Friday, September 4, 2009


Lost in the Jungle. A harrowing true story of survival.
by Ghinsberg, Yossi. 2009
Skyhorse Publishing, New York. 314 pp.

It is almost axiomatic that breathless tales of nightmarish times in the Amazon are written by the uninitiated. Indeed, to those unfamiliar with the occupants of the rainforest, every encounter bristles with malevolence. The normal rhythms of the forest, its calling frogs and insects, the rustlings in the night, the ants and their kin…all of it combines into an overwhelmingly unpleasant experience unless one is fortunate to travel in expert company.

But this book is about getting lost, and that is a singularly scary hazard in the Amazon, whether it befalls an old pro or a novice such as the author. Ghinsberg in his youth was a trusting, friendly fellow who was blissfully unaware that it is never wise to respond to those who hang around backpacker resting spots in South America, especially those who start conversations. So, he and two friends were seduced by an Austrian of dubious credentials and they found themselves embarking upon a trek in northwestern Bolivia.

As conditions deteriorated, the author and a companion opted to continue along their way when the Austrian decided to return. Almost immediately they became separate, with Ghinsberg clinging precariously to a raft in rapids. It would be twenty arduous days before they were reunited and during that time the author learned much about mortality, wilderness, and himself. His companion was somewhat more fortunate and made his way to help in several days. Had he not been determined to mount a rescue for the author, it seems likely he would have perished.
Interestingly, Ghinsberg continues his involvement with the region and he was one of the founders of Chalalan, an important wildlife reserve and ecolodge. We've been lost in the Amazon on more than one occasion and Ghinsberg's book rings true. The Austrian and the Swiss who turned back early during the hike have never been seen since. A good read!

More Info/Order



Post a Comment