Yossi Ghinsberg speaking in 2016.
25 April 1959
|Residence||Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia|
|Education||Tel Aviv University|
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker|
|Partner(s)||Belinda Ghinsberg (March 7, 2010–present)|
Yosseph "Yossi" Ghinsberg (Hebrew: יוסי גינסברג) is an Israeli adventurer, author, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and motivational speaker based in Australia. Ghinsberg is most known for his survival story when he was stranded in an uncharted part of the Bolivian Amazon jungle for three weeks in 1981. Ghinsberg is a tech-entrepreneur and the founder of the mobile applications Headbox, designed to integrate all social media activity into one feed, and Blinq, which provides social media and activity live updates.
Ghinsberg’s survival story was enacted in the 2017 psychological thriller Jungle, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Yossi Ghinsberg. Ghinsberg's story was also featured in the documentary series I Shouldn't Be Alive on Discovery Channel.
In 1981, after completing his service in the Israeli Navy, Ghinsberg, inspired by the book Papillon by Henri Charrière, which detailed that author's experiences as an escaped convict, became determined to find Charrière and ask for his blessing to follow in his footsteps. Ghinsberg had briefly returned from an Africa to Mexico trip and longed for the rainforest immersion experience. He worked several jobs to save the money to travel to South America and dreamed of exploring the uninhabited heart of the Amazon jungle. By the time Ghinsberg was finally able to travel to South America, Charrière had passed away, and the tribes Ghinsberg was interested in discovering had been "civilized".
Ghinsberg hitchhiked from Venezuela to Colombia, where he met Marcus Stamm, a teacher from Switzerland, in the midst of his expeditions, and the pair became good friends and traveled together to La Paz, Bolivia. There, Ghinsberg met Karl Ruprechter, a mysterious Austrian who claimed to be a geologist. Ruprechter told Ghinsberg that he was planning an expedition into the uncharted Amazon in Bolivia, in search of gold in a remote, indigenous Tacana village.
Ghinsberg, who sought out the opportunity to explore the unexplored areas of the Amazon, immediately joined Ruprechter in his journey, along with two of Ghinsberg's new acquaintances, Marcus Stamm, and Kevin Gale, an American photographer. The four of them, never having had prior contact with each other, delved into a Bolivian adventure seeking gold.
21-year-old Ghinsberg and his two friends followed Ruprechter by plane to Apolo, La Paz, and from there traveled down to the Tuichi River and to a local village called Asariamas, at the confluence of rivers Tuichi–Asariamas. There, they restocked food and supplies. Then, according to Karl's stories about having visited an ancient indigenous village hidden deep within the rainforest – inhabited by primitives who had seen very few white men in their lifetime – the group began traveling up the Asariamas River and across the mountains on their way there. Eventually, low on supplies, they had to eat monkeys. Stamm refused to eat monkeys and inevitably grew physically weaker. Under these conditions, they decided to abandon their journey and return to Asariamas.
Back at Asariamas, Karl told them about his new plan: sailing on a raft down the Tuichi River to a small gold quarry called Curiplaya, on the river bed, and from there downriver to Rurrenabaque, near the Beni River, and then return to La Paz.
With the villagers' help, they built the raft, pursued their new route downriver, and arrived at the confluence of rivers Tuichi–Ipurama. There, Ruprechter suddenly told them about San Pedro Canyon – a dangerous series of rapids, waterfalls, and boulders unsuitable for boating – and the fact that he could not swim, and thus refused to continue on the trip. His deceit and betrayal led to distrust within the group and ended with the group's splitting up: Gale and Ghinsberg decided to continue rafting downriver to Rurrenbaque, while Ruprechter and Stamm decided to walk up the Ipurama River to Ipurama village, near the river's source, and return from there to Apolo. The four men resolved to reconvene before Christmas, in La Paz.
As Ghinsberg and Gale's raft neared a waterfall, they lost control and became separated. Gale made it to shore, but Ghinsberg floated downriver and over the waterfall. He spent four days traveling upriver in search of Gale before finally coming to the unwelcome realization that he was stranded alone in the jungle, despite earlier having believed that was the adventure he wanted.
Gale was rescued by local fishermen after having been stranded for five days. Back in civilization at La Paz, he visited the Israeli and Austrian consulates to request their help preparing rescue missions for his friends. Gale was shocked to be informed by the authorities at the Austrian consulate that Ruprechter was actually an Austrian criminal and trouble-maker wanted by the Interpol.
Ghinsberg spent the next three weeks lost and separated from his friends, without supplies or equipment, in an uncharted part of the Amazon. He survived completely alone in nature and was on the edge of his life, as he was almost eaten alive by beasts of prey and giant red ants, and his body had begun to deteriorate.
In the second week, there was a horrible flood in the area, and Ghinsberg almost drowned. He sank into a bog twice. For the subsequent five days, Ghinsberg had nothing to eat and was completely exhausted, and his foot began to rot from fungi. He occasionally found berries and fruits in the forest, foraged for eggs from nests, and even waited for a monkey to fall so he could eat it, as it meant life or death for Ghinsberg. According to Ghinsberg, he had hallucinations of a woman with whom he slept each night while he was stranded, and did everything for her sake. Many times during his painful crusade, Ghinsberg lost hope and asked God for mercy to end his life so he could rest in peace.
Upon hearing the sound of an engine, Ghinsberg made his way back to the nearby river and met Gale, along with indigenous people who had organized a search and rescue mission led by Abelardo "Tico" Tudela. They found Ghinsberg three days into their search, three weeks after Ghinsberg was first declared missing, and right when the search mission was about to give up. Ghinsberg spent the three months following his rescue recovering in a hospital.
Ruprechter and Stamm disappeared in the forest forever, and were never found nor heard from again, despite attempts by several rescue missions.
In 2014, Arclight Films announced that they would be adapting Ghinsberg's novel Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival. The movie, renamed Jungle, was released on October 17, 2017 after being filmed for six weeks in April and May 2016, in the Colombian sites of Tobia, Guaduas, and Honda. It qualified for a 20-40% cash rebate from the Colombian Film Commission.
Jungle follows Ghinsberg's meeting of his three travel companions and the three weeks he spent in the Bolivian jungle without any supplies or help. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Yossi Ghinsberg, joined by Thomas Kretschmann and Alex Russell, among other cast members. Jungle is directed by Greg McLean and written by Justin Monjo, and is set to receive $9.2 million for funding from agency Screen Australia. Arclight Films packaged the film and handled worldwide sales at EFM.
Ghinsberg served three years in the Israeli Navy on the Red Sea. During these years, he befriended the Bedouin of the Sinai Desert and learned more about their nomad culture. In order to collect money to travel, Ghinsberg worked multiple jobs including construction work in Norway, fishing in Alaska, and loading and unloading trucks in New York.
Ten years after almost losing his life in the Amazon, he went back to the Bolivian jungle and was stranded there for weeks. Ghinsberg put the Tacana-Quechua people of the village of San José de Uchupiamonas in touch with the Inter-American Development Bank, which gave a $1.25 million grant to build a solar-powered ecolodge in the jungle, and to train the local people how to manage it. He stayed there from 1992 to 1995 with the natives and helped them build and operate Chalalan, an ecolodge in Bolivia's Madidi National Park. He also put the people of San Jose in touch with Conservation International, a Washington environmental group that has pioneered much of the ecotourism field and was instrumental in getting 4.5 million acres around San Jose declared as the Madidi National Park. Ghinsberg also worked on protecting intellectual properties of indigenous people of that region. Ghinsberg co-founded EthnoBios, a biodiversity prospecting company local to the Amazon basin, and taught the indigenous people how to protect their intellectual properties.
Ghinsberg was recruited in 1995 by The Center for Investigation & Treatment of Addiction (CITA) International to serve as Vice President for Development. In this capacity, Ghinsberg has founded 12 centers for the treatment and research of opiate addiction in different parts of the world from Mexico to China. In 1999, Ghinsberg left CITA International and moved to Australia to open his own treatment center. In Australia, Ghinsberg founded The Alma Libre Foundation dedicated to assisting opiate addicts and providing rehabilitation options for re-integration into society. In 2001, at the height of the Intifada, he organized a music festival in Israel to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.
In 2009, Ghinsberg returned to Israel and established Collecteco, a design label for interior and landscape designs displaying a gallery of furniture made from recycled materials. His development team is based in Ramallah.
He co-founded Headbox, a startup that has built an application to integrate social media activity and communication networks into one feed. In 2013. Headbox appears as a little white dot that provides a summary of all social network activity into a meta social graph.
Ghinsberg is a co-founder and currently the CEO at Blinq.me, a Silicon Valley-based tech-startup financed by 500 Startups's acceleration program. In 2015, Ghinsberg launched the mobile application Blinq, which adds a layer of contextual information to mobile messaging applications and is derived from Headbox. Once installed, Blinq appears as a small white dot that pops up inside mobile messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and SMS, alerting the user to new information about the person they are communicating with. This additional information is pulled from a variety of other networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Ghinsberg has been a motivational speaker since 2001 and has related his experiences and hardships during his three weeks stranded in the Amazon jungle. He has spoken on topics revolving around his experiences in The Power to Survive, Sailing the Seas of Change, and WEvolution, applying his survival story into motivational speaking. He currently speaks on The Power to Survive - Bringing Amazon Survival Skills to Business.
Ghinsberg wrote his first book, titled Back from Tuichi, in 1993. The book became popular in Israel and sold millions of copies, and it has been translated into 15 languages and published in several countries under different names, including Heart of the Amazon (Macmillen) Back from Tuichi (Random House), and Lost in the Jungle (Summersdale). In 2008, he wrote his second book, titled Laws of the Jungle: Jaguars Don't Need Self-Help Books. In concurrence with the movie, Summersdale will re-release its book Lost in the Jungle as Jungle in 2017.
Ghinsberg is an active motivational speaker who offers keynotes and inspirational speeches that cover his past expeditions and experiences. Many of his talks center around the three weeks alone he endured in the Amazon jungle, which he is most known for. He has been hired to address audiences at many Fortune 500 Companies.
Ghinsberg has been covered on Fox News Latino, CNN, TEDx, BBC America, BBC World Service, LA Times, and LinkedIn. He was ranked one of the Top 20 Most Inspiring People on Twitter in 2012. Ghinsberg was featured on Larry King Live! in the "I Shouldn't Be Alive" Discovery Channel documentary and channel series, which aired April 27, 2006 on CNN. He spoke at TEDxBratislava in 2010, his talk entitled "On Thinking Outside of the Box" about his struggle for survival in the Amazon and the insights he took away from the experience. Ghinsberg featured in the 2013 travel documentary Gringo Trails (film) by documentary filmmaker, Pegi Vail. In the film, Ghinsberg returns to the Bolivian jungle and the community who assisted in his rescue, and discusses how they have adapted to the influx of tourists in the wake of his survival story. Ghinsberg was covered on the front page of The Jerusalem Post's April 22, 2016 edition. In September 2016, Ghinsberg returned to Bolivia to speak at the Solon Foundation and El Bala about his Amazon survival experiences.
Personal life and education
Ghinsberg was born and raised in Ramat Gan, Israel. His parents were Holocaust survivors. When he was 18, he joined the Israeli Navy as part of mandatory military service and served for three years stationed in the Red Sea.
After returning from the Amazon, Ghinsberg graduated from Tel Aviv University in Israel with degrees in Jewish Philosophy and Business Administration. Ghinsberg also studied the Kabbalah traditions in authentic environments and continues to study religions of the past and the present, including the Ancients, the Classics, Eastern, Contemporary, and the Shamanic Path. Ghinsberg lived and worked in the Amazon from 1992 to 1995. In 1997, Ghinsberg moved to Australia to help establish clinics that offer drug and alcohol detoxification recovery and treatment programs. He has married three times and has four children: Mia, Cayam, Nissim, and Shalem. In 2009, Ghinsberg returned to Israel with his wife and his children. Ghinsberg married Belinda on March 7, 2010. Ghinsberg and his family have lived in Israel, Australia, and the United States.
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