APPENDIX B. The Outfit for Travelling in the South American Wilderness
South America includes so many different kinds of country that it is impossible to devise a scheme of equipment which shall suit all. A hunting-trip in the pantanals, in the swamp country of the upper Paraguay, offers a simple problem. An exploring trip through an unknown tropical forest region, even if the work is chiefly done by river, offers a very difficult problem. All that I can pretend to do is to give a few hints as the results of our own experience.
For bedding there should be a hammock, mosquito-net, and light blanket. These can be obtained in Brazil. For tent a light fly is ample; ours were brought with us from New York. In exploring only the open fly should be taken; but on trips where weight of luggage is no objection, there can be walls to the tent and even a canvas floor-cloth. Camp-chairs and a camp table should be brought - any good outfitter in the United States will supply them - and not thrown away until it becomes imperative to cut everything down. On a river trip, first-class pulleys and ropes - preferably steel, and at any rate very strong - should be taken. Unless the difficulties of transportation are insuperable, canvas-and-cement canoes, such as can be obtained from various firms in Canada and the United States, should by all means be taken. They are incomparably superior to the dugouts. But on different rivers wholly different canoes, of wholly different sizes, will be needed; on some steam or electric launches may be used; it is not possible to lay down a general rule.
As regards arms, a good plain 12-bore shotgun with a 30-30 rifle-barrel underneath the others is the best weapon to have constantly in one's hand in the South American forests, where big game is rare and yet may at any time come in one's path. When specially hunting the jaguar, marsh-deer, tapir, or big peccary, an ordinary light repeating rifle - the 30-30, 30-40, or 256 - is preferable. No heavy rifle is necessary for South America. Tin boxes or trunks are the best in which to carry one's spare things. A good medicine-chest is indispensable. Nowadays doctors know so much of tropical diseases that there is no difficulty in fitting one out. It is better not to make the trip at all than to fail to take an ample supply of quinine pills. Cholera pills and cathartic pills come next in importance. In liquid shape there should be serum to inject for the stoppage of amoebic dysentery, and anti-snake-venom serum. Fly-dope should be taken in quantities.
For clothing Kermit and I used what was left over from our African trip. Sun helmets are best in the open; slouch-hats are infinitely preferable in the woods. There should be hobnailed shoes - the nails many and small, not few and large; and also moccasins or rubber-soled shoes; and light, flexible leggings. Tastes differ in socks; I like mine of thick wool. A khaki-colored shirt should be worn, or, as a better substitute, a khaki jacket with many pockets. Very light underclothes are good. If one's knees and legs are unfortunately tender, knickerbockers with long stockings and leggings should be worn; ordinary trousers tend to bind the knee. Better still, if one's legs will stand the exposure, are shorts, not coming down to the knee. A kilt would probably be best of all. Kermit wore shorts in the Brazilian forest, as he had already worn them in Africa, in Mexico, and in the New Brunswick woods. Some of the best modern hunters always wear shorts; as for example, that first-class sportsman the Duke of Alva.
Mr. Fiala, after the experience of his trip down the Papagaio, the Juruena, and the Tapajos, gives his judgment about equipment and provisions as follows:
The history of South American exploration has been full of the losses of canoes and cargoes and lives. The native canoe made from the single trunk of a forest giant is the craft that has been used. It is durable and if lost can be readily replaced from the forest by good men with axes and adzes. But, because of its great weight and low free-board, it is unsuitable as a freight carrier and by reason of the limitations of its construction is not of the correct form to successfully run the rapid and bad waters of many of the South American rivers. The North American Indian has undoubtedly developed a vastly superior craft in the birch-bark canoe and with it will run rapids that a South American Indian with his log canoe would not think of attempting, though, as a general thing, the South American Indian is a wonderful waterman, the equal and, in some ways, the superior of his northern contemporary. At the many carries or portages the light birch-bark canoe or its modern representative, the canvas-covered canoe, can be picked up bodily and carried by from two to four men for several miles, if necessary, while the log canoe has to be hauled by ropes and back-breaking labor over rollers that have first to be cut from trees in the forest, or at great risk led along the edge of the rapids with ropes and hooks and poles, the men often up to their shoulders in the rushing waters, guiding the craft to a place of safety.