A British adventurer who recently went missing for three days and nights in the dense jungles of Papua New Guinea while searching for a legendary lost tribe, has been rescued alive. That’s good news. But here’s the thing that makes him MudTribe material. He claims he didn’t need rescuing.
According to a report from The Telegraph, 58 year old Benedict Allen entered into the jungle without a smartphone or a GPS device fearing that such mod cons would hinder the authenticity of his trip. But when he failed to make his flights home which were scheduled to depart Hong Kong some three weeks after he first entered into the wild, the British father of three was officially declared missing.
When interviewed by a BBC correspondent about the misadventure, he vehemently denied getting lost. And while he was still suffering from the effects of malaria, he did show some remorse for not taking his phone with him. In the same breath however, he said, “I always knew where I was, things just began to go wrong.” Namely, his contracting a nasty case of malaria.
According to the New York Post, Allen had entered into the jungle with the intent to reach the Yaifo people, who are believed to be one of the last lost tribes left on the planet. That is, a people indigenous to Papua New Guinea who have zero contact with the outside world.
“No outsider has made the journey to visit them since the rather perilous journey I made as a young man three decades ago,” Allen wrote on his blog before departing for his expedition. “This would make them the remotest people in Papua New Guinea, and one of the last people on the entire planet who are out-of-contact with our interconnected world.”
Allen was the first westerner to make direct contact with Yaifo tribe back in the mid-1980s during a similar solo expedition into the dangerous jungle territory. Back then, he was greeted with open hostility. At one point he feared his life. But then, the explorer isn’t one to shy away from the pain and fear that can only come from encountering the great mysteries of the deep jungle. On one occasion while having crossed the Amazon Basin in a dug-out canoe and while trekking on foot, he took it upon himself to participate in a male initiation ceremony in which the mark of the crocodile was carved into his flesh. On yet another occasion, when he found himself starving in the jungle, he ate his dog.
Now that thirty years had passed since his first encounter with the lost tribe, Allen was hoping that he would be received with open arms befitting of an explorer of his caliber and just plain major league balls. While it’s unclear how the tribe did react to his return, he did document the reunion with his video camera. In fact, the solo filmmaker, author, and public speaker has made quite a name for himself over the years, regularly appearing on TV and other media outlets.
He’s also social media savvy, having tweeted just prior to his most recent jungle excursion:
“Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time. Don’t try to rescue me, please – where I’m going in PNG you won’t ever find me you know…”
Of course, it’s Tweets like this that cause some people to work up a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to the authenticity of both Allen’s adventure and his having gone missing. But he dismisses any attempts at armchair explorers bent on questioning his legitimacy.
Says he, “I can see why they get cynical and people have been known to do this, let’s face it. I videoed all of this and you can see me deteriorating with malaria.” He also adds, “People are asking this question because I joked on Twitter as I left. I had no commission, I did no interviews before I left.”
For three days, Allen’s family had no idea where he was. His wife Lenka sadly pronounced that their three children, who range between the ages of two and ten, were missing their father. But as soon as she learned that her husband had been found, Lenka said, “It is such a relief. I’m so happy. It’s amazing.” But one has to wonder if she isn’t secretly upset she didn’t marry an accountant.
When fellow explorer and adventurer Ben Fogle was asked by reporters if Allen’s perilous journey to reach the lost tribe of the Yaifo was an act of selfishness, he was quick defend his friend, because after all, explorers are born to explore. However, Allen did admit that he required the services of “a good florist” when he was finally home alone with the wife.