Charlie was very excited. He was going to Johannesburg in South Africa to meet his gran for the first time. He’d packed his suitcase himself and even remembered his toothbrush and sun-cream. His mum had complimented him for remembering all his stuff because she knew that he always had his nose in a book and was usually very forgetful.
The clouds were soaring past his window and Charlie could hear the aeroplane’s engines humming. He squirmed in his seat and turned the page of his book, Young Explorer’s Jungle Trek. He was just getting to the part where the young explorer, Timo, had been captured by gorillas who were taking him to their nest. Everyone on the expedition was looking for Timo, but nobody could find him.
Suddenly the captain’s voice crackled through the overhead speaker. ‘Please secure your seatbelts because we have flown into a thunderstorm and the forecast is for severe lightning for the next three hours.’ Just at that moment, Charlie looked out of his window to see a huge bolt of lightning streak past and he felt himself falling down, down, down…
Charlie opened his eyes slowly and looked around. He was surrounded by towering trees and he could hear monkeys screeching and birds twittering. ‘Where am I? Where’s the plane?’ he said to no one in particular.
‘Huh? What plane? What are you talking about? You must have banged your head when the gorillas picked us up. We’re in their nest remember?’ said a voice next to him, quizzically. Charlie jumped out of his skin and nearly fell out of the tree. He turned to see a round, friendly face peering at him from behind his spectacles.
‘That’s funny…’ wondered Charlie, scratching his head, ‘you look just like Timo in the book I was reading!’
‘That’s because I am Timo!’ exclaimed Timo. ‘You must have really banged your head if you don’t remember who I am!’
‘Hmmm,’ murmured Charlie, feeling a bit confused. ‘So what happens now?’
‘We escape from this nest,’ whispered Timo. ‘I already have a plan scratched out on a piece of bark. Look, we need to get started now before the gorillas come back. I’ve been watching them and I think they’re planning to make us fight the Alpha Male in a wrestling match and I don’t fancy my chances!’
Charlie and Timo swung down from the nest and started struggling through the undergrowth with twigs pulling at their hair and vines catching their arms. It was tiring and slow work. Just then, they heard a slithering sound and turned to face a very large snake which was dangling from an overhead branch. ‘Don’t make any sudden movements,’ advised Charlie. ‘That’s a Ball Python; it looks just the same as the pet my friend has back at home.’ The boys reversed slowly backwards until the snake was out of sight. Then they continued to push their way through the undergrowth in a slightly different direction.
After several hours they found a little clearing and decided to stop and pick some berries to eat and get some sleep because they had another hard day ahead of them. As darkness fell, Timo and Charlie climbed a nearby tree and found a branch covered in soft moss to sleep on. It was not a comfortable night!
Charlie woke up suddenly – something was on his face! He sat up and heard a croaking sound as a small green tree-frog plopped onto his lap. ‘Eurgh!’ he groaned, waking Timo as he set it down on the tree. He watched it hop away while Timo rubbed his eyes and yawned.
The boys climbed down from their tree and had an unsatisfactory breakfast of a few more berries. Then they set off again through the undergrowth. After a few hours of hot, sweaty progress, Charlie heard something familiar and he and Timo set off towards the noise. The sound gradually got louder and louder until they came to a huge river. They started trudging down river, staying near the bank where the water was shallow. It was easier than struggling through the dense forest and they were making good progress, but Charlie had an unpleasant feeling that something or somebody was watching them… He turned round nervously and saw a pair of beady eyes gliding towards him across the river.
‘Quick! Up the bank! There’s a crocodile!’ he bellowed at Timo as they scrambled up the bank. The boys ran to the nearest tree, which unfortunately for them was covered in wet moss. Try as they might they couldn’t get up the slippery trunk! The crocodile was right behind them! Snap, snap, snap went its teeth. Charlie turned and grabbed the nearest thing he could find, which happened to be a log. He shoved it, with all his might, into the crocodile’s open mouth. The crocodile twisted and thrashed trying to get the log out of its mouth, while the boys tried to get away. Suddenly the crocodile’s tail whipped out and caught Timo’s legs, knocking him over! The crocodile bit down and snapped the log in half and started towards the fallen Timo. Charlie grabbed a vine and recklessly jumped onto the crocodile’s back. He gripped the crocodile’s sides with his knees and wrapped the vine round the crocodile’s mouth. Then he dived off and helped Timo to his feet.
Charlie put his arm round his friend and together they shuffled towards a tree with low branches. They hauled each other up and settled down to rest. ‘Thank you for saving me. How can I ever repay you?’ said Timo.
Charlie smiled. ‘That’s what friends do! It was just my turn. Now what are we going to do?’
Timo looked around and saw a troop of monkeys scampering around at the top of the tree. ‘I have an idea. Why don’t we go up the tree? There we will have a better view of what is surrounding us.’
Once at the top of the tree, they could see a vast ocean of green tree-tops stretching for miles around. ‘Phffffwwww…. This is hopeless,’ sighed Charlie. ‘We’ll never get out of here!’
Just then, Timo pointed and said, ‘Look, there’s some trees moving over there, but there isn’t any wind – how strange.’
‘And what’s that noise?’ interrupted Charlie. ‘It sounds like your name, Timo!’
As they watched the rustling trees grew nearer and nearer and they both started climbing down the tree towards the noise. ‘Hey, we’re over here!’ they shouted as loudly as they could and soon enough they saw one of the explorers stepping out of the trees towards them. Timo ran forward and Charlie went after him, but slipped and fell to the ground banging his head on a rock.
Charlie sat up straight and shook his head. His book was on the floor and he had a nasty bruise on his forehead where he’d bumped it. The captain’s voice crackled over the loudspeaker again, saying, ‘Get ready for touchdown in Johannesburg in 10 minutes.’ Charlie grinned and thought to himself, ‘I can’t wait to tell Gran about my amazing adventure!’