“Don’t try to rescue me, please,” Benedict Allen, 57, tweeted as he set off into the wilderness of Papua New Guinea to track down a remote group he first met 30 years earlier. “Where I’m going in PNG you won’t ever find me.”
But lucky for him, rescuers did find him because the latest adventure of Allen, a British author and explorer, did not end as he had expected.
He was reported missing earlier this week after he failed to return for a planned flight and his family became concerned.
Allen was evacuated today to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, where he is being treated for suspected malaria, according to Jo Sarsby Management, the agency that represents him.
“Benedict looks forward to being reunited with his family and friends but will need some time to get back to full health,” the agency said in a statement. “He would like to send thanks for all the kind messages he has received.”
Allen had traveled to Papua New Guinea in hopes of reconnecting with the Yaifo, an indigenous people he met three decades ago in the remote Central Range of Papua New Guinea. He is believed to be the only Westerner to have made contact with the group.
In a blog post on his website before the trip, Allen described plans to hire a helicopter to drop him off at an abandoned mission station before gathering a group of local guides to help him.
He reflected on the difficulty of the journey and speculated that he might not be able to reach the Yaifo. It is unclear if he did encounter the community during his journey.
“Even aged 26 it was a very hard hike up through rather treacherous terrain,” he wrote. “Nor do I have an obvious means of returning to the Outside World, which is somewhat worrying, especially at my advanced age. Either I must paddle down river for a week or so — or enlist the help of the Yaifo, as I did last time.”
Allen also said he did not plan to bring a satellite phone or GPS with him. He tweeted a photo on Oct. 4, before leaving Britain, telling followers, “Don’t try to find me.”
Frank Gardner, a BBC correspondent, tweeted a photo of himself and Allen on a previous trip together to Papua New Guinea.
Gardner described in subsequent tweets how on his current trip Allen had become “disoriented on remote jungle trek.” He said Allen’s rescue was made more complicated “by tribal fighting” that cut off all road access to the area.
While it’s unclear exactly how Allen was found and recovered, it seems to have been a group effort. Keith Copley, a missionary who lives in Papua New Guinea, said in a statement that he had been alerted Wednesday of Allen’s disappearance.
Through a network of contacts, he learned that Allen had been helped to a rural airstrip built by missionaries years ago.
“I was able to determine the location Benedict had been dropped, his trekking route, his guides and his current location,” Copley said in the statement. He called the authorities in Papua New Guinea to help arrange Allen’s evacuation, and he reached Allen’s family to let them know he was safe.
Allen, a father of three, is well known as the author of 10 books and a series of television shows that document his adventures around the globe.
His sister, Katie Pestille, spoke with the Bath Chronicle, a local news outlet. “I’m totally ecstatic that he’s OK,” she told the publication. “We’ve been through absolute hell the last few days. We’re also very cross with him.”