Nando Parrado, the heroic Andes survivor

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Days of ordeal, Nando Parrado and other survivors of a plane crash in Andes had to endure before being rescued.

Flying over the mountains on Friday the 13th, the young men and their families who boarded the charter plane joked about the unlucky day when the plane’s wing hit the slope of the mountain and crashed.

On impact, 13 passengers were instantly dead while 32 others were badly wounded.

Hoping to be rescued, the survivors waited in the freezing -37C temperature, melting snow for drinks and sleeping side by side to keep themselves warm. Food was so scarce, everyone had to pool whatever food they can find for a rationed pool.

Desperation and Hunger
nando parrado andes crash As their supply ran out, the survivor tried to eat strips of leather torned from their baggages. The brutal weather and high attitude of Andes had increased their bodies need for energy and food astronomically.

9 days after the crash, due to dire desperation and hunger, the survivors called for an important meeting. One member proposed that they eat the dead.

“If we don’t eat, we’ll die. If you want to see your family again, this is what you must do”, he said.

The 2 hours meeting ended with a conclusion. If any of them died in Andes, the rest had the permission to use the corpse as food.

No Hope
After 2 weeks, their hope of being found dashed when they found out via their radio transistor that the rescue effort was called off. Authority believed that the rescue was very dangerous and the chances of finding survivors too slim.

On the 60th day after the crash, Nando Parrado and 2 other friends decided to walk through the icy wilderness for help. By the time they left, Nando Parrado said, the crash site was “.. an awful place, soaked in urine, smelling of death, littered with ragged bits of human bone and qristle”.

Wearing 3 pairs of jeans and 3 sweaters over a polo shirt, he and his friends trekked the mountains with human flesh as their ration.

Knowing that they must search for rescue, the team endured frozen snow, exhaustion and starvation, walking and climbing for 10 days before finding their way to the bottom of the mountain.

The rescue
The team was finally helped by Chilean farmer who called the police for help. Parrado then guided the rescue team via a helicopter to the crash site.

On the 22nd December 1972, after enduring 72 brutal days, the world founds out that there were 16 survivors who cheated death, in the mountain of Andes. 8 of the initial survivors died when an avalanche cascaded down on them as they slept in the fuselage.

During the ordeal, Nando Parrado lost 40 kg of his weight. He lost half his family in the crash.

He is now a motivational speaker.


55 Comments For This Post

  1. mark hennessy

    what a story. up lifting to say the least. best story i’ve ever read. hope he and the others can go on to much higher things

  2. Nav

    your my hero you never gave up

  3. kim eduarte

    Unbelievable! its so amazing how a man can exceed its capacity and cross the limits for their survival.


    i had to read “ALIVE”. it ruined my senior year, i hated it. terrible terrible read.

  5. johns

    The story was very uplifting and inspirational. I commend you and everyone else for remaining tough and surving through the terrible conditions that you endured.

  6. Anthony Dyson

    I really learned in “Alive” that you have to do anything to survive. And to never give up.

  7. Maggie

    I think that this was an amazing story.
    I could only imagine the pain that these poor men and woman had to go through, watching thier friends and family die right infront of them and then having to go and eat them. I give these boys alot of credit for what they had to go through.

  8. Nijarrah

    In the story “Alive” i learned to never give up. Even if someone give up on you, you should never give up yourself.

  9. Leah

    When i read this in my class i thought it was crazy how that happened to you. I thought you and the others were brave and you really tryed your best not to loose hope. I think you did better then most in that kind of situation.

  10. Daniella Macolino

    When first hearing this story I thought it couldn’t be possible. I now imagine the tragedy that had been faced and it seems so unreal.I have learned that anything is possible now realizing how strong you were Nando.You are truly a hero and a role model.I thank you for not giving up hope.

  11. robert

    Very touching story. One of the best stories ive ever read. You beat all the odds of dying. Its just inbelievable how all u guys survived up there for so long.

  12. Tehesha Wilson

    I believe out of all stories this is the only one i honestly payed attention to. This story taught me how to never give up no matter what and always keep optimistic. How could anyone not like this story? This was a true story that taught people how to never give up. However, it was sad watching your family and friend die. The people still continued to be strong and move on with live.

  13. matt

    WOW! even through the hardship you have persevpersevered and become a great man. becasue of what you done i will now cherrish everday.

  14. christina J

    That was quite a story. i was very amaze by it. Because im not much of a reader but after reading the story that was the best story i read. It had so much melancholy in it. The things you done, the strenght you had to be there for 70 days. I wouldnt even last 1hour without food and im terrified of the cold. You guys are amazing. God bless you.

  15. Natasha

    This was a very great story.
    You are truly a hero. After witnessing both your mother and sister die you still didnt give up. You contiued to go on, and you were determined to make it out of the mountains “Alive”.

  16. Giorgi

    Wow! this story is amazing ! I could never do what you did, to get injured lose family and survive in harsh temperature is no jock. If I ever got in such accident (hope not) i would like to have person like you beside me :) . I watched movie, read the book and now i’d like to meet with you, to listen youre story in live. I hope once my wish will become true. I wish you luck in life, thanks for surviving and telling the world real story of you’r life. :) :) :) ;)

  17. hyun na

    i can’t believe this story and it’s really amazing. I can’t even imagine how they survived…. i felt like you are a hero. If i was there, i wouldn’t survive and maybe died from starvation. I will recommend this story to my friends to read it. I’m sure that they will like it because lives are precious.

  18. Hardy Djulianto

    I think that these survivors did not react quick enough as soon as the plane crashed. These survivors should had been looking for help instead of waiting for a rescue to come. After all, you guys still did a good job maintaining your hopes to survive.

  19. Joe

    I’m amazed that you and Canessa were able to walk through the Andes in order to find help down in Chile. I don’t think I would have had the strength or the hope to make that trip down the mountain. If a situation like this happens to me, I will just think of how you and the others survived and it will give me enough hope.

  20. Brenda McInnes

    this is relaly inspirational true story. you all are my heroes. at first i was afraid to hear the story because i love airplanes, but after reading your story i realized anything is possible if you just believe it. im not sure if you will answer back but i was just curious to see if you or any of the other survivors were frightened to go on airplanes afterwards? hope to hear from you!

  21. alisia

    I think that it is a good idea that teachers read us this story. At first i thought it was going to be boring. when we started to watch the movie i started to like it. The movie was really motivating. It shows how people will do anything to survive. It also shows how different people come together and work together to survie. Most of the people never lost hope which helped them a lot. This story is very insperational. I would recomended it to anyone.

  22. bryan loyo

    You inspired me to never give up on what you believe. That you should never give up hope. Watching the movie and having you lead the team survive. In the book and in the movie you always had faith in everything you did to survive, and made the hardest decision of eatin the remains of your dead friends. You are a great person for what you did, you are a great hero.

  23. Rayelle

    I love this story. I dont like reading, and out of all of the books i have read, i can only say i like about 3 of them. “Alive” is now my favorite story out of the three. This story was very insparational, and teaches alot about hope and being a leader. For the passengers on the plane to survive and 70 days in horrible conditions including eating the bodies of your felow team mates and others, they where really troops. I hope the best for the 16 survivors, and hope they never have to encounter anything like this horrible event agin.

  24. orlando dawkins

    I know it was a crazy being in the mountains, the weather was so cold -37 degrees( no frost bit?) When you decied to eat your friends how did you feel in your heart, you know it was going the taste so repugnent. The reason you worte your books about being on the mountains you think it possable to make a better movie, than you can make money and show how much love you got from you friends and family.

  25. Rahkel Mulato

    Man dude, you a true soldier, i really respect you for what you do…I;ve been through alot, but you, Nando, you are what there called an Angel, I felt bad seeing the tradgedy of in the movie based on yours and the others lives, I am sorry for what happened but even though it came to be something that caused so much fear and pain for 70 days, you didnt give up…you showed people it was worth the struggle…Best wishes to you…you are what destiny is..I will always say to people…Nando Parrado is my influence. :)

  26. Rahkel Mulato

    Oh yeah and that I_HATE_YOU_ kid, can mind his own bidness, this ALIVE book was Real Talk

  27. Seo Gang-ja

    As a Korean ,I red his book translated one. Eagly want to read the original one, someday. Most of tiime, while I read, I cried, cried. I don’t know why. Humanbeing, human. Just those words were in my mind all the time during the time I read. God bless you, Nando!!

  28. Timothy Hayes

    This story was a really good story it was incredible with how long you managed to deal with the cold weather and you inspired me to enjoy everyday as ifit was my last Good luck in life and keep your head up high God Bless You.

  29. SHS

    I have to thank you Mr.Parrado for having the courage to tell all of use the story of what you went though. You and the remaining survivors must have went though a lot of emotions in the 72 days you were in the mountains. I could not imagine my self in your position. But you telling the story helps me able to picture the hardship. What you guys did was brave and not looked down upon because it was the only way you could survive. If I was in your guys shoes I would have the same exact thing to survive.

  30. melissa lang

    when my teacher showed us the movie Alive and the Movie of all you guys talking it was really moving on how all you guys stayed so close when all of this was going on. You guys had so much to over come it was amazing. Was it hard to get you life back on track in the beging?
    God Bless

  31. Nevets Edrevlav

    Mano lo que te paso a ti es increible y lo que les paso a ustedes es una desgracia y espero q no le pase a nadie mas su estoria fue una de las mas trajicas q yo e escuhado y lamento lo q paso pero a la vez te felicito a ti y a Cannesa por caminar esa peligrosa montana y tambein a los demas por pueder comer lo q comieron y ten fe q Dios le gustaria q ustedes subrevivieran como sea. Q Dios te benediga a ti a tu Familia a los demas y sus familiares Por sus exfuersos ustedes seran mi inspiracion para ser lo q sea por siguir adelante.

    oo y en el video uno de ustedes se le antojaba pizza pero q es lo q en verdad se les antojaba.

  32. Gener@l

    This movie was crazy ! To do what you guys did takes a lot of hard work and strenght.!! Im glad at least some of you made it!!

    Gener@l #4!!

  33. arrana brown

    This book/move “Alive” has taught me alot of interesting things. You never know what might happen, but when it does and you are in a bad situation you have to know what and how to do it. People need to know that you will need to anything to survive. Even when you know that doing what you are about to do is wrong. It will at least help you to survive. Alot of people will do some crazy things to survive. I just wish that some people would have just held on and fight just a little longer to survive. I know that when you guys got back home it was really hard to get back on the right track and to get your weight back up. Thank you for reading my comment.


  34. Evan Henry

    I learned in ”Alive” that if you die all your dreams and ambitions in life go with it. If you survive you can always make those dreams and ambition true. If you never give up you can do anything you want.

  35. black guy

    ya your cool for staying on the field for like 72 days keep ballen hard on the rugby field

  36. Bonnie Sherwood

    I have seen ALIVE 5 times over several decades. Each time I am inspired by the amazing inner strength each of the survivors had and the compassion they showed towards each other even when disagreeing. It would be interesting to know what each of these amazing men are doing today. One thing they can be sure of is that they left an amazing impact on the world….it also proved that faith comes from the POWER of PRAYER.

  37. V.Ramdas

    I read Alive first nearly 35 years ago when i was a student.I dont know howmeny times i read it after that. it is the most heart rending true story i have ever read. Canessa and paraddo gave me inspiration how to face difficulties that come in our life. i would like to travell through the same route that canessa and parraddo escaped. eventhough though it is only a dream i wish to do so.

  38. aziz

    So sad, they are a hero, they didn’t give up and they survived.
    But way to use the hero survive story and put it with the conflict of Middle East? That palstine women and children and Israeli women and children been killed.
    I hope you got the survived permeation to use they story for
    Conflict that very very complicated unfortunately.

  39. Iskandar

    Hi Aziz,
    This Nando Parrado story was published before Israel invaded Gaza in January this year.
    I agree that the conflict is complicated. However, that does not give anyone, any groups or countries the rights to kill, bomb or use chemical weapons against women and children.
    Israel also bombs the UN offices, its aid trucks and kill some UN volunteers.
    Aren’t these acts as criminal as crashing planes on buildings full of civilians?

  40. aziz

    hi Nando Parrado!
    You are a real hero. And your experience of surviving can save and help many people .you are a guy that save and help people.
    Middle East its jest one part off the world that the violent
    Agents inset happening. We have Russia Africa Asia ….if we seat and judge the act without digging to the rots of the problem
    And without scarifies we never can help .we have to leasing to both Side and try to find the way.
    God blesses you
    You are my hero

  41. Cora

    It’s great to know that the feat you’ve made had inspired a lot of people and that includes me.. When I read this story in the Reader’s Digest during my elementary days ( I’m now a School Principal) I was already deeply touched with what you did not just for yourself but more for the rest of your group..What you showed was compassion and a truly selfless act of giving and risking your life for everyone.. I hope that there are many people out there who are like you! God Bless!

  42. Kathy

    Their experience has inspired and encouraged me in so many ways. I’m thankful these young men went on to live productive and meaningful lives.

    I am about the same age as these men and remember the story well.

    To Nando and the rest of the Andes survivors all I can say is thank you for showing me what true courage is, thank you for giving me hope.

  43. Alejandro Portuondo

    Great story!!!! your live has inspired mine… Thanks to you I haven’t give up pursuing mu dream. THANK YOU :)

  44. Jones

    Ya book was aight.What did it take you 70 days to just walk those mountains.First of all you had the most strenght to walk the first couple of days you crashed. To behonest your book sucks. I was just being nice. P.S. Get a life dont email me back. HOLLER!!!

  45. who knows

    Hey Parrado, your book made me wonder about other servival situations such as the survivor of the Bay of Pigs Invasion(1983) or the even the fighter pilot who whas shot down and survived 30 days in Pakastan(2003). It toook real guts to do what you did, and I respect it.

  46. Anthony H

    Courage and Confidence are the greatest qualities of a person. The experience you had showed everyone around you that you had extensive courage and had the confidence to keep moving foward. The way you conquered the adversity and used what you could to survive is somthing very admirable. If it were me, and I was out there, I would of made the same decision as you did. Life is something every person gets once and you showed everyone that humans can face the worst problems. The experience you had made me know that I could do anything. If someone says that I cant do somthing, It inspires me to try harder and prove to them that I can. I have a personality that whatever I do, I do it with complete confidence and that is like you do when you face challenges. A hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life, and Nando Parrado fits that description.

  47. Julie McGill

    Your writing made me realise that the spiritual side of us comes from love of our family, friends, not from any religious based philosophy. Your book, for me, has been the most powerful book I have read. Thankyou.

  48. Kim

    What a hero! His story is nothing short of a miracle. His book is well written and I recommend it to all. He appears to be such a humble person for saving so many lives.

  49. Kerry

    Hello I am so inspired by this story and look it up on the net evry so often. You people did what you had to do to survive and you are my heros I wish to meet with you some day, I live in South Africa. Dont by any means take what some heartless thugs say to heart ( as Ive already read above) they truly have no idea. I often think about you all – even though i do not even know you. I wonder what I would have done in that situation. I honour and respect all of you. You had an amazing experience. I hope to share the story with you some day face to face. Regards

  50. Brenda Chandler

    The struggle that all of you went through was something that no one could possibly imagine, but the faith in God was continuous. The book changed my life, living each day to the fullest and to stop wanting for more/ be satisfied with what we have. I know now that no matter what I can make it, just never give up and never lose my faith in God. Peace be with you.

  51. colleen

    Has it ever been considered that the top of airplanes should be a color other than white, to be more visable during a search?

  52. Mario Zammit

    One of the most amazing stories regarding survival that ever happened. Similar to Ernest Shackleton’s epic voyage to rescue his friends.

  53. JuanSosa

    Mostraste al mundo que es posible lograr lo que uno quiere,llegar a la meta que quieres y ser feliz.

  54. larissa

    First of all, for all those ghastly people that have been rude about Nando and Roberto and the other survivors,saying about doing books, films etc for money etc are disgusting, sick, very jealous nasty losers. Nando Parrado is a Hero in every sense of the word! More so than any I have ever met in my life and both my grandfathers were WW11 heros! Nando Parrado has guts, determination, courage and a enormous strength of character. If anyone cannot see what a courageous heroic man he is then whoever you are you need professional help. Nando, it would be an absolute honour to meet you and Roberto Canessa, you are what real men should be about, what excellent soldiers you would have made, you’re an inspiration to men, women and children and give us all hope and have taught us to never give up on life no matter how hard it gets, thank you so very much for sharing your incredible surivial, against all odds story.

  55. m'coy

    what a fighting spirit,tha’s my boy

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