BEAR DOWN UNDER
Bear Grylls has ventured into the toughest places on Earth but he nearly met his match when he went up against the Australian wild, as Guy Davis found out.
civilisation, Grylls discovered that “ you’re definitely not the king in waters like this”.
“ That title belongs to the salty,” he said, referring to the saltwater crocodile. “ But it’s all about trying to use that fear. It’s not human if you don’t feel a little bit scared floating down a river that’s got a lot of crocs in it when you’re just on a little raft.”
In fact, when fishing from his raft, Grylls had his catch pinched by a hungry crocodile. “ That’s one battle I don’t mind letting him win,” he said.
“ Australia is a wild ride,” he added. “ It was crazy, really crazy.”
Ah, but crazy is Grylls’ natural habitat, it would seem. His travels have taken him to some far-flung and frightening locations, and his exploits have included chowing down on the carcass of a zebra killed by lions, plunging his hands into the warm intestines of a dead yak to keep his fingers from freezing and giving himself an enema in front of the camera.
You can’t say the man isn’t committed to his craft.
And he’s paid the price too. Before he found fame on TV, he’d already broken his back in a parachuting accident, reportedly coming close to being paralysed for life. ( It was two years later that he achieved his childhood dream of reaching the top of Mount Everest.)
And while filming Man vs Wild, he’s had his fair share of injuries.
While filming the episode shot in Vietnam, for example, he sliced one of his fingers down to the bone on a razor-sharp shard of bamboo.
A quick, ragged stitch-up saved it from being lost completely but he had to return to England for further medical attention when he lost feeling in the fingertip.
“ I also sliced off the tip of another finger, which bled like nobody’s business, but the raw flesh is covering up now slowly,” he said.
“ Dank, damp jungle conditions are bad for such injuries, trust me. It reinforced the huge respect I have for any soldier who had to operate in those very intense conditions, especially for those who turned up with no jungle experience – it must have been hell on earth.”