Benedict Allen: The real-life Indian Jones for whom death is a daily nemesis

Attacks, initiations and eating dog - British explorer Benedict Allen's shocking trips

Benedict Allen has travelled through the Amazon

Thursday, November 16, 2017

After nearly dying in a far-flung corner of the world, most of us would break out the pipe and slippers and never think of leaving good ol' Blighty again.

But, for Benedit Allen, it's just another day at the office, a minor scrape from which he'll soon bounce back.

From contracting malaria to being shot at by Pablo Escobar's henchmen, this remarkable explorer's life has been a constant battle to survive in some of the world's most inhospitable circumstances. His life story reads like the script of an Indiana Jones movie, only far less plausible.

Allen's latest escapade culminated in his being reported missing whilst travelling in Papua New Guinea, after his family revealed that he had not boarded his planned flight home.

He has now been spotted "alive and well" near an airstrip, but is still waiting to be airlifted out of the area. The reason he was travelling along in the country was because he was trying to find the Yaifo tribe, and it's certainly not the first time he's embarked on a dangerous journey.

Allen has said he was inspired to become an explorer by seeing his father, a test pilot, flying bombers. This led him to read about explorers and his fascination with travel continued as he learned about explorer Captain James Cook.

He studied Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia, but whilst he was studying he was already out and about to various locations. He visited a volcano in Costa Rica, a glacier in Iceland and a remote forest in Brunei.

Many travellers choose to raise money for their trips by asking people to sponsor them, but instead of this Allen simply hopes the locals he meets along the way will help him. Yet despite this risk he still takes very little with him, he has no phone or GPS system for emergencies, and says he packs "light" so he can move quickly. He also does not use the word tribes, and instead uses the term 'remote people'.

After university his trips became even more dangerous and he is thought to be the only person still alive today who has lived for such a lengthy period of time completely alone when he crossed the Amazon Basin at its widest point.

When he travelled across the Amazon Basin the BBC has requested that he filmed the trip with a small camera. However, after a litany of poblems he found himself unable to keep using the device. During that rather turbulent trip, he broke three ribs due to falling off a horse and was shot at by a gang of Escobar's feared associates.

The explorer has also travelled to South America. He went through 600 miles of forest with locals purely by using canoes and walking. Naturally there were plenty of bumps along the way as Allen was attacked by miners and reduced to eating dogs. When he emerged from the forest completely alone, he found he had contracted two kinds of malaria.

Allen has also visited West Papua which is part of Indonesia, there he met the Momwina people and he took them through a forest in order to meet the Obini tribe. Unfortunately the meeting was not exactly amicable, with the Obini declaring their intention to fight the Momwina. Of course he ended up havingto escape and ended up staying with the Niowra people in Papua New Guinea. So welcomed he was invited to be part of a male initiation ceremony, usually used to show boys becoming men.

Then there was the trip to the Mentawai islands where he ended up having to stitch up his own chest with a kit usually used to mend boots. He completed the first documented trip across the Namib Desert, a vast expense of forbidding emptiness inand it is thought he is the only person to have travelled the entire width of the Gobi desert completely alone aside from camels.

He eventually managed to create a documentary for the BBC with Raiders of the Lost Lake, a series of video diaries filmed in Peru received the highest viewing figures in the history. He's also created documentaries such as The Skeleton Coast in 1997 and Edge of Blue Heaven in 1998 amongst others.

Not only has Allen appeared on TV, but he has also written 10 books, including a couple of bestsellers. Frankly, it's enough to make you feel rather ashamed of your own pampered, lazy existence.

As terrifying as the Papua New Guinea episode will have been, it's hard to imagine this will mark the curtain call for one of the most amazing adventure stories ever told.

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