The British explorer saved from Papua New Guinea after trying to find a remote tribe has today dismissed claims it was a publicity stunt and insisted he did need rescuing.
Benedict Allen, 57, who had no mobile phone or GPS device with him, was picked up by a helicopter crew hired by the Mail three weeks after he left Heathrow airport bound for the jungle.
He was hoping to reach the Yaifo, a tribe thought to be one of the last on Earth to have no contact with the outside world.
But he was reported missing after he failed to board a flight back home via Hong Kong having first been hit by floods that swept a bridge away and soaked his belongings including antimalarial medication.
Benedict Allen thought he was going to die after he contracted the malaria while stuck between two warring tribes in Papua New Guinea and said he did need rescuing
TV explorer Benedict Allen filmed a video will of himself while in the grip of malaria and suffering hallucinations of his children begging him to come home
The explorer then became trapped again when he entered a part of the jungle where two tribes were at war and he had to hide.
Finally he began feeling unwell and sweating profusely, realising shortly afterwards that he had malaria for the fifth time – an illness that has almost killed him twice in the past.
Speaking from his home in west London, the father-of-three told his friend, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, that his symptoms of malaria were genuine and he needed help out of the jungle.
Asked whether it was a publicity stunt, he said: ‘I can see why they get cynical and people have been known to do this, let’s face it.
‘I videoed all of this and you can see me deteriorating with malaria’, adding he was ‘bewildered’ by the interest his case.
He said: ‘The journalists (on board the helicopter) when they turned up, I happily accepted their phone, they saw me with malaria and took me to hospital.’
Mr Allen said his final tweet before entering the jungle – which read: ‘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…’ – might have prompted others to doubt the authenticity of his journey.
But he added: ‘People are asking this question because I joked on Twitter as I left. I had no commission, I did no interviews before I left.’
Explorer Benedict Allen begged his wife’s forgiveness as the Mail rescued him from the jungle yesterday. Pictured above, the explorer found with a local tribe
Mr Allen said ‘it just wasn’t looking good. I didn’t think I’d make it’ as he fell ill in Papua New Guinea
He said he had some regrets about not taking a mobile phone or GPS location device with him, but denied he ‘got lost’.
He told the BBC’s Today programme: ‘I always knew where I was, things just began to go wrong.’
Mr Allen’s wife Lenka Allen previously told how the couple’s children, 10-year-old Natalya, Freddie, seven, and two-year-old Beatrice, were missing their father.
Having recovered in hospital he was well enough to eat fish and chips and enjoy a gin and tonic on Sunday
The professional explorer joked that he needed ‘a good florist’ to help apologise to his wife.
Mr Allen, 57, was missing in the remote jungle for five days, riven with malaria and trapped between warring tribes, before being rescued by the Daily Mail last Friday.
Yesterday, after emergency treatment for the lethal tropical disease in a hospital in the capital Port Moresby, he checked onto an international flight with his solid wooden paddle among his luggage.
He began the journey home after doctors cleared him to fly the 9,000 miles from Papua New Guinea.
He flew to Hong Kong last night and today(TUES) will continue on to London and then Prague to be reunited with his family.
He and his Czech-born wife Lenka, 35, have been spending a year living in her homeland with their children Natalya, 10, Freddie, seven, and Beatrice, two.
Mr Allen said: ‘I can’t wait to see them. I have a lot of explaining and apologising to do to them for putting them through such worry.’
Before catching his flight to Hong Kong, he met local dignitaries in Port Moresby to thank them for helping when he was lost.
‘I met the British High Commissioner,’ he said. ‘He wanted to hear the story of what happened from me directly.’
During his expedition – and travelling light with no canoe or paddle – he crossed jungle rivers by hooking vines from the other side and stretching them into makeshift bridges.
After finding the long-lost Yaifo tribe, he got cut off by a bow-and-arrow war being waged between neighbouring tribes, and then contracted malaria or similar disease Dengue Fever.
He said: ‘It wasn’t looking good. I knew deep down as an experienced explorer that the calculations were bad. I didn’t think I’d make it’.
He had made a ‘video will’ for his family as he feared dying in the jungle, before the Mail hired a helicopter and plucked him to safety.