The Woman Was Lost In The Forests For 17 Days With No Food, Water Or Cellphone!

The Woman Was Lost In The Forests For 17 Days With No Food, Water Or Cellphone!

In May 2019, Amanda Eller started on what she intended to be a brief, three-mile hike in the vast Makawao Forest Reserve on Maui. This 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor got lost and couldn’t find her way back for 17 days!

The forest spans over 2,093 acres and is known for its dense greenery and wild landscape. But that’s not all. The forest has dangerous lava rocks and steep canyons, which Amanda was not equipped with. Amanda was out in the wilderness with no cell phone, food, or water. During her attempt to find her way, she fell off a cliff and encountered a flash flood. But to everyone’s pleasant surprise, she survived. Let’s dive into the story of her survival. 

Heading To A Wrong Direction!

During her hike, Amanda decided to step off the trail for a rest. This moment of rest led to a shocking turn of events. When she got up after the rest, she was disoriented. She attempted to find her way back but accidentally headed in the wrong direction. This misstep began her 17-day struggle for survival in the wild filled with natural hazards.

Image source: / Good Morning America

Survival Against the Odds

Lost all by herself, Amanda faced the harsh realities of survival in a tropical forest. She drank water from the river and ate fresh fruits found in the area. Amanda suffered severe sunburns with no shelter and protection against the sun. On her way back, she fell off a 20 feet cliff, resulting in an orthopedic fracture with other injuries. Amanda also faced a flash flood which even made her lose her shoes. 

Throughout this period, Amanda described her experience as both a physical and spiritual trial. She often felt guided by her instincts and a strong will to live. “I had to choose life,” she recounted while reflecting on her test to survive.

“The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days [of my] life, and it’s been a really significant spiritual journey that I was guided on. There were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up, and it did come down to life and death — and I had to choose. And I chose life.” 

Amanda said in a Facebook video
The Woman Was Lost In The Forests For 17 Days
Image source: The New York Times

Rescue Efforts

The search for Amanda involved community volunteers and local authorities who explored the forest from the ground and air. Helicopters flew over the dense canopy for days, but it was not until the 17th day that one finally spotted her. 

Amanda had tried signaling the helicopters on multiple occasions. However, she was only seen and rescued when she was close to a stream, searching for food.

“She was able to manage to stay hydrated with the river water and eat fresh fruit from the trees.” 

Dr. Zora Bulatovic of the Maui Memorial Medical Center
The Woman Was Lost In The Forests For 17 Days
Image source: USA Today


Following her rescue, Amanda was treated at Maui Memorial Medical Center for her injuries. While her physical recovery was a primary focus, she also shared that her experience had left a lasting impact on her perspective towards hiking and life in general. Amanda and her family expressed a need for a break from hiking as she recovered from the traumatic experience.

“I wanted to go back the way I’d come, but my gut was leading me another way — and I have a very strong gut instinct. I heard this voice that said, ‘If you want to live, keep going.’ And as soon as I would doubt my intuition and try to go another way than where it was telling me, something would stop me, a branch would fall on me, I’d stub my toe, or I’d trip. So I was like, ‘O.K., there is only one way to go’.”

Amanda told the New York Times
The Woman Was Lost In The Forests For 17 Days
Image source: New York Post / Amanda Eller


Amanda Eller’s harrowing experience in the Makawao Forest Reserve teaches us about the resilience of the human spirit and the critical importance of preparation when venturing into the wilderness. Her story is a stark reminder of how quickly a simple hike can turn into a fight for survival and underscores the importance of carrying essential supplies, even on short trips. Amanda’s ordeal and ultimate survival inspire awe and respect for the power of determination and the human will to overcome the odds.

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