PHOTO: A Squirrel monkey in the Amazon. (Photo via Flickr/Phil Whitehouse)
A South American tourist is somehow alive and well after spending nine days lost in the Bolivian Amazon.
And he has a group of monkeys to thank for it.
According to National Geographic, 25-year-old Chilean Maykool Coroseo Acuna went missing in Bolivia's Madidi National Park during a rainforest tour with local agency Max Adventures. Acuna was last seen with the group of travelers at Max Adventures' campground near the Tuichi River, and his mysterious disappearance prompted an intense search effort from park rangers and the agency's guides.
Max Adventures owner Feizar Nava pinned Acuna's bizarre vanishing on his decision to not participate in a Pachamama ceremony with his fellow travelers—designed to thank Mother Earth for allowing visitors into the rainforest.
Locals believe Pachamama has power over a mischievous sprite known as "Duende" that can send victims into another dimension.
"For myself and the rangers, this is our culture," Madidi Park Director Marcos Uzquiano told National Geographic. "We believe that Duende is real. And we think it’s possible that Maykool was taken by him."
But if you think that potential explanation sounds far-fetched, Acuna's account of his survival can only be described as extraordinary.
After finally being discovered in poor condition less than a mile from camp after nine days missing; a dehydrated, bitten and swollen Acuna told rescuers that he was only able to survive because of a group of monkeys that dropped fruit for him and led him to water and shelter every day.
Acuna, who was the first person to go missing in the park in more than a decade, said he isn't sure what drove him to run away from camp but said the urge to escape the rainforest was irresistible.