5 Things You Need To Pack For Kalu Yala

By Elena Cabot Rodriguez

Three weeks ago, I experienced my first day in the Panamanian, Tres Brazos Jungle. After a two hour hike in I arrived into the valley, and there I met so many fun-loving and passionate people. We played games, sang songs, and I went to bed excited for my next 10 weeks as a Kalu Yalan.

Because of my nervous excitement, I realized I had forgotten so many important items in my day pack. 5 Things To Bring to Your First Day at Kalu Yala will help you pack, to ensure a fun and safe first day in the jungle.

1. A First- Aid Kit

I don’t even day camp without a small, lightweight first aid kit. Each kit is different, and I suggest personalizing your kit to your travel plans. After the long hike in, the first thing I wanted to do was bandage the blisters on my feet and put some anti-septic on the scrapes on my knees (Pro Tip: long hikes need long pants!)

I always keep extra bandages and alcohol wipes in my kit— it’s important to clean and dress all wounds quickly in the jungle. For shorter trips I use the Medical Kit Mountain Series, and for longer trips I use the NOLS Med Kit 4.0.

2. A Raincoat

Mornings in the jungle can be deceiving! I woke up that morning to a sunny, cloudless sky, and I hiked out in shorts and a tank-top. About an hour into the hike it began to pour, which felt amazing, but I quickly realized that clothes don’t dry in the jungle… The humidity keeps wet clothes wet! And when it gets chilly at night, you reallydon’t want to be in a wet tee shirt. I know it’s bulky, but trust me. Just do it. Pack it.  I use an Arc’teryx jacket, but any Gore-Tex rain jacket will do.

3. A Camera

The jungle is incredibly photogenic. Once I arrived in the Tres Brazos Valley, all I wanted to do was whip out my camera and take photos of the new friends I was making, the colorful food that was served, the blooming flowers, and the green mountains that surround the valley. You never know when a new bird or bug will fly by camp, and you want to be ready for the shot! Make sure to keep your camera in a dry bag, or invest in a waterproof camera. I’ve used the Nikon COOLPIXon several expeditions.

4. Bug Spray and Sunscreen

I put this in the same category, because if you’re going to be lathering your skin in one, you might as well lather in both. The first day at Kalu Yala was so activity filled and exciting, that I didn’t realize until it was time for bed that I had bug bites on my ankles and pink shoulders. Now, one of the first things I do in the morning, is cover myself in sunscreenand bug spray. No more itchy and peeling skin, which means I can focus my attention on other— more fun— things.

5. Silica Packets

Even when it’s not raining, the jungle is is in a constant state of wetness. When I was getting ready for bed that first night, I realized that my clothes were damp. How? I had wrapped them in plastic and buried them deep in my bag!! The answer is simple— HUMIDITY. I put silica packetsin my wet hiking boots, and put packets in between clothes and in my electronics bag, and dumped a few in my daypack. Getting used to the wetness is part of living in the jungle, but there are ways to lessen the impact.

Like any expedition, packing the proper gear is essential. Kalu Yala is a fun, spirited community, and we embrace the jungle for all it has to offer— so come prepared.

We want to hear from you! Do you have any other suggestions for what we need in our jungle day packs? Comment below!