In September, 1959, six Europeans leave Cook's Bay on the southern coast of Dutch New Guinea, now West Papua or Irian Jaya, to trek north to the far side of the island. The journey (450 ... See full summary »
In September, 1959, six Europeans leave Cook's Bay on the southern coast of Dutch New Guinea, now West Papua or Irian Jaya, to trek north to the far side of the island. The journey (450 miles, as a crow flies) across unmapped territory took seven months; three Muyu porters died. Near both coasts, the expedition met villagers who invited them to observe rituals and live with them. In the interior, all villagers kept them at bay, and they depended on air lifts from Hollandia for food and supplies. They climbed above 10,000 feet, built 14 bridges, and fought leeches and malaria. The narrator focuses on describing Stone Age savages, headhunters, and cannibals. Written by
I see dogbowl thought these explorers were wimps. I believe they traveled 700-1000 miles in seven months, three people died, they were near starvation several times, several people had to be air lifted to the hospital near the end of their journey, they were lost many times, ran out of supplies (eventually resupplied from the air), among head hunters many times, endured high and low temperatures with rain and wind (and mud), and bitten by leeches and flying insects for days at a time. The territory they went through had never been explored by anyone other than some native tribes, and I doubt some of them had even explored much of the isolated and wild jungle traveled in this story.
New Guinea is the second largest island on the planet. Yes, they had help from bearers, and were funded by the Dutch government. I don't see how they could be called rich. The support was necessary. It was a large and bold scientific exploration. They did receive air support of food and supplies, which were delivered at the peril of the pilots on several occasions. It's a very good story, which is probably the last of such adventures of its type. Yes, the story is missing the modern cinematography touch, and the narration is somewhat matter of fact, but it's still quite an impressive story.
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