British explorer Benedict Allen has been found safe in PNG’s Enga province. (AP: Andy Butterton)
An experienced Kokoda track tour operator says a British explorer who got lost in Papua New Guinea should have had more appropriate communications equipment with him, adding that his story does not add up.
Fifty-seven-year-old Benedict Allen had gone to a remote part of the northern Enga province to meet up with the Yaifo tribe, who he described as having little or no contact with the outside world.
When he failed to turn up for a scheduled flight out of the country three weeks ago his family raised the alarm, and media around the world ran items about him, with some using words like “cannibal” and “headhunter”.
He was located late on Tuesday near Porgera.
Benedict Allen tweet: Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time (don’t try to rescue me, please – where I’m going in PNG you won’t ever find me you know…)
Kokoda track tour operator Charlie Lynn said things “just didn’t add up” in the story of Allen’s disappearance.
“I thought ‘Here we go again, we’ve got another British explorer or reality star wannabe going to Papua New Guinea to try and generate a sensational story, using the thing of remote jungles and crocodile infestation and cannibals and getting lost and then later on getting found’,” Mr Lynn said.
“He’s supposedly an experienced explorer, he’s been there before, but to go into a remote area of Papua New Guinea without a GPS; and apparently he didn’t make any plans for his own evacuation if he needed it, and he didn’t let anybody know where he was going.
“He broke all the rules of survival — I just can’t fathom that.”
Mr Lynn said the story fuelled negative perceptions of the country in the international media.
“I’ve got to say, Papua New Guinea don’t help themselves a lot but they’re the victims in these scams, if you like, where people come in and they make out they’re backward jungle cannibals living in remote tribal areas and so forth,” he said.
“It’s just grist to the mill for a sensationalist newspaper report and it certainly gets international attention.
“I think it has a hugely negative impact on the perception of safety that people have for Papua New Guinea.”
Mr Lynn said he had never had an incident in 26 years of going to Papua New Guinea.
“But there are rules that you don’t break when you go up there, otherwise you’re going to get into trouble,” he said.
Who is Benedict Allen?
Allen has filmed a number of his adventures for the BBC and written books on exploration.
He has also done presenting work for the History Channel and Channel 5 in the UK.
On his website, Mr Allen described himself as an “adventurer” or just as a “cat who’s used up six of his nine lives”.
He ventures include journeying the length of Namibi Desert and crossing the full width of the Gobi.
In 2010, Mr Allen became a trustee and member of council of the Royal Geographical Society.