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Authors: Bear Grylls

Tracks of the Tiger

Table of Contents
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Epub ISBN: 9781409096146
Version 1.0
A RED FOX BOOK 978 1 862 30481 9
First published in Great Britain by Red Fox, an imprint of Random House Children's Books
A Random House Group Company
This edition published 2010
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Copyright © Bear Grylls, 2010
The right of Bear Grylls to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
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Mission Survival: Gold of the Gods
Mission Survival: Way of the Wolf
Mission Survival: Sands of the Scorpion
Born Survivor
Great Outdoors Adventures
Facing the Frozen Ocean
Facing Up
To my brilliant godchildren: Hubie, Scarlett, Emmeline and Alfie. Here's to some great adventures ahead!
Bear Crylls
The three volcanoes seemed to be moving steadily towards the rickety bus. They looked like a child's drawing – perfect cones that rose up above the Indonesian jungle for hundreds of metres. Puffs of smoke rose from the top. One was far away on the horizon, one was slightly nearer, and one was so close you had to press your face to the swaying window to see all of it.
The bus tilted as its load of tourists crowded over to one side to peer out. Beck Granger had been sitting nearest the window and he felt himself being pushed against the glass.
From the plane the jungle had looked like a sea. Its waves were the endless canopy of leaves that rose and fell with the ground beneath it. Its spray was the mists that burst out of the saturated air when it could hold no more water. Instead of fish, it was home to countless reptiles, insects and mammals. In place of sharks, crocodiles patrolled its rivers, and tigers roamed in the dark depths beneath the trees. It stretched as far as the eye could see and covered most of the island of Sumatra.
Now they were down in the jungle's heart. It was right outside the windows, rattling past at thirty miles an hour. A tangled mass of hundreds of square miles of virgin rainforest. And within it, thousands of different plant species all scrabbled for growing space. Each plant had only one objective, and that was to be slightly higher than the others so that it could reach the sky and soak up the sun's rays. The searing heat and the humidity meant that they had all the energy and water they needed. Now all they had to do was grow.
The volcanoes had been hidden by the tangle of trees and undergrowth that crowded in on either side of the bumpy road. Then the bus drove through this clearing and they just appeared. The nearest was so close you couldn't tell it was a volcano – it just looked like another mountain, until you looked more closely. The steep sides were covered in thick vegetation but wisps of smoke rose from hidden clefts in the rock. It looked like the kind of place dragons might be hiding. Beck smiled to himself at the thought, but then the smile faded.
He had visited this part of the world before. For a while he had lived with his parents in a village in Borneo. The native people had taught him how to survive in the jungle, how to live with the land rather than against it, how to find food and water and, most importantly, how to look after himself. But he had never been near an active volcano. That was something he didn't know about, but he had naturally been intrigued.
Beck knew that if you were properly prepared, there was no reason you couldn't survive . . . well, anywhere, really. But he also knew that if a volcano exploded in the wrong place, you were dead – end of story. Volcanoes were a force that humankind couldn't control and probably never would. They looked magnificent from a distance, but Beck was quietly glad that this was as close as they were going to get.
Behind him, someone breathed in awe. ‘Good grief.' Mr Grey, his friend Peter's dad, was looking out of the window over Beck's shoulder. ‘What a sight.'
‘Dad, we've been up Vesuvius.' That was Peter in the seat beside Beck, practical and matter-of-fact.
‘Yes, but you don't normally expect to be able to see three volcanoes together without even moving your head.'
The tour guide was saying much the same thing to the rest of the bus. He was a small, wiry Malay man with a big grin. The tourists listened avidly as he told them that a line of volcanic activity, known as the ‘Ring of Fire', ran all around the Pacific Rim. It started in New Zealand, then ran up past Australia, through Southeast Asia, past Japan and China, then round and down past the west coasts of North and South America. Indonesia sat smack on the Ring and had over a hundred active volcanoes. Its collection included possibly the most famous of the lot, Krakatoa.
The guide continued, ‘Now, this gentleman on our left' – he indicated the closest of the volcanoes – ‘would be Mount Lasa. He's quite safe – hasn't erupted at all recently. The Lasa National Park, where we are now, is named after him and he looks after us all. We will be passing around the base of the volcano and will arrive at the sanctuary in about an hour . . .'
Peter and his father sat down again. Beck settled back in his seat and closed his eyes. They had got up early to catch the bus. He would rest for the next hour, while the bus carried them away from the volcano and towards what he was really looking forward to.
‘Bless you, Dad,' Peter said.
‘Ha, ha.' Mr Grey was an older, taller version of Peter. Same fair hair (but receding), same lanky build, same glasses. It made Beck wonder if there had been a scientific breakthrough in human cloning about thirteen years ago. Mr Grey tapped the map. ‘I mean, the Bohongit Orang-utan Sanctuary, where we're going tomorrow!' They had been lounging by the side of the hotel pool in Medan, shaded from the equatorial sun by huge parasols. When Mr Grey sat down next to them he was wrestling with a map about the same size as him.
Peter was jiggling his baby sister, Hannah, on his lap. They were playing a game in which he would hand her a rattle. She would take it, and shake it, and maybe put it in her mouth. Then she would lean over and drop it. When it hit the ground she would look up at her brother with wide eyes that seemed to say,
Wow, that's amazing!
And Peter would pick up the rattle and give it back to her so that the process could repeat itself. Hannah seemed certain that with enough patience she could catch gravity out.
As far as Beck was aware, none of the Grey family except Peter had ever been out of Europe before. Now they had decided to remedy that with a holiday in Indonesia. The Greys had invited him along out of the kindness of their hearts, and because Peter was his best friend at school, and because they had some strange idea that they owed Beck for their son's life.
As far as Beck was concerned, he owed just as much to Peter in return.
The Greys had thrown themselves in at the deep end with a strange mixture of enthusiasm, careful planning (activities carefully timetabled for each day) and leaving things to luck (bringing a baby on a holiday like this in the first place). Beck could see where Peter got it from.
going tomorrow,' Peter's mum corrected. She had a smile for everyone and everything. Her level, calm approach to life balanced out the enthusiasms of the men in the family. Beck had once made the mistake of thinking she was a bit of a pushover, until he and Peter got back from their adventure in the Sahara. Then there had been tears of joy that her son was safe, yes, but she had also made it quite clear what she thought of the way they had got into the trouble in the first place. They had recklessly followed some men they thought might be smugglers. Then they had recklessly managed to get trapped on a plane with them and an illegal cargo of diamonds . . . Peter's mum had told them in no uncertain terms that ‘reckless' was not to happen again.
Beck now knew she ruled the family with a rod of iron that she kept carefully out of sight. They all realized it was there, and that was what counted. She had no intention of letting them get into any more trouble, and Beck had no intention of getting into any either.

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