Stories of survival in extreme circumstances have always held our fascination. When humans are thrown into bizarre and dangerous scenarios, how we react can greatly affect the outcome. Chance and luck do play their part but being equipped with the knowledge, tools and inner courage to survive has a major impact. Here are some inspiring tales:
- Ricky Megee
This chap had the extreme misfortune of waking up in the Australian Outback with no clue how he got there. In 2006, Ricky was driving down an isolated road and next he woke up alone in the middle of nowhere. He claims to have come to in a shallow grave with dingos scratching at him. He would take Ricky 70 days to reach civilization. He lived on a diet of leeches and lizards and luckily found a dam to keep hydrated. Eventually he was found, extremely emaciated but alive!
- Jan Baalsrud
As a young man and instrument maker, Jan was helping the anti-Nazi resistance in Norway. On a boat one night in the icy Norwegian waters, Germans shot at everyone on board, killing all but Jan. His big toe was shot off, but he survived by jumping into the water. The Nazis followed him as he swam back to the coast and was thankfully rescued by two girls. He was helped to secretly cross into Sweden but only after several attempts was he successful. While crossing icy mountains, he fell 300 feet during an avalanche, leaving him blind, concussed and having hallucinations. Another attempt saw him hiding in ice holes and having to cut off his toes to stop frostbite! He did eventually arrive safely in Sweden.
- Slavomir Rawicz
An officer in the Polish Army, Slavomir was captured by the Russian Red Army in 1939, tortured and sentenced to 25 years of hard labour in a Siberian Gulag. After spending a year in unbearable conditions, he and six other prisoners made their escape. What followed was a 4000 mile walk across the frozen tundra, through the Gobi Desert and Tibet, over the Himalayas and into British India. That must have taken some extreme stamina!
- Yossi Ghinsberg
Back in 1981, Yossi and three of his friends set off into the deepest, darkest Bolivian rainforest. On getting lost, they split into two groups, two of whom were never seen again. Ghinsberg and his companion built a raft to float downstream but lost each other in rapids. Nineteen days later, his friend and some local men found him wandering the river bank. His friend had found help and gone back to search for him. They should have left well-prepared, taking survival kit from an Outdoor survival store like Anglo Forro.
- Hiroo Onada
This Japanese soldier fought in World War II and carried on fighting it for thirty years after it ended! Hiding out in the Philippine jungle, he had no idea the war had ended. He was initially with three other soldiers who died or surrendered by Onada refused to believe the information about the war. Finally, he left the jungle after 29 years and accepted his former commanding officer’s instructions to step down. Now that’s dedication.