National Geographic Adventure - Dream It. Plan It. Do It.

Alive Survivor Interviews
Web Favorites
Action Photography Contest Winners:
Round I

Photo: Snowboarding Tahoe

Presenting the first winners
in our Action Photography
by National Geographic
photographer Bill Hatcher.
Photo contest winners

Alive! Then & Now
Photo: Alive crash site

Experience the first
expedition to retrace the
Alive Andes escape route
with our 3-D, interactive
map, survivor audio interviews, and trek  photographs.

Survivors, maps, photos

Alive Survivors Look Back
What does it take to survive a plane crash in the Andes? Four survivors talk about how they made it through the incredible ordeal.
Photo: Alive survivors
The survivors at the fuselage, December 23, 1972.  

The 16 Uruguayan rugby players, friends, and relatives who survived for two months after their plane crashed in the Andes are forever bound to one another. The details of their story, made famous in the book and movie Alive, are too gruesome to forget: With just the remnants of the plane's contents at their disposal, the group had no choice but to turn to cannibalism.

Three of the young men, Roberto Canessa, Nando Parrado, and Antonio Vizintín, made a daring trek through the mountains to reach help. While Vizintín returned to the fuselage, Canessa and Parrado made human contact in Chile after ten days. Their friends back at the wreckage were back home in time for Christmas. Here, four of the survivors share details—in their own words— from their incredible experiences.

Roberto Canessa, 53, expeditionary team
As told to James Vlahos

- Canessa recalls setting out on the expedition.

- Canessa tells the significance of hearing flowing water in the mountains for the first time. (1:43)

- Having escaped the Andes but before making human contact, Canessa remembers coming to terms never having to eat the "meat" again. (1:13)

- While staying at a shepherd's home in Los Maitenes, Chile, a crew of reporters arrived to question Canessa and Nando Parrado. (0:50)
Photo: Roberto Canessa

Eduardo Strauch, 58, crash survivor
As told to Andrea Minarcek

- After two months stranded in the Andes, Strauch tells about the moment when the rescue helicopters arrived at fuselage. (2:58)

- Strauch explains the bond that exists today between the survivors. (
Photo: Eduardo Strauch

Antonio Vizintín, 52, part of expeditionary team
Recorded at a dinner with the survivors in Montevideo, Uruguay

- Vizintín remembers the creative forms of nourishment found in the plane's remains.

- During the first part of the trek, Vizintín recounts how he damaged his toe while climbing the 14,774-foot (4,503-meter) headwall. (0:48)
Photo: Antonio Vizintín

Laura Surraco, 52, then-girlfriend and now the wife of Roberto Canessa
As told to Andrea Minarcek

- Surraco talks about the signs of hope that kept the families going while their loved ones were missing. (1:54)

- Surraco tells about her first reunion with Roberto, her boyfriend of three years, in the hospital after the ordeal. (2:25)
Photo: Laura Canessa

To play MP3 files, you'll need a free media-player software, such as Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, or iTunes. For help with audio files, click here >>

Survivors Look Back
Listen to four of the Alive survivors as they reflect back on their ordeal >>
Expedition Photo Gallery
Writer James Vlahos shares breathtaking expedition photos  >>
3-D Escape Map
Fly over the Andes escape route with our interactive map >>

Back to main page >>

Cover: Adventure magazine

Now read the extensive coverage of the Alive expedition in our April 2006 issue. Subscribe now to begin your year of Adventure with this exciting Alive edition.

Subscribe now and save!

Photographs, from top: Group of Survivors/Corbis; courtesy of Roberto Canessa; James Vlahos (2); Laura Canessa 

Expedition Sponsors:

Logo: National Geographic Expeditions Council              Logo: Mountain Hardwear


Logo: Black Diamond
   Logo: Brunton Logo: Petzl   Logo: PowerBar
E-mail a Friend

Adventure Subscription Offer

Image: Map mapXchange
Free maps to
use with TOPO!

Photo: Kayaker Adventurer's Handbook
How to beach a kayak

Photo: Shoe Outdoor Gear Store
Buy the right gear right now