallen tree limbs, and undergrowth.  There is razor sharp and poisonous vegetation throughout the jungle. World War II relics such as  hand grenades, land mines, bombs, bullets, antipersonnel mines, rockets, and almost any other type of explosives known are still out there ready to explode. 

If you find any of these old relics,  do not touch them, they may be very unstable.  Alert authorities immediately.

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