Photos by @renan_ozturk / words by @m_synnott , from #TheLostWorldExpedition story. I’m pretty sure that I was the one who first started calling it mud world. It seemed an apt description, considering that within hours of first entering the jungle, our lives became a war of attrition against the oozing muck, from which there seemed to be no escape. It was supposed to be the dry season, but it rained every single day.

The key to survival was a wet-dry system. By day, we did our best to embrace the filth and wetness. But at night, we found respite, if only briefly, by changing into dry clothes and slipping into our sleeping bags and hammocks beneath elaborate post- and-beam tarp structures, constructed by our Akawaio guides.

My first night in the jungle, I sat in my hammock, legs dangling, wondering what to do with my mud-caked boots. I thought I was being clever when I stuffed them into a waterproof duffel, not realizing there was food in it—and I had failed to completely zip it shut. When I slipped back into my boots in the morning, giant red ants attacked so viciously they actually chewed through my sock.

We crossed countless rivers and small creeks that braid the floodplain, which lies east of the Pakaraima Mountains. Most of these crossings were facilitated with log bridges. Some were natural, others were expertly dropped by the Akawaios, who could fell a tree with their cutlasses in a matter of seconds. On the bigger rivers, they often built elaborate railings, which they lashed in place with vines and strips of bark. But in other places, there would be nothing but a thin, moss-covered log, high above the water.

And there was carnage. Renan caught his foot on a vine and face planted in the mud. @taylorfreesolo slipped and straddled a log. And I jammed my bare foot between two slimy rocks in the Krapung River, shaving all the skin off the bone on the inside of my ankle—an injury that would eventually land me in the hospital.