Two missing hikers survived seven weeks in a South American jungle in French-Guiana. Their saviors described the involuntary adventure of the two 34-year-old Frenchmen as a “miracle”. The 34-year-olds survived on seeds, frogs, turtles, beetles and tarantulas.
Only one of them, Loic Pillois (Pictured), was in a condition that allowed him to return home to his family in France. The other hiker, Guilhem Nayral, suffered from exhaustion and major weight loss and was committed to a local hospital where he has to recover for a few more days.
The authorities in French-Guiana, located on the northern coast of South America between Suriname and Brazil, launched about 50 helicopter flights during a three-week search but were unsuccessful. Search efforts were suspended at the end of March.
Police spokesman Martin André said Pillois eventually made it on foot to a little village on Thursday, leaving his friend behind because he was too weak to continue. Rescue helicopters were sent to pick up his friend who, according to the authorities, was resting in a dense part of the forest, under trees measuring up to 40m tall.
“Wir found him laying on the floor. He was short of breath, dehydrated and emaciated”, André said. “When I took him into my arms he started crying.” Pillois still had enough reserves left to climb into the helicopter on his own but Nayral had to be carried on a stretcher.
The two embarked on the hike form the central city of Saül in mid-February and was supposed last only ten days. They did not carry a GPS device or a satellite phone, only a few maps served as a navigation tool.
Pillois’ wife Angélique said she was never really worried about her husband and his friend. “Five years ago they explored the same area together with an insect expert. He showed them which larvae are eatable in case you get lost in the jungle”.
Guilhem Nayrals brother Gilles said both had built a small shack in which they waited for their rescue. When they heard the helicopters to the north, they lighted a fire but the rescue missions failed to notice them. After three weeks they grew impatient and decided to continue on foot in search of civilization“.
French Guiana consists of two main geographical regions: a coastal strip where the majority of the people live, and dense, near-inaccessible rainforest which gradually rises to the modest peaks of the Tumac-Humac mountains along the Brazilian frontier. Since it is a part of France, it is also a part of the European Union, the largest part in area outside Europe.
Article by Wolfy Becker