We have heard about people going on crazy adventures such as skydiving, deep-sea diving, scaling mountains as high as Everest, but you surely wouldn’t have heard about someone who climbed an active lava-spilling volcano. Yes, as exciting as it sound, we know it’s absolutely terrifying to imagine yourself near to a volcano which is active. But Peddineni Sai Teja, a Telugu guy from Hyderabad, has decided that he is going to do something that no one ever dares or even thinks of.
While there are few other volcanic explorers around the world, they usually take the safe road by exploring the volcanoes which had recorded scientific data which helps them prepare for the risks. But Sai Teja went against this routine and chose Mt. Dukonu in Indonesia which has been an active volcano for the past 84 years and it did not have any sort of scientific data thus making his journey even more unpredictable and risky. While this itself is stretching the scope of an adventure to its maximum limits, the volcano is situated in the remotest areas of Indonesia, surrounded by dense forests where even the local villagers are frightened to go.
If he had sat down to calculate the permutations and combinations of the risks hidden in this journey, he would’ve never been to start the trip in the first place. But in an area which is filled with complete volcanic ash and no solid ground, coupled with sink holes and vents that would spew poisonous gases without warning, Sai Teja reached the summit of the volcano which was at 5100 metres above sea level and spent an hour in temperatures fluctuating between 60-65°C where a slight slip could make you fall into a pit of lava where the heat range is around 650°C. But according Sai Teja, this wasn’t the most challenging part of this insane adventure.
The forests surrounding this Dukonu are so dense and filled with dangers, that there are daily reports of people going missing in the surrounding areas. In order to get to the volcano, Sai Teja spent four months of time learning Indonesian language in order to convince two of the villagers to accompany him on this treacherous journey. While going through the forest, he also fell into a pit dug by hunters and was stuck in it for almost one hour until one of his guides helped him out.
Despite being ready with industrial grade gas masks to avoid breathing toxic fumes, Sai Teja and his team had to be ready for the Lava bombs that burst out of the volcano every ten minutes. Any normal person would’ve turned back immediately at the first step itself, but showing immense courage and determination, Sai Teja has made Telugu people and India proud by becoming the first person to fly our national flag at the peak of Mt. Dukonu.
All this breathtaking adventure was just a part of Sai Teja’s list. He also had visited the Komodo National Park in Indonesia which is home to the one of the rarest and fearsome lizard species-The Komodo Dragon. Most of the tourists visiting these islands just like to watch the Komodo Dragons from a safe distance since one bite from these creatures can paralyse our human body within 10 minutes. But Sai Teja dared to approach them and even posed with these fantastic beasts. While some might think this is absolute madness, Sai reveals that the main reason behind choosing these dangerous missions is to discover himself.
“I wanted to stare death in the face and come back. Few years ago, I had a start up company which was going on well and even had government funding, but I was lost in self-doubt. I started going on road trips across states, but felt there was no “kick” in them. Finally I learnt about Volcanic explorers who are a rare breed of adventurers. I was fascinated by it and decided to go for it. ” he told Chai Bisket. When asked what impact this adventure had on his mind, Sai replied, “I used to have a feeling that I can dare to do anything, but after this expedition, I feel I can be ultra-daring. It has been a journey of self-discovery.”
But this crazy journey was just a trailer to his future mission. The 25-year old’s original plan is to explore the lake full of molten lava in Ambrym in the country of Vanuatu, which is nearby Australia. The danger in Ambrym is several times more compared to Dukonu as the temperatures around the lava lake range between 1000-1200°C. It is only possible to go near the crater with four layers of fire-resistant suit and even a single hole to this suit will turn the human body into jelly. Despite risking death every second in his journey, Sai Teja has no plans of slowing down as he plans to visit Ambrym next month. We at Chai Bisket are absolutely proud that a Telugu guy will become the first person from Europe and Asia to visit the lava lake. A huge salute to Sai Teja’s incredible courage and adventurous spirit.
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