3.5 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
As travel destinations go, South America is hard to beat, which is why in pre-COVID time it was popular on the backpacking circuit. Yossi was one of those who was there wanting to see the sights and enjoy life for a bit. He wanted to take a trip to Macchu Pichu but after he got talking to a man called Karl, the offer of a guided trip into the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivar was discussed. He was desperate to go, and managed to find a couple of others who were interested in doing it too.
The guy leading the venture was a little bit of a maverick and said that they only had a limited amount of time as he was going to see his uncle who had a remote ranch in around a months time. They collected supplies and soon after began their trip into the jungle. To begin with, it was just what they had hoped it would be, a tough adventure that would push them to their limits. Somehow they acquired a dog on their trek, but this was left at one of the villages. They ate what they found as they walked, from game to fruits, but slowly Yossi began to realise that the places where Karl said they would be, weren’t always there. Even though there was only four of them, tensions began to rise as the group dynamic fell apart and they made the fateful decision to split up into two pairs. Yossi and Kevin get to take the raft and Karl and Marcus would make their own way back to La Paz.
They are not that experienced with the raft and when they get to a small waterfall and all hell breaks loose. The raft gets stuck on a rock and Kevin jumps free. Just as Yossi is about to get off, it breaks free and he is carried over the waterfall and falls in the water. Somehow he doesn’t drown, but loses his pack and is washed ashore. He is utterly alone and doesn’t know if he will see anyone ever again. Making a shelter is the first priority, but the machete is with Kevin so he struggles to make something suitable. He finds his pack in the morning, but it is sodden. Thankfully the dry bag inside kept some things from getting too damp.
Now he had to find his way back to civilisation.
Not only did he have almost no food, everything in the jungle seemed to want to kill him. There was a heart-stopping moment when he was face to face with a jaguar and he came across snakes a couple of times that had the potential to kill. But what almost killed him was the relentless rain and water. He nearly drowned several times, the pervasive damp turned his feet into a bloody red mess and they had developed by a fungal infection too. Then there were the leaches and the fire ants and he even managed to pick up a horrid sounding bot fly.
He was so so lucky to survive this trip, none of the locals who were helping to search for him thought that he stood a chance of surviving and the way that he was found was a miracle. Quite what happened to the other two, Karl and Marcus, is anyone’s guess, though it is likely that they perished.
It is a bit of a page-turner, especially in the latter half of the book. I am sure that he did go through the events in the books, but I thought he was an ok writer, but occasionally the narrative felt a bit too fictionalised. I was surprised that he knew just how many days he had been staggering through the jungle as I think that most people by then would be just concentrating on staying alive. It did remind me of The Backpacker by John Harris, which is another chilling story of a holiday adventure gone wrong.