The world is covered with dense, beautiful jungles that lure in backpackers and explorers every year. Paintings show the beautiful side of these lush Edens, but everyone knows there are hidden dangers around every turn. Large cats, venomous snakes and even cannibals lurk deep in some of the most magnificent jungles. Some of these jungles hide ugly things like murders, rapes and cartel crime within their trees, however. Ruggero Deodato has depicted some of what could happen to those that venture too far into the woods in his film Cannibal Holocaust. Eli Roth's upcoming film, The Green Inferno, also takes a look at cannibalistic society and the dangers of the jungle. Most that dare to venture into these beautiful, deadly landscapes make it out in one piece with stories to share, but some are not so lucky; here are their stories...
5.) Yvonne Baldelli
The beautiful and free spirited Yvonne Baldelli left her home in California and moved to Panama with her then boyfriend in 2011. There are multiple photographs that show the couple appearing to be happy together on several outdoor excursions. Baldelli was last seen alive on a backpacking trip in the Panamanian jungle with her boyfriend. He returned from the trip, but she did not. A skull was found alongside women's clothing and a backpack matching the description of Baldelli's very own. DNA analysis will be performed on the skull to definitively show if the remains are hers. Her boyfriend is the prime suspect in her disappearance and possible murder.
4.) Gareth Huntley
Gareth Huntley was a 34-year-old accountant from England and a frequent traveler who worked on various ecological projects around the world. In 2014, Huntley traveled to the Tioman Island of Malaysia where he was working on the Juara Turtle Project. He kept in touch with his family and his girlfriend, so when he left for a hike to the waterfalls one afternoon in June and the communication had stopped, they knew something was wrong. After an eight day search, their worst fears would become a reality on June 4th, 2014. Huntley's body was discovered near a canoe storage shed on the island. Rumors began to swirl as to his cause of death, some suspected murder and others thought that maybe he had been bitten by one of the island's many venomous snakes. A year later, Huntley's death is still a mystery as no official cause of death has ever been determined.
3.) John Reed
In 1980, John Reed left his native town of Twin Cities, California to travel to Brazil in search of the lost city of Akator. Once in Brazil, Reed met up with local guide Tatunca Nara (pictured left) who was to guide him to the city. The pair made their way into the jungle, but Reed did not return with Nara. Nara claims that Reed was not ready to return for the day and ran off on his own, but not many are believing his story. Reed is not the first to "go missing" on an expedition with Nara. It was later revealed that Tatunca Nara was not a native Brazilian guide whatsoever, he was actually a German citizen named Gunther Hauck. Authorities believe that Hauck is responsible for at least one murder and three disappearances after the jawbone of one of his former clients was found, but there has not been enough hard evidence for an arrest.
2.) Percy Fawcett
Percy Fawcett was a British archaeologist that came to fame after his series of map-making expeditions to the jungles of South America in the early 1900s. In 1925, Fawcett, his son and another young man traveled to Brazil in search of a missing city which he referred to as 'Z' in a wire message to his wife. That message that he sent to his wife on May 25, 1925 would be the last time that anyone would hear from the scientist and his camp. Many theories have come to light about their disappearances; everything from hostile Indian tribes to Fawcett suffering from amnesia - even a legend that states that Fawcett began living as the chief of a tribe of cannibals living deep in the jungle. Search efforts in the treacherous forests depths for Fawcett and the other two men resulted in over a hundred deaths, but no trace of the men could be found.
1.) Michael Rockefeller and the Cannibals
Michael Rockefeller was the son of the New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He set out on an expedition in the Asmat region of Southwestern Netherlands New Guinea with Dutch Anthropologist Rene Wassing. At the age of 23, Rockefeller went missing in November of 1961 after their canoe overturned three miles from shore. Rockefeller made an attempt to swim to the island, Wassing was rescued the next day, but Rockefeller would never be seen again. He was declared legally dead in 1964 after multiple intense search efforts yielded no result. Some speculated that he was eaten by a salt water crocodile or a shark, but some feared the worst: Cannibals. There's a tribe of about 4,000 individuals that live in that very same jungle known as the Korowai, they are known to have practiced cannibalism. A book was released a few years ago with quotes from tribe members who claim to have murdered Rockefeller and consumed his flesh, but some do not believe that to be true. Here's where Rockefeller's story gets even more bizarre... In 1969, evidence surfaced showing what those that took the grainy photograph described as a "white tribesman" (pictured below) interacting, canoeing and taking part in tribal acts alongside this harrowing group of known cannibals. This evidence has lead some to believe that Rockefeller was not killed and eaten by the tribe, but quite the opposite; they believe that he turned his back on his family and their fortune to begin a life of simplicity and cannibalism in the jungle.
The image quality, because of the time period, looks a lot like most Sasquatch evidence photos, so it's hard to make out the man's full appearance. Do you think that is Michael Rockefeller in the picture? Let me know in the comments.
If you're planning a jungle expedition any time soon, just remember these five individuals and know that this could happen to anyone. Don't become the next Cannibal Holocaust or Green Inferno story.