In October 2014, Dr. Simon Donato, founder of Adventure Science, led a small team of scientific researchers into the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Tsingy de Bemaraha in western Madagascar. The project, 100 Miles of Wild: Madagascar’s Limestone Labyrinth, aimed to explore and map this region, and its major cave systems. They also aimed to discover, identify and describe dinosaur tracks and study the lemur population.
In this wild and inhospitable environment, things can go wrong even when one is prepared. During the first few days a three member field team had to be rescued via helicopter. Adventure Science founder Dr. Simon Donato shares how it all went down.
“On October 1st, I led a highly experienced 3-person team into the Tsingy, tasked with doing a 6-8 hour study of the area. As we began to explore the area, my small team was caught off-guard by the difficulty and sheer dangerousness of the terrain. It was extremely sharp and involved a significant amount of rock climbing. After crossing what we believed to be the worst of the terrain, we choose to find a less dangerous way back to our base camp instead of retracing our steps on tired legs, with darkness approaching.”
“Our efforts to circle around the Tsingy during that night proved futile. We stopped for a short rest, sleeping in the open. At this point, we had less than 500 ml of water between the three of us, and few handfuls of peanuts, and some crackers. As experienced explorers, we knew that we were facing a difficult situation and our survival instincts kicked in. We began to draw water from any sources we could find, pooled “sludge” in natural rock pockets, drinking dew off of morning leaves, and ultimately, siphoning the final few liters of water from a horribly unclean cattle wallow.”
At this point, we knew that water was a very scarce commodity, but we were still confident that we could self-rescue. “
To be continued in our next blog post…