PARIS – One of two hikers who became lost in the dense jungle of French Guiana and survived for seven weeks on beetles, frogs and tarantulas has returned home to France, frail and with a thick beard, "tired but happy."
Loic Pillois was met Sunday at the Bordeaux airport, in southwestern France, by his parents and brother, Le Parisien newspaper reported Monday.
"I'm tired but happy," said Pillois. "It's a huge relief, it makes me want to cry."
Pillois' hiking partner, fellow Frenchman Guilhem Nayral, suffered major weight loss and remains hospitalized in French Guiana, where his condition is improving, Le Parisien said.
The two men had set out Feb. 14 from the Grand Kanori rapids on the river Approuague to the tiny village of Saul. Their families alerted authorities on Feb. 28, two days after they were scheduled to arrive.
"We thought that someone would come looking for us, so we stopped. We waited for three weeks in the same place. We heard helicopters pass, and we figured that we had to make ourselves seen. So we cut down trees to make a fire," Pillois told reporters following his rescue, according to RFO television.
"We ate palm seeds, we drank water because we always had a river next to us, where we washed," he said. "We also trapped insects and beetles. We ate frogs and tarantulas."
Eventually, the men set off again, hiking for three hours a day through rain, across swamps and over hills. Pillois made the last leg of the trip to Saul alone because Nayral was too weak to continue.
Pillois arrived Thursday in Saul and told police that Nayral was waiting a five- or six-hour hike away, French authorities said. Helicopters were sent to collect him.